Sound Tigers topple Bulldogs, advance into Calder Cup finals
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
BRIDGEPORT - Raffi Torres was on his way down to the ice again, but
what he did with the puck just before that lifted the Bridgeport
Sound Tigers all the way to the Calder Cup finals.
Torres' first shot was blocked, but he put the loose puck past
brilliant Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Marc Lamothe with 1:27 left in
regulation to break a scoreless tie in Game 7 of the Eastern
Conference finals Wednesday, and the Sound Tigers finally finished
off the pesky Bulldogs with a 3-0 win.
Empty-net goals by Jason Podollan and Juraj Kolnik sealed a trip to
the Calder Cup finals in the team's inaugural season. The finals
begin Friday night at 7:35 at the Arena at Harbor Yard against the
Chicago Wolves, with Game 2 following there Saturday night at 7:05.
After he took a Justin Mapletoft (two assists) pass to gain the zone,
Torres' first shot hit defenseman Bobby Allen. Jan Horacek couldn't
control the ricochet, but Torres did. He broke free from Allen, shot
and beat Lamothe with the Sound Tigers' 37th shot of the night,
sending 3,584 at the Arena the second-largest home playoff crowd into
"I was on my way down into the boards, said Torres, who extended his
playoff-best points streak to 11 games (6-7-13). "I was on the ice
all game. But I saw the back of the net, and it hit, and I thought,
Torres wasn't kidding he had perhaps Bridgeport's best prior third-
period chance on a rebound shot he took lying on his side with about
11 minutes left. That was one of Lamothe's 15 third-period saves; the
Sound Tigers outshot Hamilton 18-4 in the period and 39-14 for the
"(Lamothe) played his best game of the series when they needed him
the most," said Sound Tigers goalie Rick DiPietro, who made 14 big
saves in his third playoff shutout. "I was really impressed with his
Bridgeport held Hamilton to only four shots in a period twice
Wednesday. The Sound Tigers outshot Hamilton 13-4 in the first period.
"It says a lot about the five-man units plus Ricky (DiPietro) out
there," Bridgeport coach Steve Stirling said. "They bought into a
good, hard forecheck, but F3 (the third forward, who stays high) was
Bridgeport did not allow the Bulldogs a shot in the first period
after DiPietro stopped Peter Sarno on a 2-on-1 with about 11 minutes
left. On that play, Ken Sutton blocked a Jani Rita rebound attempt.
Meanwhile, Lamothe just kept making saves. He made a great stop on
wide-open Dave Morisset, just closing the pads in time, seven minutes
into the second period. In the third, he stopped Mapletoft twice on
the same partial breakaway, once on the center's forehand and again
on the backhand.
"I think one thing we doubted was if we were going to score on this
guy (Lamothe)," Torres said. "He was unbelievable. But Stirls
(Stirling) came in and said, 'Stick to the game plan.'"
Particularly in the third played, as might be expected from a then-
scoreless Game 7, without a penalty call the Sound Tigers were
ferocious on the forecheck. Each of the three lines who played in the
third had memorable flurries around Lamothe.
The victory prevented Hamilton from becoming the 11th team in AHL
history to rebound from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-7 series. The
Bulldogs had won Game 5 at Hamilton and then, in overtime, Game 6 at
Bridgeport by identical 3-2 scores.
With Morisset's return from an injury that kept him out of Game 6,
defenseman Scott Ricci was scratched. Defenseman Tomi Pettinen stayed
in the lineup and took a regular shift until midway through the third.