Tag Archives: Justin Williams

A NEW ERA BEGINS

Connecticut Whale VERSUS  Bridgeport

HARTFORD, Conn. – What a difference a day makes? Well that and an XL Center filled with 13,089 fans.

A better than expected, pardon the pun, “packed” house and a very exciting victory over an interstate opponent, started off Howard Baldwin’s dream for a new era in Hartford hockey history off on a good foot. Continue reading

SAME OLD, SAME OLD

Hartford Wolf Pack Logo VERSUS Hershey

The last time the Hartford Wolf Pack won two straight games (Oct. 16-17) they followed it up with a slide into near oblivion going 1-9-2-2 over he next 14 games.

For Coach Ken Gernander’s sake hopefully this one doesn’t start a streak like that one as once again, the Wolf Pack failed to put a full 60-minute effort together and were beaten 4-3 to the Hershey Bears Sunday afternoon in front of 10,799 at the Giant Center.

Hershey’s Chocolate World is located next door to the Giant Center and it’s about the closest thing you’ll ever find to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Based upon the way their disappearance in the second period, you would have thought that Oopma Loopas were going to come out of the locker room and sing a tale about the Wolf Pack at center ice. Gernander’s troops did their best impression of Augustus Gloop and slipped into a Sea of Chocolate. After playing well in the first period, the Wolf Pack allowed two goals to Mathieu Perreault and four overall in the period all on 16 shots. They put together a valiant effort in the third frame but it was once again, too little too late.

Just 17 seconds into the second period, Evgeny Grachev tried to make a fancy pass from inside his own zone. Perreault picked it off just outside the blue line and rushed up the right wing side of the slot chased by Wade Redden. Perreault make a dandy fake and Wolf Pack starter Cam Talbot (30 saves, 1-2-1) bit hard on it. The Hershey centerman backhanded the puck past the outstretched leg of the fallen Wolf Pack netminder.

All season long, the Wolf Pack have allowed bad plays like that to shake their collective confidence and they have repeatedly found ways to make a bad situation worse by going into a funk. They did it again as just 1:13 later, while on a delayed penalty situation, the one-time Pack defenseman fired a long shot through traffic that Talbot never saw and deposited it into the twine behind him.

Seconds later Talbot made perhaps his best save of the game. Jay Beagle charged hard up the ice after another Wolf Pack giveaway and Talbot got the pad on it.

Gernander sensing the game was getting away from his troops, wisely called for a timeout.

After the timeout ended, Fahey was called for a trip and went to the box at 4:03. 14 seconds later defenseman Sean Collins joined him in the sin bin and gave the Wolf Pack a golden opportunity, 1:46 of 5-on-3 power play time and they took advantage of it.

Redden ripped a blast from the left point. It really demonstrated what he used to do so effectively as a member of the Ottawa Senators and the reason the NY Rangers wanted him when they signed him in July 2008 to a 6-year $39 million contract. Mats Zuccarello was in front of Semyon Varlamov (19 saves, 2-1-0) and redirected Redden’s shot past the Washington Capitals’ goaltender (in Hershey on a conditioning stint) at 5:12.

3:26 later, Perreault got a little bit of luck when Jyri Niemi went to block, what very well may have been a centering pass from the left wing side, only to have it redirect up and over Talbot’s glove. It was 3-1.

Thirteen year pro, Brian Willsie scored what proved to be the game winner with just 54.7 seconds remaining in the period.

With 2:08 remaining in the second period Grachev and Kyle Greentree got into it with one another in front of the Hershey net and both were sent off for roughing putting the sides four-on-four for the two minutes.

But nine seconds later, Tim Kennedy was called for slashing and set up a four-on-three and gave Hershey, the best power play team in the AHL, it’s third power play.

Ex-Pack defenseman Lawrence Nycholat and Willsie played hot potato with the puck at the top of the circles. After a couple of back-and-fourths, Willsie tattooed the puck from the left side right over Talbot’s glove and just under the crossbar for his tenth of the season.

To their credit, the Wolf Pack did not run and hide. They came out in the third period loaded for bear…pardon the pun.

Justin Williams took back to back penalties at 3:42 for Tripping and then at 6:12 for Slashing.

After coming out of the box Williams got involved in a 3-on-2 odd man rush up the ice. He fed Chad Kolarik at the left wing side of the slot. Kolarik then drew a defender and Varlamov to the left side and teed up the puck for Jared Nightingale who was trailing on the play and he deposited it into the empty net for his first goal of the season. The goal came at 8:29.

1:19 later, Dale Weise, with Nycholat all over him, redirected a Pavel Valentenko shot form the left point and put it over Varlamov for his third of the season.

The Wolf Pack battled back, but just could not find an equalizer even after Talbot was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:01 to go.

Bob Crawford called the game and wrote up the story for CTWhale.com. For the Hershey perspective you can read Tim Leone at PennLive.com.

GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET

NOTES:

* Past Wolf Pack connections were in this contest. Lawrence Nycholat, Boyd Kane and Brian Fahey

* The Wolf Pack announced before the game that radio listeners throughout the State of Connecticut will be treated to a Connecticut Whale “Radio Roadblock”, featuring the Whale’s iconic “Brass Bonanza”, at 8:25 AM this Monday, November 22.  This media “greenout” is in celebration of the return of The Whale to Connecticut Saturday, November 27, when the newly-rebranded team takes on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the XL Center at 7:00 PM, and Sunday, November 28, when the Adirondack Phantoms and former Wolf Pack head coach, and AHL Hall of Famer, John Paddock visit the XL Center for a 5:00 game.  The voiceover talent for the Radio Roadblock is also memorable—legendary Whalers radio play-by-play man Chuck Kaiton.  Connecticut hockey fans are encouraged to set their watches to 8:25 AM on Monday, and tune into one of the following participating radio stations: WDRC-FM, WHCN-FM, WKSS-FM, WMRQ-FM, ESPN Radio 1410 WPOP-AM, ESPN Radio 1300 WAVZ-AM, WWYZ-FM, WELI-AM, WKCI-FM, WPLR-FM, WCCC-FM, WTIC Newstalk 1080, 96.5 TIC FM and LITE 100.5 FM.

* Weise has two goals and two assists in the three games he’s played since missing a month recovering from wrist surgery.

* Redden has a three game points streak and Kennedy is at four games. Both have the same output at 1g, 4a, 5pts.

* Ryan McDonagh, Nigel Williams and Niemi are the only Pack players not to have scored a goal and played in at least 12 games. Tyler Donati (8 games) and Lee Baldwin (9 games) also have not scored.

* Justin Williams has 5g and 2a in the last 5 games.

* Zuccarello has 2g and 3a in the last three games.

* For you Grachev fans, the Russian forward has 1g and 1a in 12 games this season. Overall he has 3 goals in his last 50 at the AHL level. Add in the fact that he didn’t score in the 6 he played in New York, that’s 3g in his last 56 games.

* NHL veteran Sheldon Souray was a healthy scratch.

* Ex-Pack and current Hershey Bear Lawrence Nycholat and Redden were teammates on the Ottawa Senators in 2006-08.

LINES:

Grachev – Newbury – J. Williams
Zuccarello – Kennedy – Weise
DiDiomete – Tessier – Kolarik
Soryal – Garlock

Redden –  Nightingale
Valentenko – Niemi
McDonagh – Kundratek
Baldwin

Talbot
Johnson

(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)

SCRATCHES:

Brodie Dupont – Leg Laceration – Day-to-Day
Tyler Donati – Healthy Scratch
Nigel Williams – Healthy Scratch
Chris McKelvie – Healthy Scratch

THREE STARS:

1. HER – M. Perreault
2. HER – B. Fahey
3. HFD – C. Kolarik

ON ICE OFFICIALS:

Referee:
Chris Cozzan (18)
David Banfield (44)

Linesmen:
Bob Goodman (90)
Matt MacPherson (94)

NEXT GAME:

The Wolf Pack are off until Friday night when they travel to the Arena at Harbor Yard to play their final game as the Hartford Wolf Pack in Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers. It’s also the start of a home-and-home as the next day they play their first game as the rebranded Connecticut Whale. Bob Crawford will have the pregame at 6:30pm.

