“All good things must come to an end,” goes the old English proverb. For the Connecticut Whale their five-game winning streak ended in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before 7,693 at the Webster Bank Arena Sunday afternoon.
David Ullstrom used defenseman Tim Erixon as a screen just 37 seconds into overtime and fired it over the glove of Chad Johnson (15-10-5, 40 saves) to finish off a game that had both teams digging and clawing to get any traction at all through the game’s first 60 minutes.
“It was kind of a broken play,” Ullstrom said. “I got it off the wing (from defenseman Jon Landry), cut sharp and then again on the blue line and then let it go and saw it go in… I think it hit the bar inside so it bounced right out.”
The Whale took advantage of the experimental review process that the AHL is trying and asked referee Jon McIsaac to take a look at it. Bridgeport is one of the teams where replay is in place. After a lengthy review process, due to some technical difficulties, McIsaac confirmed that the goal was good. “I was never too nervous about the review there,” Ullstrom added. “You could hear by the sound of it it wasn’t hitting the actual bar… I saw the lane all the way and I saw it go in. I just put it high and I was lucky to get the goal there”
“It was a back and forth game,” Coach Ken Gernander said. “I thought it was a pretty close game.”
Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson agreed. “I thought it was a good hockey game. I think Connecticut, the Whale is a great hockey team. They got speed, transition, great defense, good goaltending. It was a challenge for us, sort of a measuring stick to wear we were at.”
Of the six straight starts that Johnson had made, despite losing this one, it was possibly his best game as he was called upon to make some big time stops, none bigger than the one he was called upon to make with 2:20 to go when Sam Klassen hooked Scott Howes on a breakaway resulting in a penalty shot. Howes rushed up on Johnson, put on a fake or two and then attempted to backhand it past the Whale netminder, but Johnson put out his glove and wiped it out.
As great a game as Johnson had, he was not able to stop Justin DiBenedetto at 17:09 of the first period. DiBenedetto was all alone in the right corner and took a cross ice pass from Landry on the left point and fired it high over Johnson’s glove for his 14th goal of the season.
The Whale took the lead midway through the first period off of a turnover by Ty Wishart. The Sound Tiger defenseman was tied up by a pinching Blake Parlett on the right side half-boards. Wishart got his stick on it and moved the puck to the center, but Wojtek Wolski was right there and raced it up to the left side of the crease and fed Kelsey Tessier, who was all alone in front of Kevin Poulin (14-13-1, 27 saves). Tessier smacked it right through Poulin’s pads for his eighth of the season.
This was the last game for Wolski and for Jeff Woywitka who were on conditioning loans to the Whale for two weeks. They can still work out with the Whale as they don’t officially end their stay until Thursday.
Both Wolski and Woywitka felt that the time here helped them with both their conditioning and getting their game back in place after having extended time off the ice due to injuries.
The Whale finished their run of six games in ten days with a 5-0-1-0 record and took 11 of a possible 12 points and have retaken hold of first place. They are three points ahead of Bridgeport who holds two games in hand on the Whale. The teams do not meet again until March 9th at the XL Center.
Our favorite beat writer Mike Fornabaio has the full story from the Bridgeport locker room at the CTPost.com.
SOUNDS OF THE GAME:
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* In what was certainly one of the most moving and inspirational ceremonies ever conducted at a sports event, Lieutenant Colonel Horst Konerreck marched in formation nineteen amazing, brave, young patriots out to center ice and then swore them in to serve our country in the United State Air Force.
Also on hand for the ceremony were Master Sergeant David Bushenell, Staff Sergeant David Albanese and Staff Sergeant Jeffery Trueman.
Howlings wishes to extend our deepest gratitude, our most heartfelt thanks and unending appreciation and support, not only for the nineteen of the best of the young people that this country offers that took their oaths of service today, but also to their families for their sacrifice and contribution to our freedom as Americans.
Thank you to all who took part in a moment that touched lives.
* Coming up on Monday, Feb. 13 from 6:30 pm – 7 pm is the First Cigna and CTWhale graduation ceremonies of the “HOCKEY IN THE STREETS” PROGRAM.
As the official release from the CTWhale states, “To many kids the thrill of playing professional hockey or representing their country in the Winter Games is a far off miracle. Perhaps not. Cigna and Connecticut Whale have teamed up in a new program to bring hockey to the streets of Hartford and area towns for boys and girls ages 6 to 12 years. Sponsored by Cigna, the “Cigna Hockey in the Streets” leagues kicked off last December. Through the 7-week program consisting of free, weekly youth indoor street hockey games with Connecticut Whale player clinics, boys and girls ages 6-12 are able to learn a great sport and focus on the importance of physical activity.
Since the program was introduced this past December more than 100 area youth have participated.”
The event will take place at the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and Family Center on 444 Albany Avenue in Hartford. In attendance will be Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, the President and COO of the Connecticut Whale Howard Baldwin, Jr., the YMCA youth who participated selected Connecticut Whale players and of course the Whale’s mascot, PUCKY.
Wolski – Newbury – Zuccarello
Audy-Marchessault – Wellman – Deveaux
Grant – Owens – Tanski
Bourque – Tessier – Thuresson
Woywitka – Parlett
Bell – Klassen
Erixon – Nightingale
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Francois Bouchard – Broken Wrist – Indefinite
Wade Redden – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
Pavel Valentenko – Upper Body – Day-to-Day
Sean Avery – Healthy Scratch
Chris McKelvie – Healthy Scratch
1. BRI – K. Poulin
2. BRI – D. Ullstrom
3. CT – C. Johnson
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jon McIsaac (39)
Derek Wahl (46)
Mike Baker (11)
After playing six games in ten days and getting 11 of a possible 12 points, the Whale will have four days to regroup and rest before playing another three-in-three with Springfield and then the Worcester Sharks coming in to visit the XL Center (both 7pm starts) before the Whale hit the road to visit Providence on Sunday for a 4:05 match with the Bruins. Bob Crawford is on with the pre-game on Friday and Saturday at 6:50pm. You can hear it on WCCC.com.
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.
CT Whale 1 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2 (OT) – Status: Final OT
Sunday, February 12, 2012 – Webster Bank Arena
Connecticut 1 0 0 0 – 1
Bridgeport 1 0 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Tessier 8 (Wolski), 12:24. 2, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 14 (Landry, Backman), 17:09. Penalties-Owens Ct (fighting), 5:40; Frischmon Bri (fighting), 5:40; Gillies Bri (interference), 14:38.
2nd Period– No Scoring.Penalties-Newbury Ct (delay of game), 3:29; Mouillierat Bri (hooking), 11:10.
3rd Period– No Scoring.Penalties-Cizikas Bri (holding), 6:28; Erixon Ct (holding), 13:22.
OT Period-3, Bridgeport, Ullstrom 16 (Landry), 0:37. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 12-10-6-0-28. Bridgeport 8-15-18-1-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 3; Bridgeport 0 / 2.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 15-10-5 (42 shots-40 saves). Bridgeport, Poulin 14-13-1 (28 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Jon McIsaac (39).
Linesmen-Derek Wahl (46), Mike Baker (11).