PIRATES 2, SOUND TIGERS 1
The Sound Tigers surged late in the third hoping to tie it, but the comeback fell just short as they lost to the Portland Pirates 2-1 on Friday night at Webster Bank Arena.
After a rough first period the Sound Tigers and Williams stepped up their play, with the goaltender using every inch of his body to keep the Pirates lead to just one. He would finish the night with 27 saves on 29 shots.
The scoring started early when the Pirates took the lead with just four minutes gone in the first period. Brett Olson fired a slapshot from the right side of the Sound Tigers zone and even though Stephon Williams got a piece of it, the puck trickled just past him into the net. It was Olson’s third goal of the season, coming unassisted.
The Sound Tigers would answer back at the 6:38 mark of the first, when Jared Gomes got his third goal of the season. Jesse Root sent a shot towards Portland goalie Mike McKenna from the left face-off circle that was sent away, but the rebound fell right to Gomes who buried it in the right corner of the net. Root earned his first point since being called up from Missouri, while Kevin Czuczman got his sixth assist.
Before the end of the opening period, the Pirates gave themselves a 2-1 lead on a one-timer from Kyle Rau. Rau passed to Shane Harper behind the net, who then faked like he was skating around the net before sending the puck back to Rau who beat Williams stick side on the give-and-go one timer. It was Rau’s 12th goal of the season, and Harper’s 13th assist.
Gomes and Root nearly connected again to tie the game with eight minutes gone in the second. This time it was Gomes looking for the assist, sending the puck in front of the net from the right corner for Root whose one-timer was blocked. The offensive pressure continued when Justin Vaive found himself with the puck in front of the net, but his spinning backhander was sent wide by McKenna’s skate.
The chances came all period for the Sound Tigers who outshot the Pirates 11-8 in the middle frame. Goal leader Bracken Kearns was closest to tying the game when he ripped a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle. The puck made it past McKenna but clanged off the right pipe.
Bridgeport’s power play unit took the ice for the first time all game when Harper was sent to the box for slashing with 7:53 gone in the final period. The Sound Tigers almost capitalized on the opportunity when Ryan Pulock unleashed a slapshot from the blueline, but had it sent wide by McKenna’s left blocker. Despite maintaining possession for most of the power play, Bridgeport was unable to convert.
Williams was under duress for most of the Sound Tigers first penalty kill, but he stood tall and kept the deficit at just one. The scariest moment for the netminder was after a failed clear attempt that saw the puck squirt into the center of the ice where Rob Schremp was all alone. Schremp ripped a slapshot but Williams blocked it with his body before covering the rebound in front of the net.
It was the first time in the season series when the team with the lead going into the third actually won. Bridgeport sits at 16-11-2-1 and will look for some revenge when they take on the Portland Pirates in the second half of the weekend series at the Webster Bank Arena on Sunday, December 20 at 5:00 p.m.
Whitney – Kearns – Halmo
Vaive – Wright – Beck
Florek – B. Holmstrom – Collberg
Gomes – Root – J. Holmstrom
Pelech – Mayfield
Czuczman – Pulock
Graham – Carkner