Raffi Torres is a Winner

By Bill Drake

Bridgeport, Conn.—Rick DiPietro stopped 26 of 27 Saint John’s Maple Leafs shots and Raffi Torres won the game at 7:44 in overtime to give the Sound Tigers a 2-0 series lead heading to Newfoundland.

Just 1:41 into the game, Juraj Kolnik scored his third of the playoffs to give Bridgeport an early lead. Marko Tuomainen stole the puck from Bob Wren in front of Bridgeport’s bench, passed to Jason Krog who found Kolnik heading to the net to knock the puck through Sebastian Centomo’s pads. The Sound Tigers held the lead but it was always tenuous.

Said coach Steve Stirling, “We had a one nothing lead but we weren’t real comfortable.

Like last night, the Sound Tigers penalty kill came up big, limiting the Maple Leafs to just on shot on a second period 5-on-3 power play. The Maple Leafs are 0- 10 in the series including a five-minute power play last night.

Finally Craig Mills scored on DiPietro at 9:02 of the third period, redirecting a Nathan Dempsey point shot over DiPietro’s left shoulder. Neither team could gain the opposing blue line much less an advantage to score sending the game into overtime.

Justin Mapletoft stole the puck at Saint John’s blue line and passed the puck to a skating Torres who banged home the puck for the win.

“He can shoot the puck,” said Stirling, “I think [Torres] caught [Centamo] by surprise.”

Torres gets another chance to shoot the puck on Wednesday night in Newfoundland. Game time is 7:35 EST.

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS

The search for Trent Hunter’s replacement continued with newly signed Konstantin Kalmikov replacing Tuomainen on Krog’s right side. Kalmikov is a big winger with decent speed. He played on both the penalty kill and power play.

“He reminds me of Oleg Kvasha,” said Stirling, “with of his size and temperament. This is a laid back kid and because of his size and pace he is labeled. Kalmikov, who played last year in the Maple Leaf system, is playing in a top-6 role in Bridgeport.

“I think he is a skilled guy who may not have been put in a skilled situation on The Rock,” said Stirling.

Expect to see, or hear on the internet at www.theahl.com, of Kalmikov on Krog’s right side tomorrow.

Another newcomer to the Sound Tigers is defenseman Tomi Pettinen. Drafted by the Islanders 267th overall in the 200 Entry Draft, Pettinen replaces Mat Snesrud on defense. Pettinen is a big kid with good reach. He skates well backwards and can cover fast forwards. He needs work in the corners but will initiate contact.

Pettinen is part of a search that started 9 games into the season with Dick Tarnstrom earning a spot in Long Island and continued with Marko Kiprusoff leaving the country after a terrible stretch of games and now with Evgeny Korolev on the Islanders playoff roster, the Sound Tigers have sought a steady seventh defenseman all year. The revolving door has included using Matt Libby, Snesrud, Doug Nolan, Daniel Tetrault and now Pettinen at the position with limited results. Coach Stirling now sees Pettinen as the answer.

“He’s holds his own,” said Stirling. There is talk of Pettinen signing a contract to play in Bridgeport next season.

Rick DiPietro continues to dominate in the AHL playoffs. He shutout Manitoba twice in the opening round is 5-1-0 and owns a 1.54 GAA in the playoffs. More importantly his save percentage is 0.937% and is controlling his rebounds often limiting opponents to just one shot each time. DiPietro strengthens his reputation as a playoff goaltender which started when he was voted the MVP of the Beanpot tournament with a 0.50 GAA and 0.984 SV%. In the World Junior Championships DiPietro was voted most Outstanding Goaltender with a 1.81 GAA and a .935 SV%. Last year saw DiPietro out of the playoffs in the AHL, IHL, and NHL having seen time in all three leagues. This year he is back in the playoffs adding to his reputation as a dominant goaltender in money games.