To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.

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.

SCORE-SHEET:

Hartford Wolf Pack 3 at Hershey Bears 4 – Status: Final
Sunday, November 21, 2010 – Giant Center

Hartford 0 1 2 – 3
Hershey 0 4 0 – 4

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Miskovic Her (tripping), 2:49; DiDiomete Hfd (slashing), 15:35; Kolarik Hfd (interference), 16:53.

2nd Period-1, Hershey, Perreault 3   0:17. 2, Hershey, Fahey 2 (Rome, Wellar), 1:30. 3, Hartford, Zuccarello 8 (Redden, Williams), 5:12 (PP). 4, Hershey, Perreault 4 (Greentree, Fahey), 8:38. 5, Hershey, Willsie 10 (Nycholat, Gordon), 19:05 (PP). Penalties-Fahey Her (tripping), 4:03; Collins Her (high-sticking), 4:17; McDonagh Hfd (tripping), 11:45; Grachev Hfd (roughing), 17:52; Greentree Her (roughing), 17:52; Kennedy Hfd (slashing), 18:01.

3rd Period-6, Hartford, Nightingale 1 (Kolarik, Williams), 8:29. 7, Hartford, Weise 3 (Valentenko, Kennedy), 9:48. Penalties-Williams Hfd (tripping), 3:42; Williams Hfd (slashing), 6:12.

Shots on Goal-Hartford 8-6-8-22. Hershey 12-16-6-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 3; Hershey 1 / 6.
Goalies-Hartford, Talbot 1-1-1 (34 shots-30 saves). Hershey, Varlamov 1-1-0 (22 shots-19 saves).
A-10,799
Referees-Chris Cozzan (18), David Banfield (44).
Linesmen-Bob Goodman (90), Matt MacPherson (94).

IMPEACHING THE SENATORS

Hartford Wolf Pack Logo VERSUS Binghampton

The Hartford Wolf Pack overcame two Binghamton Senator leads and a referee that, based upon the way he was calling the game, seemed more “Lost” than the cast of the recently ended ABC hit series, and went on to win 3-2 in overtime on a spectacular shot by the team’s top scorer, Justin Williams.

In overtime, 11 seconds after the Wolf Pack killed off the remaining seconds of a Senator power play from late in the third period, ex-Wolf Pack center, Corey Locke took a holding call on Devin DiDiomete.

Head Coach Ken Gernander sent out his strongest offensive weapons Mats Zuccarello, Wade Redden, Dale Weise and Williams for the four-on-three power play. The offensive unit passed the puck cleanly around the perimeter. Zuccarello was on the right wing half boards and fed the puck back to Redden. As he’s done for 13 years, Redden slid the puck to the left side of the high slot where Williams one-timed a blast right past Senators goaltender Barry Brust (40 saves, 7-7-1).

The Wolf Pack were killing off the remainder of a penalty that came off a controversial play that came in the closing moments of the third period.

Tim Kennedy was chasing hard after a puck in the Senators zone. Defenseman Derek Smith was ahead of Kennedy in the race to the puck. Kennedy went to hit Smith and had him lined up properly for a shoulder-to-shoulder hit, but Smith turned his back to Kennedy at the last moment and the Pack center could not turn away and ran Smith hard into the boards. Referee Chris Brown initially didn’t call anything but when Smith stayed on the ice, up went the hand. As the play continued out from behind the net, Brust came out of the net and as Kennedy turned back, the Senator’s goaltender sucker punched him with both hands…still in their respective gloves mind you…right in the face sending Kennedy to the ice. Kennedy got up and he and Brust and the other players on the ice wrestled in the corner. Brown called Kennedy for Boarding but he also called him for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Brust received just a two minute Roughing call. This gave the Senators their fifth power play with just 1:32 left in regulation.

The Wolf Pack had a golden opportunity midway through the first period to establish a lead after Jim O’Brien was tagged with a Boarding call to Kelsey Tessier at 10:59 and then 23 seconds later defenseman Andre Benoit flipped the puck into the crown for a Delay of Game call that gave the Wolf Pack a 1:37 five-on-three power play. While they did take a few shots on goal with the two man advantage they were unable to make a real threat to Brust as the Senator penalty killers rose to the occasion and shut them down.

1:18 after the penalties were over Binghamton pressed the play in the Wolf Pack end and Hartford just could not get control of the puck. Goaltender Chad Johnson (28 saves, 5-10-1) made two stellar stops back-to-back that dragged him down on the left side of the crease. Roman Wick took the loose puck and fed on the left side to Erik Condra, who’s goal in Hartford on October 22nd was the difference in a 1-0 Binghamton victory in the first meeting this season between the two clubs. Condra didn’t hesitate and fired the puck back into the empty net for a 1-0 lead at 14:40.

Despite outshooting their opponents 14-10 in the opening frame, the Wolf Pack found themselves down a goal entering the first intermission.

To start the second period, both goaltenders made impressive saves to keep the score where it was. Ryan Keller was stoned by Johnson very early on only to be matched by Brust denying Zuccarello on a wraparound try.

Williams made perhaps the best defensive play of the contest when Pavel Valentenko fell down along the right wing boards and lost the puck creating a two-on-one odd man rush back the other way. Williams zipped up the ice and knocked the puck away from Keller who was about to shoot the puck.

At 6:22 a Ryan Garlock charging penalty resulted in a scrum that saw DiDiomete and Colin Greening sent to the penalty box giving the Senators their second power play. At 7:09, Keller was issued a double minor High-Sticking call erasing the Senator power play and after a 1:14 of four-on-four gave the Pack their third power play of the contest.

With just four seconds remaining in the Wolf Pack man-advantage, Weise, in only his second game back after missing 15 games from wrist surgery, showed why he is likely the New York Rangers top prospect. A Kennedy shot put the puck in the crease. Weise went after it and was slammed from behind in the back by defenseman Geoff Kinrade and had his partner, Derek Smith, laying on top of him. But Weise still managed to poke the puck past Brust to knot the score at 9:05 of the second. Zuccarello also received an assist on the play.

In a wild scrum around the bench, Cody Bass began to exchange punches with Pack defenseman Lee Baldwin. Baldwin then tackled Bass and the two went down to the ice and were pulled apart by the linesman. Brown then gave Binghamton a full two-minute five-on-three as he for some reason tagged Chad Kolarik with an Unsportsmanlike Conduct call and gave Baldwin and Bass five minutes each for fighting but also gifted Baldwin for some reason with an extra roughing call.

It didn’t take long for the Senators to regain the lead.

33 seconds into the two-man advantage, Locke had the puck low on the right wing goal line. Locke’s pass just eluded the outstretched leg of Redden and found Keller on the left side. Johnson could not get back over quick enough and Keller had his 8th of the year.

With just four seconds left in the period, Brown, perhaps feeling a touch of guilt over his horrible call that gave Binghamton the lead, called Kinrade for interference and gave the Pack their fifth power play to start the third period.

Shots were 11-10 in Hartford’s favor in the second and 25-20 overall as the two teams went tot heir respective locker rooms.

The Pack began the third period and had a lot more jump then they have in the past. They came out gunning to knot the score. They almost did right away but Williams was unable to convert his golden opportunity from the slot on their power play as his shot went high over the net.

