Hartford — Every time Bridgeport faces off against The Hartford Wolf Pack the game means Connecticut bragging rights; tonight, if Bridgeport won against the Wolf Pack, it could mean the Eastern Division Championship.
The game started slow enough with dozens of offsides and iced pucks. Eric Godard needed to beat up Christian Gosselin before the pace picked up.
Jason Podollan started the scoring off with his 21st goal off a breakaway pass from Matt Higgins at 7:04 of the first period.
Ken Gernander intercepted a Branislav Mezei clearing pass at the Sound Tigers blue line and skated in alone on Steve Valiquette, roofing the puck to tie the game 1-1.
The second period saw Hartford pepper Valiquette with 15 shots but failing to score a goal. Valiquette came up huge on three consecutive Hartford power plays. He stoned a Lundmark one-timer from the hash marks, gloving the puck and preventing a rebound. Valiquette used all of his reach to glove Rico Fata’s shot on the second power play.
The Sound Tigers countered Hartford’s 15 shots with 3 of their own. The Sound Tigers were out shot 38-16 for the game.
“I was happy with our chances,” said coach Steve Stirling. “We need to finish chances and out power play is struggling.”
With three minutes remaining Boyd Kane clipped Armstrong’s face with his stick and on the ensuing power play Bridgeport had zero shots and barely kept the puck in Hartford’s zone.
In overtime, Lundmark pulled the puck from a pile of players in front of Valiquette and wristed it high past Valiquette for the Hartford victory.
“We couldn’t get it done in overtime,” said Stirling. “It’s disappointing.”
Tomorrow the Sound Tiger need a win or a tie to clinch the division.
“We need to be aggressive,” said Jason Podollan. “[Hartford] had an easy time breaking out because no one was in their face. We need intensity.”
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Bridgeport’s loss sets up an afternoon matinee, end-all be-all, winner-take-all game in Bridgeport against the Wolf Pack. A Bridgeport win or tie would give them the Division championship and home ice through out the playoffs.
Dave Morisset was scratched for the first time this year tonight. “It was nothing he did or didn’t do,” said Steve Stirling. “In the playoffs you can dress twelve forwards and he will be one of the twelve.