After expending so much emotion and energy in a very spirited and gutsy game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers less than 24 hours before, you had to figure that the Hartford Wolf Pack might have at least a little bit of a let down against their next opponent. Add to the mix that next game was an opponent that came with no emotional attachment to draw from,and you have all the ingredients necessary for an off game. That’s exactly what happened when the East Division’s Albany River Rats came to the XL Center Sunday night…at least for one period anyway. This game came down to a poorly played first period as a unit by the Wolf Pack, and a third period goal by Corey Potter incorrectly waived off by referee Frederick L’Ecuyer that would eventually lead to overtime and then to a shootout where the Pack would come up short dropping a 2-1 decision to the River Rats in front of 3,073 at the XL Center Sunday evening.
After Saturday’s victory against the Sound Tigers that ended a six game losing streak, in his post game comments, Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander spoke about hoping there would be a carryover of “the good feeding” into this game. There wasn’t, at least not in the first period. The Pack came out completely flat and played with the same lack of emotion that had gotten them into trouble over the six game losing streak. Albany carried the play and fired 19 shots on Pack starter Chad Johnson (29 saves, 10-7-2). The Wolf Pack managed only six on Albany netminder Justin Peters (30 saves, 11-5-2) and it cost them.
With just 3:06 left in the first, Jamie McBain defending in his own zone stripped Dane Byers of the puck along the left wing boards. McBain fed Rat captain Pat Dwyer with an outlet pass and watches as he advanced the puck through the neutral zone and over the Pack blueline along the right wing side. Dwyer fired a shot and used Corey Potter as a screen. Chris Terry muscled past Bobby Sanguinetti towards the net and redirected the shot past the stick side of Johnson into the far corner of the net. Despite being outplayed all over the ice, the Pack entered the first intermission down just a goal.
Whatever the message was to the team between periods by Gernander got through as the team came out motivated and took control of the contest.
Midway through the second period, Derek Couture started a rush from the Pack defensive zone with an outlet pass to Dane Byers. The Pack captain then moved it through the neutral zone and found Matt Gilroy with speed moving up the left wing side. Gilroy took the pass and outskated defenseman Brett Bellemore to the outside. Zach Fitzpatrick followed into the left wing corner. As he passed over the goal line, and with both defenseman out of the play, Gilroy made a backhanded pass into the crease that found Couture, who beat Harrison Reed to the spot, and deflected the puck perfectly past Peters for the game tying goal at 12:24.
The game remained knotted and the Pack in control of play. But as has been the case over the past couple of weeks, the Pack have not been able to finish their chances and it cost them.
At 5:48 of the third period, Byers had a magnificent opportunity to open up a lead when his shot form the left side rebounded right. Brodie Dupont made a valiant effort to put it past Peters, but the Rat goaltender made a sparkling diving save to engulf the puck and keep it out of the twine.
After a Devin DiDiomete throttling of Bellemore at 10:47, came the controversial decision that would eventually cost the Pack the game.
The Rats had iced the puck and called a time out to rest their tired troops. Assistant coach JJ Daigneault drew up a play for his team and sent them off to execute it and they did. Paul Crowder worked the puck free deep in the right corner and sent the puck up to Potter at the point. Potter then uncorked a hard slap shot through traffic in front of Peters and cleanly best the netminder who was on his knees a good three feet in front of his crease. L’Ecuyer was in the right corner behind the goal line and ruled that Dale Weise had interfered with Peters. A close examination of the replay shows that Weise never touched the Rat netminder. Moreover, the replay shows that L’Ecuyer could not possibly have seen whether Weise had made any contact or not since he was completely screened on the play by Rat center Mike Angelidis and one time Pack defenseman Brian Rodney who were bunched together directly in L’Ecuyer’s line of sight. It was a badly made call and not only did it strip the Pack of a goal they had cleanly earned, but put them shorthanded as Weise went to the sin bin for a two-minute vacation.
The Pack outshot the Rats 12-4 in the final frame.