DiDiomete also had a great chance when he got loose with the puck low but was stopped with a top notch save by Brust.

At 7:50, Eric Gryba wasn’t using his head when he and Kris Newbury were poking at each other behind the net and it spilled out in front of the net. Brown was right there and caught Gryba cross checking Newbury and knocking him to the ice.

On the resulting power play Redden picked up his second assist of the game against the AHL affiliate of the team he spent 11-seasons with, when he fed Weise the puck. Weise in turn found Kennedy down low on the right wing side. Kennedy then charged the net unabated and Brust made the initial stop but the puck just trickled between his legs and into the back of the net. The goal was Kennedy’s third.

The Wolf Pack spent the better part of the third frame in the Senator’s zone and fired shots but Brust rose to the occasion and denied them.

Zuccarello had a great chance at 16:10 but was denied.

A few moments later one of the scariest moments in hockey as a puck hit a stick and redirected up and hit Kolarik in the face under the face mask. Blood poured profusely on the ice. Wolf Pack Trainer Damien Hess rushed out on to the ice to help Kolarik. They went to the locker room and Kolarik did not return.

With the win, the Wolf Pack put together back-to-back wins for only the second time in the season. The first time came when they beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (2-1) and the Providence Bruins (3-0) back on October 16th and 17th. Following the first pair of wins, the team went on horrific tailspin that saw them post a 1-9-2-1 record that dropped them to last place in the Atlantic Division. Saturday’s win, combined with the Sound Tiger’s 1-0 loss to the Manchester Monarchs moved the Wolf Pack out of the Atlantic Division cellar and into sixth place.

Hartford hasn’t won when trailing entering the third period since doing it in back-to-back games at home late last season. They first knocked off Providence on March 21, 2010 after entering the third period down 1-2 and won in OT on a P.A. Parenteau goal 4-3. They then did it again in the very next game. The Adirondack Phantoms visited the XL Center on March 26th and took a 2-1 lead into the third period. A Dane Byers goal midway through the third and the Wolf Pack went on to win in a shootout 3-2. Ilkka Heikkinen had the only goal in the shootout as he beat Phantom goaltender Carter Hutton for the game winner.

Bob Crawford called the game and wrote up the story for CTWhale.com. Meanwhile for the Binghamton point-of-view, Joy Lindsay reports at PressConnects.com.

GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET

VIDEO:

Here’s Brust’s hit on Kennedy:

NOTES:

* Past Wolf Pack connections are tough guy Francis Lessard (Out with a shoulder injury) and diminutive forward Corey Locke.

* The Wolf Pack announced before the game that radio listeners throughout the State of Connecticut will be treated to a Connecticut Whale “Radio Roadblock”, featuring the Whale’s iconic “Brass Bonanza”, at 8:25 AM this Monday, November 22.  This media “greenout” is in celebration of the return of The Whale to Connecticut Saturday, November 27, when the newly-rebranded team takes on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the XL Center at 7:00 PM, and Sunday, November 28, when the Adirondack Phantoms and former Wolf Pack head coach, and AHL Hall of Famer, John Paddock visit the XL Center for a 5:00 game.  The voiceover talent for the Radio Roadblock is also memorable—legendary Whalers radio play-by-play man Chuck Kaiton.  Connecticut hockey fans are encouraged to set their watches to 8:25 AM on Monday, and tune into one of the following participating radio stations: WDRC-FM, WHCN-FM, WKSS-FM, WMRQ-FM, ESPN Radio 1410 WPOP-AM, ESPN Radio 1300 WAVZ-AM, WWYZ-FM, WELI-AM, WKCI-FM, WPLR-FM, WCCC-FM, WTIC Newstalk 1080, 96.5 TIC FM and LITE 100.5 FM.

* Binghamton is one of the five teams that currently are drawing less attendance than the Wolf Pack. Hartford is averaging 3,466 and Binghamton is at 3,259.

* Chad Johnson leads the AHL in minutes played with 932.

* The Wolf Pack had a record of 0-9-0-1 when trailing after two periods entering this game. They are now 1-4-0-0 on the road when trailing after two.

* They are now 4-5-2-1 when outshooting their opponents and 2-5-0-1 when being outshot.

* The team now improves to 2-5-2-2 in one-goal games.

* The 43 shots on goal were the most by the Wolf Pack this season.

* Multi-point nights for Weise (1g- 1a), Kennedy (1g, 1a) Redden (2a) and Zuccarello (2a)

* Interestingly, despite winning the game, the Pack did not have a plus player on the night, but Newbury, McDonagh, Kolarik, Kundratek and Grachev were all minuses. The reason, four of the five goals scored in the game were on the power play.

* The Wolf Pack win was also their first in OT this season. They now have a 1-2-2 record in extra time.

* The Pack hit the .500 mark on the road with the win. Their record is 4-4-0-1.

* Williams is the Pack’s leading goal scorer with 11 as well as their leader in overall points with 17 and has five goals in his last four games and seven in his last six.

* Hartford is 2-0 since Weise returned from injury.

LINES:

Grachev – Newbury – J. Williams
Zuccarello – Kennedy – Weise
DiDiomete – Tessier – Kolarik
Soryal – Garlock

Redden –  Nightingale
Valentenko – Niemi
McDonagh – Kundratek
Baldwin

Johnson
Talbot

(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)

SCRATCHES:

Brodie Dupont – Leg Laceration – Day-to-Day
Tyler Donati – Healthy Scratch
Nigel Williams – Healthy Scratch
Chris McKelvie – Healthy Scratch

THREE STARS:

1. HFD – T. Kennedy
2. HFD – J. Williams
3. BNG – B. Brust

ON ICE OFFICIALS:

Referee:
Chris Brown (86)

Linesmen:
Jim Harper (59)
Tim Kotyra (53)

NEXT GAME:

The Wolf Pack head on down the highway to Hershey for an early evening (5pm) matchup with the Bears. The Wolf Pack’s last visit to Hershey was one they would rather forget as they got soundly trounced 9-2 on December 6, 2009. The Wolf Pack will then be off until next Friday night when they travel to Bridgeport to play their last game as the Hartford Wolf Pack before being rebranded the next day as the Connecticut Whale. Bob Crawford will have the pregame at 4:30pm.

To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.

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.

SCORE-SHEET:

Hartford Wolf Pack 3 (OT) at Binghamton Senators 2 – Status: Final OT
Saturday, November 20, 2010 – Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena

Hartford 0 1 1 1 – 3
Binghamton 1 1 0 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Binghamton, Condra 6 (Wick, O’Brien), 14:40. Penalties-Kennedy Hfd (interference), 7:25; O’Brien Bng (boarding), 10:59; Benoit Bng (delay of game), 11:22.

2nd Period-2, Hartford, Weise 2 (Kennedy, Zuccarello), 9:05 (PP). 3, Binghamton, Keller 8 (Locke, Butler), 14:44 (PP). Penalties-DiDiomete Hfd (roughing), 6:22; Garlock Hfd (charging), 6:22; Greening Bng (roughing), 6:22; Keller Bng (double minor – high-sticking), 7:09; Baldwin Hfd (roughing, fighting), 14:11; Kolarik Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:11; Bass Bng (fighting), 14:11; Kinrade Bng (interference), 19:56.

3rd Period-4, Hartford, Kennedy 3 (Weise, Redden), 8:08 (PP). Penalties-Gryba Bng (cross-checking), 7:50; Kennedy Hfd (boarding, unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:28; Brust Bng (roughing), 18:28.

OT Period-5, Hartford, Williams 11 (Zuccarello, Redden), 1:03 (PP). Penalties-Locke Bng (holding), 0:39.

