SOUND TIGERS 4, DEVILS 1
Mike Halmo’s first professional hat trick pushed the Sound Tigers win streak to four with a 4-1 victory over the Albany Devils.
Led by Halmo’s three goals, J.F. Berube’s brilliant performance in net, and a perfect penalty kill, Bridgeport clicked on each phase of the game on the way to a third straight home win.
The Sound Tigers penalty kill was tested halfway through the first when Scott Mayfield went to the box for cross-checking. Berube sent the few Devils’ possessions that weren’t immediately cleared from the zone away. Berube stood tall on the other end of a Paul Thompson one-timer from right in front of the net to keep Albany off the board.
Just after the penalty expired Halmo gave Bridgeport the 1-0 lead on a slick back-hand shot. James Wright caused havoc on the fore-check and Halmo got the turnover right in the slot before working to the glove-side of Ken Appleby. Appleby, who was making his first AHL start of his career, failed to cover the post and Halmo took advantage for his eighth goal of the season.
Bridgeport doubled the lead just before the horn sounded in the first period on a Carter Verhaeghe wrister from the left face-off circle. With less than 30 seconds to go, Taylor Beck carried the puck into the zone and snuck a cross-ice pass through the Devils defense to a wide-open Verhaeghe. It was his second goal for the Sound Tigers, and Beck’s ninth assist.
The Sound Tigers piled on with 13:44 left in the second period after another strong fore-check ended in another Halmo goal. Alan Quine caused the turnover in front of the blueline and worked his way down to the left face-off circle before he fired the puck across the ice for a cutting Halmo, whose second goal of the night went right by Appleby’s stick. Quine got his 14th assist of the season, while Wright got his second helper of the game.
Berube kept the shutout alive through two periods with 19 saves. Despite three more power play chances for the Devils, their best chances came when they were short-handed. Mike Sislo had a contested breakaway chance after Wright failed to keep the puck in the zone, but Berube didn’t flinch and made the stop. It appeared the Devils might convert during a late power-play chance right before the end of the second when Vojtech Mozik fired a one-timer, but Berube sent it wide with his blocker.
Rowe flashed his stick-handling skills and almost added to another goal to the Sound Tigers’ lead. He flew out of the box after getting called for a cross-check, and dangled the puck to the right face-off circle before firing a wrister at Appleby who made the blocker save. The chances didn’t stop there, Czuczman ripped a slapshot at the goal with Quine hovering close looking for the rebound but Appleby was quick to cover the puck.
Berube’s shutout ended with 4:18 left in the final period on Dan Kelly’s third goal of the season. Kelly sent a slapshot towards the net and caught a break when a Sound Tiger deflected the puck up and over Berube’s left shoulder. Ben Thompson was credited with his eighth assist of the season on the late goal.
With 1:07 left and an empty Devils’ net, Halmo completed the hat-trick to push the Sound Tigers’ lead back up to three. It was the first hat-trick for a player not named Joe Whitney for Bridgeport in more than two years. The 4-1 lead would hold up through the final minute to give the Sound Tigers a record of 23-19-2-1 going into the All-Star Break.
The Sound Tigers return from the break on Friday when they welcome in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.
Verhaeghe – Kearns – Beck
Wright – Quine – Halmo
Vaive – Holmstrom – Holmstrom
Rowe – Gomes – Markison
Cullity – Pulock
Czuczman – Mayfield
Lafranchise – Burroughs