Kelsey Tessier broke a scoreless tie 1:03 into the third period and Cam Talbot made 42 saves as the Connecticut Whale shut out the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-0 to take Game 1 of the best-of-five series Thursday night at Webster Bank Arena.
The Sound Tigers dictated much of the play in the opening period and had three power play opportunities in the first 20 minutes. However, Talbot made key saves including a pair of stops on Justin DiBenedetto
from close range to keep the Sound Tigers off the scoreboard. Kevin Poulin
was just as strong in Bridgeport’s net, turning aside all 10 Whale shots to send the game to the second period scoreless.John Persson
appeared to put the Sound Tigers on the board during a power play midway through the second period when he jammed a loose puck through Talbot into the net. However, referee Mark Lemelin ruled that he intended to blow the whistle as he lost sight of the puck, nullifying a goal that would have given the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead. David Ullstrom
had a golden opportunity to put the Sound Tigers in front during the second period as well, but Talbot made a pad save on the second-year Sound Tiger’s breakaway attempt to keep the game scoreless.
Tessier put the Whale on the board 1:03 into the final period. The Whale forward took a pass from Tim Erixon and split the Sound Tigers defense, skated in on Poulin and fired over his glove to give the Whale a 1-0 lead. A turnover in the Sound Tigers zone led to the Whale’s second goal of the third period at 9:38, when Jordan Owens backhanded a rebound past Poulin’s outstretched body. Ryan Bourque closed out the scoring for the Whale at 13:18. Pavel Valentenko sent a pass up the right side that Kelsey Tessier chased down in the right circle of the Sound Tigers zone. Tessier’s slap shot was stopped by Poulin, but Bourque fired the rebound past Poulin as he dove to his right to push the Whale lead to three.
Talbot held the Sound Tigers off the board despite 42 shots on the night, including 32 in the final two periods. Micheal Haley
nearly broke through late in the final period, but had his sharp angle shot deflect off the left post.
Poulin made 33 saves in the loss. Bourque and Tessier each recorded a goal and an assist for the Whale. Prior to tonight’s game, the home team had won the last nine games in the series dating back to Oct. 15, 2011 when the Sound Tigers defeated the Whale 5-4 in a shootout at XL Center.
The Sound Tigers will look to even the best-of-five series at one game apiece on Saturday night when they host the Whale in Game 2 at Webster Bank Arena at 7:00 p.m.
Persson – Cizikas – Rakhshani
Ullstrom – Nelson – Marcinko
Haley – Mouillierat – Riley
DiBenedetto – Frischmon – Backman
Donovan – Oleksy
Ness – Katic
de Haan – Wishart