Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Albany Devils 12/13/13

Just about a month after I first saw the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Albany, they were back again to play the Devils, and I was there once again on a chilly Friday the 13th. After the game, a 6-1 Devils rout of the Sound Tigers, I was back outside the Times Union Center. However this time, it was cold. A ski mask, winter hat, coat, and gloves couldn't keep me warm on this night.

Although the teams were the same, there were plenty of different faces. The Islanders just sent down Pierre-Marc Bouchard to make room for Ryan Strome. Matt Donovan had been sent down as well to make room for another player. The Islanders were in the midst of a long losing streak, and things were changing.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I bought an Islanders yearbook and planned to get that signed by as many people as possible. Some of the players had full pages, others had portions of pages in the prospects section, and others didn't have any mention in the yearbook.

The first player to come out was someone I have met a bunch of times and easily recognized. Jon Sim was in the midst of a professional tryout contract that he has since been released from. He signed a page in the yearbook that had the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' schedule on it. I used that page to get a bunch of people.

After Sim, the next person out was fighter Justin Johnson, who was thrown out of the game. He also signed the page that Sim had just signed. I asked him what the referee told him as he left, and he responded by going on a rant, saying f**k at least three times, and complaining that the referees were, "their (the Albany Devils) daddies." That was interesting to say the least.

As players were coming out, I got more to sign that page in the yearbook. I asked pretty much everybody, "What's your last name?" as I couldn't recognize almost everyone. When one of the guys said, "Bruton," I realized it was the captain of the Sound Tigers and a person who had a section in the yearbook, Chris Bruton. If his name sounds familiar, THIS may be why. He signed his part, said he hadn't seen it before, and boarded the bus.

Shortly after Bruton came out, I thought I recognized someone. I said, "Matt?" And it turns out I was right. Recently sent down Matt Donovan was standing in front of me. I flipped to his page in the yearbook, and he signed it along with two 4x6 photos I had of him. I asked if he could write 'First NHL Goal' one one of them from his first NHL goal, and he was happy to oblige. I told him how I was watching that goal live in my dorm room, and he seemed amused by it. I thanked him, and he went on the bus.
I didn't recognize too many other players right off the bat. But one player who I recognized pretty easily was Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Islanders surprised the hockey world by placing him on waivers, he went unclaimed, and he was playing in his first game for the Sound Tigers. Whenever he was on the ice, he didn't look too happy to be playing in the AHL, but who can blame him? After the game, I recognized him because he is completely bald. Like many other stars on the Islanders, (Tavares, Okposo, Nabokov) Bouchard had a two page spread in the yearbook. It was mostly black, and I couldn't dig out my silver sharpies in the cold, so Bouchard signed his page on the top part of the page as well as two 4x6 photos. He signed a few cards for someone else, then went onto the bus. 

One other player who has had a good stint of NHL time is Anders Lee. After I figured out who he was, he signed his page in the yearbook for me along with a 4x6 photo. He also took a minute to take a picture with me, unfortunately it was dark and there was something wrong with my iPhone camera, but it is still a picture with Anders Lee, and it shows you how cold I was. If you want to see the picture I took with Anders, click HERE or scroll down to the bottom of the entry.

The last Bridgeport player I got was Alan Quine, a 6th round pick from this past year's draft. He had a part in the yearbook and he signed it after he said that his hometown was listed wrong.

Here is the page that I got a bunch of the Sound Tigers to sign, listed in no particular order.

24-Sean Wiles
21-Dallas Jackson
49-Justin Johnson
11-Jon Sim
44-Brett Gallant
17-Matt Lowry
19-Riley Wetmore
35-Kenny Reiter
I think I got everyone but there is a chance I might have missed someone.

I also got a couple of Albany Devils autographs. After the Sound Tigers bus left, a few Devils season ticket holders showed up and started handing out holiday cupcakes to the players. That helped me recognize some of them. Goalie Keith Kinkaid signed a 4x6 photo for me, and here is a picture of him talking with some of the other fans.

I also got Harri Pesonen to sign a 4x6 photo from his brief stint with the New Jersey Devils.

That is all I have for this entry. Here is the picture I took with Anders Lee. Good luck graphing and remember, you never know who you are going to run into. Thanks for reading!

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