Wolf Pack in Albany to Extend Win Streak to Six
BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
ALBANY, NY – The Hartford Wolf Pack extended their winning streak to a season high six straight with a 3-2 overtime win, their third in the current streak, over the Albany Devils before 1.951 at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY Wednesday night.
For the Devils, the loss snapped the team’s eleven game home winning streak .
Chad Nehring scored the game winner for the Wolf Pack.Nehring was in the right spot on the left wing with team captain, Ryan Bourque, coming off the right wing boards. Bourque went to fire a shot in the three-on-three extra session, but the puck went off the shin pads of ex-Yale Bulldog Brian O’Neill. The puck went right to Nehring’s stick and the Pack forward backhanded his 13th of the season with 32.6 seconds left in overtime.
It was Nehring’s third game winning goal and his first in seven games. The Pack are 5-2 in overtime and are now .500 on the road at 10-10-2-0.
The six game streak has seen all six decided by one goal. Half of those one-goal wins have come in overtime. The Pack are 20-19-2-0 (42 points) are have raised themselves from the cellar to fifth place in the Atlantic Division. The Pack skipped over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers who beat the St. John’s IceCaps 3-2 Wednesday night. They now trail the Syracuse Crunch by one point. Syracuse lost 5-4 in overtime to the Toronto Marlies.
The Pack return to action Saturday night in Bridgeport at the Webster Bank Arena. The puck drops at 7:30 PM.
Magnus Hellberg was strong again between the pipes for the Wolf Pack with 32 saves. His performance earned him the game’s second star honors.
Prior to the game winner, The Pack had a great chance to end the contest when Tyler Brown had a breakaway at the 2:12 mark. Devils’ goalie Scott Wedgewood shut the door.
In the third period Hellberg’s save on a Ben Thomson’s bid with 14 seconds left ensured that the team would go to the extra time. Thomson’s attempt was to complete a hat trick as he tried to stuff one on the short side, but Hellberg had the paddle down to deny Thomson.
O’Neill just returned from New Jersey Tuesday and was all alone in front of the net when the puck bounced off Marek Hrivik’s skate right to him. With just 1:28 remaining in regulation, Hellberg gobbled up the shot.
With 4:16 left, the Devils’ defenseman Seth Helgeson had his left point drive stopped. While on a delayed penalty with just over two half to go, the Devils’ Marc-Andre Gragnani had a chance stopped by Hellberg.
On Gragnani’s next puck possession, he hit Matt Lorito with a home run pass. Lorito went down the right wing side, but Hellberg didn’t give him much to shoot at and he fired it high and wide.
Earlier in the period, at 5:18, the Devils’ Ryan Kujwaniski came screaming down the left wing side before sending a one-timer off a pass from Blake Pietila only to watch as Hellberg made like an octopus and got over to keep the puck out of the back of the net.
In the second period the Pack scored two goals on two shots and took the early lead.
Niklas Jensen scored his seventh of the season and second goal as a member of the Wolf Pack on a turnaround shot from the right circle. The puck deflected off of Albany defenseman Reese Scarlett’s stick and snuck past Wedgewood at the 31 second mark.
Hrivik’s hard work made the Pack’s second goal possible.
Hrivik negated an icing by beating the Albany defense to the puck behind the Devils net and found Bourque at the right wing wall. Bourque then advanced the puck to defenseman, Matt Bodie.
Bodie came off the right point and let fly a low slap shot. Bourque was cruising on the right side of the net behind Graham Black and redirected his ninth of the season into the top shelf at 5:49.
The period had only twelve shots between the two clubs. The Devils had one good stretch as Jim O’Brien had three shots in a one minute span. Hellberg stood tall to stop all three. At 7:06, from forty feet out, O’Brien got off a shot as a result of a Kodie Curran turnover. O’Brien’s third shot came off the right wing.
The Pack came close to making it 3-0 at 14:55, but Ryan Graves blast from the left point went flush off the right post.
The Devils managed to tie the game late with Ben Thomson scoring twice for the Devils.
Just a minute after Graves post hitting shot, Thomson scored his third of the season and first of two in the game, off a backhander that went short side off his own rebound. As O’Brien was falling backwards, his shot attempt went to Thomson with the Pack’s Chris Summers down trying to block the shot, but Thomson was able to elevate the puck at 15:54.
Then before the period expired, and with 1:04 left, ex-CT Whale Chris McKelvie lost an edge going into the left wing corner. McKelvie was able to recover and fed Thomson at the left wing faceoff circle. Thomson snapped a shot over the right shoulder of Hellberg who was completely screened by the long time Pack killer, Rod Pelley.
Adam Tambellini arrived late to negate Pelley because Tommy Hughes went out to check Thomson, but Graves went to McKelvie and left Pelley free to make the screen.
Thomson has a two goal game against the Pack last season when he scored his first two goals as a professional.
The Devils were the better team in the first period as the Pack would take just five shots on goal with only one quality scoring chance that came off Chris McCarthy’s stick at 2:15. Joe Combs also had a chance. His came from the left wing circle at 3:41.
The rest of the first period was Hellberg and all Devils. Hellberg kept things close stopping Thomson at 4;25, then Lorito on a backhand bid at 6:58 and Corey Tropp on a wrist shot.
– Devils lost their leading scorer and last week’s AHL/CCM Player of the Week, Mike Sislo, with 6:28 remaining in the game. O’Neill was diving to free a puck in a scrum behind the Pack net and took out Sislo at the knees. Sislo didn’t return the rest of the game.
– South Windsor’s Jon DiSalvatore was released from his PTO by the Springfield Falcons. He has returned to the Florida Everblades (ECHL).
– Goalie Stephen Michalek (Glastonbury/Loomis Chaffe) was recalled from Quad City (ECHL) by Iowa.
– Former Wolf Pack Jared Nightingale signed a PTO with the Chicago Fire (AHL) his first this year after five PTO’s last year. He has been the captain with the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) this year. Joining him is Drew Daniels (Kent Prep) for the shorthanded Wolves team.
– After just 20 games with Chicago, Konrad Abelthsauser, went back to his native Germany to play with EHC Munich (Germany-DEL) for the rest of the year. That precipitated the move to sign Nightingale.
– The Islanders have assigned goalie J.F. Berube to Bridgeport.