Connecticut Whale 3, Portland Pirates 2 (OT)
By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, November 23, 2011 - Brendan Bell’s second overtime goal in less than a week led the Connecticut Whale to a 3-2 victory over the Portland Pirates Wednesday night in Hartford.
Whale defenseman Tim Erixon assisted on all three of the team’s goals in the game, helping Connecticut to their third straight victory, all three wins coming either in overtime or the shootout. For the second straight game, the Whale rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win.
“It speaks to their character that they’re willing to fight right to the end there,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “These guys push hard and pay the price to get the job done.”
The first period was scoreless, despite the Whale being outshot, 13-8, by the Pirates. Connecticut had the better chances, but Portland goaltender Curtis McElhinney (33 saves) was up to the task, as he turned away numerous opportunities while helping to kill a Chris Summers penalty.
Evan Bloodoff scored the first goal of the game, putting the Pirates in the lead at 8:14 of the second period. Bloodoff rushed up the sideboards before cutting in at the circles and snapping a shot past Whale goaltender Cam Talbot’s (25 saves) blocker side. The goal was the first professional point for Bloodoff, who spent the last five seasons with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Michael Stone and McElhinney both received assists on the goal.
The Pirates extended the lead to 2-0 at 13:43, as Ashton Rome buried a Summers rebound to Talbot’s left. The goal was Rome’s third of the season.
Blake Parlett got the Whale on the board and cut the visitors’ lead to 2-1 with just under three minutes remaining in the second period. John Mitchell curled around the Portland net, finding an open Parlett in the left circle, and Parlett wristed the puck past McElhinney. Erixon earned the secondary assist on the goal.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault tied the game for the Whale with a shorthanded tally with just 1:11 remaining in the third period to send the match to overtime. Carl Hagelin’s backhand bid was kicked out to Audy-Marchessault, who persistently whacked at the loose puck until it went in the goal.
The Whale caught a break in overtime, when the Pirates’ Nick Ross was nabbed for hooking 1:44 into the extra period. With the man-advantage, Erixon quarterbacked the Whale power-play, his shot hitting McElhinney but bouncing right onto Bell’s stick with a virtually empty net. Bell settled the puck and put it in for the game-winner, his third goal of the season, for a 3-2 final score.
“He’s got good hands, there’s a lot in that package there,” said Gernander of Bell. “That’s one of the areas where it showed tonight.”
“I wanted to make sure I really buried it,” said Bell. “I took my time and tried to get it back there as quick as I could.”
Erixon earned his third helper of the night on the goal, with Mitchell notching his second assist.
The Whale will return to action after the Thanksgiving break with a pair of road tilts, taking on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday night (7:00) in GEICO Connecticut Cup action, before facing the Springfield Falcons Saturday night at the MassMutual Center (7:00). Connecticut will return home next Tuesday, when the Whale plays host to the Hershey Bears (7:00).
Portland Pirates 2 at Connecticut Whale 3 (OT)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Portland 0 2 0 0 – 2
Connecticut 0 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Voros Ct (high-sticking), 8:23; Audy-Marchessault Ct (interference), 11:24; Summers Por (roughing), 16:24; Hagelin Ct (goaltender interference), 17:37.
2nd Period-1, Portland, Bloodoff 1 (Stone, McElhinney), 8:14. 2, Portland, Rome 3 (Summers, Bloodoff), 13:43. 3, Connecticut, Parlett 2 (Mitchell, Erixon), 17:08. Penalties-Long Por (tripping), 3:11; Valentenko Ct (interference), 8:32; Audy-Marchessault Ct (hooking), 11:31; Mitchell Ct (holding), 19:20.
3rd Period-4, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 6 (Hagelin, Erixon), 18:49 (SH). Penalties-Summers Por (holding), 3:08; Bickel Ct (tripping), 11:48; Rome Por (slashing), 15:05; Bouchard Ct (slashing), 17:10.
OT Period-5, Connecticut, Bell 3 (Erixon, Mitchell), 3:29 (PP). Penalties-Ross Por (hooking), 1:44.
Shots on Goal-Portland 13-9-3-2-27. Connecticut 8-9-16-3-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 8; Connecticut 1 / 5.
Goalies-Portland, McElhinney 4-7-0 (36 shots-33 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 6-2-0 (27 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Mark Lemelin (41), Geno Binda (22).
Linesmen-Marty Demers (79)