Casey Wellman scored the game-winning goal with 3:24 left in overtime as the Connecticut Whale defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-3 in Game 3 to sweep the best-of-five, first-round series. With the loss, the Sound Tigers were eliminated from the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Marek Hrivik picked up where he left off in Game 2 and scored 6:11 into Game 3 to put the Whale ahead 1-0. The Sound Tigers found themselves shorthanded after Matt Donovan
and Blair Riley took penalties 1:13 apart, creating a 5-on-3 power play for the Whale. The Sound Tigers killed off Donovan’s penalty, but the Whale converted on the 5-on-4 as Hrivik lifted the puck over Poulin from the bottom of the left circle for his third goal of the series to give the Whale the lead.Justin DiBenedetto
and the Sound Tigers answered with a power play goal of their own late in the period, finally snapping Cam Talbot’s shutout streak. Calvin de Haan
sent a point shot wide of the net, but David Ullstrom
collected the puck and sent a pass into the slot that DiBenedetto tipped in with 15.8 seconds left in the opening period to tie the score at one.Kevin Poulin
and the Sound Tigers penalty kill shouldered much of the work in the second period as the Whale inherited six minutes of power play time in the middle period. However, Poulin and the penalty kill were strong as Poulin made 22 saves in the period and the score remained tied at one.
The Whale retook the lead at the 5:32 mark of the final period. The Sound Tigers struggled to break out, creating a 2-on-1 in their own zone for the Whale. Kelsey Tessier had the puck at the left circle, forced Poulin to commit and fed Ryan Bourque who shot into the open net to give the Whale a 2-1 lead. However, the Sound Tigers responded to even the score again. Just as a power play expired, DiBenedetto found Ullstrom by the right post who beat Talbot to tie the score at two at 10:32.
Hrivik netted his second goal of the game and fourth tally in the past two days to put the Whale ahead once more. Andre Deveaux fed Hrivik on a brief 2-on-1 and Hrivik sent a slap shot over Poulin’s glove to give the Whale a 3-2 lead. However, Rhett Rakhshani
answered to tie the game again with 3:21 left in regulation and sent the game to regulation.
The only penalty of overtime provided the Whale with a power play that led to the game-winning goal. Tony Romano
attempted to clear the puck and broke Wade Redden’s stick as he swept at the puck. The first penalty call since the middle of the third period made the difference, as Wade Redden found a streaking Wellman in the right circle who beat Poulin for the game-winner.
Talbot made 44 saves to earn his third straight win in the series. Poulin made 50 saves in the loss.FORWARD LINES
– Casey Cizikas
– Rhett RakhshaniDavid Ullstrom
– Kael Mouillierat – Micheal HaleyJustin DiBenedetto
– Trevor Frischmon
– Sean Backman
Scott Howes – Tony Romano – Blair Riley
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGSMatt Donovan
– Steve OleksyAaron Ness
– Jon LandryCalvin de Haan
– Ty Wishart