The Albany River Rats were unable to score on the Hartford Wolf Pack in five-on-five situations in their second and final meeting of the season but their special teams were enough as they beat the visiting team 3-1 at the TimesUnion Arena Saturday night. The Pack have been forced to come from behind having surrendered the game’s first goal in eight of their last nine. This one was no different as the Rats got one behind starting goaltender Matt Zaba on their first shot of the contest at 6:58.
Dave Urquhart took an interference call at 5:07. The 27th ranked Albany power play unit came out and looked like they should lead the league making sharp, quick passes that got the Pack moving around. Jonathan Paiement, who was elected by the New York Rangers in round 8 (#247 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft moved the puck to Jacob McFlicker on the point. McFlicker then put his first of two points on the night into the scorers sheet when his pass set up Drayson Bowman low on the right side. Bowman was patient and looked for an opening and when he saw it, fired a quick release shot that beat Zaba (26 saves, 2-3-1) to the stick side and into the far corner of the net for his eighth of the season.
The Pack had a short five-on-three power play for 28 seconds in the period but were unable to put much of anything together in the opportunity.
“I think they’re doing the right thing. They’re getting chances,” Pack head coach Ken Gernander said. “It’s not going to go in every night. I thought they did some really good things (Saturday night).”
Despite only seeing five shots apiece in the period, bit Zaba and Rats starter Justin Peters, were both good and they continued that way into the second frame.
At 5;19 of the second, Albany came real close to doubling their lead. Zaba played Brett Bellemore tight and huge and denied him anything to shoot at. Somehow, Bellemore got it past Zaba and his shot ricocheted off the far post.
Zaba came up big again just under three minutes later when Nick Dodge had a break in opportunity only to see the puck wind up in Zaba’s glove.
Despite Zaba’s best efforts to keep his team in it, he couldn’t stop the game’s first star, Nicolas Blanchard when he blocked Ilkka Heikkinen’s shot from the right point on the power play and raced in firing a hard shot that Zaba initially stopped in the five hole only for it to sneak past him and across the goal line for his sixth of the season.
The Pack just could not mount any sort of offense as the Rat defense simply shut them down.
“(The loss) wasn’t related to effort tonight as they were taking away the neutral zone on us.” Gernander said. “Our passing wasn’t crisp and we couldn’t get pucks in to forecheck so we didn’t really generate that forecheck and that tempo that is such a big part of our game.”
Hartford’s best chance to get on the board early in the third period came when Corey Locke’s shot from the left side in-close got past Peters and the Blyth, Ontario native dove behind him and knocked the puck out of harm’s way before it could cross the goal line.
Dale Weise continued his superb play.
With AHL All-Star Bobby Sanguinetti in the cooler for an Interference call, a failed back pass to the right point to Dodge failed and Weise won the footrace to the puck against the Rat Center and charged in alone on Peters. Weise put on a deke and got Peters to split the wickets. As soon as he saw the opening Weise threw the puck right through it for his AHL leading fourth short handed tally of the season and 14th on the year, just three behind the team leader, Locke who has 17.
As time was expiring in the game, and with Zaba on the bench for an extra attacker, Micflikier picked up a loose puck in the right wing corner and flung the puck out of the zone from behind his own goal line. The puck found pay dirt over 200’ away for the game’s final tally.
“I thought (Zaba) played a couple of good games for us this weekend. I’m sure his numbers probably reflect that.”
Zaba spoke about what this time has meant to him. “I went through about a month stretch when I obviously didn’t play. I was pretty frustrated.” He said. “I was a little bit frustrated because I was expecting to have a big year this year and I could really make a push. Then its just the way things worked out. Getting hurt, and then ‘Johnny’ (Chad Johnson) just playing out of his mind.” He added. “There was just a tough situation, but I just tried talked to a lot of people and stay positive and work hard in practice and get my chance. Then I knew Valli was going to get some games when he came down. he’s a good goalie and they want to get Johnny some games too so it’s kind of a numbers thing…”
The second year netminder found sound advice and help from his team’s GM and the team’s Goaltending coach. “I talked with Jim Schoenfeld and Benoit (Allaire) last time I was up (in New York) and just kind of talking about things and about life and that really helped me out a lot and then Christmas break was really good to see my family and get away from things it’s been a struggle. I just want to help the team win no matter what my role is.”
