Sound Tigers still plagued by injuries
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
December concluded in fitting fashion Friday night at Wachovia Arena
for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
They played without nine regulars, all injured or fallen ill during
They played with a makeshift lineup, with Graham Belak back on
defense full-time, with their only two veteran defensemen out, and
with a line full of players who weren't with the team in November.
And since it was that kind of month, they lost for the eighth time in
December, 5-1 to the explosive Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins,
falling to sixth place in the East Division at 15-16-1-0.
But hey: No one got hurt.
"It's getting to that point right now, where if we can go through a
game without getting anybody hurt, it's a little victory in itself,"
Belak played defense in junior but only sporadically as a pro; he has
mostly played left wing for the Sound Tigers.
"Belak proved he can play defense," Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin
Belak earned a plus on Steve Regier's second-period goal and battled
in front of the net and in the corners all night.
"It was a little nerve-wracking for me," Belak said. "Going against
Ramzi Abid, he's a third-liner (for the Penguins), and he could be a
first-liner on most other teams."
Bridgeport could use him.
With six injured forwards out
seven counting converted defenseman Cole Jarrett, who had been
Bridgeport's best player for four games
the team has leaned on tryout players out of the UHL or ECHL. Four of
the 10 forwards that played Friday were callups.
"The callups have done a really good job. You can't expect them to
totally fill the role (of the team's top scorers)," Belak
said. "We've been competitive every game."
Though a couple of Brett Nowak turnovers led to Penguins goals, Nowak
earned his first point of the season on Regier's goal. On the goal,
John Morlang helped dig the puck out of a scrum.
Bridgeport got one player back Friday, Matt Koalska. He played his
first game since Thanksgiving and took a regular shift. Moments
before the fourth Penguins goal, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury denied
Koalska on a short-handed breakaway.
Regier's goal tied the game following the first of Michel Ouellet's
three goals. Only 64 seconds after Regier's goal, Matt Murley scored
on a turnaround shot after Alain Nasreddine's shot hit him in the
Wade Dubielewicz made a bunch of good saves but was hung out to dry
in the third period. Ouellet scored on a quick-transition play after
a turnover. Colby Armstrong raced around Bruno Gervais and made a
nifty move to his backhand to score on a breakaway. Ouellet finished
the job with 3.9 seconds left on another breakaway.
"(Dubielewicz) kept us in the game," Cronin said.
BRIDGEPORT0 1 0
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON0 2 3
No scoring. Penalties
Caldwell, Bpt (hooking), 9:20; Lupaschuk, WBS (tripping), 17:26;
Campoli, Bpt (holding), 18:59.
1, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Ouellet 22 (Surovy, Lupaschuk), 1:00. 2,
Bridgeport, Regier 3 (Nowak), 7:57. 3, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Murley
8 (Nasreddine, Beech), 9:01. Penalties
Beech, WBS (slashing), 11:03.
4, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Ouellet 23 (Murley, Beech), 7:20. 5, Wilkes-
Barre/Scranton, Armstrong 8 (Abid, Whitney), 16:43 (pp). 6, Wilkes-
Barre/Scranton, Ouellet 24, 19:56. Penalties
Ouellet, WBS (hooking), 4:45; Kraft, Bpt (holding), 12:38; Belak, Bpt
(high-sticking), 16:07; Godard, Bpt, major (fighting), 17:06; Koci,
WBS, major (fighting), 17:06; Whitney, WBS (tripping), 17:44.
Shots on goal
23. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 8-15-9
Power play opportunities
Bridgeport 0 of 4, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1 of 4.
Bridgeport, Dubielewicz 9-10-0 (32 shots-27 saves). Wilkes-
Barre/Scranton, Fleury 14-5-2 (23-22).
MICHEL OUELLET, WBS
Finished a hat trick with 3.9 seconds left.
COLBY ARMSTRONG, WBS
Nifty move on a breakaway put the game away.
MATT MURLEY, WBS
Spinaround goal broke a 1-1 tie.
Bridgeport's Graham Belak played a solid game as a fill-in on defense.
"I would have been happy if we scored on that breakaway, made it 3-2
with a chance to make it a game with two minutes to go. Not the way
we lost it."
Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin
Friday at Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.