In overtime, the Pack had golden opportunities to score. Steven Goetzen went to the penalty box for taking a necessary hooking call that brought down Byers in the crease. Byers was crashing the net and ahead of Goetzen and easily could have had a goal off a Sanguinetti feed that left the puck loose in the crease. So with the Pack on a 4-on-3 power play for the final 1:32 of extended play, the opportunities were there. First, Weise had a golden opportunity when the rebound of a Gilroy shot bounced off Dupont’s stick and right to the wide open Weise in almost the same spot as his game winner the night before. However, he had to lift his shot to go over the fallen bodies in front and it went over the net. Then he and Dupont, who have strong chemistry together and had co-orchestrated the previous night’s win against Bridgeport, had another chance when with just 3.2 seconds left, Weise put it again on goal and the puck slipped behind Peters. Tim Conboy and Angelidis dove over the top of their netminder and somehow kept the puck from crossing the goal line.
“It’s just the way the breaks go, I guess,” Dupont said after the game to reporters. “We have got to work our way out of it.”
So it was on to the skills competition to determine a winner.
Corey Locke beat Peters on the pack’s first attempt and his backhander went off the right post hit the crossbar and went in. A goal scorer’s goal for sure. But it would be the only Pack goal in the shootout as Gilroy, Byers, Sauer and Weise could not get one past the Rat netminder.
Meanwhile, if there’s any one area where it looks like the rookie Pack netminder needs to work, it’s in the shootouts. He just doesn’t look comfortable or confident in them. He entered this, the team’s third shootout of the season having been beaten both times not looking strong in either. On the first shooter, Jacob McFlicker lost the puck on his way to the crease. However somehow it still slid in under Johnson for a goal. Chris Terry also lost the puck but Johnson turned that one away easily. McBain then went stick side with a wrister that Johnson barely moved on and Boychuk’s bid was swallowed by the glove. Had any of his teammates scored it certainly would have helped, but McFlicker’s goal was VERY weak.
Overall for the weekend the Pack went 1-1-1 for three points and with a far improved effort in the last two.
|4. Sound Tigers||31||15||13||1||2||33||77||83||2-0-1-0||5-3-1-1||751|
|6. WOLF PACK||30||14||12||1||3||32||85||90||1-0-0-1||3-4-1-2||584|
* P.A. Parenteau has been sent back to Hartford by the New York Rangers, saying to several in the stands that this time in Hartford, “Should only be for a little while.” Nigel Dawes, and Ryan Callahan also went through this.
* The Pack are averaging 19.7 PIM per game.
* Hartford is 2-1-1-1 when tied going into the third period.
* Johnson’s 18 saves in the first period were the most any netminder has made in a period all season for the Wolf Pack
* Wolf Pack Defenseman as a unit have scored only one goal since Corey Potter tallied on Nov. 27 against Portland. That goal came off the stick of Jared Nightingale on Dec 5th against Wilkes Barre.
* Matt Gilroy has had an assist in all three games he’s played in since being demoted to Hartford by the Rangers last Thursday.
Byers © –Dupont – Couture
Locke – Crowder – Weise
Grachev – Garlock – Hoffman
DiDiomete – Carroll – Ambϋhl
Potter – Sanguinetti
Williams – Gilroy
Urquhart – Sauer
(Assistant Captains bold & italicized)
Jared Nightingale – Healthy
Justin Soryal – Upper Body – Day-to-Day
Matt Zaba – On recall with the NY Rangers
Illka Heikkinen – On recall with the NY Rangers
Mathieu Dandenault – Lower Body – Indefinite
Jordan Owens – Facial Injury – Indefinite
Brent Henley – Lower Body Injury – Four to Six weeks
1. ALB – J. Peters
2. ALB – J. McBain
3. HFD – D. Byers
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Frederic L’Ecuyer (48)
Glen Cooke (6)
Kevin Redding (16)
After playing three in three days, the Pack will have time to recuperate before taking on their next challenge, the Toronto Marlies who visit the XL Center for their only visit of the season. To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live. On the other hand, you can attend the game for as little as $10 a ticket? So why not just go? For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
Dec 13, 2009 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum Albany 1 0 0 0 – 2Hartford 0 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Albany, Terry 6 (Dwyer, McBain), 16:54. Penalties-Crowder Hfd (high-sticking), 12:20.
