This Thanksgiving the Pack will have a lot to be thankful for.
Wednesday night the Pack got excellent goaltending again from rookie Chad Johnson, two goals from Dale Weise and two assists apiece from the AHL’s overall points leader, Corey Locke and points from a defenseman, Bobby Sanguinetti, as the Wolf Pack came from behind on the road and knocked off the Lowell Devils 4-1.
The Pack fell behind midway through the first period when on the power play, with Derek Couture in the box on a tripping rap, Patrick Davis took a pass from defenseman Matt Taormina and bolted up the left wing boards beating Mathieu Dandenault turning in and beating Johnson (22 saves, 9-5-1) under the pads.
One of the signs that this team is beginning to come together is that they did not panic when down on the road. Just 33 seconds later the Pack responded with an outstanding team effort that resulted in an Evgeny Grachev lamp lighter. Sanguinetti (6g, 16a in 21 games) fed Brodie Dupont along the right wing. Dupont put a low hard shot that hit Devils starter Mike McKenna (27 saves, 7-4-0) in the pads and deflected over to the left side where Grachev was there to punch it in past the St. Louis, Missouri native.
Play was completely controlled by the third place Wolf Pack (12-8-0-1, 25 points) against their franchise rivals. But they would not have entered the intermission with the lead had Johnson not come up huge between the pipes. With just ten seconds remaining in the first, Corey Potter was stripped of the puck along the right wing boards by Brad Mills. There was nothing but air and ice between he and linemate Nick Palmieri in the way to the net. Mills approached and Johnson did his best to cut off the angle to the twine. As he got close to the net, Mills fed Palmieri and Johnson stayed right with it and forced the right winger to shoot the puck wide of the net. With a 1-0 lead on the board and a 12-6 shots advantage in the scorer’s sheet, the Pack went to the locker room.
They didn’t let up when the two teams returned to the ice. The Devils tried to elevate their game, but the Pack made their rivals look like they were full of tryptophan from too much turkey a day early. The Pack came out determined to make this one stick. At 3:13, Devin DiDiomete, in his first game of the season after having broken his arm in training camp and a six game stay in Charlotte, proved his arm is healed when he and Louis Robitaille dropped the mitts. While it wasn’t much of a fight, DiDiomete got the victory in his first major of the season by landing far better shots. Robitaille did win the wrestling section of the contest as he brought the Pack forward to the ice.
But the Pack resolve was reinvigorated and they capitalized 2:27 later.
Jordan Owens took a Corey Potter feed and rushed with abandon up the right wing boards. Owens bull rushed past defender Rob Davison and with the Devils defender draped on him like paparazzi to Britney Spears, came in hard on McKenna. Owens, a Toronto native, stuffed the puck past McKenna and was run into the goal by Davison forcing the cage to become dislodged from it’s moorings. The goal judge immediately turned on the light and referee Terry Koharski made no signal. But after discussing the play with linesman Chris Aughe and then confirming the call with the goal judge the light once again was turned on and the Pack had a lead they would not relinquish.
The Pack doubled up their lead to two just less than ten minutes later on some terrific play from the team’s new first line of Dane Byers on the left, Locke in center and Dale Weise on the right. The trio played with what seemed like a good chemistry all night long. But after some nifty netminding and a huge stop on Robitaille from Johnson as the Devils buzzed the Pack net, the Rangers’ top prospects broke out of their zone with a three-on-two odd man rush. On a delayed penalty, Locke had the puck along the right side boards and made a sweet cross ice pass to Byers. The left winger made a beautiful feed just past McKenna and right on the tape of Weise’s stick who put the puck to bed in the back of the Devils’ net.
Weise would get his fourth multi-point game of the season with just 43.1 seconds remaining in the contest when he took a Sanguinetti feed just inside the right wing side of the Devils’ blue line. With a defender all over him, Weise fired a laser into the upper left corner of the vacated Lowell net for what would be the final score of the night.
The Devils announced 1,189 for this Atlantic Division attendance. That number clearly was an extremely generous announcement, as the building appeared to be almost totally empty.