Shots on Goal-Hartford 14-11-17-1-43. Binghamton 10-10-8-2-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 3 / 7; Binghamton 1 / 5.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 5-10-1 (30 shots-28 saves). Binghamton, Brust 7-7-1 (43 shots-40 saves).
A-3,231
Referees-Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Jim Harper (59), Tim Kotyra (53).

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

By Bruce Berlet

Wise veteran defenseman Wade Redden put the Wolf Pack’s plight of one-goal losses this season into perfect perspective.

“We have to find a way to win these games,” Redden said after a 4-3 loss to the Manchester Monarchs on Wednesday.

The latest defeat was the ninth by a goal for the Wolf Pack (4-10-2-2), with a 10th coming by two goals with an empty-netter against. It also extended their slide to franchise-worst 1-9-2-1 and kept them tied for last place in the Atlantic Division with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6-10-0-0), who have two games in hand.

Where’s Brad “Shooter” Smyth when you need him? Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, their career leader in goals (184) and points (365) is playing for Belfast Giants in the Elite Ice Hockey League, a 10-team league in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

“You can look and say you’re close all the time, but it usually comes down to we don’t put a full 60 minutes together,” Redden said. “If we do that, we’ll get the bounces and win the games. But we always seem to have lapses where they’re hemming us in or (we take) bad penalties, stuff like that. It’s just mental things that are killing us more than anything.”

The Wolf Pack has seemed to find every way possible to lose, and it was the special teams on Wednesday. The power play was 1-for-5 and generated most of the team’s 24 shots and quality chances but failed on a 5-on-3 for 94 seconds, though Redden hit the post. And the penalty kill allowed the Monarchs, ranked 21st on the power play, to score a season-high three power-play goals in six tries.

Then there was what Monarchs observers called the team’s save of the season with 40.2 seconds left when Jeff Zatkoff dove across the crease to somehow stop Mats Zuccarello’s one-timer from the right circle off a perfect cross-slot pass by Jeremy Williams from the top of the left circle.

“I got a pretty good, quick shot, but it was an unbelievable save,” said Zuccarello, who likely never saw anything like that growing up in Norway or during his MVP campaign with MoDo in the Swedish Elite League last season. “It’s kind of the story of our season.”

Zatnoff (22 saves) almost seemed apologetic for his game-saving stop.

“The puck popped out right on (Zuccarello’s) stick,” Zatkoff said. “I was just trying to get over and fill space. It was a desperation save at that point, especially at that time in the game. I was fortunate enough that it hit me in the pad, and I was able to cover it.”

Williams had his team-leading ninth and 10th goals but also took a hooking penalty that led to Justin Azevedo’s winning goal. Williams said the Wolf Pack’s slump has to end quickly or they’re going to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season after 12 straight trips to the postseason. The quest begins Friday night at 7:30 at Springfield in the second of five consecutive road games before the Wolf Pack are re-branded as the Connecticut Whale for a game at the XL Center against the Sound Tigers on Nov. 27. John Paddock, who led the Wolf Pack to their only Calder Cup title in 2000 and was named interim coach of the Adirondack Phantoms on Nov. 8, will be at the XL Center the next night.

“We’ve got guys who have been on different teams in different situations, and everybody hates losing,” Williams said. “Then you look back in February, and it’s like, ‘Oh (shoot).’ I know guys are trying, but it’s like you talk so much that you don’t even know what to say any more. Not in a negative way, just in a mindset where you just have to stop thinking about everything and just go do your job.

“It’s the same for the guy who works a 9-to-5 job. If he’s got stuff going on around the office and he’s always worrying about other things, then his work isn’t getting done. If everybody just focuses on their single job, then I think things are going to go smoother. There are touches of it, but one night we maybe play 52 minutes, then the next night we only play 20. That’s what’s costing us hockey games.”

Being 30th and last in the AHL with a 2.06 goals average also gives the Wolf Pack virtually no margin for error and puts added pressure on the defense and goalies Chad Johnson and Cameron Talbot to pitch close to a shutout every game. The defense and goaltending have generally held up their end, but the Wolf Pack/Whale has to find ways to start winning games.

They will have another different look Friday night as right wing Dale Weise returns to the lineup, left wing/center Brodie Dupont is out and rugged left wing Justin Soryal is questionable.

Weise has been sidelined since the third game of the season Oct. 15 because of an ailing hand that required surgery. He received clearance to play Wednesday but decided it was better to remain a commentator with radio announcer Bob Crawford for one more game.

But Weise is delighted to be trading in his headset for a stick, skates and uniform. Coach Ken Gernander plugged Weise into Dupont’s spot alongside Tim Kennedy and Mats Zuccarello, who moved with right wing to left wing. Dupont is out 7-to-10 days after needing 16 stitches to close a cut above his left knee sustained when the skate of a Manchester player sliced him late in Wednesday’s game.

“I’ve been waiting a month to talk hockey,” said Weise, who had one goal and one assist in three games in which he played through pain in his hand before deciding to have surgery. “I feel real good after things progressed really well the last week or so. I didn’t feel comfortable to play Wednesday, but it’s good now. And condition-wise, I’m probably in better shape than I was at the beginning of the year. I’ve been ‘bag skating’ for about three weeks, and you can’t get that kind of conditioning in practice every day.

“You can do what you can on the (stationary) bike, but if you’re ‘bag skating’ for 30 minutes straight, you’re not playing game for 30 minutes straight. You have to rest, so I feel good.”

Weise thinks it might take a period to get back his rhythm in a game, but he’s especially enthused about returning from the longest absence of his career.

“I’ve had a couple of broken fingers, but I’ve never had anything this bad, so it’s different for me,” Weise said. “Obviously I’m not happy about it. You wait all summer to play and come back and play three games, and it’s so frustrating. And I missed a chance to go to New York (when Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury got hurt), but what can you do? That’s just the way it goes. It just happens. It’s a long season.”

And his season is resuming on what has to be considered the No. 1 line for the Wolf Pack, who desperately needs to improve their 2.06-goal average, last in the AHL.

“It has been awful, awful watching all these one-goal losses,” said Weise, who had career highs in goals (28), assists (22) and points (50) last season. “Obviously it’s frustrating to watch the boys go through something like that, and you really don’t feel part of it. You’re skating on your own after practice, and you’re not in the room during games. It’s a tough time to be around, but that’s my teammates. They’re like my brothers, and I want to be a part of it whether we’re winning or losing, and hopefully I can help us get out of this hole.

“(Kennedy and Zuccarello) are two real skilled guys offensively, so I’m just going to look to hop in and be the shooter. Both of those guys are world-class passers and both prefer to pass, and that works perfect with me because I prefer to shoot, so I think it’s going to be a good mix. They’ve been working well, and Dupont has played well. Obviously, he’s a tough guy to lose out of your lineup. He’s a big hitter and kills a lot of penalties, and with the amount of penalties that we take, he’s huge for us. But it gives guys an opportunity to step up, and hopefully a couple of guys do that.”

Gernander hopes anyone steps up to end the worst stretch that he has been involved with in his 14 seasons with the Wolf Pack, who are six games under .500 for the first time.

“I think (Weise) will give us a bit of a boost,” Gernander said. “He played pretty good hockey for us last season and at the start of this season. I know he has been working hard on his conditioning and getting back in game shape, so hopefully it’ll come around quick for him.”

Dupont struggled offensively at the start, getting only one assist in the first 12 games, but he had one goal and two assists in six games before being injured.

“He has been playing pretty good hockey for us as of late,” Gernander said, “and he does a lot of things: net-front on the power play, penalty-kill guy, a wing who can take faceoffs for you when you need it.”

Dupont had mixed feelings about the freak injury, which at first appeared to be a knee injury because he couldn’t put any weight on his leg.

