Bridgeport has had a tough year so far, but a win like this could turn things around for them. Head coach Ted Garber dismissed any controversy over the last goal and simply stated about his team,"I'm happy for these guys because they've been in some tough ones and lost, but they didn't give up and came back to win this one." It seemed very unlikely as the Lizard took it to them early and often. The Barrage were actually dominating the face-offs early with Brian Haggerty having Eric Wedin's number, but Lizard goalie Sal LoCasio and company were staunch. Meanwhile the Long Island squad was throwing a barrage of shots on Bridgeport goalie Jim Mule (pronounced with a French twist giving the e a hard a sound). The first quarter possession time for the Lizards was incredibly lopsided. If it wasn't for some great take-away checks on Powell and Terry Riordan and some killer saves by Mule it could have gotten out of hand. Instead it was a pair of goals by Riordan with Powell adding one and Finneran scoring the first goal of the game.
Despite the Lizards 4-0 lead, there was obvious unrest with the things they were doing on offense. They seemed to be forcing many plays making poor decisions as DeTommasso was going crazy on the sidelines. Gary Gait summed up the problem,"I think we've been working on a few things on offense and there was a little confusion out there. It wasn't quite coming together." The Lizards were up 4-0 and things just weren't clicking. are you getting the picture, everyone in EAB Park(the stadium they played in) thought it would be a sleeper. Body by Jake Steinfeld went down to the TV Broadcast to liven things up in what he though was going to be a blowout in the third quarter. By the time he got there it was a whole new ballgame.
Lizards had the first possession of the second quarter, but Bridgeport forced a shot clock violation. On the clear AJ Haugen pushed a defender from behind drawing a flag and the ire of Bridgeport players leading to a scuffle. Cooler heads prevailed knowing the punishment for fighting. The penalty on Haugen ste up Bridgeport's first goal. With the extra man Matt Streibel fed from the top inside to Blake Miller who had enough room to turn and beat LoCasio high to make it 4-1 at with 12:05 left in the half. Long Island answered after Hugen's initial attempt was turned aside by Mule. The deflection went to Goettleman standing goal line extended to Mule's right. He quickly dished back inside to the 6'4" Riordan for a low and away shot along the right pipe, 5-1. Lizard middie Tim Byrnes lost a step to his man and consequently reached out for a nice one arm tackle. It cost him thirty seconds for a hold and another Bridgeport power-play goal. Carmean had the ball behind the cage to LoCasio's right and fed diagonally across the crease to Jim Gonella cutting in for the score. Sean Radebaugh scored on a simply right handed sweep down the right side to re-establish the four goal lead. The half appeared to be ending that way, but with only 12 seconds left the Barrage narrowed the gap. Roy Colsey got the ball in transition and appeared to have nothing from up top. When you have a cannon like Colsey, you always have something. He faked a righthanded shot to freeze his defender. Then he stepped to his left, switched hands and blasted one from outside that beat LoCasio high as he had already guessed low by going down, 6-3.
The Teams traded three goals in the third quarter to move the numbers up to 9-6. Those numbers can be deceiving, however, the Barrage scored ten of the last thirteen goals of the game. Casey Powell scored a backhanded bounce shot that was released about a foot from the ground in spectacular fashion to make it 9-3 at the 10:11 mark of the third. It looked to be the nail in the coffin. First Brock sneaks in from behind the cage to beat LoCasio and make it 9-4. Then, on a fast break Mario Lopez sealed himself as the player of the game. The longstick hustled down field so quickly that he wound up being in the low right-handed crank spot. Colsy fed him from the top and he was able to wind up unmolested from about eight yards out on a defenseless LoCasio(Nobody can tell where the ball is going out of a lonstick from that close). That made it 9-5 and then Gonella hooked up with Carmean on a powerplay.
The Lizards regrouped and came out strong in the fourth. Riordan had a chance form 10 yards out off the face-off, but he missed wide. He was fed off the inbound and missed again from even closer. Then the turning point came. Gary Gait is working the ball from the top against longpole Dennis Kelly. Size-wise, Kelly is tiny compared to Gait, but Gait slipped and that was all Kelly needed. As he regained his balance Kelly stripped the ball and took the length of the field. They gave him the shot and he delivered for the second longpole goal of the night for Bridgeport, 9-7. the Lizards answered immediately. Radebaugh found Powell hiding on the low left wing and fed him from behind. Powell stepped into a side arm shot with a sharp angle but managed to squeeze it by Mule low, 10-7.
Mule took over the game for a couple of minutes. First he made an incredible save to spring a breakout that resulted in a Barrage goal, 10-8. Then with the Lizards on the powerplay Gait weaved his way inside, but Mule stoned him followed by two more incredible saves(the last one also coming from Gait). The greatest player of all time can't be held for that long. At 8:01 Gait rolled inside of longpole Jamie Hanford from just above goal line extended to Mule's left. As he came out of the roll he dove and shot for an 11-8 Lizard lead.
The Barrage stopped the bleeding with a forced shot clock violation on long Island. They stormed up field were Carmean and Brock hooked up again. Blake Miller added another goal on a powerplay and all of the sudden it was 11-10. With only 2:38 left in regulation Colsey broke out his bazooka and chilled one to the upper left corner from just inside the arc, 11-11. All of the sudden, it's anyone's game and guess who's got the momentum.
What ensued on the next face-off was nothing short of mayhem. The ball was on the ground and in someone's stick and on the ground over and over. Finally, Bridgeport got a hold of it and made the first pass, but it was a "buddy" pass. The guy who caught it got flattened(and we're sure he remembers his name even if we don't) and the Lizards looked to have the upper hand. Just that quickly Bridgeport possessed and moved it down the right side. It stopped just behind goal line extended to LoCasio's left at Gonella. Gonella threw a cross crease feed to a lonesome Alexander who hit the empty net to take the first Bridgeport lead of the night, 12-11. The lizards controlled the next face and gait emerged down the left wing. his speedy teammate Joey Ghedina was flanking him to his right. He passed across and Ghedina was able to get everything behind a 14 yard bounce shot that nailed the upper right corner to tie it at twelves.
Bridgeport won the face and called timeout. They give the ball to their man colsey, but he takes a wild shot under pressure which wasn't a problem. The problem was nobody backed it up so the lizards got possession. The pass behind the goal was picked off for what turned out to be a fluke empty net game winner.
With who knows how many seconds were left off the next face Lizard defender pat McCabe goosed a ball without even looking and it magically found Powell all alone halfway between the midfield line and the goal. He took three steps and hit Radebaugh to Mule's right all alone. Radebaugh made a fake and scored far side on a bounce shot. It looked like overtime, but the official's clock had run out of time before it went in. Players were upset and the controversy began. Radebaugh claimed,"I didn't know there was instant replay. It's a little tough for us to swallow right now." the truth is that they didn't use instant replay. Personally we think that they should have one of the Lizard cheerleaders run out and stand next to the official counting off time like they do in high school.
Sal LoCasio had a different view of the whole controversy,"It's a tough game to officiate, but honestly, it never should have gotten to that point. We should of won that game by three goals."