The St. Johns Ice Caps (Winnipeg Jets) (39-20-1-3 82 points in 63 games) come to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers (27-30-2-4 60 points in 63 games). This game was the final meeting between the two teams and in the previous three games, the Ice Caps have won every game by one goal.
For me the player to watch is former Islanders draft pick Brenden Kichton, who has been an offensive threat for the defense. In 63 games this season, Kichton has amassed 10 goals and 33 assists for 43 points. For the Sound Tigers, it’s about the defense. With a balanced offensive attack from the Ice Caps, I want to see how Scott Mayfield and the young Bridgeport defense handle their opponent without the scoring touches of Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Mike Halmo who were all promoted to the New York Islanders.
The first period was a back and forth contest and it ended with no goals from either team. Bridgeport outshot St. Johns but the Ice Caps controlled a good portion of the period, especially with two power plays. Both teams had a good amount of chances to score, but in the end the only kind of excitement came in a fight when LW Brett Gallant threw down a few punches on Ice Caps RW Austen Brassard and it woke up the crowd after a little more than half the period.
The second period saw each team trade goals and Bridgeport got on the scoreboard first when Adam Brace scored his third goal of the season when he took a puck that bounced off the boards and shot the puck to a wide open net. It looked like Bridgeport would continue to keep the shutout going until Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin went to play the puck and did not get back into position, aka hug the post, and Ice Caps F Jason Jaffray shot the puck, bounced off a Poulin skate and “trickled” in to tie the game at 1. To his credit, it appeared the puck did not completely cross the goal line, but the arena did not have the overhead view to see what happened. Joe Finley appeared to have cleared the puck but the referees decided it was a goal. The rest of the period saw Bridgeport get multiple chances to score, but Ice Caps goalie Tyler Beskorowany made some unbelievable saves to preserve the tie and add some anticipation for the third period.
The third period had the Sound Tigers have multiple power plays but could not convert. Watching that part of Bridgeport’s game you could tell the fans were missing Lee and Strome. Towards the end of the game, it was mostly Bridgeport taking over and controlling the puck possession. It was certainly a back and forth game, but the third showcased two goalies up for the challenge. I thought Poulin was more focused and Beskorowany just robbed several Sound Tigers they’re game winner.
The game went into overtime and again it was back and forth effort with Bridgeport being robbed by Beskorowany for practically five minutes. The Bridgeport defense was very good and disciplined for the entire game and it showed in overtime as well, limiting St. Johns to shouts from outside the faceoff circles.
The Shootout began as it would come down to the best goalie of the evening. John Persson got on the board to make it 1-0. Ice Caps Carl Klingburg tied it at 1-1. For the next few rounds the goalies just stoned everyone until finally the Ice Caps Adam Lowry, who beat Bridgeport the last time they met, scored the game winner against Poulin. Final score 2-1 Ice Caps.
Yes, the Sound Tigers got the raw end of the deal, but Bridgeport had plenty of opportunities to win this game and did not convert. Poulin was solid against a top AHL team, although he did have a mental lapse or two, but it wasn’t enough to get burned this time. As for Kichton, he was not much of a factor. In my next ”Bridge Report” I’ll discuss how the Sound Tigers are maturing and how it will help the Islanders in the near future.
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