SOUND TIGERS Sound Tigers fall behind Phantoms
BRIDGEPORT — Sloppy and unlucky is a rough combination. It has dropped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers out of second place again after a loss Friday night at Webster Bank Arena.
Bridgeport tied the game twice and came a goal away from rallying again, but Mike Vecchione’s empty-netter completed the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ 7-5 win, leaping the Phantoms back over the Sound Tigers into the second spot in the Atlantic Division.
A few days away from spending almost a month and a half in second place, Bridgeport is just three points ahead of sixth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the team it visits Saturday. And though fortunate caroms set the Phantoms up a few times Friday, the Sound Tigers set them up, too.
“Bottom line, we have to manage the puck a heck of a lot better,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “We have 80 percent of the guys, 90 percent of the guys buying in to managing the puck. We need 100 percent of the guys. It’s going to be a work in progress.”
The Sound Tigers didn’t put a shot on Phantoms goalie Mike McKenna, down from the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers on a conditioning stint (and playing for his 13th AHL team), until 13:49 had elapsed. By then Bridgeport trailed 3-0 and had changed goalies, from Jeremy Smith to Christopher Gibson.
The Sound Tigers tied it at 3 late in the second period on Steve Bernier’s first goal of two. Chris Bourque tied it at 4 early in the third, a minute and a half after Justin Bailey’s second goal gave the Phantoms a 4-3 lead.
NHL veteran Dale Weise untied it not quite two minutes later, when a stretch pass caromed to him off Bridgeport defenseman Parker Wotherspoon.
“Go down 3-0, coming back, and it seemed like every time we came back, we gave one up,” Bourque said. “We kept fighting. That was nice to see. But you can’t keep coming back from deficits against a high-powered offense.”
Attendance was 3,890.
The Phantoms came out strong, much like Bridgeport did early in the teams’ meeting a week ago, a 4-1 Sound Tigers win. The Sound Tigers were called for two penalties in the first 3:35.
Four seconds after the second penalty expired, Bailey scored off a carom off the endboards. A turnover led to Greg Carey’s goal, and two Sound Tigers pinching set up James de Haas’ goal on a two-on-one: The Phantoms led 3-0 at 9:54 of the first, and Bridgeport had no shots.
Mitch Vande Sompel and Kyle Burroughs scored early in the second period, 28 seconds apart, to get Bridgeport going.
“It’s tough to kill four minutes of penalties in the first five minutes of the game, tough to get everyone in right away,” Bourque said. “At the same time, you’ve got to battle through that. The response was good, just not enough, obviously. You can’t give up seven goals.”
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PHANTOMS 7, SOUND TIGERS 5
Lehigh Valley3 0 4—7
Bridgeport0 3 2—5
First Period — 1, Lehigh Valley, Bailey 12 (de Haas, Vecchione), 5:39. 2, Lehigh Valley, Carey 21 (Conner, Swavely), 6:54. 3, Lehigh Valley, de Haas 1 (Weise, Vecchione), 9:54. Penalties — Goulbourne, LV, major (fighting), :20; Helgeson, Bpt, minor-major-misconduct (instigating, fighting), :20; Burroughs, Bpt (tripping), 3:35.
Second Period — 4, Bridgeport, Vande Sompel 7 (Helgeson), 3:47. 5, Bridgeport, Burroughs 4 (Aho, Stevens), 4:15. 6, Bridgeport, Bernier 13 (Koivula, C.Bourque), 19:41. Penalties — Krushelnyski, LV (tripping), 14:01; Bailey, LV (slashing), 19:41.
Third Period — 7, Lehigh Valley, Bailey 13 (Willcox, Brennan), 2:12. 8, Bridgeport, C.Bourque 10 (Koivula, Aho), 3:40. 9, Lehigh Valley, Weise 1 (Twarynski), 5:21. 10, Lehigh Valley, Conner 12 (Willcox, Vecchione), 12:40. 11, Bridgeport, Bernier 14 (Helgeson, Koivula), 16:24. 12, Lehigh Valley, Vecchione 11, 18:52 (en). Penalties — Carey, LV (kneeing), 11:31; Aho, Bpt (high-sticking), 12:32.
Shots on goal — Lehigh Valley 14-6-12—32. Bridgeport 7-12-19—38.
Power play opportunities — Lehigh Valley 0 of 3, Bridgeport 0 of 3.
Goaltenders — Lehigh Valley, McKenna 4-3-0 (38 shots-33 saves). Bridgeport, Smith (10-7), Gibson 11-9-4 (9:54 first, 21-18).
Attendance — 3,890. Referees — Pontes, Ross. Linesmen — K.Briganti, Pincus.