Frustration, Head Coach Ken Gernander agreed, would be the best word to describe how he feels after watching his troops play a hard fought game but come up short for the 33rd time in 59 games (26-26-3-4) as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat the Hartford Wolf Pack for the second time in three days 2-1 in front of 7,985 at the Arena at Harbor Yard Sunday afternoon.
“Last night (against first place Worcester, a 4-2 win) was a good game, a good effort,” Gernander said. “Tonight (Sunday) poor decisions, poor judgment. We can’t keep going up one step forward, two steps back. We gotta start making some progress and winning some games.”
The poor decision and poor judgment Gernander is likely referring too came on the game winner by NHL veteran Brendan Witt with just 8:07 remaining in the third.
Dale Weise, who was the first star of the game in Saturday night’s contest was the goat in this one.
“We’ve been stressing since day one that we want to enter the zone wide , challenge to the outside, don’t bring pucks to the middle of the ice.” Gernander said.
Weise did just that. On a break out during a four-on-four situation, Weise tried to come up the middle of the neutral zone only to see it go very wrong.
“You could see it develop in the neutral zone.” Witt said. “We had their guys caught and had a three-on-two. I just took the puck off Weise and ‘Flooder’ (Mark Flood) stepped up to give it to Mauldie (Greg Mauldin) and we transitioned real well.” The veteran of 14 NHL seasons said. “We had a good odd-man rush. I just jumped in the play and Greg (Mauldin) made a great pass to me and I just finished it. It’s always good to be able to contribute.”
Matt Zaba (28 saves, 6-8-1) was between the pipes for the New York Rangers top farm team. “It went over my pad and under my glove.” He said of the winning shot. “I thought I had it with my pad, but I should have just caught it I think. (Witt) made a good shot. It was a three-on-two odd-man rush so it was a good play by them. We got kind of caught, but that’s four-on-four hockey.”
“The ‘D’ always scores the big goals.” Sound Tigers head coach Jack Capuano, a former defenseman joked.
For the Pack, this one was no laughing matter. Once again, it came down to the Pack just taking too many penalties that changed the nature of their game.
“Discipline was a big issue,” Gernander said. “You can’t generate (offense) when your short handed. “I’m disappointed to only get two points (out of five games in the last seven days).”
“I thought some of the calls were bad.” Pack captain Dane Byers said. “I’m not going to make excuses and blame everything on the penalties, but a lot of the times it changes the momentum of the game.” He said. “We just took too many bad penalties.”
As you might imagine, Capuano didn’t see it quite the same way. “Some of the penalties that we got, we deserved them; same on the other side. You just concentrate and tell (The players) to stay disciplined and keep the shifts short you can stay disciplined in all areas of your game.”
As the first period came to a close the Pack began to bury themselves in a sea of bad penalties.
First Nigel Williams went off for a hooking call at 18:15. 1:32 later, Byers was sent to join Williams in the sin bin and gave the Tigers a 28 second five-on-three to close the period.
The Pack kept the Tigers off the score board as the first expired, but they were outshot 9-3 and did not look sharp.
As they came out to start the second period, the Pack still had 14 seconds to kill of a two-man disadvantage, but at 44 ticks of the clock in, Jordan Owens got called for a High Stick and put the Pack behind the eight-ball for 1:03 of being two-players down.
This time they wouldn’t get so lucky.
“(Matt) Martin was standing in front of me.” Zaba said. “I saw (Mauldin) shoot it but I didn’t see where the puck went after that so I just went down and tried to be big. (Mauldin) made a good shot. it was a good five-on-three goal for them. They made a good play.”
“You can’t give any team in this league that many five-on-three opportunities, especially after you just killed one off and you then you go right again after.” The Pack’s netminder added. “It’s taxing on our penalty killers. It definitely affects you for the rest of the game. We did a good job killing them off. That should have given us some momentum. I thought in the third period we really came out and took it to them. They got the one break that they needed and they capitalized on it.”
The Pack scored their only goal of the game with just 1:41 remaining on the clock in the second period.
Martin went to the penalty box to serve two minutes for a slashing call. It created a short four-on-four that bore no fruit for either squad, but when the Pack got on the ice for their fourth power play of the game, they would finally light the lamp behind the glass.
