BRIDGEPORT, CT – Ben Walter tallied the game-winning goal with 15 seconds remaining in the third period to snap the Sound Tigers’ three-game losing streak and beat the Portland Pirates 2-1. Nathan Lawson started his fifth straight game and made 26 saves on the 27 shots he faced. Vladimir Nikiforov opened the scoring in the second period with the first AHL career goal of his professional career. Mathieu Darche had the only Portland goal, tying the score at one, three minutes into the third period. The Sound Tigers remain in third place in the East Division with the win, as their record improves to 27-15-3-2 giving them 59 points.
Both teams were held off the scoreboard in the first period as Lawson and Portland starter Jhonas Enroth turned aside each shot they faced.
About seven minutes into the middle frame, Nikiforov would break the scoreless tie with his first goal of the season. Jack Hillen fed a pass to Nikiforov as the play entered the Portland zone. Nikiforov made a quick fake and got Pirates’ defenseman Mike Weber to commit to blocking the shot. As Weber went down, he tried to poke check the puck off of Nikiforov’s stick, but the speedy winger pulled the puck around Weber’s stick and snapped a quick shot that sailed over Enroth’s glove for the 1-0 Sound Tiger lead. Tyler Haskins had the second assist on the play.
Darche would tie the score for the Pirates, 3:25 into the third period while on the power-play. Tim Kennedy and Mark Mancari had the assists on Darche’s 15th tally of the season. The way both net-minders were playing, the game seemed destined for overtime but with less than a minute to play, Walter would bury the game-winner. Tyler Haskins carried the puck into the Sound Tigers’ zone and dropped a pass to Walter at the top of the right circle. Walter collected the puck and walked in on Enroth. With a Portland defenseman on his back, Walter shielded the puck and snapped a quick shot that snuck through the Pirate goalie’s legs to win the game for the Sound Tigers on his 11th goal of the season, 2-1.
Enroth was named the game’s third star and finished with 26 saves. The Sound Tigers out-shot the Pirates 28 to 27 and were 0-for-5 on the power-play. Portland scored their lone goal of the game on the man-advantage and were 1-for-3 in the contest.
The Sound Tigers will hit the road for the next three games heading south to Norfolk next Friday and Saturday, before returning to Arena at Harbor Yard on Wednesday, January 11 to face-off against the San Antonio Rampage. Game-time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Fans interested in tickets or information on how your can receive a discounted group rate should contact the Sound Tigers at (203) 334-GOAL or e-mail [email protected].