The Hartford Wolf Pack entered Wednesday night’s game with the Worcester Sharks in a desperate need of two points. Instead they got just two goals and were trounced by the first place Sharks 9-2 and remain five points behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with just three games remaining in the 2009-2010 season.
A visibly disappointed Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander addressed reporters after the game. “We didn’t help ourselves in any area of the game,” He said. “We made it easy for a good team. Right now, it’s the most discouraging loss of the season. They had puck possession, we didn’t finish our hits, we didn’t force their defense to move the puck, just let them skate up the ice, we didn’t front any shots, we didn’t box out, we didn’t eliminate sticks, we didn’t do much of anything. And we took penalties.”
This is the second time this season that the Pack have been so soundly trounced and by the same score. On December 6th, the Pack were on the road in Hershey where the AHL’s best team made it seem easy dismantling the Pack by the same score.
“I’m very frustrated because there were a lot of things that weren’t good. If it was one mistake that cost us the game or one bad bounce or something along those lines, but no. It was a lot of different things, so I’m quite frustrated.” Gernander said.
The Wolf Pack were going to need to play a tight defensive game in order to compensate for the lack of scoring they were going to have entering the contest. While they received the AHL’s third leading scorer in Corey Locke back from the parent NY Rangers, they lost forward Dale Weise who was on a seven game points streak with six goals and three assists in the span. They were also without their most offensive weapon, P.A. Parenteau who is also on recall. Given how well Parenteau has played with the Rangers since being called up on March 26th, scoring two goals and having two helpers, it’s unlikely the Hull, Quebec native will play for Hartford again. Parenteau will be an unrestricted free agent when the season ends.
Meanwhile in Hartford, it was a very poor start to the game, which has plagued this team all season long that cost them. “We had a poor start, and they came at us and didn’t let up,” Wolf Pack forward Brodie Dupont said.
After the Pack failed to covert on two golden opportunities just 40 ticks into the game, just under a minute later, at 1:27, a missed assignment down low by Locke left Dan DaSilva wide open. Derek Joslin’s shot form the left point hit Wolf Pack starter Matt Zaba (21 saves, 6-12-0) but rebounded right to the Worcester forward’s stick in the right circle. DaSilva then took a step forward and buried the shot past the diving Zaba.
T.J. Trevelyan, who would be named the game’s First Star, got his first of two on the night when he buried a shot past Zaba through the five-hole after Corey Potter lost him in coverage and Dane Byers could not get to the puck first.
With just 1.2 seconds left in the first period, Worcester essentially erased the Pack’s hope of a thirteenth straight playoff appearance with, what would prove to be the game winner. Brandon Mashinter got his first of two, along with a helper, when he finished on the first of Justin Braun’s three assists, with past Zaba.
3-0 end of One…
Andres Ambϋhl was in the penalty box when Hartford did manage to pull the score back to within two.
If there’s been one area where the Wolf Pack have been among the best in the league it’s in converting shorthanded opportunities. Byers, who’s had a very solid first season as Pack captain, picked up a loose puck and travelled down the left wing side and drew Danny Groulx to him. Kris Newbury, who’d beaten Nick Schaus back through the slot, took a perfectly placed pass from Byers and redirected it past Alex Stalock (24 saves, 38-18-2). The goal was Newbury’s 14th of the year and the team’s seventeenth shortie of the season tying them for first overall with Binghamton and Hershey…is there anything those guys aren’t the best at?
But that didn’t last for long.
Jared Nightingale took a questionable Delay of the Game penalty at 14:36. That didn’t sit well with the Pack’s only goal scorer on the night. He fumed about it and twenty seconds after killing off the penalty, Newbury lost his cool with referee Terry Koharski. For his mental lapse, it cost the team a two minute Unsportsmanlike conduct minor, a ten minute major misconduct and a Game misconduct.
“I’m sure Newbury was upset, but what’s the difference?” Gernander said. “It’s the only missed call during the course of the game or throughout the course of the season?” The Pack head coach has higher discipline expectations of the veterans on his roster like Newbury. “You expect those guys to lead the way, and they didn’t.”
Ten seconds later the puck was in the back of the Wolf Pack net as Trevelyan tallied a second time when his shot from the left wing first hit Ryan Garlock’s stick, changed direction and hit Corey Potter’s skate and took a radical turn and flew past Zaba. It’s been that kind of a season for the Rangers top farm club.
One minute later, after a big hit by Julien Brouillette on ex-Pack Dwight “Dewey” Helminen, a series of fights broke out including Jared Nightingale being hit from Andrew Desjardins while he was on the bench. Interestingly though, after the smoke cleared the Pack only wound up with a two minute power play. It certainly seemed like more should have been called against Desjardins, but he didn’t even get called at all.
The third period was a complete disaster as the Pack surrendered five goals.
John McCarthy scored the first just 39 seconds into the period and then 48 seconds later James Marcou scored the first of his career after Ryan Vesce set him up by putting a shot on net that Zaba couldn’t contain. It was 6-1 and that was the end of the night for Zaba.