Bob Crawford reports his game summary at Hartfordwolfpack.com. It’s fascinating how some of the teams in the AHL are covered. Some teams like the Wolf Pack and the Providence Bruins to name two can’t get a single reporter to cover even their home games. Then there are other teams like Hershey, Wilkes-Barre and surprisingly Albany who have multiple newspapers covering them. Pete Dougherty has two stories on the game. The first focuses on Nicholas Blanchard who had the shorty for Albany. You’ll find his game story on his newspaper’s site at Timesunion.com. Bill Cain, a terrific writer and big help, has his story in dailygazette.com and even the local TV station has a story, even if it’s a reprint of the Rats’ website story at WNYT.com.
|4. WOLF PACK||40||20||15||1||4||45||116||115||0-1-0-0||6-3-0-1||807|
|5. Sound Tigers||41||21||17||1||2||45||103||105||2-0-0-0||6-4-0-0||950|
* Matt Zaba and Chad Johnson have switched places again for the Rangers and Pack. Expect Johnson to get the start in Providence.
* Weise now has 6 points, 5g and 1a in his last six games and leads the AHL in shorthanded goals with 4.
* Corey Locke is still the AHL points leader with 47 (17g, 30a) in 40 games. Keith Aucoin of Hershey is right on his heals with 45 (29g, 26a) in 32 games. Dustin Henry of Wilkes-Barre has 41 points (12g, 29a) in 37 games and ex-Pack and current Hershey Bear, Alex Giroux has 40 points (13g, 27a) in 29 games. Hershey has three of the top five scorers in the league on their roster and two of the AHL’s top four goaltenders (Braden Holtby & Michael Neuvirth – on recall, and Semon Varlamov to boot). Any idea why they have the AHL’s best record (29-8-0-2) and are winners of 12 straight (12-0-0-0).
* The Pack Power-Play, which led the league for much of the first couple of months has fallen to sixth at 18.6%. On the PK, they’re continuing to struggle and find themselves at 27th out of 29 teams.
* Despite the inconsistency on a game-in and game-out basis, the Pack were 6-5-0-0 in October, 8-2-1-2 in November and then 4-5-0-2 in December and have started the month 3-2-0-0 in January.
* The Pack are 7-8-0-2 in games they get outshot and 4-3-0-0 in games decided by two goals.
Grachev – Dupont – Weise
Byers © – Locke – Parenteau
DiDiomete – Crowder – Couture
Ambϋhl – Garlock – Soryal
Potter – Williams
Heikkinen – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Jared Nightingale – Healthy Scratch
Daniel Tkaczuk – Healthy Scratch
Mike Hoffman – Undisclosed injury – Day-to-Day
Chad Johnson – On recall with the NY Rangers
Mathieu Dandenault – Lower Body – Three – Four weeks
Jordan Owens – Facial Injury – Indefinite
Brent Henley – Knee – Season
1. ALB – N. Blanchard
2. ALB – J. Peters
3. ALB – D. Bowman
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Shaun Davis (31)
Frank Murphy (29)
Steve Lemay (64)
The Pack will try and regroup and get their game back on track as they travel up to face the equally inconsistent Providence Bruins up at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Rhode Island.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
If you can attend the cost is as little as $10 a ticket, why not just go? For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
Too far away or can’t make it? Listen live at WTIC.com.
