BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Riley Wetmore scored his first professional goal to break a 1-1 tie in the second period, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers avoided a season sweep by the Portland Pirates with a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale.
The Pirates were 5-0 against Bridgeport this season and needed only one point to finish fifth in the AHL’s Eastern Conference standings, but instead they wound up sixth. They’ll play the third-seeded Syracuse Crunch in a best-of-five first-round playoff series starting Saturday night.
The Pirates took an early lead when Darian Dziurzynski scored his 10th goal of the season with assists from David Rundblad and Boris Valabik just 3:50 into the game.
That momentum didn’t last long, as the Sound Tigers tied the game less than two minutes later on a power-play goal by Kirill Kabanov following a penalty on Portland’s Chris Brown for checking to the head.
The Sound Tigers took the lead for good on Wetmore’s goal with 2:25 left in the opening period. Wetmore’s former teammate at UMass-Lowell, Scott Campbell, extended the lead to 3-1 just 1:15 later.
Brock Nelson added a power-play goal with 3:47 remaining in the game.
Mike Lee started in goal for the Pirates but was replaced at the start of the second period by Chris Rawlings, making his AHL debut. The former Northeastern University goalie made 19 saves.
Anders Nilsson had 20 saves for Bridgeport, which outshot the Pirates 34-21.
The Pirates were unable to convert any of their six power-play chances, while Bridgeport went 2 for 5 with the man advantage.
Portland will play its first two playoff games on the road before returning home for Game 3 next Thursday night.