Final Score: Bridgeport 4, Phantoms 3 (SO)
It was Comeback City for the Adirondack Phantoms in the last game of 2012 as three straight goals earned the team a standings point against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The traditional New Years' Eve game would eventually be taken by Bridgeport in a shootout 4-3.
Jeff Dimmen, Sean Couturier and Brandon Manning lit the lamp for the Phantoms who stayed unbeaten in regulation against the Sound Tigers this year at 2-0-1. Goalie Cal Heeter entered in relief of Scott Munroe and allowed nothing to get past him until the shootout thus garnering the valuable point in the team's first shootout loss of the year.
Adirondack hit the ice looking extra-dapper and snazzy as well as a touch outrageous in their orange, pin-stripe Tuxedo Jerseys. The formal look for the team was presented by Scoville Jewlers with proceeds of the post-game jersey auction to benefit the WAIT House of Glens Falls; Welcoming Adolescents in Transition.
The Phantoms spotted Bridgeport a 3-0 cushion before turning up the heat and mounting the comeback in the wildly exciting, back and forth game.
"It was a good third period. We had an opportunity to come back and win the game" Phantoms Head Coach Terry Murray said. "There were four or five really quality scoring chances, also in the overtime. And that's all you're looking for; To keep going and get the looks that will give you the chance to win it. It was a good effort to come back and tie the game up."
Matt Watkins jammed one in for a wrap-around goal on Scott Munroe just 27 seconds into the game.
Adirondack could have trailed by more at the first intermission but made several nice plays and caught a couple lucky breaks on a full two-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill for Bridgeport. Matt Konan was out for four minutes on a high-sticking double minor. And Brayden Schenn got tagged for a cross-check on a short-handed rush right after that.
Oliver Lauridsen, Rob Bordson and Danny Syvret were pinned in their zone for a good chunk of the 120 seconds and made a couple big blocks. Bridgeport defenseman Jon Landry had a couple blasts which got past Munroe but found the post on the other side and rang back out. The Phantoms had dodged a couple of bullets and were still only down 1-0.
Johan Sundstrom scored on the power play early in the second period for Bridgeport and then a John Persson shot would be deflected by Jeff Dimmen and take an unlucky spin almost in slow-motion and end-over-end tumble as it just eluded Scott Munroe. Suddenly, Adirondack found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
Cal Heeter came on for Munroe and was quickly tested and made a back-to-back impressive saves which seemed to spark the rest of the team.
"I make the change for a reason and it's not necessarily the goaltender," Murray said. "You get down by three and you need to change momentum. I believe in the momentum part of it and Heeter came in and made a couple of very big stops. He made one stop there which was from side to side that was an excellent save. He kept everybody energized on the bench because of it."
And at that point, Coach Murray's team had a big challenge ahead of them.
"It's time to push," Murray said. "The third goal deflected off our defenseman's stick and just knuckleballed on (Munroe). Everybody realizes that we gotta get back into the game here."
Tye McGinn and defenseman Jeff Dimmen weaved their way into the Sound Tigers zone and Dimmen's blast from the left circle for his second of the year got the Phantoms on the board at 9:48 of the second to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Eric Wellwood nicely set things up from behind the goal as he found an open Sean Couturier knifing in from the right circle for a perfect chance to bury his ninth of the year.
And with under two minutes remaining and the teams playing 4-on-4, another defenseman would join the offensive attack and capitalize. This time it was Brandon Manning who won the puck on the forecheck in behind the Bridgeport goal and then carried it out in front for several whacks off the pads of goalie Anders Nillson.
Eventually, Manning was able to muscle it in there with his non-stop poking and jamming to get his fourth goal of the season and tie the game at 3-3.
"We need to contribute from our back-end" Manning said of his decision to step into the forecheck and generate the goal with his second-effort. "That's part of my game that hasn't quite been there this year. I feel like I could contribute a bit more. 4-on-4 like that is a great opportunity for D-Men to step in. Fortunately for me I was able to help out tonight."