Hartford Wolf Pack 1 At Albany River Rats 3
Jan 9, 2010 – Times Union Center
Hartford 0 0 1 – 1
Albany 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Albany, Bowman 8 (Micflikier, Paiement), 6:28 (pp). Penalties-DiDiomete Hfd (hooking), 2:24; Urquhart Hfd (interference), 5:07; Pistilli Alb (hooking), 10:48; FitzGerald Alb (closing hand on puck), 12:21; FitzGerald Alb (interference), 15:13; Byers Hfd (roughing, goaltender interference), 16:04; Conboy Alb (roughing, roughing), 16:04.
2nd Period-2, Albany, Blanchard 6 10:10 (sh). Penalties-Paiement Alb (tripping), 9:47; DiDiomete Hfd (fighting), 13:54; Angelidis Alb (fighting), 13:54.
3rd Period-3, Hartford, Weise 14 12:18 (sh). 4, Albany, Micflikier 6 19:57 (en). Penalties-Garlock Hfd (hooking), 2:33; Paiement Alb (diving), 2:33; Williams Hfd (holding), 8:44; Sanguinetti Hfd (interference), 11:29; Parenteau Hfd (high-sticking), 17:10; Parenteau Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:57.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 5-7-8-20. Albany 5-11-13-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 of 4; Albany 1 of 6.
Goalies-Hartford, Zaba 2-3-1 (29 shots-26 saves). Albany, Peters 13-10-2 (20 shots-19 saves).
MEANWHILE BACK IN CHARLOTTE
CHECKERS STYMIED BY NORTH DIVISION-LEADING WINGS
Jones’ Hat Trick Lifts Kalamazoo Over Charlotte
The Charlotte Checkers managed to put four goals past one of the league’s hottest goaltenders, Ryan Nie, but it wasn’t enough as they were downed, 7-4, by the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday night in Michigan.Andrew Carroll added a pair of goals and now has a team-leading 15 tallies while Julien Brouilette recorded a goal, assist and fighting major for the Gordie Howe hat trick. Miika Wiikman made 24 saves and was handed his first regulation loss since Nov. 8, also against Kalamazoo, a span of 11 games.
Nie stopped 36 shots for his fourth win in a row while Matt Jones led the way offensively for Wings with three goals and, for the second consecutive game, scored the game-winner. The Wings have now won five straight.
Charlotte opened the scoring just under two minutes into the game when Jean-Philipp Chabot fed a nice pass to Carroll in the slot. Carroll cradled the pass and slid it past Nie to take the early 1-0 lead.
Kalamazoo would light the lamp three times before the end of the period. Jones directed a cross-crease pass from Andrew Fournier past Wiikman at 5:28 before adding another just over six minutes later. With under two minutes to play in the period, Sam Ftorek skated in alone on the Checkers’ netminder and beat him with a backhander to take a two-goal lead.
The Wings then took a three-goal lead just over five minutes into the second, on the power play, as Mathieu Curadeau took a point shot that made its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
The Checkers would capitalize on a power play of their own late in the period to cut Kalamazoo’s lead to two. On a 5-on-3 advantage, leading scorer Tyler Doig fed a pass to Brouillette who then rifled a slap shot over the glove of Nie for his seventh of the season.
Kalamazoo, however, would tally three quick goals in a span of 2:16 midway through the period, jumping to a 7-2 lead. On the power play, Jones recorded the hat trick when he redirected a pass from Ftorek past Wiikman. Just a minute and a half later, Rick Cleaver chased Wiikman from the Charlotte net when he blasted a one-timer into the top corner on a 4-on-3 man advantage. Ftorek, riding a wave of momentum, added a breakaway goal just 44 seconds later for the five-goal lead.
At the midway point of the third period, Charlotte showed signs of life as David Marshall beat Nie, making it a 7-3 game. Mike Taylor and Brouillette picked up assists on the play.
Carroll would add a late goal, his fifth in the last five games, however, it wasn’t enough as Kalamazoo hung on for the 7-4 victory.
