Whale opens up with SO win over Tigers

All of Saturday’s AHL Recaps

In the beginning of a new era for hockey in Hartford, the Connecticut Whale came out victorious in their first-ever game, taking a 3-2 shootout decision over Bridgeport on Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 13,089 fans at the downtown XL Center.

The Whale, who took over the franchise name on Saturday after the team was known for 13-plus years as the Hartford Wolf Pack, outshot Bridgeport 29-11 over the first two periods but had only a 1-0 lead to show for it on a goal by Brodie Dupont 15 minutes into the second frame.

Bridgeport rookie Rhett Rakhshani tied it at 6:22 of the third period, only to see the Whale retake the lead when recently acquired forward Oren Eizenman scored his first goal of the season at 14:05.

But Sound Tigers defenseman Anton Klementyev lit the lamp at the 17:48 mark, ultimately forcing overtime.

After a scoreless extra session, Connecticut converted two of its shootout attempts while holding Bridgeport scoreless on four tries. Chad Kolarik and Jeremy Williams netted shootout goals for the Whale, and goaltender Chad Johnson went 4-for-4 after making 19 saves through the first 65 minutes.

It marked a sorely needed victory for the Whale, who had dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in Bridgeport the night before after leading that game 3-0 late in the third period. Connecticut is now 7-11-2-3 (19 points) for the season and one point back of Bridgeport for sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

The Sound Tigers went to overtime for the fifth time in their last eight games and show a 3-0-1-1 mark in those five contests.

The crowd of 13,089 fans made this the second-most attended AHL game in Hartford history, trailing only the 14,115 fans who turned out for a Wolf Pack game vs. Springfield on Jan. 24, 1998.