In came Cameron Talbot to make his AHL debut after signing with the Rangers on March 30th.
Worcester broke through on the new goaltender less than 4:30 minutes later when Jamie Quirk dove to reach a puck off the stick of Braun and it flipped up and over Talbot. Less than two minutes later the Sharks scored again as Mashinter redirected a Groulx shot from the left wing to make it 8-1.
Byers put in a shot from the crease after an Ilkka Heikkinen shot form the left circle was left on the doorstep by Stalock for his 23rd of the season.
Just to add insult to injury, Groulx tallied with just 6.3 seconds left on a shot from the point on the power play.
Dupont summed it up saying, “It wasn’t a very good effort on our part in the position that we are. Mathematically we’re still in it, but we’ve got to pray for some help around the league and do our part.”
He’s home from a well earned vacation in Vegas and back on the beat reporting on the Hartfordwolfpack.com, Bruce Berlet tells the sad story. On the other hand, Bill Ballou is all agog about his first place Worcester Sharks. Read his story at Telegram.com.
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
WOLF PACK TRAGIC NUMBER IS 2 (Two)
Any combination of Bridgeport or Lowell, who’s ever on top, getting points and the Pack not getting them reduces that number. Either Wilkes-Barre or Norfolk will make it and be either the three or four seed in their division. The top Atlantic team will be in and depending upon their points, be either the third of fourth seed in the East Division.
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* Newbury has points in eight straight games (1g, 10a). It’s the longest such streak since P.A. Parenteau’s run between October 23rd and December 18th (6g, 8a)
* The Evgeny Grachev watch is now 24 games and counting without a goal and only one in his last 34.
* The Pack’s last home game of the season on Saturday night against Springfield will feature a bevy of promotions as well as the shirts-off-our-backs give-away. Also, former coach John Paddock will be honored for his recent induction into the AHL Hall of Fame. Sunday will be the last game of the 2009-2010 season in Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers.
* Hartford Wolf Pack general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the Wolf Pack have released forward Roman Horak from his Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement.
Horak, who joined the Pack April 2 from the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League, did not appear in any games for the Wolf Pack. In 66 WHL contests with the Bruins this season, Horak, a fifth-round selection (127th overall) by the parent New York Rangers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, scored 21 goals and added 26 assists for 47 points in 66 games, along with 39 penalty minutes.
Byers © – Newbury – Couture
Dupont – Locke – Grachev
Soryal – Crowder – McKelvie
Brashear – Garlock – Ambϋhl
Baldwin – Potter
Heikkinen – Sanguinetti
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
Nigel Williams – Healthy Scratch
Chad Johnson – Healthy Scratch
Roman Horak – Healthy Scratch
Steven Valiquette – Hand Injury – Season over
Michael Sauer – Shoulder – Season over
Mike Hoffman – Shoulder – Season over
Brent Henley – Knee – Season over
1. WOR – T. Trevelyan
2. WOR – J. Braun
3. WOR – B. Mashinter
Terry Koharski (10)
Kevin Redding (16)
Luke Galvin (2)
Bob Crawford brings you the second of the back-to-back games between the Wolf Pack and the Sharks. Crawford comes on the air a half hour before the puck drops with the pre-game Friday night from Worcester.
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Worcester Sharks 9 At Hartford Wolf Pack 2 – Status: Final
Apr 7, 2010 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Worcester 3 1 5 – 9
Hartford 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, DaSilva 20 (Joslin, Braun), 1:27. 2, Worcester, Trevelyan 27 (Quirk), 7:32. 3, Worcester, Mashinter 20 (Braun, Marcou), 19:58. Penalties-Westgarth Wor (fighting), 2:31; Soryal Hfd (fighting), 2:31; McCarthy Wor (slashing), 9:02; Baldwin Hfd (tripping), 14:11.
2nd Period-4, Hartford, Newbury 14 (Byers), 4:00 (sh). 5, Worcester, Trevelyan 28 (Moore, Desjardins), 17:06 (pp). Penalties-Ambuhl Hfd (tripping), 3:47; Nightingale Hfd (hooking), 4:34; Nightingale Hfd (delay of game), 14:36; Newbury Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct, game misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:56; served by Mashinter Wor (bench minor – interference), 18:07; Henderson Wor (roughing), 18:07; McLaren Wor (fighting), 18:07; Couture Hfd (roughing), 18:07; Nightingale Hfd (fighting), 18:07.
3rd Period-6, Worcester, McCarthy 15 (DaSilva), 0:39. 7, Worcester, Marcou 1 (Vesce, Mashinter), 1:27. 8, Worcester, Quirk 8 (Braun, Joslin), 6:48. 9, Worcester, Mashinter 21 (Groulx, Schaus), 8:37 (pp). 10, Hartford, Byers 23 (Couture, Heikkinen), 10:45 (pp). 11, Worcester, Groulx 12 (Vesce, Joslin), 19:53 (pp). Penalties-Soryal Hfd (boarding), 8:30; Moore Wor (interference), 10:10; Dupont Hfd (goaltender interference), 19:41.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 15-10-13-38. Hartford 10-7-9-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 3 of 7; Hartford 1 of 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Stalock 38-18-2 (26 shots-24 saves). Hartford, Zaba 6-12-2 (27 shots-21 saves); Talbot 0-0-0 (11 shots-8 saves).
