Only one Bridgeport player was able to beat goalie Keith Kinkaid in his regular-season professional debut with the Albany Devils Sunday,
Unfortunately for the Devils, Justin DiBenedetto did so three times in a 4-2 Sound Tigers win at the Times Union Center.
“I think a lot of guys played great, but Justin played fantastic for us,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “DiBo’s been a big part of our leadership group, he’s been working hard, and it’s nice to finally see him get rewarded.”
Scoring his first career hat trick, DiBenedetto was assisted on each of his goals by Casey Cizikas. Sean Backman added an empty-netter after Kinkaid, formerly of Union College, was pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute.
Kinkaid got no help from the first shot he faced, a bouncing puck that found its way past him 1:52 into the contest.
“I got a piece of it, and it just bounced over my pad. Nothing I could do on that,” Kinkaid said. “I was a little nervous, but you’ve got to shake out the nerves and get a quick puck early. Unfortunately, the first one went in. But I felt good after that and continued to battle.”
The Sound Tigers peppered the rookie netminder early, planting six pucks on frame before the Devils’ first shot on goal at 6:09. They outshot Albany, 11-8, in the first period, much of that in the first 10 minutes.
Kinkaid was solid against some dangerous chances, quickly finding his poise in the crease.
“I thought he was fine. He made some great saves in the first period, point blank,” Albany coach Rick Kowalksy said. “Two-on-one [the first goal], anything can happen because there’s so many possibilities. It kind of looked like it went under his arm. But he was pretty solid. I thought in the first period, he made his biggest saves.”
The Devils responded in the first period with a Chad Wiseman goal, his 400th career point, in four-on-four play. DiBenedetto scored again in the second, but Albany tied the game at 4:10 in the third.
Eric Gelinas broke out Mike Sislo with a nice pass through the neutral zone, but Sislo was taken down from behind by Bridgeport’s Aaron Ness, setting up a penalty shot. Sislo skated to his left near the circles, then fired to the top-right corner of the goal for the equalizer.
But 22 seconds later, DiBenedetto skated up the right side and fired in his third goal of the night. The same momentum-killing let-up happened Saturday in a loss to Springfield.
“It’s so important that the next group that goes out makes sure they don’t make a mistake, they get the puck deep and don’t give them an opportunity to grab the momentum back, because obviously they’re looking for it,” Kowalsky said. “It took some wind out of our sails, even with the amount of time that was left.”
Bridgeport 1 1 2 — 4
Albany 1 0 1 — 2
First Period — 1, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 1 (Cizikas), 1:52. 2, Albany, Wiseman 1 (Harrold, Urbom), 14:14. Penalties — Wallace, Bri (tripping), 7:17; Gionta, Alb (slashing), 13:54; Wishart, Bri (tripping), 14:08; Ullstrom, Bri (cross-checking), 16:44; Olson, Bri (roughing), 20:00; Wishart, Bri, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 20:00; Perkovich, Alb (roughing), 20:00; Corrente, Alb (fighting), 20:00.
Second Period — 3, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 2 (Cizikas), 5:17. Penalties — Langkow, Bri (hooking), 10:28; Taormina, Alb (interference), 14:39.
Third Period — 4, Albany, Sislo 1 (penalty shot), 4:10. 5, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 3 (Cizikas), 4:32. 6, Bridgeport, Backman 1 (Wallace, Ness), 19:48. Penalties — Harrold, Alb (elbowing), 11:05; Backman, Bri (tripping), 17:30.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 11-5-7 — 23. Albany 8-14-8 — 30.
Power-play opportunities — Bridgeport 0 of 3; Albany 0 of 5.
Goalies — Bridgeport, 1-0-0 (30 shots-
28 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 0-1-0 (22-19).
A — 1,304. T — 2:02.
Referees — Francis Charron, Chris Cozzan. Linesmen — Jim Briggs, Jim Harper.
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