“I was looking for a pass from (Kris Newbury), and then all of a sudden I went down in a heap and could feel the cut,” Dupont said Thursday while resting and looking over an X-ray of the gash. “It was scary, but at least (the skate) only cut the muscle, not an artery.”

Soryal sat out Wednesday’s game after getting hit in the face with a deflected puck in practice Monday, but he’s expected to return Friday night, Saturday night in Binghamton or Sunday afternoon in Hershey. He wore a cage in practice Thursday, as he did last season after having a bone broken in his face during a fight with Jessie Boulerice.

“Getting hit by the puck was worse than getting punched,” Soryal said. “At least the adrenaline is going when you’re in a fight.”

Gernander said trainer Damien Hess would evaluate Soryal on Thursday and Friday and see when he has clearance to play.

A Need To Fill In The Only Zero Category

After fellow Czechs Tomas Kundratek of the Wolf Pack and Tomas Kana of the Falcons fought in the teams’ last meeting Saturday night at the XL Center, it will be interesting to see what transpires Friday night at the MassMutual Center.

Kolarik, acquired two days earlier for former captain Dane Byers, scored a goal in his Wolf Pack debut and scored a unanimous decision over Kana, who sustained a dislocated thumb in the fight. But Byers set up Mike Blunden’s tying goal with 4:35 left in regulation and scored in the fourth round of a shootout to give the Falcons (8-6-0-1) a 4-3 victory and drop the Wolf Pack to 0-1-1-1 against their I-91 rival. The Wolf Pack lost the only game against the Falcons this season at the MassMutual Center by – you guessed it – one goal, 3-2 on Oct. 30. … Smyth has five goals and six assists in 11 games with Belfast and his teammates include former Wolf Pack forward Mike Hoffman (six goals, 10 assists in 18 games) and Mike Bayrack (seven goals, 12 assists in 20 games), who also played six games with the Sound Tigers and one season with the Danbury Trashers and Sound Tiger Jon Gleed. Former Wolf Pack captain Craig Weller plays in the EIHL with the Cardiff Devils and has two assists in a two games. … The Wolf Pack could also use some of the production of AHL leading scorer Corey Locke, whom the Rangers didn’t re-sign after he led the Wolf Pack in goals (31), assists (54) and points (85) last season, earning him a spot on the All-AHL second team. Locke had a goal and two assists and Barry Brust rebounded with a 33-save shutout as the Binghamton Senators won 4-0 at Syracuse on Wednesday night. The Senators ended a two-game losing streak during which Brust allowed 12 goals on 62 shots. Locke extended his scoring streak to 11 games (six goals, 14 assists) with his third game of at least three points this season. He leads the AHL in assists (19) and points (26) in 17 games. The Crunch suffered their second consecutive shutout and third in their last four games. … Former Wolf Pack defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti scored his first goal of the season and Drayson Bowman then got the winner as the Charlotte Checkers rallied for a 2-1 victory over visiting Adirondack on Wednesday night. … Former Wolf Pack wing Ryan Hollweg scored the game’s first goal and former Wolf Pack goalie Al Montoya made 34 saves to improve to 5-2-0 as the San Antonio Rampage beat Peoria 3-1 Wednesday night. The Rampage extended their winning streak to five games with their 12th win in 14 games, increasing their West Division lead to six points over Milwaukee and Oklahoma City.

Rangers New Uniforms Are 0-1

The Rangers broke out their new Heritage Jerseys that include hidden retired numbers on the inside in celebration of the franchise’s 85th anniversary season Wednesday night. But a similar malady to the Wolf Pack led to a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, ending a three-game losing streak. While the Rangers were better on the penalty kill (3-for-3 to go to 23-for-24 for the last seven games with two shorthanded goals), they failed to convert on a 5-on-3 for 1:44.

Brandon Dubinsky scored the Rangers’ first goal off an assist from another Wolf Pack forward, Ryan Callahan, and won 13 of 17 faceoffs. But during the lengthy two-man advantage, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas robbed Dubinsky and then extended his right leg to stop a jam attempt by Callahan, who was alone at the left post.

“He was the difference,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said of Thomas, who had 34 saves to improve to 10-1. “We have a chance at the end on the 5-on-3, and we don’t get it done. But he certainly was the difference.”

Said Callahan: “He came up with some big saves. At the same time we have to get some more chances. They kept us on the perimeter pretty well. I thought they played pretty tight, but we have to find a way to get some more pucks through to the net.”

Sound familiar?

The Bruins got two key pucks on net – by 18-year-old Tyler Seguin and 42-year-old Mark Recchi. Seguin, the second overall pick in June who was three years from being born when Recchi was drafted in 1988, scored his fourth goal after a pep talk with Thomas.

“I was trying to tell Tyler after the first period, ‘Come on, this is MSG,’ ” Thomas told reporters after the game. “He’s like, ‘What’s MSG?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, man. This is a historic arena. This is what kids dream about playing in. Maybe not for the Rangers all the time, but playing in the building.’ Then he went out and scored, so I’m proud of him.”

Seguin pressured Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy at the top of the Bruins zone and stripped him of the puck. Seguin raced down right wing and fired a laser over the glove of Henrik Lundqvist to give Bruins a 2-1 lead. Seguin said everything happened so fast he couldn’t remember details of the goal.

“I just remember going wide and putting it over his glove,” Seguin said.

Recchi’s 566th goal at 1:10 of the third period was the winner but hardly the most artistic in his 21-year pro career. The NHL’s oldest player had the puck near the right circle and wasn’t in a dangerous shooting position. But he flipped the puck on net and it squeezed between the left arm and body of Lundqvist before stopping a few inches over the goal line.

“If you’re going to score some goals, you’ve got to get some pucks to the net,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Doesn’t matter how old you get. As long as you listen, it works.”

Lundqvist thought otherwise.

“It was just a terrible goal,” Lundqvist said. “I just have to stop the third one, and it’s a different game. It’s definitely one that I want to take back, but I can’t, so I have to move on. … I was hoping for a tie game there on the 5-on-3, but Thomas came up big in the end. I think we played great. It’s just a mistake here and there.”

Sound familiar?

The Rangers are 0-for-4 over 4:31 of 5-on-3 play this season. But it wasn’t a poor effort by the Rangers, who held the Bruins to 20 shots. But lapses against quality teams like the Bruins have proven the undoing of the Rangers, who begin a two-game trip on Friday night at the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche is the first of five games in seven nights and nine in 14, but the Rangers brought only six defensemen to Colorado and Minnesota for a game Saturday night rather than promote one from the Wolf Pack as a standby.

“They’re not ready in Hartford,” Tortorella said. “We want them to keep playing and not disrupt their development. If there’s an emergency, we’ll get someone in.”

Meanwhile, the Rangers hope for a continuation of Wednesday night – except for the final score.

“I thought we worked pretty hard,” Dubinsky said. “I don’t think they got too many scoring chances. A couple mistakes ended up in the back of the net in the second (period), but for the most part I thought we played the game plan we wanted to. We just have to clean those (mistakes) up and we’ll be fine.”

Sound familiar?

Capuano Loses NHL Debut

Speaking of sounding familiar, nothing changed for the New York Islanders on Wednesday night as a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning before a half-empty Nassau Coliseum crowd of 8,025. It extended the Islanders’ winless streak to 0-10-1-0 and ruined the NHL coaching debut of Jack Capuano, elevated from the Sound Tigers on Monday after Scott Gordon was relieved of his duties and became an advisor to general manager Garth Snow.