Bobby Sanguinetti, playing in just his third game after missing a month with a high ankle sprain, heeded the call of his co point man, Williams. The defenseman then blasted a shot/pass the missed the net wide left from the left point position. The angle caused a perfect bounce of the back boards that came to Locke on the right doorstep. Locke collected the puck and fired a backhanded shot over Lawson who tried to get back to cover the open side, but it was too late.
In order to try and generate some offense, Gernander switched up his lines to start the third period. It didn’t help.
“For four games in five nights I thought both teams played extremely well,” Capuano said. “It was a hard fought game; a lot of special teams; a lot of top guys from both teams played a lot of minutes because of the special teams situations so, I thought they were a little bit tired there at the end with their power play because they were playing so many minutes, but I thought it was a good hockey game.”
“We’ve got 21 games left till the start of the playoffs so we gotta get on a roll,” Byers said and then summed it up perfectly for his team. “Every game now obviously, everyone knows its a huge game. Every game now till the end of the year has to be the biggest game of the year so it’s like the playoffs right now for us. We gotta flight and claw for every point.”
Bob Crawford called it and then wrote it up at Hartfordwolfpack.com. Gerry Cantelon has his version at Eurohockey.net. Not only a great guy, but a great writer, Mike Fornabaio has the Bridgeport perspective at CTPost.com
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
|5. Sound Tigers
|7. WOLF PACK
Hamilton got two goals from ex-Pack Tommy Pyatt en route to destroying Adirondack 5-0. W-B/Scranton doubled up Manchester 4-2 who got both of their goals from Justin Azevedo, Two ex-Ranger organization players, Jeff Taffe and Mike York had goals for the Rochester Americans as they won in a shootout ending Portland’s 11 game winning streak. Defenseman Paul Postma had a hat trick as Chicago beat San Antonio 7-4. Grand Rapids knocked off Texas 5-4 while Abbotsford easily handled Providence 5-2. Hershey continues to just run over the rest of the AHL beating Albany 5-3 and Milwaukee and Houston both won 4-1 over Rockford and Peoria respectively.
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* P.A. Parenteau should be in the lineup next Friday night Springfield at home in the XL Center. Don’t be surprised if Mathieu Dandenault and Andres Ambϋhl are back in the lineup. If, as expected those players return to the lineup, it’s likely that Dave Urquhart will go to the press box, while Devin DiDiomete and either Justin Soryal or Derek Couture (the more likely candidate) head to Charlotte. Once the Rangers return to play the goaltender shuffle is likely to happen again. Steven Valiquette has a pretty bad hand injury so he is going to be sent back…on paper..from the Rangers. Miika Wiikman is likely to stay as the backup to Zaba and Chad Johnson who will do the back-and-forth in New York to back-up Henrik Lundqvist.
* Brendan Witt’s goal was his first in the AHL in 13 years.
* This time it wasn’t the penalty kill that doomed the team in red, white & blue. The penalty killers stopped Bridgeport seven-of-eight times in this one. No, this time the game was lost by the powerless power play that went one-for-six. Over the four games in five nights stench, stretch they played this week, the power play was an embarrassing 2 for 23 or 8.6%. The Pack have gone from a dominating team with the man advantage (which they lead the AHL with for nearly two full months) and dropped to 17th of 30 overall at 17.2%. For the record, the penalty killers are answering the bell at a 79.5% clip which is still last in the American League. On the bright side though, they still lead the league in shorthanded tallies with 15. Hershey is second with 12.
