Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again
The Connecticut Whale had been, to paraphrase Annie Savoy (New York Rangers’ fan, Susan Sarandon) in the film Bull Durham, “for whatever reason, were playing hockey with joy and verve and poetry.”
9,276 witnesses at the XL Center on Saturday, on a night that the franchise honored Gordie Howe and his family no less, watched the Connecticut Whale come crashing off the wall like Humpty Dumpty and put forth one of their worst efforts of the season in a fight filled, undisciplined and very sloppy 5-1 loss to the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The question now is, can Head Coach Ken Gernander and his assistants J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller, put all the pieces back together again in less than 24 hours as they face another tough test Sunday afternoon against the Providence Bruins?
The Whale were on an emotional high after scoring two goals in 1:13 to send the game to overtime before beating the Charlotte Checkers in a shootout he night before, in arguably their most dramatic win in franchise history, started the game playing the way they did the previous night.
No one was surprised when at 6:57, off another strong forecheck, the Whale broke through on starter Nathan Lawson (21 saves, 5-4-4).
The game’s Third Star, Jeremy Colliton got tied up behind the left side of the net with Derek Couture and the Sound Tiger center fell down but the puck slid into the right corner. Blake Parlett pinched in from the right point to recover the puck. Parlett threw it in front to Kelsey Tessier who got in front of the game’s First Star, Rob Hisey. Colliton recovered and got to Tessier, but the Whale rookie found a streaking Couture coming across the slot gave him the puck and the right winger buried it past the stick side of Lawson for his third goal in his last five games.
The Whale looked to double their lead and almost did when Brodie Dupont fired a missile of a one-timer from the right circle that Lawson was able to handle at 8:08.
But the entire momentum and tone of the game changed at 9:04 when Devin DiDiomete, back after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, made a fatal flaw.
Forward Phil Ginand was along the right wing wall in the Sound Tiger defensive zone and had moved the puck out of the zone when DiDiomete circled back from the middle of the ice and crushed Ginand into the sideboards leaving the Milford, MA native, who had just signed an Amateur Try-Out contract earlier in March, writing on the ice in pain.
Shayne Neigum and Benn Olson immediately rushed to their fallen teammates defense and attacked DiDiomete. That resulted in a big fight between Justin Soryal, who was on the ice at the time and Olson. DiDiomete and Brandon Svendsen squared off but did not drop the gloves. It became a line brawl that the linesman were able to contain.
The Whale ended up being shorthanded as Neigum and Svendsen each got two minutes for roughing and Olden went off for the fight with Soryal. Meanwhile, Soryal got five minutes for the fight with Olsen and DiDiomete got two for the roughing and took a five minute major for Boarding. The penalties gave Bridgeport three minutes of power play time.
But things just disintegrated for the Whale as just ten seconds later, Dupont took a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct call and put the Whale in a two man whole for a 1:50.
At 10:27, while on a delayed penalty pending on the Whale, Mark Katic got the puck to the top of the high slot to Rhett Rakhshani. The Sound Tiger right winger moved the puck to David Ullstrom in the right circle. Pavel Valentenko went down to try and block Ullstrom’s shot, but Ullstom pulled it back in, went around the Whale defender and from just inside the circle ripped a shot that blew right by the glove of Whale starter Cam Talbot (27 saves 11-6-2).
Things just continued to slide into oblivion for the Whale.
Just after the goal had scored, Jeremy Williams took a high sticking call that again put the Whale in a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation for 1:18 and after Cam Talbot made one nice stop (see video below). Dylan Reese was at the point. The ex-Wolf Pack defenseman fed Rakhshani in the left circle and he dropped it low to Colliton who slid it under Wade Redden over to Ullstrom all alone on the right side. Talbot came across and denied the Sound Tiger threat at 10:59.
But that didn’t last long…and neither did the tie score.
Mark Katic and Ullstrom moved the puck quickly along the perimeter and Ullstrom found Colliton in the slot between Redden and Stu Bickel. Colliton fired it past a defenseless Talbot and things just got worse from there.
Soryal and Olson tangled again for another bout with 1:38 to go in the first and then with 56.3 left, first Dupont took an unnecessary slashing call and Kris Newbury joined the fracas when he mauled Reese.
The Tigers made it 3-1 at 4:55 on Rob Hisey’s first of two on the day. Hisey went around a fallen Valentenko for a loose puck after Parlett was literally tackled by Joe Pereira on the wall at the left point. Referee Chris Brown, who may have had the worst game by a referee at the XL Center all season, ignored that part of the play and it allowed Hisey to get an opportunity which he took advantage of sliding it past Talbot through the 5-hole.
Couture and Art Bidevskii dropped the gloves in the Whale zone at 7:43 and Couture took the worst of it getting hit squarely and breaking his nose leaving the Whale short a player and with DiDiomete benched, the Whale were down two players the rest of the game.
The game just continued to devolve into a penalty fest with cheap shots and non-calls going on all over the ice. Brown had clearly lost control of the game.
With 16.3 left in the second, Aaron Ness made it a 4-1 lead and in the third Hisey scored his second going around Jared Nightingale and going top shelf on Talbot to make it 5-1.
A clearly agitated, and rightly so, head Coach Ken Gernander was not mincing words after the game.
