BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—The victory wasn’t as easy, but the Sound Tigers took control in the third period and are now two games up on the Manitoba Moose.
The first period was a slow and tedious affair, read playoff hockey according to those who know.
“It was a grind ‘em out playoff game that could have gone either way,” said coach Steve Stirling.
Neither team made many advances beyond the neutral zone in the first period nor did anyone have good chances. There was plenty of hitting by the third line, starting line tonight, of Bridgeport. Raffi Torres, Justin Mapletoft and Dave Morisset played a physical fore-checking game and produced many of the 7 shots the Sound Tigers had in the first period.
“As a line we want to be the 3rd line energy line,” said Torres. “As long as we keep lining them up and getting chances, we got to hit.”
Torres’ tenacious play continued in the second period and the space he created on ice helped him net his first AHL playoff goal. On the power play Ken Sutton shot the puck from the point and Torres hit it in to put Bridgeport up by one goal.
“All I did was let it hit my stick,” said Torres of the goal.
The Manitoba Moose would come back and tie it on a Darrell Hay goal at 18:22 of the second, pulling the game even to end the second period. The Moose even seemed to have shifted the momentum in their favor until forward Jimmy Roy took an elbowing penalty at 19:46 of the second. Roy was incensed by the call and complained all the way to the penalty box. Once in the box he slammed his stick against the glass repeatedly until finally getting referee Chris Rooney’s attention. Rooney turned towards Roy who had some choice words for Rooney. Roy was then ejected from the game, receiving a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct. It was a loss of composure that cost the Moose.
Jason Podollan made the Moose pay for their mistake, skating towards the net and redirecting a Trent Hunter pass into the net with 2 seconds remaining on the power play in the third period.
“What I try to do is try to find a spot in the high slot,” said Podollan. “Hunts made a great pass and I got good wood on it.”
Podollan’s goal would prove to be the game winner but the Sound Tigers weren’t finished yet. Jason Krog scored at 8:53 to put Bridgeport up by two goals. Again Hunter assisted the goal.
Said Stirling, “I didn’t see it a year ago and we knew he had hands, but Hunter is a very underrated passer. It gets over looked because he’s a goal scorer by trade.”
Ken Sutton, broken jaw and all, scored an empty netter, again assisted by Hunter with 0.02 seconds remaining in the game to give the Sound Tigers a 2-0 series lead heading to Manitoba.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Trent Hunter had three assists on the night to bring his playoff point total to 6 points (1g-5a). He was compared to Derek Sanderson by coach Steve Stirling after the game and Jason Podollan put Hunter’s playoff play into perspective, “You even saw Hunter throwing the body which you don’t often see.”
Justin Mapletoft and Raffi Torres played well again, using their bodies to produce room and points on the board. Mapletoft assisted on Torres’ goal and was a physical force all night. “We’ll we’re roommates,” said Torres, “ so we talked about [big hits] and when we come off the ice and everyone is talking it up and it creates momentum.”
The Sound Tigers play in Manitoba on Thursday April, 18th at 8:30 EST and, if necessary, Game 5 is Friday the 19th at 8:30 EST. All games can be heard on the Internet at www.soundtigers.com.