Soundin' Off -- the lifeboat

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Not quite the gamer

The longest postgame meeting in five-plus seasons of Sound Tigers hockey followed Albany's 7-3 victory Sunday at Harbor Yard.

Something obviously had to give after the seventh loss in eight games, arguably the worst of the lot. Lots of yelling early, and lots of talking later.

Talking about competition. Talking about, in Steve Regier's words (though not specifically about the meeting itself), wanting to win.

"We let it all hang out," Regier said. "We got a lot accomplished off the ice. You're going to see a whole new team in 2007. We're going to compete. Everybody working, everybody wanting to win every night. I can promise you, you're going to see it."

Captain Mark Wotton called it an embarrassment. That would be hard to argue after Albany took a 7-1 lead five minutes into the third.

"I think, from the players' side, the passion has to be there," Wotton said. "The passion to work, it needs to be there, and it obviously wasn't today. ... That is unaccceptable. It's not what I stand for. It's not what the New York Islanders stand for. It's not what Howard (Saffan, team president) stands for. It's not what (Islanders general manager) Garth Snow stands for.

"That kind of (stuff) will not be tolerated."

It's hard to believe this followed Saturday's game, a night when the Sound Tigers probably deserved better after generating lots of scoring chances in a 3-1 loss to Springfield. The coaches appeared to have high hopes for Sunday before the game.

That got dashed in a hurry.

"The little things are building," coach Dan Marshall said. "The little things, from the standpoint of getting guys to the net, center-lane drive. They've been building, but (there's) a little bit of slipping."

Albany's top line of Keith Aucoin, Ryan Bayda and Shane Willis turned it into a laugher quickly. Bayda's second of three goals gave the Rats the lead for good at 9:36 when quick passing found him open -- not wide-open like guys had been left in those other ugly losses, but just enough -- to beat Mike Mole.

Then the former locals got busy. Willis (Beast of New Haven) scored on a rush at 16:00, with Ben Guite (Bridgeport, 2001-02 and 2003-04) picking up the second assist; Guite scored on a breakaway off Matt Murley's lead pass 2:08 later after Bridgeport got caught with four deep and Guite broke smartly.

It was 4-1, and you might -- just might, mind you -- have been able to argue Bridgeport had the better chances. The Sound Tigers trailed first because a dump-in hit something along the dashers and kicked into the crease as Michael Mole was going behind the net to play it; Rick Berry (minus-5, were he and Jeremy Colliton) and maybe Mole got a piece of Bayda's first try, but Bayda finished the second. Jeff Tambellini tied it through a screen from the right point on a power play, and Frans Nielsen ran the scoring streak to nine with the second assist.

Bayda finished the hat trick on a two-on-two when Aucoin found him wide right.

Willis made it a five-point night off the post and in 58 seconds into the third, and Johnny Boychuk scored on an extended power play to make it 7-1. Eric Boguniecki and Jamie Fraser (1st AHL) scored 79 seconds apart to finish it off.

(A fond welcome to readers who have wandered over here from print for the first time,
looking for details on this game. Please take a look around.)

To make it look all printy:

1) SHANE WILLIS, ALBANY -- Five-point night, including two goals.
2) RYAN BAYDA, ALBANY -- Three goals.
3) KEITH AUCOIN, ALBANY -- The man can control a game.
UNSUNG HERO -- Ben Guite. 'Cause as we know well here, when is he not?
UP NEXT -- Friday at Albany, 7:05 p.m.

Albany 4 1 2--7
Bridgeport 1 0 2--3

First Period --
1, Albany, Bayda 4 (Willis, Vernace), 2:02. 2, Bridgeport, Tambellini 17 (Boguniecki, Nielsen), 7:33 (pp). 3, Albany, Bayda 5 (Willis, Aucoin), 9:36. 4, Albany, Willis 12 (Angelidis, Guite), 16:00. 5, Albany, Guite 8 (Murley), 18:08. Penalties -- Love, Alb (tripping), 7:17; Murley, Alb (interference), 12:56.
Second Period -- 6, Albany, Bayda 6 (Aucoin, Willis), 5:37. Penalties -- Boguniecki, Bpt (interference), 2:17; Colliton, Bpt (hooking), 8:07; Boychuk, Alb, minor-major (cross-checking, fighting), 13:33; Nolan, Bpt, minor-major (slashing, fighting), 13:33; Comeau, Bpt (slashing), 15:47; McCormick, Alb (tripping), 18:36.
Third Period -- 7, Albany, Willis 13 (Aucoin, Bayda), :58. 8, Albany, Boychuk 7 (Estrada, Vernace), 5:00 (pp). 9, Bridgeport, Boguniecki 4 (Nielsen, Tambellini), 9:19. 10, Bridgeport, Fraser 1 (Nilsson, Regier), 10:38. Penalties -- Goulet, Bpt (tripping), 3:00; Berry, Bpt (roughing), 4:27; Nielsen, Bpt (roughing), 11:23; Angelidis, Alb, major (fighting), 11:55; Fata, Bpt, double minor-major (slashing, cross-checking, fighting), 11:55.

Shots on goal -- Albany 9-12-17--38. Bridgeport 12-6-5--23.
Power play opportunities -- Albany 1 of 8, Bridgeport 1 of 3.
Goaltenders -- Albany, Weiman 12-4-1 (23 shots-20 saves). Bridgeport, Mole 1-5-0 (38-31).
Attendance -- 2,827. Referee -- Hulshof. Linesmen -- Spannaus, Simeon.

And now on to your regularly scheduled bloggin':

New Year's Rockin' Meeting (edited)

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Nokelainen
D: Fata-Berry
Wotton (C)-Mitchell

F: Bayda-Aucoin (C)-Willis (A)
Angelidis-Guite (A)-Murley
D: Vernace-Boychuk

(Note: Berry wasn't listed with a phantom A today.)

I might have asked about all the lineup switches -- The D pairs were pretty fluid in-game -- but other things happened.

That's clearly the longest postgame meeting ever.

From what I hear, fans who stuck it out for 37 minutes to wait for Michael Mole's and Steve Regier's autographs -- and never got 'em, because the meeting still had about 15 minutes to go at that point -- got free tickets.

Bridgeport's other seven-plus-GA games: Feb. 1, 2002, at Springfield (L, 7-1); Jan. 28, 2005, at Providence (L, 7-5); Nov. 4, 2005, vs. Manchester (L, 7-5, the 31-shots-in-the-second-period game); March 30, 2003, at Hartford (L, 8-0, the bench-two-lines game); Oct. 5, 2005, at Wilkes-Barre (L, 8-1, opening night); Oct. 23, 2005, vs. Wilkes-Barre (L, 8-3).

Fraser has fit in just fine. His stuff got mislaid on the way to Bradley, so he played Saturday night in Brandon Cullen's gear and Joe Ferras' skates.