“It was terrible (discipline),” Gernander said. “We have a good start, then (DiDiomete) takes an inexcusable penalty going across the rink. About one of the few things that we addressed in the meeting before the game is they have a good power play and don’t want to give them unnecessary opportunities. I tried to commend for the games we beat Charlotte and Manchester where we had one penalty kill in each of them. So it was most certainly addressed, and for the most part I thought the penalties were pretty selfish. They had no bearing on the play. It was just guys being selfish.
“It’s a fickle game, and you can’t take shortcuts, can’t cheat in any aspect of the game and think you’re going to get away with it for extended period of time. So if you can’t be disciplined, you’re going to take penalties against a good power play and put yourself behind the eight-ball. … (DiDiomete) didn’t play (after the major penalty), and if we weren’t so short there probably would have been others. If guys are available, obviously there are people who could come out after tonight’s game.”
Gernander put it all into proper perspective.
“We won five in a row, but you obviously have to get your message across because if it doesn’t work in the regular season, it won’t work in the playoffs either. And with Worcester losing and Binghamton winning, it’s a big two points lost. But we’re not looking for outside help. We should be able to take matters into our own hands, play our best hockey and take control of our destiny, but not the way we played tonight.”
There are enough players here to win games, but you have to play our style of hockey, be disciplined and outwork your opponent. A lot of it is in the guys’ hands as far as how they respond (Sunday at Providence).
Bruce Berlet , who’s always been an inspiration to me makes the best of one of the worst Whale games of the season at Howlings. Mike Fornabaio was on another assignment and could not make it. As a result, Bridgeport essentially is running an AP-esque story at ctpost.com.
(Standings via theahl.com)
You can watch more video highlight by following this link.
SOUNDS OF THE GAME:
* The win extended the Sound Tigers streak to points in seven straight games (4-0-1-2) after a 3-22-2-3 slide to start 2011.
* As part of the promotion for Howe family night, each of the Whale players wore a 1978 vintage No. 9 Gordie Howe New England Whales home jersey during warm-ups. Gordie signed ten of them and they were auctioned off during the game.
* Gordie Howe turns 83 on March 31st.
* Gernander said that recent signee Tommy Grant will not likely be available Sunday as he is stil lin transit from Alaska.
Dupont – Newbury – Weise
Grachev – Lemieux – Williams
Kerbashian – Tessier – C0uture
Soryal – Garlock – DiDiomete
Redden – Nightingale
Valentenko – Parlett
Bickel – Kundratek
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
John Mitchell – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
Chad Kolarik – Hamstring – Day-to-Day
Jyri Niemi – Separated Shoulder – Day-to-Day
Michael Del Zotto – Broken Finger, 2-3 weeks
Todd White – Concussion – Indefinite
Chris McKelvie – Foot Surgery, Season
1. BRI – R. Hisey
2. BRI – D. Ullstrom
3. BRI – J. Colliton
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Chris Brown (86)
Robert St. Lawrence (10)
David Spannaus (8)
Sunday will have one of the Whale’s most pivotal games of the season as they travel up to Providence for a contest with the Bruins less than 24 hours after putting one of their worst performances of the season on the ice. The puck drops at 4pm with Bob Crawford handling the play-by-play with the pregame a half an hour before game time.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information for all home games, call (860) 548-2000.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5 at Connecticut Whale 1 – Status: Final
Saturday, March 26, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Bridgeport 2 2 1 – 5
Connecticut 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Couture 3 (Tessier, Parlett), 6:57. 2, Bridgeport, Ullstrom 15 (Katic, Rakhshani), 10:27 (PP). 3, Bridgeport, Colliton 15 (Ullstrom, Katic), 11:37 (PP). Penalties-Neigum Bri (roughing), 9:04; Olson Bri (fighting), 9:04; Svendsen Bri (roughing), 9:04; DiDiomete Ct (roughing, major – boarding), 9:04; Soryal Ct (fighting), 9:04; Dupont Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:14; Williams Ct (high-sticking), 10:27; Rakhshani Bri (cross-checking), 15:46; Olson Bri (fighting), 18:22; Soryal Ct (fighting), 18:22; Reese Bri (fighting), 19:03; Dupont Ct (slashing), 19:03; Newbury Ct (fighting), 19:03.
2nd Period-4, Bridgeport, Hisey 13 (Pereira), 4:55. 5, Bridgeport, Ness 1 (Colliton, Hisey), 19:43 (PP). Penalties-Bidlevskii Bri (fighting), 7:43; Couture Ct (fighting), 7:43; Day Bri (fighting), 8:05; Nightingale Ct (roughing, fighting), 8:05; Romano Bri (double minor – high-sticking), 12:58; Williams Ct (holding), 13:20; Grachev Ct (hooking), 14:20; Williams Ct (cross-checking), 18:29.
3rd Period-6, Bridgeport, Hisey 14 (Day, Olson), 6:26. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Bridgeport 11-14-7-32. Connecticut 7-10-5-22.
Power Play Opportunities-Bridgeport 3 / 7; Connecticut 0 / 3.
Goalies-Bridgeport, Lawson 5-4-4 (22 shots-21 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 11-6-2 (32 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Robert St. Lawrence (10), David Spannaus (8).