Soryal – Dupont – Weise
Grachev – Locke – Owens
Byers © – Crowder – Roche
Brashear – Garlock – Couture
Williams – Nightingale
Urquhart – Potter
Heikkinen – Sanguinetti
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Miika Wiikman – Healthy Scratch
Devin DiDiomete – Healthy Scratch
Andres Ambϋhl – Reassigned to Swiss National Team – Two weeks
Steven Valiquette – Hand Injury – Day-to-Day (Technically on recall with the NY Rangers)
Mathieu Dandenault – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
P.A. Parenteau – Concussion – Day-to-Day
Michael Sauer – Shoulder Surgery – Season over
Brent Henley – Knee – Season over
Mike Hoffman – Shoulder – Season over
1. BRI – G. Mauldin
2. BRI – B. Witt
3. HFD – M. Zaba
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Shaun Davis (31)
Derek Wahl (46)
Paul Simeon (66)
After a big win, the Pack will look to build on that and take it right to Bridgeport for a battle with the Sound Tigers. Bob Crawford is on the air with the pre-game show at 2:30.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
If you can attend the home games, they cost is as little as $10 a ticket, why not just go? For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
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Hartford Wolf Pack 1 At Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2 – Status: Final
Feb 21, 2010 – Arena at Harbor Yard
Hartford 0 1 0 – 1
Bridgeport 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Nightingale Hfd (fighting), 0:43; Reich Bri (fighting), 0:43; Williams Hfd (roughing), 4:53; Joensuu Bri (roughing), 4:53; Dupont Hfd (tripping), 6:03; served by Figren Bri (bench minor – too many men), 9:26; Haley Bri (roughing), 13:13; Williams Hfd (hooking), 18:15; Byers Hfd (roughing), 19:46.
2nd Period-1, Bridgeport, Mauldin 20 (Flood, Moore), 1:23 (pp). 2, Hartford, Locke 24 (Williams, Sanguinetti), 18:19 (pp). Penalties-Owens Hfd (high-sticking), 0:44; Williams Hfd (delay of game), 3:31; DiBenedetto Bri (hooking), 3:56; Couture Hfd (roughing, fighting), 7:06; Martin Bri (roughing, fighting), 7:06; Soryal Hfd (fighting), 8:27; Haley Bri (fighting), 8:27; Dupont Hfd (holding), 13:58; Byers Hfd (goaltender interference), 15:18; Martin Bri (slashing), 16:45.
3rd Period-3, Bridgeport, Witt 1 (Mauldin, Flood), 11:53. Penalties-Soryal Hfd (misconduct), 3:29; Morency Bri (misconduct), 3:29; Reich Bri (hooking), 11:27; Byers Hfd (tripping), 11:35; Bentivoglio Bri (holding), 16:03.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 3-10-9-22. Bridgeport 9-11-10-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 of 6; Bridgeport 1 of 8.
Goalies-Hartford, Zaba 6-9-1 (30 shots-28 saves). Bridgeport, Lawson 11-11-3 (22 shots-21 saves).
MEANWHILE DOWN IN CHARLOTTE
CHECKERS AVENGE FRIDAY’S LOSS WITH BLOWOUT OF THEIR OWN
Schepke Records Second Hat Trick In 7-2 Triumph Over Gwinnett
The Charlotte Checkers followed up Friday’s lopsided loss to Toledo with a 7-2 blowout of their own over the Gwinnett Gladiators on Sunday afternoon.
Matt Schepke led the charge with his second hat trick of the season while Matt Stefanishion recorded four assists. Ryan Munce stopped 19 of 21 shots for some redemption after allowing seven goals to Toledo on Friday morning. Munce is now 6-3-1 since Miika Wiikman, the other half of the Checkers’ goaltending tandem, was called up to Hartford in late January.
With the win, the Checkers opened up a nine-point lead over the Gladiators in the South Division standings and pulled within one point of second-place Florida.
Kevin Schaeffer, who was returned to the team from Hartford (AHL) earlier in the day, opened the scoring for the Checkers with a one-timer in the slot off a pass from Stefanishion. The goal was Schaeffer’s second of the season and came at the 7:19 mark of the first period.
Shortly after the opening tally Munce made several key saves to keep the one-goal lead, including a beautiful kick save on a wraparound attempt by Gwinnett forward Tim Miller.
Charlotte would then take a two-goal lead, five minutes later, when Andrew Carroll, who was also returned from the Wolf Pack today, scored on a 2-on-1 with Michel Leveille. Leveille fed a pass through the Gwinnett defender and Carroll made no mistake, burying his team-leading 22nd of the season.
Early in the second frame, Schepke scored his first of three to give the Checkers a 3-0 advantage. On the odd-man rush, Stefanishion dished a pass to Schepke who beat Gwinnett goaltender David Brown low on the blocker side.
Charlotte then went ahead by four, just two and a half minutes later, when Tyler Doig beat Brown from the left point on the power play. Leveille and Julien Brouillette picked up assists on the goal.