I'm going on hand signals here and nothing more, but it looked to me, when ref Mark Hulshof was assessing to Messrs. Boychuk and Nolan in the second, that he signalled the cross-check and the slash and then waved his arms, like, "no penalties on the board." If he did call fighting majors then -- as he, one hopes, meant -- then indeed there would be no penalties on the board. But it doesn't look like he mentioned them, does it? Anyway, Nolan and Boychuk got released after two minutes and a whistle, and then at the start of the third, apparently the ref noticed they weren't in the box. He got them locked away... For 33 seconds and a whistle, which was all they "had left" after "beginning to serve their seven minutes" at 13:33 of the second... There's one you don't see every day. (I have Nolan with one shift during his major; didn't keep Albany's, who I almost just called Lowell there.)

Brendan Shanahan talks to Larry Brooks about the "New NHL," and how it's not quite what they envisioned. Shanahan makes some cogent points.

It's weird sitting here with big parts of the boards taken down. Got an eerie summertimey feel to it. And that's a bad feeling to have. Especially after a 1-7 stretch and a 50-minute team meeting.


So we say goodbye to deer ol' 2006. I can't say I'll miss it much. For the Sound Tigers, it ends with a 36-31-5-5 regular-season record, and a 3-4 playoff mark, including 0-3 at home. (Good gravy. What-if essay question: What if they'd won just one of those home playoff games?) In the moment, it ends with a 4-9 December record, including regulation losses in seven of the last eight.

This is the fifth seventh time in team history that the Sound Tigers have gone as many as eight games with only one victory; interestingly, in five of those streaks, the wins came in overtime or shootouts. Also interestingly, those other four streaks came in pairs: The two in 2002-03 combined to a 2-8-2-1 (ties-OTL) drought, while the other two combined for that infamous 2-12-1-1 drought at the New Year in 2003-04. Add: There were also two such eight-game streaks last year, which had regulation victories: One in December, right before the Wilkes-Barre game that turned the season around; and the other to end the season, when they were pretty much an ECHL team because of the injuries and callups.

Quite a year. We said a fond farewell way too soon to Dave Baseggio, Pat Bingham and Lane Lambert. It's not meant as a slight against those in their offices now when we say they deserved better. (Arguably, that's what they got.) Steve Stirling got another job, one in which he seems very happy, and so it should be. Such all-time Tigers as Rob Collins, Jeff Hamilton, Tomi Pettinen, Cole Jarrett, Eric Godard, Matt Koalska, Ryan Caldwell and Jody Robinson moved on. Sean Bergenheim left, for now at least. Guys like Travis Brigley, Wyatt Smith, Justin Papineau, David Masse, Paul Flache, Luch Aquino departed. And toughest of all, Kevin Colley had to go just when he reached the top of the mountain.

The hockey world lost Marc Potvin, Gary Dineen, Stefan Blaho, Gennady Tsygankov, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Red Storey, Jonathan Delisle, Floyd Curry, Andrei Lomakin, Tommy Sandlin, and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone or -ones. We the ink-stained lost Jack Lautier, Gene O'Donnell and Tim Moriarty.

Well, it's far later than I ever thought I'd be here tonight. See you in '07.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting old

They actually got shots tonight, and it wasn't enough. They got one from Regier in front on the power play, and it wasn't enough. They stopped a penalty shot, making opponents 0-for-8* all-time, and it wasn't enough. They were pretty responsible in their own end: not enough.

Suppose it's a lot easier to chalk it up to "one of those nights" when this isn't the sixth one in the past seven.

First goal was just a point shot that got through Mole. Second one was a nifty deflection. The third was a power-play rebound.

Yeah, it's better than it was against Norfolk and Hershey and Wilkes-Barre, but how much better?

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Nolan
D: (Fata-scratch)-Berry ('A')
Mitchell-Wotton (C)

F: Healey (A)-Corso-Milley (C)
Lascek-Cavanaugh (A)-Spina
D: Smaby-O'Brien

A stronger reminder than usual that those lineups are from warmups. Things changed -- the roster changed -- in the next 20 minutes:

Fata took warmup but couldn't go; he hopes to be good for Sunday. Nilsson was announced as a scratch -- perhaps just somebody's assumption because he didn't take warmups; I didn't see the actual cards -- but arrived on the bench after the anthem. Fraser -- second Tiger and first skater to wear 40 -- showed up on the bench five minutes in and made his debut 10 minutes in, on the right point. He got involved, joined the rush, took some shots, tried some things. I thought he fit in. Berry was listed with the second A but wasn't wearing one.

Add 9 to 7/51, and those are basically what Bridgeport used. The D pairs in the first were basically Wotton with whoever was up, or if Wotton needed a minute, Berry with whoever was up. I've seen DII high school teams rotate 'em more. In the second and third, there was a much more regular 5-D rotation, but still, I think Wotton came close to playing every second on the PK.

First-unit power play was five forwards: Boguniecki, Regier, Nilsson with Tambellini and Nielsen on the points. Neat when they first pulled Michael Mole: They sent out Nokelainen's line and Nielsen's line in full, with Tambellini and Nielsen again on the points.

On the penalty shot, Spina did a little drag to the left, but Mole kept the leg out and stopped it.

First time Mark Hulshof has reffed the Sound Tigers.

Hartford sent Hugh Jessiman to Charlotte today. Mark Lee remains.

Check out Andy Hutchison's feature on Dan Marshall's musical career on the AHL Web site.

Haydar you kidding me or somethin'? (Yeah, that was the worst pun ever written.) I look forward to the press release.

Two points for Ben Guite as Albany extends the lead to six points. Providence's Jonathan Sigalet assists on all four goals, and it's not enough. Hershey scores three goals in four minutes to beat Norfolk and a Bochenski hat trick. And me, I'm just impressed Jason LaBarbera got a night off. (And Manch wins, no less, taking 17 shots.)

Chris Ferraro scored the fastest goal in Rampage history Friday night.

*-The caveat is the goal that was awarded to Hartford last year, when Rob Collins threw his stick to keep Dwight Helminen from scoring into an empty net. It's special circumstances, but it would be a penalty shot with the goalie in the net.

Radekal move

Allan Rourke got the call today after the Islanders announced they expect Radek Martinek to miss four weeks with a broken bone in his foot. Bridgeport signed ECHL all-star Jamie Fraser, 21, to a PTO. With South Carolina, he's second among ECHL defensemen at 5-23-28; in fact, he's the third-leading ECHL rookie scorer, per Howe. He's 1-11-12 on the power play. Here's a profile from Charleston.

Which moment is this?

With the brass -- let's see; Ted Nolan, Dan Flynn, Daniel Lacroix, Garth Snow, Kerry Gwydir, Steve Webb: who did I miss? -- in attendance, Bridgeport played...

