By Corey Witt
Two second period goals and timely goaltending by Wade Dubielewicz led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers past the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 in the opening game of the Eastern Division Semifinals.
The goals were scored by Robert Nilsson and Rob Collins nine minutes apart in the second period. Dubielewicz finished the game making 24 of 25 saves, including several big stops through the contest. He was named the game's No. 1 star.
The series continues Saturday night at Wilkes-Barre before moving to Bridgeport for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday (at 3:00 pm) and Tuesday night.
"Our guys played extremely hard tonight and I'm really proud of their effort," said Sound Tigers head coach Dave Baseggio. "Considering this was the first game this team played together, we couldn't have had a better result. They weren't intimidated by the building, the playoff atmosphere or their opponent. It was a great win."
The first period was about firsts. Jeremy Colliton delivered the first big hit of the game, Wade Dubielewicz made the first big save and Matt Koalska got the first major scoring chance of the game with a breakaway, But if the first was about firsts, the second was about scoring. After the scoreless first period, the end of the second saw the scoreboard read 2-1 Sound Tigers.
Nilsson and Rob Collins scored the goals for the Sound Tigers in the second period. Nilsson buried his goal off a two-on-one. Sean Bergenheim fed Nilsson, who looked up at an open net and sank it for a 1-0 lead. Jeremy Colliton recorded the secondary helper on the play.
"Of course we're happy with the win, but it's just the first of hopefully four," said Bergenheim, who was named the second star of the game. "We'll take momentum from this one and work even harder on Saturday night."
Nine minutes later, the Sound Tigers opened up a 2-0 lead with Collins sneaking the puck past Penguins goaltender Danny Sabourin's right skate. Collins threw the puck at the net, and like the old adage, good things happen when you throw the puck at the net. On the replay, it appeared the puck went right under Sabourin's lifted skate. Justin Papineau and Chris Thompson got the assists on the play.
But the Penguins wouldn't stay down. Less than minute after Collin's goal, Filewich put Wilkes-Barre on the board at 11:15 with Guillaume Lefebvre getting the helper.
Tempers flared with five minutes left in the second as all ten players on the ice gathered behind Sabourin's net. Cole Jarrett and Daniel Carcillo squared off for a fight, but before punches were thrown the linesmen broke up the scrum.
The Sound Tigers went into defensive mode for most of the third with Dubielewicz remaining strong.
"It's a bit cliche, but I couldn't have asked for a better effort from the guys in front of me," said Dubielewicz. "They let me see the puck well and bailed me out when I needed the help."
NOTES: There was a whiteout in effect at the Wachovia Arena, but it didn't seem to intimidate the Tigers. There was plenty of support for Bridgeport as more than a dozen staff members along with a busload of Booster Club members made the trip for tonight's game In the middle of the third period, the Penguins showed the Sound Tiger's scratched players, who were sitting in a luxury suite, on the video scoreboard. The fans at the arena didn't know who they were, so they cheered¦ Sabourin was named the third star.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
10 Sean Bergenheim 23 Jeremy Colliton 11 Robert Nilsson
9 Jeff Tambellini 19 Rob Collins 14 Blake Comeau
58 David Masse 24 Matt Koalska 15 Masi Marjamaki
36 Chris Thompson 39 Steve Regier 17 Justin Papineau
12 Bruno Gervais 8 Cole Jarrett
3 Denis Grebeshkov 41 Harlen Pratt
21 Ryan Caldwell 25 Tomi Pettinen
31 Wade Dubielewicz
29 Fredric Cloutier
28 Matt Hussey 37 Petr Taticek 11 Krystofer Kolanos
13 Daniel Carcillo 16 Erik Christensen 23 Ryan Stone
17 Guillaume Lefebvre 37 Petr Taticek 18 Jonathan Filewich
10 Stephen Dixon 26 Ryan Lannon 15 Kenny Corupe
19 Ryan Whitney 26 Ryan Lannon
5 Noah Welch 4 Chris Kelleher
20 Paul Bissonnette 33 Drew Fata
35 Danny Sabourin
29 Marc-Andre Fleury