Three quick penalties put the Moose in the driver’s seat for the first 8 minutes of the game. Rick DiPietro was tested early but controlled the rebounds stopping the 12 shots thrown at him in the first period.
“We came out a little edgy,” said Jason Krog.
“We weathered the storm,” said coach Steve Stirling of the early penalty kills. “Ricky really made three or four very good saves in traffic.”
On the penalty kill, DiPietro showed a quick glove hand and the ability to move and see through screens.
“Its always tough to take penalties off the bat” said DiPietro, “I think were real fortunate to kill off the power plays and go from there.”
And the Sound Tigers did go. The line of Raffi Torres, Justin Mapletoft and Dave Roche came out at even strength with energy and hard checks.
“I think that line was a huge lift,” said Stirling, “between energy and strength down low, they got things going and set the pace five-on-five.”
That line brought the energy while the Krog-Juraj Kolnik- Trent Hunter line brought the goals, combining for four of Bridgeport’s five goals.
Kolnik started the scoring sneaking behind the Manitoba defense and knocking in a Krog centering feed at 17:11.
Hunter shot the puck off Alfie Michaud’s shoulder two minutes later to put the Sound Tigers up by two goals after the first period.
“I would’ve been happy nothing-nothing,” said Stirling, “but getting one then two puts you over the top.”
Bridgeport built on the lead in the second period when at 5:10 Justin Mapletoft scored the first goal of the second period. Mapletoft’s goal was set up entirely by Eric Godard who used his size and strength to open up the ice behind the Manitoba net, giving Mapletoft room to operate and score the goal. Godard earned and assists on the goal and earned a regular shift in the game from that point on.
Krog scored two more goals in the final six minutes to ice the Sound Tiger’s first playoff game. Chris Armstrong blasted a puck from the point, hitting off the glass near the goal judge and bouncing out near the side of the net. Kolnik swiped at it, missed but Krog was right behind him and scored off the goal post. Krog’s second of the night came off a Kolnik shot off the glass which rebounded right to Krog, who flipped it over Michaud’s pad and in.
“The bounces sort of went our way tonight”, said Krog. “2 or 3 goals were lucky.”
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
The Krog-Kolnik-Hunter line was the three stars tonight (in that order) and combined for four goals and six assists: Krog two goals and two assists, while Hunter and Kolnik each had a goal and two assists.
Raffi Torres, Dave Roche, Justin Mapletoft, and Eric Godard all finished their checks and controlled the games tempo. The aggressive fore-checking by Bridgeport kept Manitoba on its heels all night after the penalties.
Rick DiPietro only faced eight shots in the final 40 minutes but almost lost his shutout in the final seconds when Brandon Reid faked DiPietro out of the net and sent him sprawling on the ice. But Reid never got a shot away even though the net was empty.
The Sound Tigers play next on Tuesday at 7:05 EST against the Manitoba Moose. Sound Tigers lead the best-of-five series 1-0.