The Islanders haven’t won since beating the Lightning on Oct. 21, the end of a 4-1-2 start that seems impossible now. It’s the first time the Islanders’ futility has reached such length since Mike Milbury’s final 11 games behind the bench in the 1998-99 seasons. It has always seemed a bit ironic that Milbury is now so critical of so many as an analyst when he was such as disaster as a coach and general manager.

“It’s different for me,” Capuano told reporters. “In the American Hockey League, it was about development. (In the NHL) it’s about winning. “We just have to make sure we’re on the right track and get these guys moving in the right direction.”

Capuano, 44, was in his fourth season as Sound Tigers coach and was replaced by assistant Jack Bingham, who was an assistant under former Yale coach Dave Baseggio in 2005-06 and Capuano from 2007 to the present. Capuano, a native of Cranston, R.I., had a 133-108-14 record with the Sound Tigers after joining the organization in 2005-06 as an assistant with the Islanders and then taking over in Bridgeport in 2007-08.

Season Ticket Package for Connecticut Whale Part of the Season

When the Wolf Pack returns from a 12-day, five-game road trip, longest of the season, they will be re-branded as the Connecticut Whale for the final 29 home games of the season. Ticket season packages for the Whale segment of the season are available from $638 ($242 savings) for blue seats in XL Center to $290 ($110 savings) for kids (any seat except blue) and yellow.

The offer includes the 29 regular-season games, one voucher for Whalers Hockey Fest 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 10-23 and 20 vouchers for games at the XL Center. For more information, call 860-728-3366 or visit www.ctwhale.com.

MONARCHS RULE OVER WOLF PACK

Hartford Wolf Pack Logo VERSUS Manchester

“One night we maybe play 52 (of 60) minutes, then the next night we only play 20. That’s what’s costing us hockey games.” Justin Williams told reporters after the Hartford Wolf Pack once again failed to put a full 60 minute effort on the ice in their 4-3 loss to the Manchester Monarchs in front of a special school day matinee at the Verizon Wireless Arena Wednesday afternoon.

“Most of our shots and (scoring) chances came on our power play until the third period, when we started getting a little bit generated five-on-five, but not enough.” Head Coach Ken Gernander said to reporters afterwards. When asked his view on three of the four goals that were scored came on power plays, the fourth year Head Coach replied, “The penalty kill was a bit disappointing.”

Justin Azevedo, Viatcheslav Voynov and Alec Martinez feasted on Wolf Pack mistakes  as each put a goal and an assist on their scorecard. Meanwhile left winger Bud Holloway added two helpers for the Monarchs. With the win Manchester was able to leapfrog over the idle Springfield Falcons into second place and closed to within five points of the first place Portland Pirates.

For the Wolf Pack, leading scorer Justin Williams continued his hot hand adding two goals to lead the Pack with ten. Kris Newbury, second on the team with thirteen points, supplied two assists. Pavel Valentenko had his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack who at 4-10-2-2 find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

Unlike games past where the Wolf Pack dug themselves an early hole, they jumped out early on their hosts as just 28 ticks into the game. Kris Newbury won an offensive zone faceoff to starter Jeff Zatkoff’s right. The Wolf Pack center won the faceoff cleanly back to Pavel Valentenko behind him. Valentenko then slid to the left and uncorked a missile that hit Zatkoff (6-5-1, 22 saves) for a 1-0 lead.

Things seemed to be going the Pack’s way when the Monarchs followed up the goal at 1:37 with David Kolomatis going to the box for tripping Devin DiDiomete. However the Wolf Pack power play, which finished the game at 1-of-5 (including a 1:34 of 5-on-3) were unable to do anything with their man-advantage. The strong performance by the Manchester penalty killers woke the Monarchs from their early game malaise.

The Monarchs began to push the play at he Wolf Pack and they obliged by surrendering a goal at 6:08. With pressure in the offensive zone coming from the home team and shots were being unloaded on the Wolf Pack’s Chad Johnson (3-10-1, 28 saves), Jyri Niemi was unable to clear Jordan Nolan from the crease. After Holloway put the puck on net,  Nolan, on the left side of the crease, was able to whack away at the puck and slid it under Chad Johnson to knot the score and put his first AHL goal on the books.

Then things got kind of strange.

With 3:42 remaining referee Mark Lemelin called Wolf Pack defenseman Jared Nightingale for an interference call. Nothing strange about that, except that the guy he supposedly “interfered” with, wasn’t even moving. Sixteen seconds later, Williams was moving the puck out of the Pack end and bobbling the puck with his head down. Corey Elkins put a HARD shoulder to shoulder hit on the right winger and sent him crashing hard into the boards right in front of the Pack bench. Newbury would have nothing to do with that as his teammate was down on the ice and promptly attacked Elkins and the two dropped their gloves. No penalty was called on the hit on Williams.

Then 16 seconds later and with 2:46 to go, Tim Kennedy was whistled for a phantom cross-check on a guy who was already going down. The call gave Manchester a 1:27 5-on-3 power play.

But then Brandon Kozun was whistled by Lemelin for his own mysterious boarding call creating a 4-on-3.

58-seconds later, Martinez wristed a shot from above the right circle and beat a screened Johnson over the stick side blocker to give the 2-1 lead to the Monarchs with 1:25 to go in the first period.

But that wasn’t all.

With 40 seconds left in the period, Thomas Hickey took a high sticking call that gave the Wolf Pack a 17 second 5-on-3. Then, just ten seconds after the first 5-on-3 ended, Kozan went back to the box after slashing Williams creating another 1:33 of two-man advantage.

The first period ended with the Pack down 2-1 and 12-9 in shots.

The Wolf Pack were unable to do much of anything even with the two men up. Wade Redden hit a post 54-seconds into the man-up situation before Mats Zuccarello had the team’s best chance with a shot as the power play ended, but it went for naught. Chad Kolarik was stopped on a breakaway by a strong save by Zatkoff.

Johnson matched the strong play when he made a strong save on Nolan’s bid for his second goal off a 2-on-1 od man rush. He also flashed the leather to deny Voynov on a second odd man rush.

Evgeny Grachev made a strong move across the slot and was hooked by Richard Clune at 10:21 which sent the Wolf Pack to what would be their fifth and last power play of the game. It would also set up the Pack’s only power play goal of the game.

Kennedy fed Williams in the left circle and the Regina, Saskatchewan native blasted a one-timer that Zatkoff couldn’t get to and knotted the score at two.

But as has been their MO all season long, in a ying-yang kind of thing, it was Williams himself who overreacted after the ensuing faceoff and took a hooking call at 11:15 that would set up what would prove to be the game winner.

Andrei Loktionov made a magnificent across the crease pass that found a streaking Voynov down from the right point backdoor past Valentenko who had turned his back on the play. The goal was Voyonov’s third of the season.

The Monarchs were pouring shots on the net with the Pack applying virtually no pressure at all back the other way.

If there’s one thing that constant offensive pressure does to a team that’s struggling like the Wolf Pack are is it leads to penalties.

Valentenko complied by taking a high sticking call with 5:59 to go in the second.

With just 18 seconds left on the man advantage, Oscar Moller fed Azevedo coming in off his spot off the left point and into the circle and wristed it through the legs of Jared Nightingale and over Johnson’s glove for his fifth of the season.

In the final frame, Newbury set up Jeremy Williams from behind the net. The center found his winger free in the right circle. Williams then one timed it right past Zatkoff. Kelsey Tessier also got an assist on the goal.

Finally, with the Wolf Pack pressing and time running out, with 40.2 left in the contest, Zuccarello fired a wide open shot from low in the right face off circle only to have Zatkoff come back to make a big save and send the team into their final four games with another loss.

