Brock Nelson's first pro hat trick propels Sound Tigers to 4-1 victory
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Sound Tigers forward Brock Nelson recorded his first professional hat trick and Kevin Poulin made 26 saves as Bridgeport defeated the Norfolk Admirals 4-1 at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday night. With the win, the Sound Tigers improve to 21-19-2-3 overall. The Admirals fall to 18-23-2-1.
Nelson hadn't scored since Dec. 14 at Norfolk when he suffered a jaw injury that kept him out of the lineup until Jan. 11. The rookie center had just three assists in eight games since returning from the injury, but scored twice on the power play and added an empty-netter on Saturday night to clinch the win for the Sound Tigers.
The Sound Tigers trailed 1-0 after Peter Holland scored on a 5-on-3 midway through the first period, but Nelson would respond with his own goal on the two-man advantage to even the score. Norfolk's Brayden Irwin and Matt Smaby took successive penalties late in the opening frame to create a 5-on-3 that carried into the second period. 37 seconds into the middle stanza, Nelson found the rebound from Ty Wishart's point shot and put it past Norfolk goaltender Igor Bobkov to tie the game at one.
Special teams dictated the game's outcome, as the Sound Tigers went 2-for-6 on the man-advantage and were 6-for-7 on the penalty kill. That included a crucial two-man disadvantage in the second period, when both defensemen Jon Landry and Nathan McIver took penalties to give the Admirals nearly 3:30 of power play time. However, Poulin and the penalty kill held their ground to keep the game tied at one.
The score remained even until the 6:55 mark of the third period when Nelson netted his second power play goal of the evening. Bobkov ended up without his stick during the penalty kill, and Nelson took advantage by sending a quick shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle through Bobkov's legs to put the Sound Tigers ahead 2-1.
Nino Niederreiter provided insurance with his 20th goal of the season just 2:19 later. Dallas Jackson fought to keep the puck in the Norfolk zone, and Mike Halmo sent the loose puck towards the Admirals net. Niederreiter battled to earn position in front of Bobkov and deflected the puck over Bobkov's glove to push the Bridgeport lead to two.
Nelson finished off his first pro hat trick with an empty net goal with 45.5 seconds left in the game. Scott Campbell won a pivotal draw in the Sound Tigers zone, Nelson stole a Norfolk pass and skated the puck into the Admirals' zone before buring the empty-netter to clinch a 4-1 victory.
Poulin earned his second straight victory in his third start in three nights, making 26 saves including 21 over the final two periods to earn his 14th win of the season.
The Sound Tigers return to action next Saturday night when they continue their homestand against the Portland Pirates. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m.
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