MEANWHILE IN THE CHARLOTTE PLAYOFFS:
CHECKERS REBOUND WITH 6-1 WIN OVER WALLEYE
Taylor Scores Two; Quarterfinal Series Evened at 1-1
The Charlotte Checkers scored five unanswered goals in the second half of the game to down Toledo, 6-1, and even the quarterfinal series at 1-1 on Wednesday evening.
Ryan Munce, who today was named ECHL Goaltender of the Month for March, stopped 28 of 29 shots while Mike Taylor notched two goals. Daniel Tkaczuk was activated off playoff reserve earlier in the day and scored the game winner.
The win gives Charlotte a split on the road and they will now return home for the next two and, if necessary, three games in the best-of-five series.
The Checkers opened the scoring just 24 seconds into the game when Steve Ward held the puck in at the blueline and fed Andrew Carroll in the slot. Carroll made no mistake and beat Toledo goaltender Jordan Pearce with a wrist shot for his second goal of the series.
The Walleye responded with a goal of their own, eight minutes later, when Adam Keefe stuffed home the rebound from a point shot for his fourth of the series. Keefe has now doubled his offensive output for the entire season in just two playoff games.
Just minutes later, Toledo forward Chris Robertson skated in on a breakaway but Munce was there to shut the door and keep the score knotted at 1-1.
Early in the second, Aaron Slattengren tried his best to break the tie but was stopped by Pearce on a breakaway.
Then, with less than four minutes to play in the second, Tkaczuk broke down the left wing boards and let a shot go from a sharp angle that trickled in between the legs of Pearce. The goal was assisted by Slattengren and Randy Rowe and came at the 16:38 mark of the second period.
The Checkers were outshot 21-16 in the first 40 minutes but held a 2-1 lead going into the third period.
Nine minutes into the third and final frame, Charlotte took a two-goal lead on a somewhat fluky goal by Kenny Roche. Roche let a shot go that deflected off Pearce and sailed up into the air and defenseman Sebastien Piche accidentally gloved it into his own net.
Taylor would make it a 4-1 game, with less than six minutes to play, when he took a nice pass off the wall from Slattengren, broke in alone and let go a backhand shot on the short side that found the back of the net.
The Checkers continued the onslaught just 24 seconds later as Trevor Hendrikx one-timed a pass from Roche off the post and in.
Taylor then added his second of the game with less than 90 seconds to play as Charlotte walked away with a 6-1 victory and evened the American Conference quarterfinal series at 1-1. The two teams will meet again Friday in Charlotte for game 3.
Charlotte (1-1) will host Toledo for game 3 on Friday (7 p.m.) and game 4 on Sunday (2 p.m.). 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
* 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 16-3-1 in its last 20 home games and 12-1-1 in the last 14 overall heading into the playoffs
* 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 – Schepke
Urquhart – Schaeffer
Ward – Reynolds
Hendrikx – (Bartlett)
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Mike Berube – Healthy Scratch
Tyler Doig – 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 – D. Tkaczuk
2. CHR – K. Roche
3. CHR – A. Carroll
JM McNulty (21)
Ray King (39)
Jim Scarpace (50)
Ah, home sweet home. The Checkers return to Charlotte with a mission accomplished…they got a split in Toledo. Now they come back home needing to win two of three in the Time Warner Cable Arena. Akim Aliu should be back for Toledo in game three Friday night at 7pm and then game four comes your way on Sunday at 2. Jason Shaya will have all the action with the irrepressible Chris Snavely along side of him.
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.
Charlotte Checkers 6 At Toledo Walleye 1 – Status: Final
Apr 7, 2010 – Lucas County Arena
Charlotte 1 1 4 – 6
Toledo 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Carroll 2 (Ward, Roche), 0:24. 2, Toledo, Keefe 4 (Danis-Pepin, Piche), 8:56. Penalties-Stefanishion Chr (high-sticking), 0:33; Leveille Chr (cross-checking), 11:07.
2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 1 (Slattengren, Rowe), 16:38. Penalties-Stefanishion Chr (boarding), 3:30; Schaeffer Chr (interference), 6:46; Reynolds Chr (roughing), 12:24; Hedden Tol (tripping), 18:04.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Roche 1 (Reynolds), 8:59. 5, Charlotte, Taylor 2 (Slattengren), 14:45. 6, Charlotte, Hendrikx 1 (Roche, Bartlett), 15:09. 7, Charlotte, Taylor 3 (Leveille, Slattengren), 18:38. Penalties-Roche Chr (high-sticking), 0:58; Hendrikx Chr (kneeing), 18:56.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 6-10-9-25. Toledo 9-12-8-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 of 1; Toledo 0 of 7.
Goalies-Charlotte, Munce 1-1-0-0 (29 shots-28 saves). Toledo, Pearce 1-1-0-0 (25 shots-19 saves).