After getting soundly defeated at home 9-2 Wednesday night, the Hartford Wolf Pack could have easily stuck their heads in the sand and, pardon the pun, “packed it in.” But regardless of the interpretation of the collective skill level of this Hartford team in 2009-2010, one thing that nobody can say about them is that they don’t have heart. Head Coach Ken Gernander knew coming into Friday night’s rematch in the home-and-home with the Worcester Sharks that Wednesday’s loss in the XL Center more or less did in his team’s season, but just as he did when he was the captain of the team, he wasn’t about to let them go without a fight.
Minus their two best offensive players in P.A. Parenteau and Dale Weise, both on recall with the parent New York Rangers and with the team’s best defenseman out with an undisclosed injury in Bobby Sanguinetti, it would have been reasonable for the team to rollover and get stomped again. But Gernander would have nothing to do with that and the pride of this team came through with a total team effort from the net on out and the Wolf Pack went into Worcester and beat the Sharks 3-2 in perhaps the gutsiest victory of the season.
The Wolf Pack were eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in the team’s 13 year history when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers went on the road and defeated the Lowell Devils 6-3.
All victories in hockey start between the pipes. Chad Johnson, (23 saves, 21-18-2) gave his team a chance to win right from the get go. His teammates only managed to put three shots on goal in a rather lifeless first period where the home team only had six. The best scoring chance of the dull period came when Pack captain Dane Byers and Kris Newbury, who’ve shown some excellent chemistry, used excellent passing to create some space. Newbury wound up with the scoring chance but put the puck wide left.
After the first intermission, their respective coaches must have sent a message to pick up their level of play and it showed. In a raised tempo twenty minutes, each squad managed to put ten shots on goal, but the visiting Wolf Pack made the most of their shots as they put two of them past former Charlotte Checker, Frank Doyle (16 saves, 6-2-0).
Chris McKelvie, who signed with the Wolf Pack on April 1st, scored his first goal and got his first professional point in the process atb9:25 of the second period. The puck was dumped into the Worcester zone and Doyle went behind the net to play it. Ryan Garlock came in hard on the Shark goalie and got in front of him. Doyle was a bit confused and had some trouble getting rid of the puck. By that time McKelvie arrived on the scene and was behind Doyle, effectively trapping the goalie behind the net. Garlock poked the puck loose behind Doyle to McKelvie who took it and beat Doyle to the front of the net and scored on the wraparound.
With 7:51 remaining in the period, Johnson kept the Pack ahead when his positioning on a breakaway prevented Brandon Mashinter from getting off a good shot in the one-on-one play.
The Wolf Pack were visibly lifted by the strong play of their rookie between the pipes and elevated their intensity on the ice.
Gernander has spoken all season long about how a good play on one end often leads to something good on the other and with 5:08 left Hartford used that momentum from the Johnson save and created offense of their own.
Brodie Dupont, who had a very strong game and an excellent season, came up left wing with the puck and brought it down low. Dupont’s pass got just by the stick of centerman Cory Quirk and Derek Couture got ahead of T.J. Trevelyan coming back and redirected it past Doyle, doubling the visitors lead to 2-0.
But there’s a reason that Worcester leads the Atlantic Division with 102 points (48-24-3-3), they don’t give up and have the talent to fight back and capitalize on mistakes.
Mike Moore brought the puck out from behind the right side of the Wolf Pack net as the clock had just 2:53 to play and put a backhander that went across the crease and just barely avoided Johnson’s outstretched left leg and caught the bottom corner of the net to put the home team on the board and cut the Pack lead in half at 2-1.
The Wolf Pack players all knew that they were likely going to be eliminated but with their pride on the line, they wanted to make the other teams ahead of them earn it. They weren’t going to “go quietly into that good night.”
Just 2:52 into the period, off an offensive zone face-off, the Pack got what would prove to be the game winner.