The Phantoms had all the momentum at that point and could have won the game on several occasions in a third-period during which they outshot the Sound Tigers 14-7. But new Bridgeport goalie Kevin Poulin stayed strong and also had a couple lucky breaks of his own.
Tye McGinn missed on a back-door opportunity for a wide-open net after a perfect centering pass from Jason Akeson emanating from the right-wing corner. Another shot glanced off the top of the cross-bar and yet another one was off Poulin's helmet.
Eric Wellwood seemed to be everywhere and generated multiple chances, particularly in the second and the third periods. Brayden Schenn had some close calls too.
In the end, the game would go to overtime with more big saves from both relief goalies who went through the rest of the game unscathed until the shootout.
Jason Akeson had a dirty curl-move on his shootout goal but it would be the only Adirondack tally on Poulin in four tries while three different Sound Tigers scorers would beat Heeter to garner the additional point.
Bridgeport improved to 8-1-2- in their last 11 as they recorded their first victory against the Phantoms this year and moved to 17-12-3 overall.
Adirondack fell to 2-1 in shootouts and 3-2 overall in games decided past regulation (overtime or shootout). The Phantoms are 13-16-2 overall.
The Phantoms outshot the Sound Tigers 38-35. Adirondack was 0-for-5 on the power play while Bridgeport was 1-for-6. The game was the third out of six in the season series between the two division rivals but the Phantoms and Sound Tigers do not meet again until March.
Adirondack opens play in calendar 2013 on Friday night at the Connecticut Whale. The first Phantoms' home game of 2013 is Saturday also against Connecticut, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. The first 1,000 kids in attendance will receive Phantoms drawstring backpacks courtesy of UniFirst.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4 (SO) at Adirondack Phantoms 3
Monday, December 31, 2012 - Glens Falls Civic Center
Bridgeport 1 2 0 0 - 4
Adirondack 0 3 0 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Watkins 6 (Riley, DeFazio), 0:27. Penalties-McGinn Adk (kneeing), 1:40; Riley Bri (fighting), 4:05; FitzGerald Adk (fighting), 4:05; Konan Adk (double minor - high-sticking), 13:49; Schenn Adk (cross-checking), 14:13; Niederreiter Bri (roughing), 16:58; McIver Bri (roughing), 20:00; Rinaldo Adk (roughing, slashing), 20:00.
2nd Period-2, Bridgeport, Sundstrom 9 (Donovan, Niederreiter), 1:38 (PP). 3, Bridgeport, Persson 11 (Landry, Cizikas), 7:06. 4, Adirondack, Dimmen 2 (McGinn), 9:48. 5, Adirondack, Couturier 9 (Wellwood, Ford), 13:18. 6, Adirondack, Manning 4 (Schenn), 18:13. Penalties-FitzGerald Adk (goaltender interference), 10:22; Hill Bri (interference), 15:23; Rinaldo Adk (holding), 16:53; Watkins Bri (tripping), 17:11; McIver Bri (holding), 19:43.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-DeFazio Bri (high-sticking), 13:32.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout - Bridgeport 3 (Niederreiter G, Ullstrom G, McDonald NG, Landry G), Adirondack 1 (Schenn NG, Akeson G, Couturier NG, Wellwood NG).
Shots on Goal-Bridgeport 13-10-7-4-1-35. Adirondack 11-10-14-3-0-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Bridgeport 1 / 7; Adirondack 0 / 5.
Goalies-Bridgeport, Nilsson 7-7-0 (21 shots-18 saves); Poulin 10-5-2 (17 shots-17 saves). Adirondack, Munroe 9-8-0 (17 shots-14 saves); Heeter 4-9-1 (17 shots-17 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86), Trent Knorr (44).Linesmen-Mike Emanatian (69), Marty Demers (79).