Special teams lift Sound Tigers to win over Lock Monsters
By MIKE FORNABAIO
Special teams might have been a constant problem through 20 games,
but Saturday night they helped win a 2-1 game for the Bridgeport
Sound Tigers over the Lowell Lock Monsters.
Bridgeport killed a major penalty to Graham Belak in the third
period, allowing Justin Mapletoft's second-period power-play goal to
stand up as the game-winner at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Mapletoft's line, with Sean Bergenheim and Eric Godard, and the
defense pair of Jody Robinson and Keith Aldridge bottled up Lowell's
top line of Eric Staal, Chuck Kobasew and Colin Forbes.
The Sound Tigers controlled the tempo most of the night Saturday in
front of 4,262 fans, and when they needed it most, their penalty
killing was perfect.
Belak took the major for boarding Craig MacDonald with 11:46
remaining in regulation.
Dieter Kochan (19 saves) made four saves on the kill, and the goalie
also helped his defense elude Lowell's forecheck.
"Dieter did a heck of a job stopping pucks behind the net for our
defensemen," said Rob Collins, a penalty killer. "Everyone was just
focused and ready to go. We've got to climb up the ladder and get
back in the playoff picture."
A major weakness early in the year, Bridgeport's penalty kill has
allowed just five goals in the last 55 chances against.
"I think we've added a little bit more conviction with how we're
pressuring," Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin said. "There's not a lot of
time to make plays against us right now in the environment we create
with the pressure."
Against a good-skating team, the Sound Tigers also limited Lowell's
chances, keeping the Lock Monsters to 20 shots. They also gave Lowell
only five power plays with which to work.
Bridgeport dominated the second period, outshooting Lowell 13-3, and
scored the only goal.
Mapletoft took a pass from Sean Bergenheim in the right circle and
roofed a shot past Cam Ward at 6:06.
Bridgeport has at least one power-play goal in three of the last four
The goal was a bonus for Mapletoft on a night his defense and penalty
killing stood out.
Staal, Kobasew and Forbes have combined for 25 goals, more than any
four Sound Tigers combined.
But Mapletoft's line kept up an effective forecheck and kept the
Lowell line on its heels.
"We just kept playing our game," Mapletoft said. "We got on the
forecheck and eliminated them getting out of their own end. If you
work the puck in their end, it's going to make them a little more
Kevin Colley scored 106 seconds into the game, sparking the annual
Teddy Bear Toss. Collins, who assisted along with Justin Papineau,
has 11 points in the past 10 games.
Lowell's Sean Curry answered at 9:00 when his centering pass banked
off Cole Jarrett into the net.
All participants in Friday's melee against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
looked fine, and it's unlikely any discipline will come. No players
came off the bench to join the altercations, and the Sound Tigers
probably won't send tape to the league of the initial hit.
Blaine Down (concussion), Ryan Caldwell (deep leg bruise) and Matt
Koalska (broken foot) remained out, while Jim Campbell missed the
final game of a three-game suspension.
SOUND TIGERS GAME 3 STARS
JUSTIN MAPLETOFT, BRIDGEPORT
Scored the game-winner and led a typically strong top line.
DIETER KOCHAN, BRIDGEPORT
Made four big saves on a third-period major penalty kill.
CAM WARD, LOWELL
Made two big saves on that same power play.
Rob Collins and Richard Seeley made good plays to get the puck ahead
for Justin Papineau and Kevin Colley on the first goal.
Friday vs. Manchester, 7:35 p.m.