2nd Period-2, Hartford, Couture 3 (Gilroy, Byers), 12:24. Penalties-Bellemore Alb (holding), 7:39; Couture Hfd (holding), 13:42; Angelidis Alb (tripping), 17:10; Byers Hfd (interference), 19:45.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Herauf Alb (holding), 7:18; Bellemore Alb (fighting), 10:47; DiDiomete Hfd (fighting), 10:47; Weise Hfd (goaltender interference), 12:34; Angelidis Alb (interference), 16:21.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Goertzen Alb (hooking), 3:28.
Shootout – Albany 2 (Micflikier G, Terry NG, McBain G, Boychuk NG), Hartford 1 (Locke G, Gilroy NG, Byers NG, Sauer NG, Weise NG).
Shots on Goal-Albany 19-5-4-2-1-31. Hartford 6-6-12-7-0-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Albany 0 of 4; Hartford 0 of 5.
Goalies-Albany, Peters 11-5-2 (31 shots-30 saves). Hartford, Johnson 10-7-2 (30 shots-29 saves).
MEANWHILE DOWN IN CHARLOTTE:
CHECKERS RUN OUT OF GAS, FALL TO STINGRAYS
Charlotte Drops 4-0 Decision To End Road Trip
Playing their fifth game in eight nights, the Charlotte Checkers could not generate any offense and dropped a 4-0 decision to the South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday in North Charleston.
Stingrays forward Nikita Kashirsky recorded the hat trick and goaltender Todd Ford stopped all 25 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season. Frank Doyle got the start for the Checkers and made 26 saves in a losing effort.
With the loss the Checkers drop to 6-4-2 on the road and will meet South Carolina again for the next four games, beginning Wednesday in Charlotte.
The Stingrays opened the scoring just over seven minutes into the game on a goal by Kashirsky. Nate Kiser took a shot from the point and the team’s leading goal-scorer was there to bang home the rebound.
The rookie forward from Russia would add another just two minutes later when he redirected a pass from Trent Campell between the legs of Doyle.
With two minutes to play in the second period, South Carolina increased their lead to three. Matt Fornataro streaked into the Checkers’ zone on the left wing and fed a nice pass to Gregg Johnson who tipped it past Doyle.
The shots favored Charlotte 19-18 after forty minutes, however they were unable to solve Ford.
With less than four minutes to play, Kashirsky would ice the game and complete the hat trick off a pass from Gregg Johnson. The goal was his 16th of the season, leading all ECHL rookies.
The Checkers (14-7-3) will return to Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 16 to host South Carolina. Game time is 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com
* Ryan Munce has stopped 83 of the last 84 shots he has faced
* Mike Harder has two goals in four games since joining the team
* T.J. Reynolds leads all ECHL defensemen with 97 penalty minutes and 11 fighting majors and leads the Checkers with a +14 rating
* In Friday’s game, Randy Rowe played in his 500th pro game and Harder his 600th
* Hat’s off the GM/Head Coach Derek Wilkinson as his Checkers are still doing extremely well despite being short Andrew Carroll and Derek Couture in Hartford, Daniel Tkaczuk is with Syracuse, Matt Ford remains with Lake Erie (AHL) and defenseman Ethan Graham is with Norfolk (AHL)
* Trevor Glass, Codey Burki and Aaron Slattengren are on the 21-day injured reserve.
1. SC – N. Kashirsky
2. SC – T. Ford
3. SC – K. Johnson
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Steve Patafie (29)
Mathieu Chenier (71)
Paul Reid (97)
Charlotte Checkers At South Carolina Stingrays 4 – Status: Final
Dec 13, 2009 – North Charleston Coliseum
Charlotte 0 0 0 – 0
South Carolina 2 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, South Carolina, Kashirsky 14 (Kiser, Campbell), 7:15. 2, South Carolina, Kashirsky 15 (Campbell, Johnson), 9:28. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, South Carolina, Johnson 8 (Fornataro, Godfrey), 18:00. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period-4, South Carolina, Kashirsky 16 (Johnson), 16:34. Penalties-Marshall Chr (tripping), 2:53.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 8-11-6-25. South Carolina 11-6-13-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 of 0; South Carolina 0 of 1.
Goalies-Charlotte, Doyle 3-2-0-0 (30 shots-26 saves).
South Carolina, Ford 12-4-0-1 (25 shots-25 saves).