Not quite well enough, is probably the short answer.

Baseggio threatened benchings last year, then followed through a few times. Tonight, seemingly out of nowhere, Masi Marjamaki disappeared to the middle of the bench for 13 minutes, then played just once more.

Turnovers happen, but they have happened too often the past few weeks. So a little accountability may not be the worst thing in the world, but we'll see where it goes from here.

(Would tell you what Dan Marshall -- who has had a small group of fans chanting for his head after the past two games -- thought of it all, but no doubt with the brass coming through, he didn't pop his head out of his office in the 30 minutes allotted (and available due to deadlines).)

The only saving grace right now is that Albany isn't playing that well, either. But Philly, somehow, is still sitting there...

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)-(Goulet-scratch)

F: Korpikoski-Helminen-Weller (C)
Dawes (A)-Callahan-Isbister
D: Liffiton-Degon
Constant-Girardi (A)

On to Springfield -- hey there, coach Stirling -- and check out the shots in the Falcons' game tonight.

Peter Ferraro didn't play the third with an injury of some sort; hopefully more tomorrow.

Mark Lee didn't have a point in his first 24 AHL games last season with Bridgeport before scoring a goal at Portland. Including the last three games of last season, he now has two goals in his last six AHL games.

They're still keeping Ortmeyer's shifts very short, but he was still effective here.

Steve Webb: Good guy. Good teammate. Solid player who played his role to a T. But do you ever sit back and wonder how history might have been different with Alain Nasreddine in the other color that April?

Haydar needed 12:53 tonight.

Hoping this posts. My incredible crashing work computer has only shut itself down three times tonight.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Making Haydar

Finally did the accumulation on Haydar's streak... and did Krog's while I was at it.

The closest calls in Darren Haydar's 34-game scoring streak:
Game 11, Nov. 3 at Omaha: 2-1 Wolves to the final minute, and Haydar scores his first point into the empty net at 19:34 of the third (fraction unavailable).
Game 4, Oct. 15 vs. Omaha: Haydar scores from Krog and Steve Martins at 18:42 of the third before Omaha adds the empty netter in a 4-2 win. (This is Krog's closest call in 25 games.)
Game 3, Oct. 14 vs. Milwaukee: Haydar scores the only Wolves goal (from Krog and Joey Crabb) of a 5-1 loss at 12:51 of the third.
Game 23, Dec. 2 vs. San Antonio: Haydar and Krog assist Boris Valabik at 8:10 of the third to go ahead 4-3. Haydar and Brett Sterling later set up Krog, necessary insurance in a 5-4 victory.

Now get this. Through his 34-game scoring streak, those are the only four times Haydar has gone into the third without a point. The only four times! (Krog has gone to the third scoreless five times in his 25-game streak.)

Haydar has scored his first point in the first 10 minutes nine times; scored it 10 times in the next 10 minutes. Four times he has scored it in the first 10 minutes of the second, making it 23 times out of 34 that he has his first point before the game is half over. (So, to save the arithmetic, seven times he's scored it in the last 10 minutes of the second.)

For all that, Krog has averaged a little quicker first point. In the 25 games they played together, Krog scored first nine times, Haydar scored first five times, and they scored on the same goal 11 times. Krog's average first point comes at 1:18 of the second; Haydar's, at 2:30 of the second.

Both players have averaged a quicker first point on the road (18:28 for Haydar, 14:59 for Krog) than at Rosemont (27:00 Haydar, 28:09 Krog). The Wolves happen to be 15-3 on the road and 9-4-1-2 at home.

Haydar also has a 14-game assist streak within this point streak, which is longer than any Sound Tiger's scoring streak in 5.375 seasons.

And as you might expect, Haydar has 20 multi-point games so far; Krog has 13.

Update: Over at his blog, Dave Eminian puts Haydar's streak in all-time perspective.

Update2: For fun ('cause y'know, why sleep?), pulled the numbers on the two most recent long BST streaks, since data was relatively handy. Jeff Hamilton's team-record 12-gamer last year included four times he carried the suspense into the third period. Six times he first scored in the first period, and twice he first scored in the second. Jeff Tambellini's 10-gamer this year began with nine games in which he had never failed to score before the third period; the latest he had his first point was 17:22 of the second. He scored the overtime goal against Binghamton with 23.0 seconds remaining to cap off the streak. I don't know what all that means, but hey, sharing is fun, said my kindergarten teacher.

Just enjoy this one...

Let's just pause a moment in our hectic lives to contemplate this.

Eric Godard scores the game-winning, last-minute, short-handed goal to lift Omaha over San Antonio, and do you remember the guy who could barely put one skate in front of the other in 2001? If you do, each comma probably makes that phrase more fun. Dave Ahlers' press release, in fact, says Andrei Taratukhin "tossed a perfect pass to a streaking Godard."

(Chris Ferraro scored the go-ahead goal for San An, BTW.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I've got nothing to say...

Going to work, don't wanna go/Feeling lowdown...

Well, after a good, hard four hours of sleep, I found my way into the barn at 8 to find them already on the ice, getting going. What followed looked like a fairly usual practice, with about a five-minute speech ("passion" and "motivation" were among the words that filtered upstairs). A little later, a passing drill got a little raggedy, and Marshall made them do pushups on every pass into a skate. (Two sets of pushups followed.) They came off at about 9:15 and went to work out, with meetings to follow.

So was it a good morning, good morning, good morning-a? Or is it more like nothing has changed; it's still the same?

Guess we'll find out this weekend, when the opposition gets a little easier.

Robert Nilsson and Wade Dubielewicz skated, by the way. Both are in day-to-day territory, though they're likely to be very cautious with Dubielewicz. Brandon Cullen, meanwhile, will be shut down for another couple of weeks. The poor man just cannot get the symptoms to stay away.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Day break

If you've been waiting for Dan Marshall's Two-A-Days moment, wait no longer.

The boys will be back here in about eight hours to go on the ice at 8 a.m. They're usually on at 10:15, 10:30.

So this'll be interesting.

Marshall takes pains to blame himself, but he also questioned the consistency of the work ethic tonight.

Everyone has been talking about limiting turnovers, and they committed a bunch tonight.

Physical play? Sometimes.

Power play? Four for its last 59, falling back to last place.

"Turnovers, the power play and keeping pucks out of our net. They're killing us," Marshall said. "They're hurting us. They keep us from winning games. Turnovers are No. 1."