The AHL’s third leading scorer, Corey Locke won the puck back to recent Charlotte call-up, defenseman Julien Brouillette. At his high right point position, Brouillette unloaded a blast through traffic that Doyle didn’t even move a muscle to get, clearly indicating that he never saw it. The puck flew into the net on the glove side of the Sharks goaltender for Brouillette’s first career AHL goal. Brouillette had an assist in three games earlier in the season with Providence and has added three more with the Wolf Pack in the nineteen games he’s played in since.
3:18 later the Sharks would add a shorthanded goal off a 3-on-1 rush by Danny Groulx for the game’s final score.
Worcester pressed their guests pretty hard in the last minute and Groulx would lay a very hard, but clean hit on Couture with 18.2 seconds left that would require the Pack forward to be helped off the ice. Based upon the way that Couture got hit into the boards, it appeared as if it could have been a rib injury or that he just had the wind knocked out of him.
The Pack play out the string with the final home game of the season on Saturday against their 1-91 rival Springfield Falcons. “Fan Appreciation Night” will be loaded with a multitude of giveaways and of course the customary shirts off our backs promotion with the team wearing special jersey’s for the night. Tickets are still available at just $10 for any seat in the house. For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
Bob Crawford sums up the elimination game after having called the game in Worcester at Hartfordwolfpack.com , Bill Ballou has the post-mortem on the first place Worcester Sharks. Read his story at Telegram.com .
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
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* From New York came the Rangers’ team’s awards:
The New York Rangers have announced the 2009-10 Team Awards, including the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, presented by Lightspeed Trading; the John Halligan Good Guy Award; the Rangers’ MVP and the Players’ Player Award. Captain Chris Drury was also nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.
The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, presented by Lightspeed Trading, and voted on by the fans, recognizing the player who performs “above and beyond the call of duty,” was awarded to Ryan Callahan. The award is named after New York City police officer Steven McDonald, who was shot and injured in the call of duty in November of 1988. This award has been given annually to the player who fans believe plays with extra effort on the ice. This is the second consecutive year that Callahan has received this award.
Callahan currently ranks second in the NHL in hits (283) and fourth among forwards in blocked shots (81). Named Alternate Captain prior to the start of the regular season, Callahan ranks second on the Rangers in power play goals (nine) and third in power play points (20). He has played in 76 games this season, registering 19 goals and 18 assists for 37 points, along with 48 penalty minutes.
The John Halligan Good Guy Award, selected by the New York Rangers Media, recognizes players’ cooperation with the media. This year’s recipients are Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal, both in their first season with the team. This year the award was renamed in honor of John Halligan, a longtime Rangers and NHL Public Relations executive who passed away earlier this year. Throughout his 53 year career, Halligan was a beloved figure in the world of New York Sports and a champion of hockey in the media.
The Rangers’ MVP, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, was awarded to Henrik Lundqvist. This is the fourth consecutive year that Lundqvist has won the award, which marks the most consecutive years an individual has been named Rangers’ MVP.
Lundqvist currently ranks fifth in the NHL in saves (1,872) and sixth in time on ice (4,078:49). He has recorded four shutouts this season, while ranking ninth in the NHL in goals against average (2.40) and 11th in wins (34). Lundqvist is the only goalie in NHL history to post 30-or-more wins in each of his first five seasons, and the first Rangers goaltender in team history to post five straight 30-win seasons.
The Players’ Player Award, voted on by the Ranger players, was given to Captain Chris Drury. The award recognizes the Rangers player who best exemplifies what it means to be a teammate. Drury was also nominated by the New York Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Only four Ranger players have been selected for this award since its inception in 1968.
Drury is serving in his second year as Captain of the New York Rangers. He leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots (97) and ranks 22nd in faceoff percentage. Drury was a member of the silver-medal winning US Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team, registering two goals and a plus-three rating.