Gwinnett forward Mike McLean was assessed a high-sticking penalty a minute after the goal by Doig and the Checkers went to the work on the power play once again. Doig took a pass from Brouillette and put a shot on net which was redirected by Carroll between the post and the arm of Brown for the 5-0 lead.
With less than five minutes to play in the period, Jean-Philipp Chabot centered a pass to Schepke who converted for his second of the game to put the Checkers up by six goals.
The Gladiators got on the board early in the third on the power play before Schepke completed the hat trick when he redirected a pass from Steve Ward to regain the six-goal lead.
Gwinnett scored a late goal but it wasn’t enough as the Checkers triumphed, 7-2, to get back in the win column and maintain sole possession of fifth place in the American Conference.
The Checkers (29-17-6) will embark on a three-game northern road trip before returning on Wednesday, Mar. 3. Puck drops at 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
|1. South Carolina Sting Rays
|2. Florida Everblades
|3. Charlotte Checkers
|4. Gwinnett Gladiators
* Charlotte is 8-1-1 in its last 10 home games…
* Matt Schepke has the Checkers’ only two hat tricks this season…
* Andrew Carroll leads the team with 23 goals and ranks tied for third among all ECHL rookies…
* T.J. Reynolds leads the ECHL with 213 penalty minutes and is second in overall plus-minus with a +23 rating…
* Derek Couture and Kenny Roche remain with Hartford (AHL), Ethan Graham is with Texas (AHL) while Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL)…
* Trevor Glass, Chris Snavely and Chris Chappell are on the 21-day injured reserve
Doig – Leveille © – Carroll
Stefanishion – Tkaczuk – Schepke
Slattengren – Taylor – Marshall
Brouillette – Schaeffer
Dowzak – Reynolds
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Mike Berube – Healthy Scratch
Trevor Glass – Lower Body – Early March
Chris Snavely – Upper Body – 2-3 weeks
Chris Chappell – Shoulder Surgery – Season Over
1. CHR – M. Schepke
2. CHR – M. Stefanishion
3. GWT – M. Francis
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
JM McNulty (21)
Mathieu Chenier (71)
Ben Shiley (92)
Another long respite for the Checkers. They are off until Friday night when they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Cyclones. They then will play back-back games in Kalamazoo again the Wings on Saturday and Sunday.
You’ll find in live in-game coverage at www.twitter.com/howlingstoday.
You can always buy tickets for any Checkers game home or away at Ticketmaster.com.
Should you want to watch this very exciting team from the comfort of your computer chair, all Checkers games are available on B2Live.
Charlotte Checkers 7 At Gwinnett Gladiators 2 – Status: Final
Feb 21, 2010 – The Arena at Gwinnett Center
Charlotte 2 4 1 – 7
Gwinnett 0 0 2 – 2
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Schaeffer 1 (Stefanishion), 7:19. 2, Charlotte, Carroll 1 (Leveille), 12:28. Penalties-Roberts Gwt (boarding), 3:46.
2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Schepke 17 (Stefanishion), 4:55. 4, Charlotte, Doig 15 (Brouillette, Leveille), 7:33 (pp). 5, Charlotte, Carroll 2 (Doig, Brouillette), 9:52 (pp). 6, Charlotte, Schepke 18 (Chabot, Stefanishion), 15:47. Penalties-Reynolds Chr (tripping), 1:27; Filangieri Gwt (slashing ), 7:02; McLean Gwt (high-sticking), 9:35.
3rd Period-7, Gwinnett, Francis 7 (Lawrence, Denny), 2:25 (pp). 8, Charlotte, Schepke 19 (Ward, Stefanishion), 6:57. 9, Gwinnett, Francis 8 (Denny, McLean), 14:08 (pp). Penalties-Reynolds Chr (slashing ), 2:20; Slattengren Chr (tripping), 11:38; Crane Chr (high-sticking), 13:23.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 9-9-3-21. Gwinnett 9-5-12-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 2 of 3; Gwinnett 2 of 4.
Goalies-Charlotte, Munce 14-11-1-1 (26 shots-24 saves). Gwinnett, Brown 8-11-2-0 (18 shots-12 saves); Taylor 14-11-1-2 (3 shots-2 saves).