They'll work on changing things bright and early.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)-Goulet

F: Fleischmann-Wilson-Fehr
Giroux (A)-Hendricks-Wiseman
Laing (A)-Steckel-Bourque
D: Sloan-Arsene (A)

Three things that made first edition but didn't make second: Marjamaki's assist on Pitton's goal was his first point since October, in 24 games. The Sound Tigers took only six shots in the third, none in the last five minutes, most of which was spent six-on-five after Michael Mole went to the bench with 2:25 to play. And Hershey fought the same traffic I did coming across the Tappan Zee from Jersey and arrived at 6:25 p.m. for the 7:30 game.

Mark Lee got called up to Hartford and played tonight. Do you smell notebook item? 'Cause I sure do.

Chris Ferraro signed on with San Antonio today, a PTO.

The World Juniors have begun, and, well, that's about all we'll say today, huh? (Ryan O'Marra had an assist for Canada, if you can get past that first score without convulsions.)

Good stuff Sunday from Larry Brooks.

Then saw this Greg Cronin feature in the Sunday Globe. I'm gonna take Jerry York's quote as a pop for us.

Feat out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today about Pekka Rinne coming back from an offseason attack on the street in Finland.

In the haste to get out Saturday (reasons other than just the break, actually, but no excuse)... Neglected to mention a couple of things from the other night. One was a rockin' Kevin Mitchell stand-up check on Ryan Murphy along the boards in the first period, the kind you don't see a lot of anymore. Sweet. And the other is that Drew Fata's scrap with Tim Jackman was the first Bridgeport fight at home this year, unless I'm just forgetting one.

And then another thing noticed after updating the stats: Blake Comeau has three overtime points already, a goal and two assists. That's tied for third-best in a single season by a Sound Tiger, behind Rob Collins (2-2-4 in 2004-05) and Jeff Hamilton (3-0-3 in 2003-04). Three other players have gone 1-2-3 in OT in a season, Brandon Smith in 2003-04 and D-partners Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli in '04-05. Comeau is already tied for sixth on the overall all-time Sound Tigers overtime scoring list.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Big one

A little bit of a big word tonight: "needed." Appropriate, probably, too.

They played a better game, all around. They got the job done. The only goal against came off a turnover that turned into a two-on-oh.

They kept the front of the net clear, they moved the puck, they got some help in overtime after nearly getting it done a couple of times, and they're back on the right side of the ledger in more ways than one.

Hey, nice job, boys. Take a couple of days off.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)-Goulet

F: O'Sullivan-Clarke (A)-Jackman
Giuliano (A)/Ryan
D: Mormina-Buckley (C)

Wanted to note the passing of Todd Burger, who was the sports editor at the Fairfield Citizen-News for years and a good guy.

I didn't ask why the dark sweaters tonight, but Manchester wore white last night at Worcester, too. You know I'm not complaining.

From the Uni Watch blog: The Sharks don't like the new NHL jerseys.

Haydar did it in style tonight with a goal.

I don't think this stick is approved for AHL play. (Unless you've got a sponsor exemption.) Probably wouldn't break so easily, though.

So here's the break. Happy holidays, and if it's your holiday of choice, Merry Christmas.

Oh, joy, rapture!

My latest attempt at faking math:

Tuesday night, mostly out of idle curiosity (and procrastinating on the weekly feature and the weekly Power Rankings), I tried running some numbers with Bill James' Pythagorean method. James had the idea that a baseball team's expected winning percentage comes out very close to its runs scored, squared, divided by the sum of that number plus runs-allowed-squared. [RS^2/(RS^2+RA^2), if that helps you visualize. I needed finger puppets.] Over the years, much better mathematical minds than mine (real ones, in other words) have refined and honed it to make it more closely mirror real life.

Better hockey minds than mine found that something similar happens in hockey, substituting goals for runs. But the shootout and the point-for-an-OTL mess it all up: bonus points galore. And I'm nowhere near good enough to refine, develop or hone it.

So, I got the noise out of the way, sorting out each team's shootout record and taking those goals out of the equation. Then, I reverted each team's record back to good ol' fashioned W-L-T (using OTLs as L's and shootouts of any kind as a T*).

So the first set of numbers generated a Pythagorean projection based on the teams' GF/GA. And then the second set of numbers yielded a "real winning percentage," free of bonus-point influence**.

Now, all of this is a still a small sample, but from what the small sample kicks out, updated now through Friday's games.... The most striking team right away is Hamilton, whose 103 "real" goals for and 73 "real" goals against put them behind only Wilkes-Barre and Chicago in expected winning percentage. The Bulldogs have actually moved up to sixth or seventh overall in actual performance, depending on your measure, as they climb out of their early hole.

The top five (predicted winning percentage/"actual winning percentage"):

1) WBS .700/.706
2) CHI .680/.710
3) HAM .666/.581
4) HER .648/.700
5) NOR .646/.672

Which teams were "overachieving" the most? Subtracting "winning percentage" from Pythagorean expectation, here's the top five:

1) Peoria +.097
2) Springfield +.079
3) Rochester +.063
4) Hershey +.052
5) Omaha +.050

Which only caught my eye because of who's in those cities. The downside is the math says they're due for a slump, then... But even Peoria's plus-percentage, like Hamilton's minus-percentage of .085, isn't even a six-point swing to date.

And interestingly, after Friday's games, the two teams closest to the GF/GA relationship: Worcester (98 GF, 98 GA, 12-12-5) and Bridgeport (79 GF, 88 GA, 10-13-5, .446 all around).

*-And we've discussed the danger of this assumption, because bonus points change the way teams play the game, blah blah blah, don't step on a butterfly in the past, blah blah blah.
**-See above, blah blah blah, tie games would cause totalitarian government and funky spelling and maybe donuts falling from the sky, blah blah blah...***
***-"This is indeed a disturbing universe." (2F03)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter snowball

So there are two things at work here tonight, two ways to look at this game. One is in isolation: Three power-play goals in two minutes, another goal less than a minute later, and the game is gone.

The other is simple and more insidious: This is three losses in a row. This is five in seven. This is three goalie-pulls in five games. This is 12 goals against in two games and 31 in seven. This can easily turn into a mess. This is a team that looked to be in good shape three weeks ago and now has fallen back to hailing distance of last place.

The team seems focused on the latter.

To hear them tell it, it's a matter of discipline, to use Steve Regier's word. Dan Marshall had three things on the phone Thursday. Regier had three tonight: Turnovers, not getting pucks deep, and not playing the systems. Regier gave credit to the Penguins, whose power play changed this game around in a hurry, but "fundamentally, we were awful tonight, myself probably at the top."

Actually, the start was fine. Bridgeport was outshooting the Pens 7-3. Then the penalties started.

You don't get the puck in, Marshall said, now you've got the forwards going the other way, you lose the third man high, and you've got no support for your defense on the rush. Maybe they score. Maybe you take a penalty and have to face the No. 1 power play in the league.

"It's just a matter of guys going off on solo missions," is how Rick Berry put it. "The coaches are preaching it over and over. The older guys are preaching it over and over."

