SOUND TIGERS 4, AMERICANS 3 (OT)
Joe Whitney scored 38 seconds into overtime to propel the Bridgeport Sound Tigers past the Rochester Americans 4-3 on Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena.
Parker Milner made 34 saves on 37 shots to earn the win in his first start of the season.
The Sound Tigers had the best scoring chances in the early part of the first period. With just over three minutes gone Justin Vaive got the puck in traffic and tried to sneak one past Nathan Lieuwen with the backhand but had it slide just wide. Right before the halfway point, Sebastian Collberg fired a wrister on a breakaway, but missed a goal by inches as it clanged off the left pipe.
Milner was solid to begin his first start of the year stopping all 10 of the Americans’ shots in the opening period. After a Rochester power play, Milner made the stop on a slap shot from the left faceoff circle and followed it up with a sprawling save to cover up the rebound and keep the game scoreless.
With just under a minute gone in the second period, Mike Halmo started the scoring and gave the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead. Whitney found James Wright across the ice, who sent the puck towards the net where Halmo tipped it past Lieuwen’s glove and into the top-right corner. It was Halmo’s fifth goal of the year, while Wright got his sixth assist and Whitney earned his 19th.
Rochester would tie it up on a power play later in the second period thanks to some traffic in front of Milner. Tim Schaller brought the puck in front of the net from the trapezoid and was able to get a shot off which was stopped, but the rebound proved costly as Justin Bailey snuck it past the right blocker of Milner and into the net.
The Americans broke the tie just three and a half minutes later on a Nick Baptiste slap shot from the top of the zone. Milner looked to have made the stop but the puck slipped under his blocker and into the back of the net to put Rochester up 2-1.
Not to be outdone, the Sound Tigers would tie the game up at 2-2 thanks to a short-handed goal from Matt Carkner. Bracken Kearns got his 15th assist of the season when he sent the pass across the net to a streaking Carkner who rifled a slap shot past Lieuwen.
Then with a mere 11.8 seconds left in the period, Taylor Beck would break the tie and give Bridgeport a 3-2 lead as they went to the locker room. Kearns earned his second assist of the game when he dropped the puck off to Beck, who sent a shot from the slot right past Lieuwen.
The Americans would tie the game back up at 3-3 with 15:10 left in the third period on Bailey’s second goal of the game. Bailey fired the puck towards the net from the blueline presumably just to keep it in the zone, but the puck bounced off the ice and knuckled over Milner’s left shoulder for the goal.
After ending regulation tied up at 3-3, the Sound Tigers would go on to finish the job in overtime thanks to Whitney. After getting the puck back from Wright, Whitney fired a wrister from the right faceoff circle past Lieuwen’s glove and the near side pipe. It was Whitney’s second point of the night and his 13th goal of the season to give him 32 points on the year. Wright got his second assist of the night, and Pulock came away with his 10th assist of the year on the game-winning goal.
Bridgeport now has 41 points on the season with a 19-13-2-1 record, and will look to build on the thrilling win against the Hershey Bears on Sunday, January 3 at 5:00 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.
Whitney – Wright – Collberg
Root – Kearns – Beck
Florek – B. Holmstrom – Halmo
Vaive – Jones – Gomes
Carkner – Mayfield
Czuczman – Pulock
Finn – Burroughs