The Checkers (18-12-4-0) will continue their northern swing in Toledo tomorrow before returning home to host the Gwinnett Gladiators on Wednesday. Game time is 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
|1. South Carolina Sting Rays||39||25||8||2||4||56||137||122||2-0-1-1||6-2-1-1||566|
|2. Charlotte Checkers||34||12||11||3||1||40||121||113||0-2-0-0||4-5-1-0||740|
|3. Florida Everblades||37||17||14||2||4||40||118||110||0-1-0-1||5-3-1-1||743|
|4. Gwinnett Gladiators||33||16||13||2||2||36||119||120||1-0-0-0||3-6-0-1||588|
* Ryan Munce (.922) ranks 2nd in save percentage among all ECHL goaltenders…
* Andrew Carroll has five goals in his last five games…
* Miika Wiikman has only two regulation losses in 12 games this season (7-2-2)…
* Julien Brouillette has five points (2g, 3a) in his last five games…
* T.J. Reynolds has six points in his last seven games, leads all ECHL defensemen with 147 penalty minutes, and is second in overall ECHL plus-minus with a +18 rating…
* The Checkers are 10-3-1 in their last 14 home games…
* Trevor Glass and Chris Chappell are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Doig – Leveille © – Roche
Burki – Harder – Slattengren
Carroll – Taylor – Chabot
Berube – Reynolds
Brouillette – Schaeffer
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
1. GWT – S. Roberts
2. GWT – S. Mifsud
3. SC – K. Johnson
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Geno Binda (15)
David Jones (57)
Terry Wicklum (98)
The Checkers go to Michigan’s arch rival state…Ohio on Sunday when they will take to the ice to face the Toledo Walleye (Third place, 19-13-1-3) who’ve won two in a row and are on a 7-3-0-0 run in their last ten games.
You can 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 4 At Kalamazoo Wings 7 – Status: Final
Jan 9, 2010 – Wings Stadium
Charlotte 1 1 2 – 4
Kalamazoo 3 1 3 – 7
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Carroll 14 (Chabot, Burki), 1:58. 2, Kalamazoo, Jones 13 (Ftorek, Fournier), 5:28. 3, Kalamazoo, Jones 14 (Curadeau, Featherstone), 11:50. 4, Kalamazoo, Ftorek 5 (Willis, Featherstone), 18:46. Penalties-Chabot Chr (roughing), 2:32; Ward Chr (slashing ), 3:21.
2nd Period-5, Kalamazoo, Curadeau 14 (Bootland, Mason), 5:24 (pp). 6, Charlotte, Brouillette 7 (Doig, Leveille), 18:07 (pp). Penalties-Bootland Kal (hooking), 3:06; served by Marshall Chr (bench – too many men), 4:24; Lloyd Kal (high-sticking), 6:48; Chabot Chr (slashing ), 9:18; Fournier Kal (tripping), 16:30; McGinnis Kal (roughing), 17:01.
3rd Period-7, Kalamazoo, Jones 15 (Ftorek, Daavettila), 6:45 (pp). 8, Kalamazoo, Cleaver 17 (Daavettila, Jones), 8:17 (pp). 9, Kalamazoo, Ftorek 6 (Mason, McGinnis), 9:01. 10, Charlotte, Marshall 6 (Taylor, Brouillette), 10:22. 11, Charlotte, Carroll 15 (Slattengren, Graham), 17:19 (pp). Penalties-Roche Chr (holding), 5:50; Willis Kal (interference on the goalkeeper), 7:25; Leveille Chr (slashing ), 7:41; Schaeffer Chr (slashing ), 7:49; Doig Chr (misconduct), 11:25; Brouillette Chr (fighting – major), 16:07; Reynolds Chr (misconduct), 16:07; Bootland Kal (roughing, misconduct), 16:07; Willis Kal (instigating, fighting – major), 16:07.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 10-19-11-40. Kalamazoo 11-7-18-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 2 of 7; Kalamazoo 3 of 7.
Goalies-Charlotte, Wiikman 7-1-1-1 (30 shots-24 saves); Munce 5-6-1-0 (6 shots-5 saves). Kalamazoo, Nie 10-4-1-0 (40 shots-36 saves).