Where do you go from here? Regier insists they know the systems; it's just a matter of executing them.

And if they don't, well, what was John McKay's line about his Buccaneers' execution?

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)-Goulet

F: Brodziak-Schremp-Filewich
D: Welch-Gilbert
Lannon-DuPont (A)

So right, 16 skaters because Ogorodnikov got sent out, and Nilsson's back flared up. Berry: "We don't have an extra guy. You have the luxury of going back out there, whether you've made a mistake or not. Some teams I've been on, you make a mistake, you might not see the ice for a couple of games."

I'm gonna take some blame, too. I didn't even notice Jeff Deslauriers had gotten a penalty at the end, so no idea who served the roughing minor for him. Gotta work 60 minutes, even up here.

Bernie Cassell and Joe Ferras switched off for a night; Cassell changed the forwards, while Ferras was the eye in the sky behind us in the press box.

Wade Dubielewicz appears targeted for Tuesday.

Darren Haydar tied the record tonight, needing just 7:50 to do it. I wonder when his latest first point in a game has been; has anyone sifted that out yet? Project for next week, maybe. (Since I've had the Haydar Watch in the weekly notes for, like, a month now.)

Michel Therrien got one of the bigger hands of the night when they showed him talking to Pens radio man Tom Grace in the second intermission.

The NHL is reportedly considering going back to four divisions. Like the idea in principle.

Tip o'the cap to JB for pointing out Hockey Fans Unite. I also like Jonathan's suggestions for the site. Make it look mean, in short...

Christmas in Florida

Sergei Ogorodnikov has been sent to Pensacola for playing time. Robert Nilsson will sit out tonight with the back spasms, so one short.

And Luke Curtin is a National Conference ECHL All-Star.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hey now

Mike Jarmuth has been voted a starter for the American Conference at the ECHL All-Star Game, Jan. 17 in Boise, Idaho. Mark Lee was also picked for the team. The National Conference lineup comes out tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Spun like a dreidel

Whether it's my dialup connection or what, I can never keep the Sound Tigers Webcast up. So I pulled up Norfolk's Pete Michaud and Pat Shetler, and Pat basically spent the third period talking about how poor the Sound Tigers were defensively and how much different it would be Friday when Hershey came to town.

Not the way the Sound Tigers wanted to celebrate Hanukkah.

The Sound Tigers had allowed six goals just once before, but that was Nov. 10 at Philly (the come-from-ahead game), when the sixth was into an empty net. Bridgeport allowed two short-handers in a game once last year, but the second was into an empty net; the last time there were two legit ENGs against the Sound Tigers was Binghamton, April 2005.

Edit: Just doing up the stats now, Norfolk is the second team to reach 20 wins against the Sound Tigers. (First, of course, was Hartford.) The Admirals have won 20 of the 32 meetings; they have one OT win, and the Sound Tigers have two.

I get a kick out of Shetler, a former NHL linesman who refers to the Admirals as "we," "us" and "our" far more than in the third person. It's jarring until you realize it's coming, and then it's endearing in its own way.

Bridgeport's lineup was supposed to be the same as Sunday's with Goulet in and Ferraro out, and it sounded like it.

Long bus ride home, then a long bus ride out Friday. We'll see which team shows up in Wilkes-Barre.

Score for more

Robert Nilsson just got another assist Saturday night. Seriously: It turns out he's the one who fed the puck ahead to Jeremy Colliton, so the league took the assist away from Allan Rourke and gave it to Nilsson, his fourth assist of the night, tying Blake Comeau's record.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A new "traditionnnnnnn"

Wade Dubielewicz and Peter Ferraro stayed behind Tuesday when the Sound Tigers departed for Norfolk. Dan Marshall wants to get Jason Goulet in the lineup, in large part for some toughness.

Those who rode the bus will celebrate "Chanukah @ Scope" with the Admirals. Neat idea. Were I going, I'd certainly hope for lots of "Fiddler on the Roof" clips. (Hat tip to Tris Wykes, in whose capable hands you'll be tomorrow night...)

Where'd the toys go?

Our Linda Conner Lambeck went to Bridgeport Hospital with Regier, Dubielewicz, Thompson, Ogorodnikov and Jack Capuano to find out.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Who are these guys?

The numbers were striking before the game; they're even more striking now.

Brandon Bochenski, last 10 AHL games: 11 goals, 13 assists.

Martin St. Pierre, his last four AHL games: four goals, seven assists.

These guys ain't bad.

Billy Thompson wasn't happy afterward, but no less an authority than Bryan Trottier was picking him back up. They had to be perfect shots, and they were.

Besides, those other 43 didn't stop themselves.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)

F: Brouwer-St. Pierre-Bochenski
Keith-MacDonald (C)-Corazzini (A)
Burish-Fraser-Low (A)
D: Richmond-Byfuglien

The second and third pairs from the start were Koci-Barker and Domish-Hendry, which makes me wonder if I missaw a 5 for a 6 and vice-versa in warmup. But I don't think so.

Looking at Norfolk before the season, I thought the Ads would be a good team, probably in a three-for-two-spots thing with Bridgeport and Albany -- nothing like this. Talked a little to Mike Haviland about it, and I'll probably (plug alert) use it for the weekly notebook.

So right as Bridgeport iced the puck with 6:33 to go in the first tonight, Haviland put the St. Pierre line out on the ice... and there was a call for a promotional timeout, the third of the period. Haviland was upset, pointing up at the scoreboard clock. Indeed, the script for the game said, as it usually does, that the TOs were to be taken, three a period, at the first even-strength whistle after 14:00, 10:00 and 6:00.

Ref Ciamaga went with it, though. The early break gave the Nielsen line a bit of a breather. But as it turned out, Nilsson put the puck into the crowd; no change. Tambellini iced the puck; no change again, but Nokelainen and Nolan had apparently snuck on at some point for Nielsen and Nilsson. And then Nokelainen takes a penalty. After a Norfolk penalty, Bochenski scored his 20th on the four-on-four.

There are Bridgeport folks who aren't happy with having the promo timeouts at all, or at least not this many. Would be surprising if anything ever changes that, but...

Colliton's scoring streak ended at eight games.

Stan notes the signing of Chris Ferraro in Phoenix.

Thought Marjamaki had one of his more-involved games yet this season. Last year, that's how things got going for him in December: Forcing turnovers, moving, hitting. The points followed. Maybe.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Drawing the line

The credit for this victory gets spread out, to hear them talk afterward.

You can give it to Tambellini and his three goals, as Blake Comeau did, shouting "Thanks for the win, Jeff!" as Tom Liodice and I talked to Tambellini.

Or, you can listen to Steve Regier, who demanded a moment with us.

