Sound Tigers fall on Spring Fun 102 Day
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - C.J. Motte made 35 saves, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers fell to the Springfield Falcons 2-1 on Wednesday morning at Webster Bank Arena for Spring Fun 102 Day.
A sellout of 8,586 fans, mostly comprised of local area students, witnessed the Sound Tigers and Falcons battle for the final time in the 2014-15 season. The sellout is the first since last year's Spring Fun 102 game, also held on April 1 against the Falcons.
The Sound Tigers had their hands full early, as a pair of penalties put Springfield on a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes. It looked as if the Falcons took advantage of the opportunity, as Sonny Milano appeared to fire a shot over Bridgeport goaltender Motte's shoulder and into the net. However, the play was reviewed and deemed no goal. The Sound Tigers then killed off the remainder of the penalties, thanks in large part to good defensive play and shot prevention.
A pair of first period fights set the tempo for the game, as it was a physical and chippy affair. Both teams threw plenty of bone-crushing hits, much to the delight of the packed Webster Bank Arena.
Springfield had another excellent chance to take the lead, as Sean Collins went on a breakaway. He failed to get a good shot off, however, and Motte covered the puck up.
The Sound Tigers controlled the pace of play to start the second period. Bridgeport got a number of chances from in close on Springfield goaltender Scott Munroe, but were unable to score. Ryan Pulock fired a one-time slap shot on net, but Munroe was able to blocker the puck away and keep the game scoreless.
Springfield's Michael Chaput also had a fine opportunity to score, as he charged toward Motte on a short-handed opportunity. The St. Clair, Mich., native was up to the challenge, however, denying the chance.
The Sound Tigers finally broke the scoreless game open at 14:50 of the second period. Mike Halmo snapped a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle, beating Munroe's glove for his 10th goal of the season.
Chaput had another breakaway opportunity in the waning seconds of the second period, but Motte was once again up to the task, denying the scoring chance with an excellent save. The save was huge, as such a late goal could have given the Falcons the spark they were seeking.
The Falcons controlled the pace of play for much of early third period, keeping Motte under siege. Though they had over 10 shots more than Bridgeport almost halfway through the frame, they were unable to get a shot past Motte.
This changed when the Falcons went on their fifth power play of the afternoon. After a series of passes, Springfield's Ryan Craig was able to slide the puck past Motte, tying the game at 1-1. The goal was Craig's 16th of the season.
Milano almost gave the Falcons the lead directly after the equalizing goal, but an unbelievable diving save by Motte kept the game tied.
The Falcons jumped in front with 8:47 remaining in the game. After fighting for possession of the puck in front of the net, Mike Hoeffel knocked the puck of a Sound Tiger defender's skate and into the net. The goal was Hoeffel's eighth of the season.
Bridgeport pulled Motte for an extra skater with just over a minute remaining and received a power play soon after, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 18.4 seconds of the contest. The Sound Tigers got a great shot off, but were unable to score, falling 2-1.
Munroe made 20 saves for the victory, while Motte turned aside 35 of 37 shots in the losing effort.
The Sound Tigers return to action on Saturday, April 4 when they host the Syracuse Crunch. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.
Notes: Halmo's goal was his third in his last three games...Jeffrey's assist was his third in his last two games...The game was C.J. Motte's home debut.
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