“I got a pretty good, quick shot, but it was an unbelievable save,” Zuccarello told the press assembled in the locker room. “A little higher and it would have been a goal, but I couldn’t believe I missed. I was trying to shoot as fast as I could because there were guys coming at me and a few in front of me, and I don’t know how he saw me. But on a day like this, it’s a tough break. It’s kind of the story of our season right there.”

Zatkoff told reporters that, “I was just trying to get over and fill space. It was a desperation save at that point, especially at that time in the game. I was fortunate enough that it hit me in the pad, and I was able to cover it.”

The team is currently on a 1-9-2-1 slide that could end their season in November if they don’t start putting some wins together.

Bruce Berlet’s always fascinating reports can be found at HartfordWolfPack.com. What there is of a game report for the Monarchs is at UnionLeader.com.

GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET

NOTES:

* This is the first and last road School Day game for the Wolf Pack who have played a couple of them at the XL Center. They play another one on February 9th in Toronto but will be the Connecticut Whale by then.

* In an interesting note, and one that’s right on the money, the New York Rangers are making a West Coast trip without a 7th defenseman. John Tortorella told Steve Zipay, “There’s nobody ready in Hartford. But in an emergency, we’ll get someone there.”

* Of the ten games this team has lost already, nine of them were in one goal games the tenth really a one–goaler since there was an empty-netter in that one.

* More “un-fun” news to report is that this team is averaging an AHL-low 2.06 goals per game.

* Dale Weise reports that his surgically repaired wrist is back to 100% and he feels he could be returning to the ice with his teammates this weekend. “I’m close, real close,” Weise told Bruce Berlet. “We’ll have to see how things go the next few days.”

* Brodie Dupont left the game in the last minute after getting cut by a skate in a collision.

LINES:

Dupont – Kennedy – Zuccarello
Grachev Newbury – J. Williams
DiDiomete – Kolarik – Tessier
Donati – Garlock – McKelvie

Redden –  Nightingale
Valentenko – Niemi
McDonagh – Kundratek

Johnson
Talbot

(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)

SCRATCHES:

Dale Weise – Wrist Surgery – Three to Four Weeks
Justin Soryal – Facial Injury – Day-to-Day
Nigel Williams – Healthy Scratch
Lee Baldwin – Healthy Scratch

THREE STARS:

1. MCH – A. Martinez
2. MCH – V. Voynov
3. HFD – J. William

ON ICE OFFICIALS:

Referee:
Mark Lemelin (84)

Linesmen:
Landon Bathe (80)
Scott Whittemore (96)

NEXT GAME:

The Wolf Pack visit are in Springfield at 7:30pm on Friday night with just 4 games to go till the rebranding. They then travel to Binghamton (7:05pm) on Saturday and Sunday its off to Hershey (5:00pm). The last game as the Wolf Pack is next Friday in Bridgeport (7:00).  Friday Bob Crawford will have the late pregame at 7pm.

To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.

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.

SCORE-SHEET:

Hartford Wolf Pack 3 at Manchester Monarchs 4 – Status: Final
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 – Verizon Wireless Arena

Hartford 1 1 1 – 3
Manchester 2 2 0 – 4

1st Period-1, Hartford, Valentenko 1 (Newbury), 0:28. 2, Manchester, Nolan 1 (Holloway, Azevedo), 6:08. 3, Manchester, Martinez 5 (Voynov, Holloway), 18:35 (PP). Penalties-Kolomatis Mch (tripping), 1:37; Dupont Hfd (tripping), 11:02; Nightingale Hfd (interference), 16:42; Newbury Hfd (fighting), 16:58; Elkins Mch (fighting), 16:58; Kennedy Hfd (cross-checking), 17:14; Kozun Mch (boarding), 17:37; Hickey Mch (high-sticking), 19:20; Kozun Mch (slashing), 19:47.

2nd Period-4, Hartford, Williams 9 (Kennedy, Dupont), 10:42 (PP). 5, Manchester, Voynov 3 (Loktionov, Moller), 11:50 (PP). 6, Manchester, Azevedo 5 (Mullen, Martinez), 15:43 (PP). Penalties-Clune Mch (hooking), 10:21; Williams Hfd (hooking), 11:15; Valentenko Hfd (high-sticking), 14:01; Kolarik Hfd (roughing), 17:42; Kolomatis Mch (roughing), 17:42.

3rd Period-7, Hartford, Williams 10 (Newbury, Tessier), 5:10. Penalties-Zuccarello Hfd (slashing), 19:59.

Shots on Goal-Hartford 9-7-9-25. Manchester 12-17-3-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 5; Manchester 3 / 6.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 3-10-1 (32 shots-28 saves). Manchester, Zatkoff 6-5-1 (25 shots-22 saves).
A-4,508
Referees-Mark Lemelin (84).
Linesmen-Landon Bathe (80), Scott Whittemore (96).

HOBBIT DELIVERS WIN

Hartford Wolf Pack Logo     VERSUS    Bridgeport  

With star forward Dale Weise sidelined with a hand/wrist injury, someone on the Hartford Wolf Pack roster was going to need to step up. That’s the long and the short of it. That’s exactly what happened as the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated their arch instate rival, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in their first meeting of the season at the Arena at Harbor Yard Saturday night 2-1.

Evgeny Grachev, one of the team’s tallest players at 6’4 and Mats Zuccarello, one of the team’s shortest, generously listed at 5’9, teamed up for what was most certainly a play that would stay on any team’s highlight reel for quite some time.

With the game deadlocked at one a side, and just over five minutes to play in the third period, Grachev displayed the kind of power drive that both fans and team executives were hoping to see when they drafted the Khabarovsk, Russia native 75th overall in the third round of the 2008 draft. Grachev used his size, speed and power with both Matt Martin and Mark Katic hanging all over him along the right wall and looked back to the middle of the ice. Meanwhile Zuccarello, nicknamed “The Norwegian Hobbit” fought off a check and created space for himself coming up the middle of the ice.

“I didn’t see him the whole time, but when I got to the half-wall I saw him,” Grachev said after the game. “He’s my buddy, so that’s something I have to do more often.”

Grachev’s pass to Zuccarello couldn’t have been more on the money…for that matter, neither could Zuccarello’s shot that found the upper part of the right corner of the net as he was heading left in the left circle. “Grachev made an unbelievable play and pass, and I just tried to whip it to the top shelf. It was a lucky shot.”

How much luck it was is debatable. Finding the net for Zuccarello, the leading scorer and MVP in the Swedish Elite League last season, is nothing new. In 55 games last season with Modo Hockey Ornskildsvik Zuccarello potted 23 goals and had 41 helpers in 55 games. Zuccarello now has two goals in four games since being signed by the parent New York Rangers over the summer.

Zuccarello’s presence has certainly impressed his coach and teammates.

Wolf Pack head coach and a pretty good scorer in his day as the captain of the team, was asked if he could have matched that shot. His answer…”No, that was a very nice shot, a great release,” he said.

Chad Johnson (2-1-1 20 saves) and the game’s First Star, was impressed. “That’s why he was brought here,” He said. “He finds ways to score. It was a rolling puck. I could see it the whole way. He picked it up and still put it where he wanted to. You could see his goal scoring ability. Most guys would have put it over the net…It just shows his awesome goal scoring ability.”

Team Captain Dane Byers likes what he’s seeing in his new teammate. “He’s a pure sniper and that’s his job to put those shots in. He’s a very skilled guy and he’s a big part of this team.”

This was an emotional game right from the outset with some VERY hard hitting going back and forth between the two teams. At 8:46 after blocking a shot, Byers got into an altercation with Robin Figren wound up with a double minor for roughing. Byers explains. “I blocked a shot at the top of my knee and it was hurting and then Figren, we’d had a little battle earlier in the shift and we got tied up at the bench. It’s funny how I came up with the extra, but I did and they were able to kill it off.”

