In a tight, spirited battle between the Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal’s series was decided by starting goaltenders Cam Talbot (Whale) and Kevin Poulin (Sound Tigers), who kept the series opener scoreless through the first two periods.
The first period included four power-play chances (three for Bridgeport; one for Connecticut) and 20 total shots-on-goal, but finished without a score. Period 2 saw just one Bridgeport power-play washed off, while Talbot and Poulin made a combined 28 stops (15 for Talbot; 13 for Poulin) to keep the score at 0-0.
Finally, the silence was broken by Whale forward Kelsey Tessier, when he scored the series’ first goal at 1:03 of the third frame.
The play started with a breakout pass by Whale’ rookie defenseman Tim Erixon, who strung a pass to the Bridgeport blueline from his own defensive end. Tessier caught the pass and jolted past Bridgeport defenseman Aaron Ness and Mark Katic, before lifting a shot over Poulin’s glove-hand to give the Whale a 1-0 lead. Jared Nightingale also recorded an assist on the goal.
Connecticut padded its lead with a goal by Jordan Owens at 9:38 of the period. Owens found a Ryan Bourque pass in front of Bridgeport’s net, fired one shot at Poulin, then grabbed his rebound and sent a backhand shot over the sprawling goaltender and into the Sound Tigers goal to give the Whale a 2-0 lead.
Then, at 13:18 of the period, Bourque scored a goal of his own when he finished a Tessier rebound to give the Whale a 3-0 lead. Pavel Valentenko started the play with a defensive-zone clear to Tessier, who skated the puck into Bridgeport’s zone before releasing a shot-on-goal. Bourque crashed the net for the rebound, and provided his club with a commanding three-goal lead.
Talbot made 17 saves in the third period and 42 saves in the entire game to lead the Whale to a 3-0 game 1 victory. Talbot was named the game’s first star, while Tessier was the second and Bourque was the third.
During the game, the Whale power-play finished 0-for-1, while its penalty-killing was a successful 5-for-5…Jonathan Audy-Marchessault led the Whale in shots-on-goal for the game with seven, followed by Bourque who had four…the Whale is expected to add forward J.T. Miller to its roster on an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement before the weekend—Miller was the New York Rangers first-round pick (15th overall) in 2011…
Final score: Whale 3, Sound Tigers 0 (Whale lead series 1-0)
Game 2 will be played on Saturday at 7pm (ET) in Bridgeport, and game 3 will be played at 5pm on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford. I will be covering the game live, beginning with pre-game warm-ups.
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