SOUND TIGERS 5, PIRATES 2
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers came back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring five unanswered goals to defeat the Portland Pirates 5-2 Tuesday morning at Webster Bank Arena.
Bridgeport fired a season-high 46 shots on goal. 25 of those shots came in the second period, also a season high.
Mike Halmo scored two goals including the game-tying marker to propel Bridgeport to the come from behind victory. Halmo’s 19th and 20th of the season set a new personal high for goals in a year. Christopher Gibson stopped 31 of 33 shots for his 18th victory.
The Sound Tigers started putting the pressure on goaltender Mike McKenna early in the game with Scott Mayfield sending a couple of shots toward the net with an advantage after one of those shots broke a Pirates’ stick. Unfortunately, the early pressure wasn’t enough and Portland capitalized on an early goal from Jonathan Racine. Racine let go a wrister from the left point that looked to have hit a body in front of the net and fell behind Gibson.
Bridgeport was given an opportunity to tie it up at 6:20 of the first period when they were awarded a penalty shot for having the puck covered up in the goal crease. Alan Quine brought the puck in wide right then quickly faked to go left and put a backhand on net, but McKenna’s left leg pad just got a piece of it.
Just a minute into the second frame the game once again almost became tied when Kevin Czuczman fired a shot on McKenna that left him out of position and a wide open net for the Sound Tigers, but they were unable to find the bouncing puck.
Shortly after, Portland increased their lead to 2-0 at 3:57 of the second period. Gibson believed he covered up a shot from Wayne Simpson, but Brent Regner caught Gibson with his head down and lifted the puck up and into the net for his fourth of the season.
The Pirates took a penalty at a bad time following their second goal that allowed Bridgeport an opportunity to catch up. Despite firing shot after shot they just could not find a hole passed a solid McKenna. Czuczman found the way onto the score sheet just after the power play ended when he fired a low angle shot from the left corner of the boards at 7:43 of the second period.
Once again, Bridgeport was given a huge chance to tie the game with 5:14 remaining in the second period. Portland took a too many men on the ice penalty while already down on the penalty kill. A slew of shots were sent on net, but none could get through on the 5-on-3 opportunity.
The Sound Tigers were able to tie up the game at two a piece 5:31 into the third frame. Halmo passed the puck back to Ross Johnston in the right corner of the boards where he then fed it back to a cutting Halmo at the top of the crease where he put it passed McKenna.
1:08 later Matt Finn sent a snipe flying top shelf over McKenna for the 3-2 lead. Quine dropped a beautiful pass to Finn who was skating into the slot where he let it rip for his fifth goal of the season.
Two empty net goals of the same kind secured the victory for the Sound Tigers. The first for Justin Florek who was fed the puck by Ben Holmstrom at their own blue line and swiftly sent it into the empty net. The second came from Halmo, who got the puck from James Wright around center ice and netted it for his second of the afternoon.
Despite tremendous special team efforts from both teams, the Sound Tigers went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Pirates went 0-for-5.
Bridgeport concludes the month of March at 8-2-1-1, going into the final month of the season with 81 points. The Sound Tigers will take on the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.
Jones – Kearns – Wright
Halmo – Quine – Fritz
Florek – Holmstrom – Collberg
Johnston – Gomes – Markison
Czuczman – Mayfield
Finn – Lafranchise
Cullity – Graham