Byers © – Newbury – Ambϋhl
Dupont – Locke – Couture
Soryal – Crowder – Grachev
Brashear – Garlock – McKelvie
Williams – Potter
Heikkinen – Baldwin
Brouillette – Nightingale
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
P.A. Parenteau – Recall NY Rangers
Dale Weise – Recall NY Rangers
Anders Eriksson – Recall NY Rangers
Tysen Dowzak – Healthy Scratch
Devin DiDiomete – Healthy Scratch
Cameron Talbot – Healthy Scratch
Bobby Sanguinetti – Undisclosed Injury
Steven Valiquette – Hand Injury – Season over
Michael Sauer – Shoulder – Season over
Mike Hoffman – Shoulder – Season over
Brent Henley – Knee – Season over
1. HFD – J. Brouillette
2. HFD – C. Locke
3. WOR – M. Moore
Ghislain Hebert (49)
Brian MacDonald (72)
Bob Paquette (18)
The Pack will play out the string in their last two, Saturday in Springfield and then Sunday afternoon in Bridgeport.
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.
Too far away or can’t make it? Listen live at WTIC.com or from your cell phone or computer visit www.twitter.com/howlingstoday for complete live in-game coverage.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3 At Worcester Sharks 2 – Status: Final
Apr 9, 2010 – DCU Center
Hartford 0 2 1 – 3
Worcester 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Couture Hfd (goaltender interference), 14:20; Dupont Hfd (slashing), 19:03.
2nd Period-1, Hartford, McKelvie 1 (Garlock), 9:25. 2, Hartford, Couture 11 (Dupont, Locke), 14:52. 3, Worcester, Moore 3 (Desjardins, Westgarth), 17:07. Penalties-Moore Wor (interference), 6:01; McKelvie Hfd (interference), 9:37.
3rd Period-4, Hartford, Brouillette 1 (Locke), 2:52. 5, Worcester, Groulx 13 (Zalewski, Quirk), 6:10 (sh). Penalties-Newbury Hfd (interference), 0:42; Moore Wor (tripping), 4:49; Desjardins Wor (tripping), 15:46; Byers Hfd (roughing), 19:41; Groulx Wor (roughing), 19:41.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 3-10-6-19. Worcester 6-10-9-25.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 of 3; Worcester 0 of 4.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 22-18-2 (25 shots-23 saves). Worcester, Doyle 6-3-0 (19 shots-16 saves).
MEANWHILE IN THE CHARLOTTE PLAYOFFS:
CHARLOTTE TOPS TOLEDO TO TAKE 2-1 SERIES LEAD
Munce Solid As Checkers Down Walleye, 3-1, Inch Closer To Conference Semifinals
The Charlotte Checkers fell behind early but battled back with three straight goals to down the Toledo Walleye, 3-1, in game 3 of the American Conference Quarterfinals on Friday evening.
With the win, Charlotte takes a 2-1 series lead and is but one win away from advancing to the conference semifinals for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Ryan Munce was rock solid between the pipes for the home team stopping 25 of 26 shots. His performance earned him the game’s first star while David Marshall, Daniel Tkaczuk and Michel Leveille scored for the Checkers.
Toledo had the game’s first quality scoring chance when forward Tony Romano found the back of the net, however the goal was disallowed due to a Walleye player standing in the crease.
Just minutes later, Walleye defenseman Joe Charlebois launched a 50-foot pass to Derek Nesbitt for a breakaway. Nesbitt bared down on Munce and beat the Checkers netminder low on the blocker side for the early 1-0 lead.
Mike Taylor nearly tied the game when he blasted a one-timer from the left side but Toledo goaltender Jordan Pearce slid across and denied the Charlotte forward with the right pad.
The Checkers mustered plenty of scoring chances in the first but couldn’t find the back of the net. They outshot the Walleye 13-12.
It took less than two minutes into the second period for Charlotte to get on the board on the power play. David Urquhart, who has been the Checkers best defenseman since being loaned by the Wolf Pack on March 11th, skated in from the point and took a whack at the puck and Marshall was there to chip the rebound in off the far post.
Midway through the period, the Checkers appeared to take their first lead of the game but referee Steve Patafie waved it off ruling that the Toledo netminder was interfered with. On the play, a Toledo defender seemed to fall on his own netminder but for some reason it was deemed a Checkers issue and cost them a goal. Fortunately it wouldn’t end up costing the Checkers the game.
