Sound Tigers' season comes to end with shutout loss
Updated 12:32 am, Sunday, April 20, 2014
Over 40 of those players skated in the last quarter of the season, and that's when six of the shutouts came, too. The last quarter -- really the last 21 games, to take it to March 1 -- was marked by a carousel of roster turnover.
A lot of that turnover brought in young players fresh out of college or junior hockey. And some of them did all right.
"If you look at the back end, the young defensemen we have, they've done a great job for their age, their experience," Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said. "For guys to come in and play D at this level, it takes a lot of time."
Bridgeport finished the year with Jesse Graham, Kyle Burroughs and Ryan Pulock, all draft picks of the New York Islanders and all making their pro debuts on defense before their 20th birthday -- in Burroughs' case, before his 19th.
Pellerin liked their positional play, and he liked that they showed off their offensive instincts as well.
Pulock is already signed to an NHL contract, but Burroughs and Graham were two of the 12 players Bridgeport signed to amateur-tryout contracts toward the end of the season.
As many as 10 played at a time as the team was depleted by call-ups to the Islanders (who generally were effective up there) and reassignments to the ECHL's Stockton Thunder to bolster that team for the playoffs.
The lack of experience at both ends of the ice was costly: From March 1 on, Bridgeport went 2-16-1-2. It finished 28-40-2-6, 29th overall in the 30-team AHL. It scored 30 goals in those 21 games and allowed 69.
Still, in 10 of those 16 regulation losses, Bridgeport was within two goals. That included Saturday, when Dov Grumet-Morris' 23 saves made Ryan Bourque's early power-play deflection stand up until T.J. Hensick's empty-netter.
"I thought the first two periods we had a lot of broken plays," Pellerin said. "We didn't sustain zone time, get odd-man rushes. We had some better opportunities in the third period. ... There were a couple of rebounds we weren't able to jump on. We just weren't able to score."
Kevin Poulin stopped 36 of 37 shots for Bridgeport, which will have exit meetings for most players on Monday, though a few were headed out earlier, including Matt Donovan, joining Team USA for the World Championship in Belarus next month.
Donovan will be one of at least three former Sound Tigers there: Colin McDonald of Wethersfield and Brock Nelson have also been named to the team.
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1. KEVIN POULIN, BRIDGEPORT: Not much more he could've done than 36 saves.
2. DOV GRUMET-MORRIS, HARTFORD: Shut out Bridgeport on 23 saves.
3. RYAN BOURQUE, HARTFORD: Scored the first goal.
UNSUNG HERO: Scott Mayfield led the team with 71 games.
UP NEXT: Six months of summer.
-- MICHAEL FORNABAIO
BRIDGEPORT 0 0 0--0
HARTFORD 1 0 1--2
First Period: 1, Hartford, Bourque 21 (Syvret, Hrivik), 6:35. Penalties -- Johnson, Bpt (roughing), 6:20.
Second Period: No scoring. Penalties -- Bourque, Hfd (hooking), 1:50; Bruton, Bpt, major (fighting), 15:44; McIlrath, Hfd, major (fighting), 15:44; Johnson, Hfd (interference), 16:55.
Third Period: 2, Hartford, Hensick 11 (McIlrath, Syvret), 19:27 (en). Penalties -- Allen, Hfd (tripping), 7:26; Poulin, Bpt, served Gallant (delay of game), 10:25.
Shots on goal: Bridgeport 8-6-9--23. Hartford 10-11-17--38.
Power play opportunities: Bridgeport 0 of 3, Hartford 1 of 2.
Goaltenders: Bridgeport, Poulin 2-12-1 (37 shots-36 saves). Hartford, Grumet-Morris 17-15-5 (23-23).
Attendance: 5,272. Referee -- D.Banfield. Linesmen -- Briggs, Colby.