After a rocky start in his first appearance between the pipes for Bridgeport in over a decade Friday night, Rick DiPietro made a nice recovery his second time out. After allowing five goals on the first 12 shots he faced Friday night in a 7-3 loss to the Connecticut Whale on Friday night in Hartford, the former overall No. 1 pick from BU made 22 stops and helping the Sound Tigers top the Adirondack Phantoms, 4-3, before 5,223 fans at the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday night. Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal with 3:33 left in regulation, while Jack Combs recorded three points.
The oft-injured DiPietro, once was one of the top netminders on the planet, was released by the New York Islanders last week and sent to Bridgeport when he cleared waivers. He hopes to resurrect his career in the very place it started.
Adirondack opened the scoring with a power play goal 8:30 into the contest. Brandon Manning fired at DiPietro from the slot, and the puck hit Jon Sim’s leg, finding Jason Akeson, who fired one past DiPietro to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers knotted the score about four minutes later when Combs took a pass from Jordan Hill, scooted through the neutral zone untouched and slipped a shot through Adirondack goalie Scott Munroe’s pads at the 12:40 mark of the first period. But the Phantoms struck right back when Garrett Roe snapped a shot from the slot over DiPietro’s glove to stake Adirondack to a 2-1 advantage just just 23 seconds later.
The Sound Tigers evened the count midway through the second stanza when Jon Landry sent a shot through traffic that changed direction and went past Munroe at the 12:42 mark. Combs and Greenwich native Sean Backman picked up helpers on Landry’s eighth marker of the season.
Bridgeport took its first lead of the game 2:43 into the third period, when team captain Matt Watkins deflected shot by Combs shot from the bottom of the right circle past Munroe for his ninth goal of the season.
With Nelson in the penalty box for tripping, Adirondack scored on the power play when Matt Konan picked up a loose puck in front of the Bridgeport goal and snuck it past DiPietro to knot the score at 3-3 at the 14:16 mark. It was the first professional goal for the rookie defenseman.
And that set the stage for Nelson’s heroics, who took a pass from Matt Donovan as he exited the penalty box, and fired one over Munroe’s glove to give Bridgeport the lead. DiPietro and the Sound Tiger defense kept the Phantoms at bay the rest of the way as the Sound Tigers snapped a seven-game winless drought.
With the win, the Sound Tigers improved to 23-24-3-4 while the Phantoms fell to 21-29-2-2. Next up for the Tigers will be a return match with the Whale on Sunday afternoon. First puck drops at the Webster Bank Arena at 3 p.m.