VERSUS (Photo courtesy: Chris Rutsch, Hartford Wolf Pack)
The Hartford Wolf Pack continue to dazzle and amaze their fans this 2013-2014 season by pulling what appear to be losses out of the L column and tucking them in the W.
Friday night the top farm team of the New York Rangers put another two points in their pockets with stunning fashion scoring two goals in 24 seconds late in the third period and then surviving a penalty shot and then scoring twice in the shootout to defeat the visiting Manchester Monarchs 4-3 before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,843 at the XL Center.
The win over the Monarchs set the Wolf Pack at the top of the Eastern Conference with nine points at a 4-0-0-1 record. The loss slips the Monarchs technically to third place in the conference at 3-0-0-2 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tied in points but having a game in hand at 4-0-0-0. The Springfield Falcons also have eight points and are 4-0-0-0 but sit in fourth.
What is making this team such a great watch from a spectator’s point of view is that there is just no quit in this team. They genuinely believe in themselves and that no matter what the score they are still in the game and have been finding ways to get it done. What is most fascinating is that they are getting it done in each game from different players, and many who are contributing offensively are not necessarily the ones you’d expect.
There were a couple of turning points in this game.
In the second period the Wolf Pack found themselves down a pair of goals. The first Monarch tally came from Tyler Toffoli at 9:45 of the first period when he went one-on-three and beat Cam Talbot (3-0-1, 30 saves) low to the glove side. That was answered by Danny Kristo‘s deflection of a Conor Allen shot from the left point past Martin Jones (3-0-2, 28 saves). The second goal for the visitors coming off a turnover at the Monarch’s blueline by Danny Kristo leading to a breakaway by Tanner Pearson.
The two-goal lead came after Assistant Captain Danny Syvret took a slashing call at 13:48 followed 35 seconds later when Dylan McIlrath put them down two-men with a holding call for 1:25. 17 seconds later Collin Miller buried a shot from the inside the left face-off circle from the dot beating Talbot to the short side.
So facing a two-goal deficit, and after Marek Hrivik’s breakaway was lost to bad ice when the puck skipped off his stick, Manchester was feeling pretty confident. Scott Sabourin took a few liberties on some of the Wolf Pack players and that was not something Stu Bickel was going to stand around and watch. Bickel practically sprinted over to Sabourin and put a thumping on the Monarch’s right-winger.
The fight awoke the Wolf Pack and as the saying goes you don’t want to wake a sleeping dog. But that nap would last a little while longer for the second turning point of the game.
In the third frame, Oscar Lindberg started them out just twelve seconds into the period getting called for a double minor high sticking. Just as the first half of the double minor expired, McIlrath slashes the stick of a Monarch’s forward giving the LA Kings’ AHL affiliates a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play.
Talbot made a big stop on Linden Vey from the slot and the Wolf Pack defenders did a great job of blocking shots and keeping the net clear for Talbot to make the stops he needed to.
The Wolf Pack managed to kill off the penalties and they came back invigorated and went on the attack.
At 14:05 a giveaway from behind the Monarchs’ net came right out to Brandon Mashinter on the left side. He skated in a couple of strides and found Hrivik all alone on the right side of the goalmouth and put the puck right on his tape for an easy shot into the empty side of the net.
Ryan Bourque rushed up the right wing around defenseman Nick Deslauriers and found Michael Haley all alone in front of Jones. Haley made a couple of fakes and shot from right in front of the crease. Jones made the right pad save but the puck squibbled out to the left side of the net where Aaron Johnson charged in and swept it under Jones for the game tying goal.
The Wolf Pack were on fire now and pressed hard for the game winner and in the last minute, both Bourque and Lindberg had excellent chances but were denied by Jones.
Overtime was all Wolf Pack as they controlled tempo and the puck with the ice tipped heavily in the Monarchs zone. Chris Kreider had a chance 37 seconds in, but the biggest plays came from Talbot.