"I want to dedicate this win to the whole Sullo family," he said. "John, for working on my shoulder. Mom and sis, for their great work on my truck." (The truck was most important, right?) "I dedicate that gee-dub (game-winning goal) to them."

There you have it: Victory for the Sullo family. Get a banner ready.

Really, though, credit for this victory does get spread out.

Billy Thompson came on in relief and shut them down. Barry Tallackson could have cut it to one with about 28 seconds left, but Thompson got across to stop him. He made 25 saves and got an assist.

The assist was on Jeremy Colliton's breakaway goal, on which Colliton burned Dan McGillis, salary-cap victim and veteran of 634 NHL games.

Then came Petteri Nokelainen's first goal, which was probably only his second- or third-best play of the night. He skated better than I've ever seen him skate tonight to force a third-period turnover. He might finally be getting toward full strength.

Kevin Mitchell had a couple of assists. (The five defensemen combined for four assists, in fact.) The third line played well. Brandon Nolan continues to be effective. The team continues to show the ability to climb off the canvas.

Oh, yeah, and that Tambellini-Nielsen-Nilsson line? They're OK. If you like lines that can move the puck at will.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Rourke (A)

F: (Marshall-scratch)-Papineau-Bergfors
Murphy (A)-Vrana (A)-Tallackson
D: Greene-McGillis (C)

Nilsson said he felt "all right" today and will see how the back feels tomorrow. "I don't want to rush anything. I'll see tomorrow morning ... if it feels like it did today, or the last two weeks." My first question was how many he would have had if the back felt all right.

If you missed the afternoon fun, the Isles traded Alexei Zhitnik to Philadelphia for Freddy Meyer, a guy who always impressed with the Phantoms, and a draft pick. Chris Campoli went up, and Blake Comeau came back down once Alexei Yashin was good to go. Jason Goulet was called up from Pensacola but didn't make it in time; he was in the room afterward.

That's 10 wins in a row against teams from Lowell -- eight against the Lock Monsters, two against the Devils.

Don't think there's a name on Bridgeport's hat-trick list that's too surprising: Mapletoft, Krog twice (including one in the playoffs), Kolnik, Torres, Hunter, Bekar, Hamilton twice, Papineau twice, Bergenheim (the four goals Feb. 22) and now Tambellini. Nilsson assisted on two of Bergenheim's four goals to go with his two on Tambellini's three.

This is the third time both teams have changed goalies in a Sound Tigers game. The first was the craziest comeback ever seen on this ice, Jan. 26, 2002 against Worcester. The 'Cats switched for the last 1:24 of the second -- Cody Rudkowsky, in fact, was the short-term reliever -- then put Reinhard Divis back in as Bridgeport took a 5-1 lead; then Bridgeport switched after Worcester tied it up, and Rick DiPietro took the 6-5 loss in relief of Steve Valiquette. Then last year, Dec. 2 at Lowell, was the night Chris Madden got hurt and Wade Dubielewicz came on after one; the Lock Monsters switched, Vitaly Kolesnik for Kevin Nastiuk, when Bridgeport took a 3-0 lead on the way to 4-0.

Update: Alain Nasreddine scored his first NHL goal today. Jonathan has WBS coach Todd Richards' reaction in the game entry on his blog.

Glitch in the software has Milwaukee-Chicago going to a second overtime tonight. Deadlines aside, that's a tiebreaker I could really get into. (Haydar didn't need the extra time -- that's 29 games.)

All kinds of extremes on the out-of-town scoreboard, from the double shutout (your magic tiebreaker bonus point doesn't change it for Messrs. Valiquette and Grumet-Morris) to, good gravy, 10-4 (nine Amerks with more than one point) and 7-1 (Zingoni's the only Phantom on the plus side). And forget about what went on in the NHL. (Hamilton hits double digits in the NHL, BTW.)

And Syracuse has a lease agreement. Five years, with a team option for three more.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not sweet

So Koalska. Hershey apparently was letting him go because of a deadline to keep him for the full season; supposedly there's still a chance he could go back there. If not, the Isles and he will look at other options.

He's highly unlikely -- to the point you're only in "never say never" territory, is how it sounds -- to come back here.

I'll update if warranted.

Road trip

The Tigers had the full day off, so I wrapped up the Weekly this afternoon and took a ride up to Hartford tonight for the Phantoms' visit. Not a bad game to watch. Hartford trailed 2-0 but came back, with Ryan Callahan scoring the winner in the last 30 seconds off a smart read-turned-breakaway. The kid's a player.

Chatted briefly with local boy Peter Zingoni*. The Phantoms were rollin' lines pretty good, so even though he was on the "fourth," he was getting on pretty regularly, often with a double-shifting Petr Nedved. Tonight was Game 20 on his 25-game PTO, and he said he's heard nothing about something further -- it expires right at the Christmas break -- but he said he's been getting some good feedback.

And it was also Jed Ortmeyer's return to game action after his pulmonary embolism this summer. Bruce wrote the story for today's Courant. They didn't stretch him out; there were a couple of shifts that were, basically, 20 seconds and get off. He got an assist when he moved the puck down low to Darien's Hugh Jessiman for a feed to Brandon Dubinsky at the front. Hope Ortmeyer's back up top quickly; he's a fun player to watch, and he works his tail off.

Missed the Big Goaltender, though. Have to catch up with him soon.

Hey, the weekly's up already. Tried a little something with the feature, and I'm not sold that I sold it. Let me know what you think. Be vicious if necessary. The rest of the weekly stuff is found as always on our BST page.

Sergei Ogorodnikov put into words something I've wondered for a while. Sure, you read the books, you learn the language... But like Dave Barry wrote in one of his books**, foreign-language classes basically teach you how to say "give me the fish of your brother Raoul." There's nothing in there about the outlet pass or the neutral-zone trap. I remember trying to talk systems last year with Evgeny Tunik, and the two of us getting hilariously frustrated***.

Wondered semi-idly if Kevin Mitchell noticed any real difference in dialect between the cities he visited in Germany and in Austria. They told him there was, but he said he couldn't tell.

"America's Finest News Source," The Onion, does a pretty good rip job on hockey this week. And of course, it's darn funny.

The Mets had their Christmas party Wednesday, and Adam Rubin provides in his blog some "Hosts of Christmas Past" from the News' photo archives. (Anna Benson as Mrs. Claus makes it, of course, not suitable for work.) Among the classics, once you move past that first photo, are 1999 and 1978.

And RIP, Peter Boyle.

*-After convincing the visiting-room security guard I really was from the press. That's what I get for making sure I've waited out the 10-minute cooling-off period, I guess...
**-Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, maybe?
***-As one of us was Italian, sweeping hand gestures became involved.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Round and round we go

It's a tough week in hockey already, with Phil Kessel having cancer and Bob Gainey losing his daughter. What can you say?