As tempers flared, so did punches as both ex-Pack Dylan Reese and Kris Newbury were the opening bout as four minutes later Justin Soryal mixed it up with Travis Hamonic. Both bouts were draws.

Newbury was assessed a Boarding call on the play and with Byers already in the box on his extra roughing call, it gave the Tigers a 1:40 5-on-3 man advantage.

Johnson and his penalty killing crew, primarily Wade Redden, Tim Kennedy and Pavel Valentenko, wiped out just about every chance the Sound Tigers tried to generate. However, the Tigers did get a tremendous scoring chance during their power play when at 9:20. Rob Hisey found the puck on his stick in close to Johnson’s left and went to put it away. Johnson flashed his left leg out and just got enough of it to kick it to the corner.

“I think it was a screen shot and then it got in a little bit of traffic there,” Johnson said. “I really didn’t see it. I kind of just reacted. You kind of just get in the zone and you kind of feel where the puck is type of thing…I just kind of stuck my pad out and thankfully it hit it.”

With 27.6 seconds left in the first period, Chris McKelvie took a hooking call for the Wolf Pack, but David Ullstrom negated the penalty by taking an interference call 19 seconds later as the period closed in a four-on-four man situation.

Just 35 seconds into the second period, rookie Rhett Rakhshani ran into Johnson and got planted into the box with Ullstrom giving the Wolf Pack a 55 second 4-on-3 advantage and they made the Tigers pay.

With Redden on the point, he fed Justin Williams in the left circle for a one timer. Sound Tiger netminder Mikko Koskinen (1-2-1, 25 saves) stopped the first blast, but Williams recovered it. The puck moved around to Kennedy who fed Redden at the blueline. Redden quickly fed Williams again at the same spot. Williams unloaded a fireball this time that Koskinen got a little piece of but it found it’s way under his arm and into the net behind him. The goal was Williams second on the season with assists to Redden and Kennedy at 1:28.

Bridgeport head coach Jack Capuano was concerned. “Redden, Kennedy and Williams…(The Pack’s) four-on-three. I knew it was dangersou when you see those guys on the ice.”

The best scoring chance the rest of that period cam for rookie Ryan McDonagh who took a great pass from Byers but just missed putting his first professional goal when Koskinen flashed the glove and robbed the rookie defenseman at 3:02.

Koskinen made his own nifty saves when he stopped Kelsey Tessier at 5:08 who was all alone in the slot and then 21 seconds later wiped out a canon of a shot from Jyri Niemi from the right side.

It stayed a one goal game into the third frame until an Anton Klementyev shot from the right circle hit McDonagh in the chest and fell to the ground. Ryan Garlock tried to get it but fell and Rakhshani shot hit Johnson’s pad and got into the cage. The goal was Rakhshani’s first professional goal.

“It was a quick play and funny bounce, but plays like that happen so you just have to deal with it,” Johnson said.

Capuano summed up the contest. “(The chippy play) was a typical Hartford-Sound Tiger game. From the start of the year until now, we’ve done a good job taking the body and playing physical. It’s an identity that we want to establish. We just had a difficult time putting the puck in the net.”

Gernander summed it up as well, “I thought we could have shown a little more composure at times,” he said. “But I think the guys competed very well, and I’m happy with the result.”

It was a full house in press row. Bruce Berlet made the trip and has the recap at Hartfordwolfpack.com.  Mike Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post takes you inside the Bridgeport locker room in this report. 

GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET

SOUNDS OF THE GAME

Head Coach Ken Gernander

Captain Dane Byers

Goaltender Chad Johnson

Forward Evgeny Grachev

Forward Mats Zuccarello

Bridgeport Head Coach, Jack Capuano

NOTES:

* Wade Redden has been exceptional since coming to Hartford. He leads the team in scoring with one goal and four assists for five points in four games.

* Pavel Valentenko and Evgeny Grachev lead the team in plus/minus at plus-4

* The Portland Pirates are off to the AHL’s hottest start winning their first four games. The Wolf Pack won’t face the Pirates until New Year’s Eve.

* Hartford is 16th in AHL attendance with two home games and total attendance of 9,925 for an average of 4,963. Lake Erie has had ONE game and had 12,524 while Charlotte had ONE game and had 12,512. Chicago, Gran Rapids and Hershey all had only their home opener and all three were over 10,000. It could be worse. Toronto has had two home games and have a total of 5,253 (average of 2,627). Binghamton has had THREE home games and has a total attendance of 8,758 (average of 2,919) and even with their fast start, Portland has had four home games and drawn a total attendance of 13,855 (average 3,464). The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have had three home games and have seen 18,736 come through the gates (average of 6,245).

* Chad Johnson cracks the Top 15 goalie list at 15th with a 2.22GAA and a .913%.

* Kelsey Tessier is 9th in scoring among rookies (2g, 2a)

* Wade Redden is third in the AHL among scoring for defenseman. Nathan Oystrick of Peoria is first with 7points (3g, 4a).

* Hartford power play is now 12th at 21.1%/ Manchester is first at 3-for-9 33.3%. The penalty kill for the Wolf Pack is 18th at 83.3% at 20-for-24

LINES:

Byers ©Newbury – J. Williams
Grachev – Kennedy – Zuccarello
Soryal – Garlock – McKelvie
Dupont – Wong – Tessier

Redden – Niemi
Kundratek – McDonagh
Valentenko – N. Williams

Johnson
Talbot

(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized) 

SCRATCHES:

Devin DiDiomete – Hip – Three to Four weeks
Jared Nightingale – Foot Infection – Day-to-Day
Dale Weise – Wrist – Undetermined
Lee Baldwin – Healthy Scratch 

THREE STARS:

1. HFD – C. Johnson
2. BRI – R. Rakhshani
3. HFD – M. Zuccarello

ON ICE OFFICIALS:

Referee:
Ian Croft (87)

Linesmen:
Kevin Redding (16)
Luke Galvin (2)

NEXT GAME:

The third of three-in-three for the Wolf Pack comes Sunday at 4:05. Pregame with Bob Crawford is on the air at 3:30pm.

To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.

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. 

SCORE-SHEET:

Hartford Wolf Pack 2 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers 1 – Status: Final
Saturday, October 16, 2010 – Arena at Harbor Yard

Hartford 0 1 1 – 2
Bridgeport 0 0 1 – 1

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Kohn Bri (roughing), 3:44; Byers Hfd (roughing, roughing), 8:46; Marcinko Bri (roughing), 8:46; Newbury Hfd (boarding, fighting), 9:06; Reese Bri (fighting), 9:06; Soryal Hfd (fighting), 13:31; Hamonic Bri (fighting), 13:31; served by Bourbeau Bri (bench minor – too many men), 15:06; McKelvie Hfd (hooking), 19:32; Ullstrom Bri (interference), 19:51.

2nd Period-1, Hartford, Williams 2 (Redden, Kennedy), 1:28 (PP). Penalties-Rakhshani Bri (interference), 0:35; Marcinko Bri (slashing), 9:49; Newbury Hfd (tripping), 19:28.

3rd Period-2, Bridgeport, Rakhshani 1 (Klementyev, Wotton), 7:17. 3, Hartford, Zuccarello 2 (Grachev), 15:02. Penalties-Byers Hfd (tripping), 15:50.

Shots on Goal-Hartford 7-10-10-27. Bridgeport 10-7-5-22.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 5; Bridgeport 0 / 5.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 2-1-1 (22 shots-21 saves). Bridgeport, Koskinen 1-2-0 (27 shots-25 saves).
A-6,217
Referees-Ian Croft (87).
Linesmen-Kevin Redding (16), Luke Galvin (2).