Tim Sestito was anything but invisible Friday night in the Times Union Center, but he vanished from sight just long enough to score the game-winning goal.
His Albany Devils linemates Harri Pesonen and Rod Pelley got off the bench before him on a line change and were immediately headed through the neutral zone on the attack. Sestito came off the bench and did his best to stay out of sight of any of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Pesonen ended up with the puck along the right-side boards, low near the corner, and Sestito streaked to the left post. Pelley was coming down the slot and the Sound Tigers were preoccupied with him and Pesonen, when Pesonen rifled a pass past everyone to the back door for Sestito at 8:13 of the third period for a 2-1 lead, which ended up being the final score.
“I saw he saw me, but I didn’t think he was going to get the pass through,” Sestito said. “Pels was coming down the slot, and he was pretty open, too. So all their guys ended up looking at them. Pes just turned his wrists over and fired one through to me, and I was lucky enough to put it in.”
Sestito continued to show up in his usual role the rest of the game, that of the guy who’s going to finish his hits, shut off lanes and block shots.
“I thought Timmy was a guy who tightened things up and started playing the right way, got rewarded with the goal on a nice play by Pesonen,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I thought after the goal, he did a lot of good things, defensively.”
Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid made 27 saves for the win, allowing only a power-play goal by Alan Quine on a rebound that tied the game, 1-1, at 15:14 in the first period. The Union College product had to wait 13:04 to see his first shot, though, which was a bit frustrating for him.
“Especially after last game when I allowed three goals on three shots,” Kinkaid said. “I was itching for a shot, but you’ve just got to worry about the first shot. I think I made a good save on the first shot of the game, and that got me into it.”
Albany came into the game on a four-game losing streak, the last three of those in regulation. Bridgeport entered on a four-game winning streak.
“I said to them after, it certainly was not our best game and not to where we need to be, as a team, to where we were playing,” Kowalsky said. “But maybe a game like this is what we need to kickstart us a little bit.”
Bridgeport 1 0 0 — 1
Albany 1 0 1 — 2
First Period — 1, Albany, Boucher 11 (K. Zajac, Tedenby), 13:37. 2, Bridgeport, Quine 5 (Jackson, Clark), 15:14 (pp). Penalties — Bridgeport bench, served by Strome (too many men), 4:39; Kelly, Alb (closing the hand on the puck), 14:28; Timmins, Alb (hooking), 16:51.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Strome, Bri (tripping), 14:38.
Third Period — 3, Albany, Sestito 9 (Pesonen, Pelley), 8:13. Penalties — Ness, Bri (delay of game), 4:03.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 7-8-13 — 28. Albany 13-4-5 — 22.
Power-play opportunities — Bridgeport 1 of 2; Albany 0 of 3.
Goalies — Bridgeport, Nilsson 5-13-2 (22 shots-20 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 17-8-1 (28-27).
A — 3,111. T — 2:14.
Referees – Chris Brown, Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen – Chris Low, Frank Murphy.