Professional hockey returned to the Nutmeg State last night, but unfortunately for Connecticut sports fans, neither of the state's American Hockey League teams was able to come away with a victory on Opening Night.
In Bridgeport, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins topped the Sound Tigers, 5-2, before 7,886 fans at the Webster Bank Arena. Anders Lee and Kirill Kabanov provided all of Bridgeport's offense with two second-period goals, but Chris Conner of the Penguins found the back of the net 12:24 into the third period—his second tally of the night—which ultimately proved to be the game-winner. WBS then slammed the door shut with two more unanswered goals.
“I thought we were a little slow in the third period,” said Bridgeport head coach Scott Pellerin on his team's opening foray. “We made a couple mistakes that they were a step quicker on, and that was the difference tonight.”
In Hartford, 6,347 fans came to the XL Center to witness the return of the Wolf Pack. But Hartford, which had been playing as The Connecticut Whale for the past two seasons, we stopped by the Norfolk Admirals, 3-2 in a shootout. Trailing 2-1 with just 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation, Darroll Powe poked a rebound under Norflok goalie Frederik Anderson's left pad to knot the game and send it into overtime. The goal was originally waved off by referee Geno Binda, but after reviewing the play, Binda reversed his call.
After a scoreless overtime session, Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly beat Hartford goalie Cam Tabot in the shootout, while Kanny Kristo was the only Hartford player to get one past Anderson, who stopped 35 of 37 shots in regulation and OT. Talbot stopped 35 shots for Hartford. The Wolf Pack were able to pick up one point in the young season with the shootout loss.
Both teams return to action at home today, with the Sound Tigers entertaining Norfolk. All children 12 and under attending the game at The Webster Bank Arena accompanied by a paying adult will be admitted free, courtesy of Bow Tie Cinemas.
The Wolf Pack, meanwhile, will host the Albany Devils at the XL Center. Each Sunday this season will be “Click It or Ticket Family Value Sunday” with the Wolf Pack. Two tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas will be offered for $35.
First puck drops at 3 p.m for both contests.