Charlotte scored moments later on a goal that could not be contested when Tkaczuk notched his second goal of the postseason. Tkaczuk and Randy Rowe broke in on a 3-on-2 with Tyler Doig who saucered the puck past the Walleye defensemen. Rowe dove for the puck and it made its way back to Tkaczuk who fired it home between the legs of Pearce.
The Checkers held a 26-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes and a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard.
Charlotte added an insurance goal and made it a two-goal lead at the 6:37 mark of the third period on a goal by Leveille. The Checkers captain picked up the dumped in puck that went past the Toledo defenders and let go a wrist shot off the far post and in.
With time winding down, Toledo put pressure on the home team but Munce held them off with hard work and some very impressive stops while the Checkers defenders did a great job in support of their goaltender by blocking shots to hold the Walleye at bay.
The 3-1 victory sets the stage for Charlotte to clinch the series with a win at home on Sunday afternoon.
Charlotte (2-1) will host Toledo for game 4 on Sunday (2pm). Ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com/playoffs.
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
* Charlotte clinched its first division title and #1 conference seed in franchise history heading into the playoffs
* With the Wolf Pack eliminated from the playoffs this will just make the Checkers stronger as Julien Brouillette and Jared Nightingale will join them after Sunday season finale against Bridgeport.
* The Checkers had the four largest crowds in the ECHL this season
* Mike Taylor leads the Checkers with three playoff goals while Adam Keefe leads the Walleye with four
* Charlotte is 17-3-1 in its last 21 home games
* Ryan Munce led the ECHL in save percentage (.913), was third in wins (26) and was named ECHL Goaltender of the Month for March
* Andrew Carroll led the Checkers this season with 30 goals, including six game winners.
Taylor – Leveille © – Slattengren
Rowe – Tkaczuk – Stefanishion
Roche – Carroll – Bartlett
Marshall – Doig
Urquhart – Schaeffer
Ward – Reynolds
Hendrikx – (Bartlett)
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Mike Berube – Healthy Scratch
Matt Schepke – Healthy Scratch
Brock Bradford – Healthy Scratch
Jean-Philipp Chabot – Healthy Scratch
Tysen Dowzak – Recall in Hartford
Matt Ford – Recall in Lake Erie
Julien Brouillette – Recall in Hartford
Ethan Graham – Recall in Texas
Chris Snavely – Wrist Surgery – Season over
Trevor Glass – Back Surgery – Season over
Codey Burki – Undisclosed – Season over
Chris Chappell – Shoulder Surgery – Season over
1. CHR – R. Munce
2. CHR – M. Leveille
3. CHR – R. Rowe
Steve Patafie (29)
Ray King (39)
Mathieu Chenier (71)
Jason Shaya will have all the action with the irrepressible Chris Snavely alongside as the Checkers look to close out the first round on Toledo on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.
For live in-game coverage from your cell phone or computer, we’ll have the action for you 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.
Toledo Walleye 1 At Charlotte Checkers 3 – Status: Final
Apr 9, 2010 – Time Warner Cable Arena
Toledo 1 0 0 – 1
Charlotte 0 2 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Toledo, Nesbitt 2 (Charlebois, Pearce), 5:29. Penalties-Zarb Tol (interference), 10:19; Urquhart Chr (cross-checking), 13:44; Roche Chr (slashing ), 17:27; Aliu Tol (cross-checking), 20:00; Keefe Tol (roughing), 20:00; Reynolds Chr (roughing), 20:00.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Marshall 1 (Carroll, Urquhart), 1:42 (pp). 3, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 2 (Hendrikx, Doig), 17:29. Penalties-Urquhart Chr (delay of game), 12:58.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Leveille 1 (Taylor), 6:37. Penalties-Keefe Tol (high-sticking), 1:19; Rowe Chr (high-sticking), 12:04; Keefe Tol (tripping), 17:45; Doig Chr (slashing ), 19:32.
Shots on Goal-Toledo 12-3-11-26. Charlotte 13-13-13-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Toledo 0 of 5; Charlotte 1 of 4.
Goalies-Toledo, Pearce 1-2-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Charlotte, Munce 2-1-0-0 (26 shots-25 saves).