BY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings
Another game with the Albany Devils leaves the Hartford Wolf Pack shaking their heads.
For the second time in a week, the Devils shut out the Wolf Pack 3-0 on the strength of this week’s, “AHL Player of the Week,” Keith Kinkaid. The Albany netminder made the Wolf Pack’s life miserable with a second shutout of the team by the identical score.
“We didn’t make his life miserable. How does that sound?” Pack head coach Ken Germander said at the outset of his comments. “Not to take away from his shutout, but we didn’t have enough sustained pressure or generate offense.”
Now the team prepares to try to get back on track in their third of twelve meetings with their I-91 rival, Springfield Falcons on Saturday night at the Mass Mutual Center.
“We have done a good job getting pucks to the point, but we have to get those second and third opportunities,” Gernander said. “Our forwards have to be in there battling and not rely on our defense for offense.”
When the Pack take the ice, new line combinations will be part of the game plan, “Were not generating offense and were not winning games. We have to shuffle the deck here.”
Jason Missiaen will start in net for Gernander’s squad. The head coach issued a challenge of sorts to the 6’8” netminder after Scott Stajcer started the last two games saying, “I’ve made my decision and Missiaen is going to go in. He gives us a hell-of-a-game and gives us a chance to win.”
For Missiaen, finding some confidence will not be solely on Gernander’s shoulders to provide. “He signed up for the position and you’re coaching a kid at the start of the year and they have no confidence. They have to find it themselves. (Missiaen) is a hard worker and diligent and he has worked hard at practice. He just has to go out and perform,”
Playing Springfield is always an attention getter in the Wolf Pack locker room. That just escalates when the Falcons are occupying first place, where the Wolf Pack found themselves in the month of October.
“It’s always a rivalry with them,” winger Marek Hrivik said. “They are close to us (standings and geographically). We just need to bounce back and make sure we come out with the two points.”
The Falcons, who have 23 points, beat second place Albany 5-3. The Wolf Pack find themselves in third place with 18 points. For Springfield, former CT Whale right-winger, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, mired in an early season scoring slump, with one goal came alive last night for the Falcons with two power-play goals
Finding the net with consistency has been the one thing that has continued to dog this team of late. “We get some shots, but we have to crash the nets more,” Hrivik said. “We have to find a way to put the pucks behind the goalies whatever way we can. Whether they’re pretty goals or not, we just have to get them in.”
The team’s penchant for bad starts has been chronic in the early season. They were able to get by and win with solid third period play, but that has just not been early in the month of November.
“Yeah, we have had that problem, but if it was an easy thing to fix we would do it. We have to come out quick and be focused,” said Hrivik.
Sophomore rearguard Dylan McIlrath is taking the long view approach to this current rough patch for the Wolf Pack.
“Early on we had that big winning streak, but to be honest, we were squeaking by in the end in some of those games. Now it’s kinda catching up with us and sometimes we’re working hard and things are not going our way. It’s a process and were lucky it’s early in the season. We just have to get back to the basics and win some games.”
The two shutout losses to Albany in the past week certainly hurt the Pack in the standings, but McIlrath think the bigger enemy was themselves. “Give credit to Albany they played a great system and he (Kinkaid) made some saves, but we really hurt ourselves in both games with our play.”
Springfield lost its leading scorer and thorn in their side ex-Wolf Pack (nee Whale) defenseman Tim Erixon (13 points in 10 games) when he was recalled by Columbus. However, the Falcons still have defenseman Frederic St. Denis (11 points) and Jake Hansen who burned them last time with a critical shorthanded goal (9 points) and Darryl Boyce (7 points).
- Right wing Jesper Fast remains out of the lineup and joining him is defenseman Brendon Nash (lower body) who didn’t skate all week which means Stu Bickel remains on defense.
- Congrats, to former Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers, now with Hershey, as his wife Ashley gave birth to their first child, Carter Byers who, without equipment weighed in at 8.3 pounds last Friday.
- Former Wolf Pack defenseman – and all around good guy – Tomas Kundratek, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee November 10 against Binghamton and is tentatively slated for surgery December 1st. Kundratek not only has lost his AHL season, but was on the Czech Republic pre-Olympic team for the 2014 Sochi Games so he will have to wait for 2018 for another Olympic shot.
- Reminds me when former Beast of New Haven foward Herbert Vasiljves then with Vancouver was injured on a recall and lost his bid for the Latvian Olympic team in 1998, but did play in 2004.
- -Former Springfield Falcon Wade MacLeod who was injured off a clean hit and suffered seizures last spring leading to the postponement of a game with Adirondack was reassigned by the Toronto Marlies to Orlando (ECHL) Wednesday.
- The struggling Utica Comets signed former two time AHL All Star Cal O’ Reilly who was playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia-KHL) getting one assit in 14 games and had been reassigned to a VHL (Russia’s version of the AHL) team in the Ural Mountains. Utica, I guess is Hawaii in comparison. The signing was before the December 1st deadline for Europeans to sign with AHL teams and be eligible for Calder Cup play.
- Conversely the team the Canucks should have their farm team in Abbotsford (an hour from Vancouver) is tops in the league with 31 points starting the weekend.
- Former Wolf Pack defenseman Burke Henry signed a deal with the Nikko (Japan) Icebucks to play for the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) team. One time Wolf Pack defenseman Matt Waddell already plays for the team.
- Former Wolf Pack forward Mark Bell has signed to play for Eisbaren Berlin (Germany-DEL).
- Former players from training camp with the Wolf Pack have landed new gigs. After being cut from four different training camps in four different leagues Tyler Gjurich signed with the San Francisco Bulls (ECHL) and joining him via a trade is defenseman Jason Lepine who played nine games with Toledo.
- Paxton Leroux who led the Traverse City tournament in penalty minutes with the Rangers was back in the OHL in his overage year was traded by the London Knights to the Kitchener Rangers for a 5th round pick in the 2015 OHL draft .
- Wallingford native defenseman Lee Moffie has been reassigmed by the Lake Erie Monsters to Denver (CHL) to play for the former Wolf Pack linemates and now coaching tandem of head coach Derek Armstrong and assistant coach Brad Smyth.
(Information from the Harrisburg Patriot-News and European Hockey.com were used in this section)