A giveaway in the Wolf Pack zone got Vey free and heading towards Talbot. Allen hooked Vey and should have been called for a penalty, but the referee awarded Vey a penalty shot. On the resulting shot, Talbot waited Vey out and at the last second through his right pad out to the post denying what would have been the game winner.
In the shootout, the first two rounds for both teams came up empty, but Hrivik went top shelf on Jones to score and then Kozun followed up with a tally beating Talbot. Mashinter followed Hrivik and fired a laser through Jones’ five hole for what what prove to be the game winner after Talbot denied both Pearson and then Vey for the win.
It is foolish to think this team won’t lose games this season, but if they can keep things this exciting fans will have to flock to the XL Center as this could arguably be the best team the Wolf pack have had since the 2000 Championship team.
The Wolf Pack travel to Lewiston, Maine for a Saturday night tilt with the Portland Pirates. Game time is 7pm.
SIGHTS & SOUNDS:
23 Brandon Mashinter – 15 Marek Hrivik – 45 Arron Asham
20 Chris Kreider - 16 Oscar Lindberg – 29 Danny Kristo
11 Michael Kantor – 19 Brodie Dupont - 18 Michael Haley
6 Andrew Yogan – 7 Kyle Jean – 9 Ryan Bourque
4 Conor Allen – 41 Stu Bickel
8 Dylan McIlrath – 44 Aaron Johnson
25 Danny Syvret – 5 Tommy Hughes
33 Cameron Talbot
35 Jeff Malcolm
Assistant Captains in BOLD
Captain in BOLD
40 Scott Stacjer – Hip Surgery – Indefinite
43 Martin Biron – Healthy – Yet to Report
21 Shawn O’Donnell – Healthy
24 Brandon Nash – Healthy
1. HFD – A. Johnson
2. MCH – T. Toffoli
3. HFD – C. Talbot
Trevor Hanson (47)
Mark Lemelin (41)
Derek Wahl (46)
Kevin Redding (16)
The Wolf Pack made the long bus ride from Hartford to Lewiston, Maine after the game – roughly four hours on the bus – for their Saturday night showdown with the Portland Pirates.
Manchester Monarchs 3 at Htfd Wolf Pack 4 (SO) – Status: Final SO
Friday, October 18, 2013 – XL Center
Manchester 1 2 0 0 – 3
Hartford 1 0 2 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Manchester, Toffoli 3 (Vey, Bodnarchuk), 9:45. 2, Hartford, Kristo 3 (Allen, Kreider), 15:56. Penalties-Forbort Mch (interference), 2:51; Shore Mch (hooking), 5:49; Bickel Hfd (holding), 18:32.
2nd Period-3, Manchester, Pearson 2 1:11. 4, Manchester, Miller 1 (Toffoli, Deslauriers), 14:41 (PP). Penalties-Shore Mch (slashing), 9:50; Syvret Hfd (slashing), 13:48; McIlrath Hfd (holding), 14:24; Sabourin Mch (fighting), 16:59; Bickel Hfd (fighting), 16:59; Vey Mch (hooking), 18:05.
3rd Period-5, Hartford, Hrivik 1 (Mashinter, Johnson), 14:05. 6, Hartford, Johnson 1 (Haley, Syvret), 14:29 (SH). Penalties-Lindberg Hfd (double minor – high-sticking), 0:12; McIlrath Hfd (slashing), 2:13; LoVerde Mch (interference), 12:24; Kreider Hfd (interference), 13:02.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Manchester 1 (Weal NG, Toffoli NG, Kozun G, Pearson NG, Vey NG), Hartford 2 (Lindberg NG, Kristo NG, Hrivik G, Mashinter G, Asham NG).
Shots on Goal-Manchester 7-8-14-4-0-33. Hartford 10-9-8-4-1-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 1 / 7; Hartford 0 / 5.
Goalies-Manchester, Jones 3-0-2 (31 shots-28 saves). Hartford, Talbot 3-0-1 (33 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Trevor Hanson (47), Mark Lemelin (41).
Linesmen-Derek Wahl (46), Kevin Redding (16).