Connecticut Whale Recap: Whale Drop Season Opener to Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6-4

Photo By Chris Rutsch / CT Whale/

After finishing the pre-season with a 2-2 record, the Connecticut Whale opened their regular season on Friday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Despite two goals from Kris Newbury, and a goal and an assist from Kyle Jean, the Whale's poor defensive effort in the second period led to a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Sound Tigers.

The Whale jumped out in front early in the first period. After Bridgeport's Johan Sundstrom was called for holding 45 seconds into the opening frame, Newbury got to a rebound from Matt Gilroy's shot, and beat Kevin Poulin for his first of two goals on the night.

Later in the period, while the Whale were killing a penalty, Jean was tripped up on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. The 22-year-old, making his AHL debut, deked around Poulin's pad and scored his first professional hockey goal to put Connecticut up by two.

However, the contest turned into a tale of two games in the middle frame. Bridgeport outshot Connecticut 19-7 in the second period, bombarding Whale goaltender Jason Missiaen. Before the period was over, Bridgeport scored five goals, including two power play tallies, while controlling the play from start to finish.

Bridgeport center Casey Cizikas added two goals, and Nino Niederreiter tallied a goal and two helpers in the middle frame

Missiaen was pulled in favor of Scott Stajcer for the start of the third period, and was greeted with a goal from Brandon DeFazio 1:00 into the frame. The 21-year-old goalie stopped the remaining six shots he faced in his pro hockey debut.

The Whale would not go away quietly. On a five-on-three power play, Mike Vernace scored to cut the lead to 6-3, and his tally was followed by Newbury's second goal of the game less than two minutes later.

However, the scoring would end there. The Sound Tigers finished the game with a 45-31 shot advantage.

The Whale look to even their record on Sunday when they host the St. John's Icecaps at 3 p.m. at the XL Center.

Notes: Chris Kreider recorded an assist and had two shots on goal in his first regular season pro hockey game. Jean finished with a game-high seven shots on goal. J.T. Miller recorded an assist on Vernace's power play goal.

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