Word is Pensacola has suspended Luch Aquino, and he may be headed to Europe.

And here, Blake Comeau and Eric Boguniecki are here for at least a few days. Robert Nilsson sat out again today; so did Steve Regier, though it doesn't sound like a problem. Wade Dubielewicz is improving but might not play this weekend, just to give it time to completely heal.

There's a story today in the Windsor Star about Ted Nolan and Jordan Nolan, Brandon's younger brother. (Tip o'cap: James Mirtle.)

Update: Oh yeah.

And one last time: The 'B' is for 'bargain'! (9F09)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Always something there...

NEW YORK ROUTE 17K, somewhere about a mile east of Route 17. Gentle hill, on the upslope, woods on either side and maybe a lake to the right, and over the crest are a bunch of puzzling, dancing, greenish-brown lights, about a dozen, dim but piercing, bobbing, disappearing and reappearing. They all disappear without the bright lights, then reappear, multiplied, with the brights back on...

Cresting the hill slowly now, and the lights are fixed, and then bodies grow behind them, in the middle of the road, one, two, three, what, maybe seven or eight, standing to one side, then fanning out slightly across the road, watching the other lights, waiting, and are there more behind them? Who knows, but there's nothing to do but wait...

And finally the biggest one, on the left, no longer interested, raises and turns his head and canters off to the left, and the other six or seven turn their heads and canter off behind, and the road is clear again, leaving just the guy in the car, his heart pounding...

Oh, deer.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Welcome home

A little smaller crowd, a little quieter hostility toward Billy Thompson than the last time he took that net for the Sound Tigers in Binghamton. Maybe they were just sympathetic.

No backcheck help, no help in front...

Cut quote: "I felt good," Thompson said. "Obviously I didn't get off to the start I wanted, but I felt sharp. I felt great. They got a couple of lucky bounces, worked to get goals: What are you going to do?"

Too much went wrong in that first period. Bridgeport was on its heels and never, like Jeremy Colliton said afterward, slowed Binghamton down, turned things around on the Sens, generated anything the other way. No shots in 13 minutes of even-strength time in the first period? Can't happen, can it?

Quick two-goal deficits to last-place teams (remember Hartford at home? That's what this felt like, until they made it 3-0) are tough to handle; they shouldn't be happening two or three times a quarter, no matter how young you are.

On the other hand, it's one night, an oddball game, Binghamton coming off an disappointment Friday and a team meeting Saturday that generated a captain (Jamie Allison). Maybe give them a little credit.

But still, that looked way too easy.

F: Nolan-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Campoli-Rourke (A)

F: Potulny-Ebbett-Bois (A)
D: Petruic-Allison (C)
Malec-Hedlund (A)

Three fights? What year is this?

It's way early to be looking, but despite the two games in hand, Bridgeport fell two points behind Albany tonight for fourth. Bridgeport is 13 points behind the Penguins, 12 behind Hershey and 11 behind Norfolk. Philly and Bingo are seven behind Bridgeport.

Speaking of WBS, shoulda been an hour away from here instead, catch the Krog and Haydar Show. Filewich had two goals, but Haydar snuck into the stars.

Looks like Peter Tsimikalis' bolt to Kitchener has at least one person upset. Technically, Albany's transaction lists him as suspended.

Mattias Weinhandl got shipped to Houston on Saturday -- he cleared this time. Didn't make it in time for Cowbell Night in Texas. (Three. Thousand. Cowbells.) Elsewhere in the Rumored Conference, Patrick Leahy got the call to Nashville.

All-star balloting begins Monday morning over at the league site. Vote early, vote often, vote Rory Fitzpatrick. (Oops: wrong league.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blasts from the past

Looks like Peter Tsimikalis is going back for an overage year. And from the far more distant past -- not even Bridgeport's past -- Elmira has signed Dave Lemanowicz. (If that link changes, try this instead.

Back to the present, Robert Nilsson remained out, so maybe 16 skaters tomorrow if he can't go.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Which do you want first?

So Comeau goes off to the Island off a beauty of a game last night. Mike Mole also comes up from Pensacola... because Wade Dubielewicz is going to get a few days off here. He tweaked something late in last night's game, apparently, and with the light schedule over the next week and a half, why push it?

Brandon Nolan took Comeau's spot with Colliton and Regier. And Nilsson remains day to day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Low flow

Ahhhhhh, Francois St. Laurent.

Between him and my wonky work computer and the absolute atrocity that was the first two periods tonight, I was ready to toss something out of the press box. (That would have been bad.) Ready to break something after the game. (Depending on what, that might have been less bad.)

You know, maybe, that I think the guy has the potential to be very, very good (playoff Game 4 here last year, for instance). Tonight... I did not check the middle of his forehead. But this was one of those nights that tended toward horrid. And that made it horrid for everyone else.

Unchanged is that, even though the game had no flow, the Sound Tigers couldn't break through that and turn things in their favor. A couple of good plays got the job done late, and it's a victory. Two points is two points, especially considering the times they haven't escaped with all the points they could have.

Two assists and a plus-3 for Berry. Colliton keeps the goal- and point-scoring streaks alive. Tambellini keeps the points streak alive, and Hamilton is the only one now who tops him in the regular season. And in the end, it works out.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Campoli-Rourke (A)

F: Maloney-Ebbett-Robins
Pecker-Hennessy-Heerema (A)
Luttinen-Payer (A)-Vesce
D: Petruic-Allison (A)

Wade Dubielewicz's points streak ended at two. (Distraught, of course.) But we'll see if the league gives him an assist on the overtime goal at Lowell, which would make him the first Bridgeport goalie with a two-point night. (BTW, Colliton got an assist in the last Hartford game, which now puts him on a six-game scoring streak to go with his five-game goals streak.)

No immediate word who, if anyone, was going up. Everyone still seemed to have their stuff in their stall at the end of the night.

My streak of weekly-features sparking a four-point night ended at one. Early on, though, tomorrow's featured Tiger had a chance that made me wonder if we were actually an anti-jinx for once...No such luck.

Up in Hamilton, Eric Manlow is struggling on the wing.

And finally, you probably all know how I feel about the shootout, but even I had a little fun watching last night's Chicago-Minnesota bonus round. Jeff Hamilton scored a nifty one, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard's trumped his. Those better-versed in tracking down online video than I, your help would be appreciated.

For they'll be back again

Dubielewicz and Colliton are back in town.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Room for one more

So as the season-ticketholders apparently learned exclusively, Jeremy Colliton got the call last night. Trent Hunter has a sprained knee, the Isles announced today, and is in the same 2-to-4 boat as Yashin. What's interesting is there was a press release -- the one that appeared online in various places -- sent yesterday afternoon announcing Colliton's recall; a correction followed quickly to say that he HADN'T been called up, which now must be nothing but a save-the-salary-cap thing. Whatever.

