By Wil Goldsholl
Hartford, CT, December 27, 2012 – Kevin Poulin turned away 36 Connecticut Whale shots in Hartford on Thursday to pick up his first shutout of the season, on the way to a 3-0 win for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Bridgeport took both games in this week’s double-header, the first of which was at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Wednesday. Connecticut, who has now been shut out five times on the year, went 0 for 7 on the man advantage; they are 1 for 25 in the last five games.
Bridgeport struck first, less than two minutes in to the game. Right winger David Ullstrom slid a pass to Matt Watkins. Watkins advanced to the right circle and shoveled a backhand pass allowing Chad Costello to tap it past Cam Talbot on the backdoor for his first goal of the year.
Dylan McIlrath, who made his first appearance of the season, came out with high energy, delivering a hard check on Marc Cantin breaking up the left half boards. He was called for elbowing at 7:49 but said of the check, “There’s no good penalties, of course, but that’s one the boys don’t really mind killing off.” As soon as he emerged from the box, Brett Gallant was there to challenge him and the two dropped the gloves at center ice.
The Whale strung together seven unanswered shots in the middle portion of the first period, including a quickly developed two-on-one where Blake Parlett slid around Matt Donovan and looked to Ryan Bourque cross-crease. Ty Wishart was there to cut the pass off, however.
Bourque drew a tripping call trying to get around Jon Landry with just over five to play, and Chad Kolarik saw a chance to put away a rebound on the ensuing power play following a Christian Thomas wrister.
Connecticut dug themselves into a bit of trouble, as Bridgeport came back on the transition. Kris Newbury was called for hooking and Kolarik earned himself an unsportsmanlike conduct call as Brandon DeFazio broke in on the left wing. Landry came out of the box moments later and the Whale handled the five on three situation.
The Whale nearly got on the board when Poulin came above the circles to play a puck and hit his own defenseman. Kelsey Tessier stepped to the middle and drove the puck from nearly half ice but it would hit the outside of the pipe.
Talbot, who finished with 23 saves on 26 shots, came up with an awkward and timely save late in the period, and Newbury with Kolarik responded with a near-miss of their own, but still could not get the rubber across the goal line.
With 67 seconds to go in the first, Newbury fired the puck towards Poulin on a close offside call, drawing some attention from Bridgeport as well as the referees. He was called for unsportsmanlike conduct as well. Bridgeport took six seconds to convert. Bridgeport captain Colin McDonald won a clean draw and Costello tapped it back to Matt Donovan. Donovan backpedaled to the middle of the point and pulled the trigger to beat Talbot stick side and gain a 2-0 edge before the first intermission.
Early in the second Brandon Segal drew a hooking call on Donovan, but after the penalty expired the Sound Tigers replied. Watkins put the puck to the middle for McDonald who, blindly and backhandedly, fed John Persson. The goal was Persson’s 10th of the year.
Marek Hrivik got chippy with McDonald a few minutes later and Mike Vernace jumped in to give him a hand. McDonald was called for charging and roughing, and Vernace for roughing only. Poulin frustrated the power play yet again, flashing the glove on a Christian Thomas one-timer, then shutting down Newbury on a point blank chance. After the penalty expired Thomas stole the puck on the blueline and broke in nearly alone but the five-hole effort was denied by Poulin with six and a half left in the second.
Jon Landry took two more penalties in the early minutes of the third; one for interfering with Bourque, and another for getting his stick tied up in Tessier’s midsection.
Tommy Grant clipped Poulin behind the net near the midway mark of the third and Brandon DeFazio took exception to that, landing them both in the sin bin. DeFazio took a double minor for roughing. Grant was guilty of the same infraction but served half the time DeFazio did. Chris Kreider would join him in the box moments later to negate the power play on a holding penalty.
While the Whale would see some additional chances in the closing minutes, they still could not get on the board and the 3-0 score would stand.
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Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3 at Connecticut Whale 0
Thursday, December 27, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Bridgeport 2 1 0 – 3
Connecticut 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Costello 1 (Watkins, Ullstrom), 1:57. 2, Bridgeport, Donovan 4 (Costello, McDonald), 18:59 (PP). Penalties-Cizikas Bri (tripping), 4:09; McIlrath Ct (elbowing), 7:49; Gallant Bri (fighting), 9:53; McIlrath Ct (fighting), 9:53; Jean Ct (charging), 11:15; Landry Bri (tripping), 14:44; Kolarik Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:25; Newbury Ct (hooking), 16:25; Newbury Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:53.
2nd Period-3, Bridgeport, Persson 10 (McDonald, Watkins), 4:15. Penalties-Donovan Bri (hooking), 0:46; McDonald Bri (charging, roughing), 7:28; Vernace Ct (roughing), 7:28.
3rd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Landry Bri (interference), 1:58; Landry Bri (hooking), 6:32; DeFazio Bri (roughing, roughing), 9:03; Grant Ct (roughing), 9:03; Kreider Ct (holding), 9:08; Tessier Ct (slashing), 13:11.
Shots on Goal-Bridgeport 8-10-8-26. Connecticut 13-9-14-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Bridgeport 1 / 7; Connecticut 0 / 7.
Goalies-Bridgeport, Poulin 9-5-2 (36 shots-36 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 10-13-0 (26 shots-23 saves).
Referees-David Banfield (77), Jean-Philippe Sylvain (16).
Linesmen-Jim Briggs (83), Luke Galvin (2).