The Bridgeport Sound Tigers dropped their seventh straight game 4-2 last night against the Connecticut Whale, but anyone tuning in via AHL Live experienced only a choppy video feed and audio that cut in and out before it got so bad it virtually stopped working entirely.
I consider this another nail in the coffin for my AHL Live experience; dealing with a service that charged NHL Center Ice prices but clearly cannot deliver an NHL Center Ice experience, for reasons even beyond not being able to tap into professional video feeds due to lack of major AHL coverage. Last night may have been my worst experience with the service, but it certainly wasn’t the first issue I’ve had with video and audio.
Opening up the optional chat window during the game, which actually is a nice feature that lets you interact with other fans watching the game, I found the problem was universal. One commenter noted that he gets free games when he complains about bad video feeds. That’s nice, but instead of just giving away more games that may or may not function properly, it’d be better if they addressed the issues that make them have to give away free games in the first place. Or at least come up with a price point that reflects the prolific problems one runs into while using the service.
It’s not as if you are provided a particularly engaging experience even when there are no glitches. As I’ve mentioned before, you’re stuck with the arena feeds, so often you get no replays of important plays other than goals (if a player on your team is injured, you'll never see how it happened, and if you only have the other team's announcers to listen to on that night, many times you won't even hear about it), the camera angle looks like you’re watching from space, and sometimes you even miss plays as they’re happening. For example, whenever the home team goes on the power play, you miss the opening 10-15 seconds. Why? Because your entire screen is displaying what’s on the board: “It’s Time for Another [insert corporate sponsor] POWER PLAY!”
After a home-team goal, when the arena announcer says who scores, your feed cuts away from the play on the ice to show you pictures of the players who got the goals and assists. If it’s a goal with two assists, this can take quite a while.
Major drawbacks? Probably not, but definitely glaring inconveniences considering they charged roughly $150 to watch a single team’s games for the season (it was about $300 if you wanted all of the AHL games for every team -- the listed prices are even higher now).
There are good things about AHL Live. As I mentioned, the chat function is nice (though I have to say the most entertaining banter occurs when everyone’s complaining about the AHL Live service -- the comments about the slow audio feed a few games ago that made the announcer sound like a mob informant were humorous), and the ability to access highlights and especially archived games is excellent. But if that’s all I’m getting for the hefty price I had to shell out to watch only the Bridgeport games this season, then consider me a disappointed customer. I realized when I paid that I was probably getting gouged because there was no NHL due to the lockout, and I accepted that. I had the money and wanted to see the games. But I expected a better experience, or at least one that I could be confident would actually function correctly.
As for the game, or at least the first period, since that’s all I was able to watch before everything glitched out, Bridgeport did not look bad, but the team seemed determined to give back a goal every time it tied the game. A Sound Tigers’ goal at 16:34 of the first to knot the game up at one was given back just 21 seconds later, and a goal at 18:17 of the second to tie the game at two was given back just 1:41 into the third.
Netminder Anders Nilsson gave up 4 goals on 23 shots and now sports an unsightly .889 save percentage in nine games played. Bridgeport is now tied for the lead among all teams in the AHL in goals against with 74.
Nino Niederreiter picked up a secondary assist to keep his point-a-game pace going. The two Bridgeport goals came from Jon Landry on the power play (shot from up high set up by a nice feed from Colin McDonald -- Niederreiter picked up his point on that goal as well), and John Persson. Persson’s goal occurred at the end of the second period, well after my feed froze up, so I did not see it. The score sheet tells me Matt Watkins and Matt Donovan picked up the assists.
David Ullstrom missed his third straight game with an injury.
Donovan only has one goal this year, but he is tied for fifth on the team in points with 11. More impressively, he is the only defenseman on the team (other than Calvin deHaan who only played in three games) who is a plus player (+5), and yes, that even includes NHL regular Travis Hamonic (-1). In most games, Donovan's quiet, not really standing out and making you take notice. But often for a defenseman, quiet is good.
BY THE NUMBERS
Shots: Bridgeport -- 19, Connecticut -- 23
Power Play: Bridgeport -- 1/6, Connecticut -- 0/4
Landry: 1g, -1
McDonald: 1a, -2
Watkins: 1a, even
Niederreiter: 1a, -1
Persson: 1g, +1
Donovan: 1a, even
Niederreiter: 21gp, 10g, 11a, 21 pts
Nelson: 21gp, 9g, 7a, 16 pts
Sundstrom: 21gp, 6g, 6a, 12 pts
McDonald: 19gp, 2g, 10a, 12 pts
Landry: 21gp, 5g, 6a, 11 pts
Donovan also has 11 pts
Bridgeport is in Albany on Saturday, Dec. 8 to take on the Devils.