In a game that held about as much meaning as a Sarah Palin speech on the geopolitical fallout over Russia's occupation of Crimea, Sean Collins scored a power play goal with 5.4 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Springfield Falcons a 2-1 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before 5,529 fans at the Webster Bank Arena on Sunday. Sean Collins scored the game-winner for Springfield, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, with just six seconds remaining in regulation.
The game had absolutely no meaning to Bridgeport, which was eliminated from postseason contention two weeks ago. Springfield, however, holds out feint hope of catching Manchester for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Falcons currently sit in second place, four points behind the Monarchs with two games remaining, and one game in hand.
The game started out promising for the Sound Tigers, who scored first. Justin Hickman, playing in just his second AHL game after spending most of the season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, took a pass from Ryan Walters in the slot, and snapped a writer that beat Springfield goaltender Anton Forsberg 4:43 into the game. Walters and Jake Newton picked up helpers on the first professional goal of Hickman's career.
But that was all the offense Bridgeport could muster for the afternoon.
Springfield knotted the score when captain Ryan Craig beat Bridgeport goalie Kevin Poulin 14:28 into the second stanza with the Falcons on the man advantage. It was the 35th power-play goal as a member of the Falcons for the Abbotsford, BC native.
Collins scored the insurance goal with time expiring in regulation.
Springfield netminder Anton Forsberg, who picked up his third win in as many appearances for the Falcons, stopped 28 or 29 shots the Sound Tigers took at him. A native of Härnösand, Sweden, Forsberg played most of the season with Modo of the Swedish Hockey League. Poulin stopped 36 of 37 between the pipes for the Sound Tigers.
Bridgeport wraps up its home season tonight with a game against the Adirondack Phantoms. Originally scheduled for Saturday night, the game was forced to be moved t after the residue from a “Foam and Glow” dance party held at the Webster Bank Arena on Friday night seeped onto the ice, damaging it beyond immediate repair. Face-off for the Sound Tigers' season finale—Bridgeport failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year, and third time in the past four seasons—is at 7:05 p.m.