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The Week that was in Bridgeport

by Jamie Palatini / New York Islanders
THE WEEK THAT WAS… The Sound Tigers had three games this past week to find their stride before reaching the AHL All-Star Break. However, the Sound Tigers came up empty despite each of the three games coming down to the final seconds as the Sound Tigers finished the week without a win. The week did end on a very positive note for the Sound Tigers as captain Mark Wotton and Rhett Rakhshani represented the Sound Tigers in Hershey, Pa. at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross.

ALL-STAR SUCCESS FOR SOUND TIGERS… Sound Tigers captain Mark Wotton and rookie forward Rhett Rakhshani represented the Sound Tigers this past Sunday and Monday at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross in Hershey, Pa. Wotton served as the captain for the Eastern Conference in his second career AHL All-Star appearance. Wotton assisted on the first goal of Monday’s All-Star Game, just 16 seconds into regulation. Rhett Rakhshani recorded four points (1g/3a) in the 11-8 Eastern Conference win, tying All-Star Game MVP Bobby Butler’s mark of one goal and three helpers. Rakhshani and Wotton’s total of five points was second highest from any team, only one point behind Bobby Butler and Corey Locke’s mark of six.

Mikko Koskinen started in net for the first time since a 4-3 OT loss against Manchester on Jan. 9 as the Sound Tigers hosted the Albany Devils on Tuesday. Justin DiBenedetto spotted the Sound Tigers a 2-0 lead with two first period goals, but Anton Klementyev’s turnover behind his own net led to Matt Anderson’s goal with less than a minute remaining in the opening frame to make the score 2-1 after 20 minutes. Albany’s Michael Swift scored on a 5-on-3 in the second to knot the score, and Jacob Josefson gave the Devils a 3-2 lead heading to the third. Josefson made it 4-2 on a shorthanded goal midway through the third, but the Sound Tigers would respond. Tomas Marcinko’s third goal of the year brought the Sound Tigers within one, and Jesse Joensuu tied the game with 3:36 remaining in regulation. However, Albany would answer as Chad Wiseman’s deflection with 1:33 left in the game beat Koskinen, Stephen Gionta added an empty-netter and the Devils skated away with a 6-4 win.

Kevin Poulin started in goal for the Sound Tigers who traveled to Worcester on Friday to face the Sharks in the final game of their season series. Justin Braun led the Sharks on a furious charge out of the gates as he netted two goals and Worcester outshot the Sound Tigers 24-6 in the first period. That 2-0 lead would disappear as Justin DiBenedetto scored his fifth goal in four games and Dylan Reese scored midway through the second to knot the score at two. Dan DaSilva gave Worcester the lead on a deflection with 11:42 left in regulation and his goal turned out to be the game winner. The Sound Tigers were unable to mount a comeback as Anton Klementyev, Olivier Labelle and Ty Wishart took penalties in the final minutes, and despite Kevin Poulin’s career-high 45 saves the Sound Tigers lost 3-2.

Joel Martin was the third goalie to get the chance to backstop the Sound Tigers to a win before the All-Star Break as he got the nod in Manchester on Saturday night. Viatcheslav Voynov’s power play goal early in the first put the Monarchs in front, but defenseman Mark Katic countered with a power play goal of his own at 1:28 of the second period to tie the score at one. Richard Clune’s goal at 7:26 of the second period retook the lead for Manchester. Jeff Zatkoff made brilliant saves on Dylan Reese’s one-timer and Brandon Svendsen’s shorthanded breakaway attempt midwaty through the frame, but couldn’t stop Rob Hisey’s one-timer at 14:40 of the second which tied the score 2-2. Oscar Moller answered exactly one minute later with a slap shot that beat Martin to put Manchester in front once more, and his goal held up. Zatkoff and the Monarchs managed to cling to their lead despite a third period in which the Sound Tigers controlled the play and outshot Manchester 12-5 and 33-22 for the game as the Sound Tigers lost 3-2.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK… JUSTIN DiBENEDETTO Sound Tigers forward Justin DiBenedetto garners player of the week honors for his three-goal performance this past week. DiBenedetto netted the first two goals of the game in the Sound Tigers 6-4 loss to Albany, and added his fifth goal in four games in a 3-2 loss at Worcester. DiBenedetto now has nine goals this season, good for fourth on the Sound Tigers behind Micheal Haley (12), Robin Figren (11), and All-Star forward Rhett Rakhshani (10).
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