NORFOLK, VA. (Dec. 15, 2012) – Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin made 50 saves through regulation and overtime and stopped six of the Admirals first seven shootout participants, but Devante Smith-Pelly fired past Poulin’s blocker in the bottom half of the eighth round to give Norfolk a 3-2 win over Bridgeport on Saturday night. With the win, Norfolk improves to 11-12-1-0. The Sound Tigers earn a point with the shootout loss as their record moves to 12-11-1-2.
Saturday night’s game in Norfolk marked Poulin’s first start in two weeks, but he showed no signs of rust early in the game. The third-year Sound Tiger was the best player on the ice in the opening 20 minutes, turning aside 21 shots to hold Norfolk scoreless. The Sound Tigers took the lead on a Nino Niederreiter power play goal with 3:51 remaining in the period, and the visitors carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Sound Tigers kept control of play in the second period and added to their lead just 1:51 into the middle frame. Johan Sundstrom fed John Persson on an odd-man rush entering the Norfolk zone, and Persson one-timed the puck past Norfolk goaltender Igor Bobkov for his ninth tally of the season.
Norfolk finally broke through with just 41.8 seconds left in the second period. Defenseman Gabe Guentzel sent a long pass through neutral ice to John Kurtz as he attempted to split the Sound Tigers defense. Kurtz chased the puck down by the left faceoff dot and shot beneath Poulin’s blocker to cut the Sound Tigers lead to 2-1.
Poulin continued to make acrobatic saves, but the Admirals finally evened the score midway through the final frame. The Sound Tigers were unable to clear the zone, and Norfolk’s Pat Maroon found Smith-Pelly in the slot for a one-timer to knot the score at two with 10:59 left in regulation.
The game eventually went to overtime, marking the third straight contest to go past regulation, and then to a shootout after neither side could score in the extra session.
The Sound Tigers shot first in the bonus round, and both David Ullstrom and Colin McDonald fired off the crossbar to open the second and third rounds. Norfolk’s Emerson Etem beat Poulin in the bottom half of the third round to break the deadlock, until Jon Landry fired through Bobkov’s five hole in the first half of the fifth round to extend the shootout. Neither side scored in the sixth or seventh rounds and Matt Watkins was stopped to lead off the eighth round, setting the stage for Smith-Pelly’s game-winner.
The Sound Tigers return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 19 when they open a three-game home stand against the Albany Devils at 7:00 p.m.
Notes: Poulin’s 50-save effort fell one short of his career-high 51-save outing in a 6-2 win in Adirondack on Jan. 27 last season … Wade Dubielewicz holds the team record for saves in one game with 52 … The Sound Tigers now have points in four straight games, and have played in three straight overtime games … Nathan McIver’s fight with John Kurtz in the second period gives him 121 penalty minutes this season, third in the AHL … Brett Gallant leads the AHL with 128 PIMs … Max MacKay left the game in the first period, and as a result the Sound Tigers rolled three lines for the majority of the game with seven defensemen dressed.
Three Stars 1. NOR: Devante Smith-Pelly 2. NOR: Igor Bobkov 3. BRI: Kevin Poulin
Bridgeport Sound Tigers Forwards 22 Nino Niederreiter – 11 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald 23 John Persson – 28 Johan Sundstrom – 20 Blair Riley 24 David Ullstrom – 14 Matt Watkins – 16 Sean Backman 44 Brett Gallant – 17 Max MacKay
Defensemen 46 Matt Donovan – 6 Ty Wishart 15 Marc Cantin – 7 Jon Landry 27 Aaron Ness – 8 Nathan McIver 25 Jordan Hill
Goaltenders 38 Kevin Poulin (starter) 45 Anders Nilsson