* From the mixed bag department comes news that Wade Redden was injured in Wednesday night contest between the parent New York Rangers and the Florida Panthers. The team is not saying what the injury is, when do they ever, but based upon the way it looked, it appeared to be a shoulder injury. Redden went to make a play and had his arm extended before taking a very hard hit on the exposed shoulder into the glass by Victor Oreskovich. Redden went down to the ice where he stayed for several seconds before getting up and getting back to the bench. Redden went right into the locker room and didn’t return. You can bet your bottom dollar that the call will be made to the Sanguinetti household telling Bobby to prepare for his NHL debut Friday night in Tampa Bay. While the team hasn’t said it yet, the Rangers/Wolf Pack have a history of promoting whoever is playing best at the time. Not only is Sanguinetti playing the best of any Pack defender you can make the case right now that he might be the best defenseman in the AHL. Sanguinetti has 6g, 16a for 22pts in 21 games. Enjoy the Sunshine State Bobby…
* Speaking of Pack players that have been called up to “The Show,” if any Wolf Pack fans are counting on seeing number 17, P.A. Parenteau, wearing a Pack sweater again, it’s pretty safe to say that isn’t going to happen. Parenteau has graduated. He had another outstanding performance in his seventh game with the Rangers against the Florida Panthers Wednesday night. Not only was he all over the ice playing well defensively, but for the second consecutive game it was his shootout attempt that won the game for the Rangers. This time he beat Tomas Vokoun drawing the Karlovy Vary, Czech netminder to the left before firing it back past his glove the other way. Should the Rangers for some reason decide to send Parenteau back to Hartford, he would have to pass through waivers before he can return to Connecticut’s capitol. Given the way the Hull, Quebec native has played in this stretch in New York, you can bet your bottom dollar that if the Rangers try putting him through waivers that given his low cap hit and proof that he can be productive at the NHL level, that one a multitude of cash strapped and offense hungry teams will take the chance and claim him off the waiver wire. So congratulations to our friend P.A. Parenteau… This Thanksgiving you can add a new NHL career to the list of things to be thankful for… On our list is a gratitude that we got to see you grow both as a person and as a player while you were here.
* Lowell entered the game red hot losing only once in their last eight games. They also had a five game home winning streak.
* Weise has his first three game point streak of the season (3g, 2a). The Winnipeg, Manitoba native had a four game streak between October 9th and October 16th (2g, 3a) earlier in the season. Weise has CLEARLY earned the promotion to the Packs’ top unit. We’ve said it all season long, Weise is making a strong case for himself to be the next forward to get a call up should one develop with New York.
* The second period assist for Byers put him back on the scorer’s sheet since having his seven game scoring streak snapped in Syracuse. Byers has points in five of six games since being sent back to Hartford after a six game run in The Big Apple. (2g, 4a).
* Chad Johnson is quietly putting up some rather impressive numbers. The Calgary, Alberta native is 8th overall in wins with 9, is 10th in GAA with a 1.99 and 9th with a 929 save percentage. Johnson also has 3 shutouts which ties him for second with Brent Krahn of the Texas Stars and only one behind Anton Khudobin of the Houston Aeros who has 4.
* Inside the Numbers:
– Pack are now 7-0-0-0 when leading after one period
– 10-1-0-0 when leading after two
– 3-1-0-0 in goals decided by three goals
– They also evened their record in games they have outshot their opponents 6-6-0-0.
* The Pack Penalty Killers continue to improve. They were putrid for a while and ranked 28th out of 29. But have since raised themselves up to 21st with an 80.2% efficiency rating.
* On the Power Play, the Pack continue to have the league’s best with a 25.7% rate of success.
* The Pack announced Wednesday morning a very interesting promotion if you’re looking for stocking stuffer for a friend or two…They’ve announced a Holiday Pack that includes two flexible game vouchers, good to be exchanged for tickets to any regular-season Wolf Pack home game, a Wolf Pack souvenir and a Chuck-a-Puck voucher. The cost of the Holiday Pack package is $32 for adults, and packages for kids 16 or younger can be purchased for $22, with the purchase of at least one adult package (service charges, facility and handling fees may apply). If you’re interested, Wolf Pack Holiday Packs can be ordered from the Wolf Pack ticket office, at (860) 548-2000, and on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
THANKFUL ON THANKSGIVING:
You’ve all heard it said on Thanksgiving a million times before; So, tell me…what are you thankful for on Thanksgiving? Well, as much as propagating clichés goes against my best judgment, I do have plenty to be thankful for.