Anyway, Wade Dubielewicz got the call, too. Sounds like it's just an extra-day thing for DiPietro, but nothing official.

And, um, maybe unpack. There's a technical thing bugging me back home.

Bonus link: Hamilton feature in yesterday's Sun-Times.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Work it on out

Well... I wished my attention could have been in East Rutherford and Manhattan. After seeing how the first half of that pair ended, I'm probably lucky to have watched this, instead. Save the aggravation.

Unless I was a Sound Tigers fan, that is. That would have been aggravation.

You've heard people talk about the blue lines, getting the puck in deep, clearing your own zone? Bridgeport wasn't good at either blue line for two periods. They weren't that good around their own net, either. "Outworked" was the word of the night.

The third period was only a little better until they pulled Billy Thompson for a six-on-four, and then the shots started pouring onto the board. Too late.

Brandon Nolan's a fun addition, though, eh?

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Campoli-Rourke (A)

F: Moulson-Gauthier-Zeiler
O'Sullivan-Clarke (A)-Jackman
Giuliano (A)-Ryan-Pushkarev
D: Kemp-Schmidt
Mormina-Buckley (C)

Manchester had an apparent goal waved off because a player was ruled to have kicked the puck in.

It is very, very weird to come here only once -- and especially to do so for the second year in a row. Maybe next year.

LaBarbera robbed Marjamaki on a short-handed breakaway. The man is due.

Good gravy, it's like someone wanted to push the envelope: THREE officials who needed initials today. C. Brown (referee Chris, not linesman Dave), with T. Whittemore (Todd this time, not Scott like last night) and T. Low (Tim, not Chris). I'm pretty sure this is a Sound Tigers first.

(And unrelatedly of course, does anything annoy you more than a referee calling ticky-tack nothings -- you know, chintzy holds, boards where the guy gets knocked over in open ice and slides three feet into the dashers -- while ignoring the cross-checks to the back and the charges?)

Speaking of initials, Brandon Nolan's arrival makes his the third surname that needs initials on the Sound Tigers' all-time list, joining Smith (Nick, Brandon and Wyatt) and Campbell (brothers Jimmy and Eddie). The Sound Tigers' other Nolan played for Manchester today.

And Manchester is STILL using the death of Maude Flanders for T-shirt comedy. Terrible.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two Minutes=One Point

There are good penalties, and then there are fantastic penalties.

And looking at it now, why isn't Jeff Tambellini my "unsung hero" in the paper in the morning?

(Aw, heck, I led with him for both editions.)

If Tambellini doesn't do what he did to keep Aaron Voros away from the open net, "it's game-over," said Wade Dubielewicz, scoring machine. Bridgeport's going to ManchVegas with one point, not two.

And then Jeremy Colliton, scoring machine, chips a puck past the point man, off to the races, neat move, scores his second overtime goal here in two seasons, and it's off to New Hampshire.

The power play continues to impress. They're getting bodies to the net, and they're getting shots to the net, and the combination is textbook. (Original lead for a 2-1 game was pulled from the Canonical List of "Good Things Happen When." (So maybe you should be happy about the way it ended.)) Bridgeport has scored on five of its past nine five-on-threes after failing nine times in a row.

Tambellini, by the way, now has an eight-game scoring streak (6-7-13), and only five streaks (four regular-season streaks) in team history are longer, including Jeff Hamilton's record 12-game run last season.

F: Comeau-Colliton (A)-Regier
D: Fata-Berry
Mitchell-Wotton (C)
Campoli-Rourke (A)

F: (Minard-scratch)-Papineau-Tallackson
LaCouture-Vrana (A)-Bergfors
Murphy (A)-Pihlman-Marshall
D: Greene-McGillis (C)

Speaking of a certain record-holder, look who's got a hat trick.

Albany Lowell didn't come out for warmup until about 17 minutes were on the clock. Curious.

OK: Where am I?

Looking at the sweaters and reading the names, the urge to say "Albany" is just too strong. I actually typed "Albany" in the box score, Vrana's goal. (Fixed it in time.) Last week's River Rats appearance almost led me to write "Lowell" every time. Why couldn't they not have simply traded affiliations? I'll probably say "Albany Lock Monsters" at some point this season, too.

Of course, the Lock Monsters' banners are down from the Tsongas Arena rafters.

The new mascot here appears to be named "Devil Dawg." Solid.

Dubielewicz might have deserved an assist on Colliton's goal, too. He put it to the corner, Wotton chipped it up, and Colliton chipped it past. That would be three assists in two games, which would be scary.

Needed an initial on both linesmen tonight: S. Whittemore (Scott, not Todd) and H. Baker (Hans, not Michael). Ref Frederic L'Ecuyer worked only his second Sound Tigers game; he had opening night at Bingo.

Pittsburgh assigned vet John LeClair to WBS, but from all reports (like, for instance, Karen Price's in the Tribune-Review), it's to put him on re-entry waivers...

(Edit: Jonathan's Penguins Insider has moved here.)

Didn't catch this until seeing the note in The Hockey News, but brief Sound Tigers backup goalie Sebastien Laplante went through a scary injury last month: a puck got through his mask and hit him in the eye. He's back in action, thankfully... (Laplante backed up in Norfolk in late March 2004. Dubielewicz was called up in Philly and stayed up when Garth Snow got hurt, and Scott Stirling wasn't available to get down there.)

Chris Campoli gets namechecked as a 2005-06 league leader in this study, which I didn't delve too deeply into but looks interesting...

Making that sweeping turn from I-290 onto I-495 today, I flashed back to that road trip I took with the team two seasons ago. Inevitably, thinking about that trip brings to mind three things: one, Sean Bergenheim spraining his ankle kicking the soccer ball around in Portland; two, that adventure in Burger King on the way home; and three, this quote from Leonard Koppett's The Rise and Fall of the Press Box:

"It boils down to this: On the road, you are spending all your time with people you did not choose to be with, separated from those you care about the most--family, old friends, neighbors, even fellow workers from your own paper--in places and situations not of your choosing. Your companions are forced upon you by circumstance, whether or not you enjoy or dislike any of them, and their mix constantly changes (through change of assignment and player trades). And the schedule, in itself, becomes a tyranny that virtually eliminates voluntary activities, even when you're home for only 10 days or two weeks at a time."

The best part about this paragraph? I read it on the bus early on the morning of Dec. 18, 2004, rumbling through Blandford, Mass., exactly halfway between Binghamton and Portland.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Luch Aquino to Pensacola has already been announced... There's at least one more thing happening; just waiting for confirmation/details.

Edit: Johan Halvardsson is returning home to HV-71.

Nilsson sounds good to go for tomorrow. And Nolan had 23 on his helmet today.