First, I have an amazing family. I’m supported in this endeavor by a wife who considers herself a “Hockey Widow” and yet at the same time believes in what I’m doing here despite the fact this costs us quite a bit of money to do it. I also have two amazing little boys, Ross 7 and Tory, 5 who are my biggest fans and always asking me questions and are developing a great passion for the game.
I’m extremely thankful to the voice of the Wolf Pack, Bob Crawford. I can’t even begin to list the amount of help that Bob has given me. Bob stuck with us and has supported us in just about every way imaginable, He fought to get us credibility even when we made some pretty big blunders in terms of professionalism when we were getting started. I’m also grateful to the rest of the Wolf Pack staff, both past and present, for all their help along the way.
None of the coverage of the Checkers would be possible if it weren’t for one of the greatest guys in sports, Derek Wilkinson. The GM/Head Coach of the Checkers has never said, “No” to a single request. He should be in the NHL and will someday.
Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park has been invaluable not only for his encyclopedia-like knowledge of the youngsters in juniors but for his advice and counsel.
Early on, I learned so much about the technical aspects of hockey from The Hockey Rodent. He’d hate to have me say this publicly given his ornery reputation, but he’s a good guy.
I’m exceptionally grateful to the New York beat reporters (Steve Zipay, Andrew Gross, Larry Brooks, Rich Carpiniello and Mike Obernauer) who’ve all been so helpful in terms of advice and support but who’ve also respected me and treated this site as a credible source for information on the Wolf Pack.
In Harford George Dalek, and especially Gerry Cantelon, have been amazing in helping me go from being a completely clueless loud-mouth comedian into a loud mouth somewhat less clueless hockey reporter.
As far as help and support though, everyone pales in comparison to the friendship, support, advice, and encouragement than I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from one of the most talented writers I’ve ever known, Bruce Berlet. Bruce has become like a big brother to me and I wouldn’t even be doing this if it weren’t for him.
One other person that I am extremely grateful for knowing is Dubi Silverstein. None of this would have ever been possible had he not given me the opportunity and the freedom to grow this site in the first place. I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement from publishing.
Last but not least, there’s you…the readers of this mess blog. You’ve been great in terms of encouragement to press on and hungry for more and more coverage. Keep Howling my friends…
MEANWHILE DOWN IN CHARLOTTE:
Checkers have the night off…
Byers – Locke – Weise
Grachev – Dupont – Owens
Soryal – Garlock – Couture
DiDiomete – Ambϋhl
Heikkinen – Dandenault
Potter – Sanguinetti
Sauer – Urquhart
(Assistant Captains Italicized)
Paul Crowder – Illness, Day-to-Day
Chris Chappell – Healthy (With DiDiomete back, expect him to be sent back to Charlotte)
Brent Henley – Undisclosed Injury – Day-To-Day
1. HFD – J. Owens
2. HFD – D. Weise
3. HFD – D. Byers
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Terry Koharski (10)
Chris Aughe (74)
Joe Ross (92)
Hartford head coach hopes his players aren’t hung-over with tryptophan as Kevin Dineen leads his Buffalo Sabre prospects from Portland, Maine (7th place 9-10-2) into the XL Center for a battle with the Wolf Pack.
Hartford 1 2 1 – 4
Lowell 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Lowell, Davis 4 (Taormina, McKenna), 9:30 (pp). 2, Hartford, Grachev 6 (Dupont, Sanguinetti), 10:03. Penalties-Murray Low (boarding), 1:47; Couture Hfd (tripping), 8:24; Sauer Hfd (interference), 10:14.
2nd Period-3, Hartford, Owens 3 (Potter), 5:40. 4, Hartford, Weise 6 (Byers, Locke), 15:25. Penalties-DiDiomete Hfd (fighting), 3:13; Robitaille Low (fighting), 3:13.
3rd Period-5, Hartford, Weise 7 (Sanguinetti, Locke), 19:16 (en). Penalties-Dupont Hfd (tripping), 4:03; Couture Hfd (double minor – high-sticking), 11:26.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 12-14-5-31. Lowell 6-8-9-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 of 1; Lowell 1 of 5.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 9-5-1 (23 shots-22 saves). Lowell, McKenna 7-4-0 (30 shots-27 saves).