The Hartford Wolf Pack (12-7-0-1) entered Bridgeport without 9 of their regular players, 7 lost to injury (Montoya, Holt, Liffiton, Sauer, Bourret, Lessard, Fritz) and 2 (Moore & Baranka) currently in New York with the Rangers, but they were anything but short on heart as the team rode an energetic and involved Nigel Dawes' 2 goals and 2 assists and the goal and 2 assists added by Thomas Pock to beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6-9-1-0) 5-3 before 6,565 at the Arena at Harbor Yard Friday night.
The outstanding performances by Dawes and Pock were a key factor in the story of this game. However much like the Providence game from Wednesday night, once again a referee decided that he wanted to be a factor in the game. Ryan Fraser, son of longtime NHL referee Kerry Fraser, called 24 infractions in all, (12 against each team) but at one point in the second period gave the home Sound Tigers 5 consecutive power play opportunities. The Tigers were thankful for the opportunity firing 18 shots on Miika Wiikman (2-0 3.53 GAA .887%) and scoring just once on Ben Walter's 5th of the season. Wiikman got the start and was backed up by Matt Zaba since both of the Wolf Pack's starting pair of Montoya (back) and Holt (knee) were out with injuries.
The parade of players to the penalty box began early in this one as just :39 seconds in to the contest Sean Bentivoglio was called for high sticking and just :46 seconds later Jeremy Colliton was called for a holding penalty giving the Pack a 1:14 second 5 on 3 advantage and the Pack did not disappoint the many Pack fans in attendance on the evening. The Pack pressed their attack down low on Joey MacDonald (3-7-0 2.81 GAA .909 %). Nigel Dawes would fire the puck at MacDonald 3 times during this power play opportunity. On his first shot MacDonald made a great save sliding across the crease to rob Dawes from in close. The second opportunity came moments later when Dawes had MacDonald out of position but fired the puck high over the net. However on the third time, it is the charm you know, following a great move by Pierre Alexandre Parenteau moving in on MacDonald from the left corner, got him to bite on his shot deke and launched the pill over to Dawes who creeped in on the other side . Parenteau found him and Dawes buried his shot giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
After Wiikman stopped a couple of odd man rush break-ins and Fraser practiced his whistle blowing at every chance he got, at 10:30 while Matthew Spiller sat in the penalty box for roughing, Dawes found Anisimov alone who saw Hutchinson alone at the point. He fired a pass that Hutchinson one-timed on goal and the rising wrister beat MacDonald high to the glove side for a 2-0 lead.
Moments later Pascal Morency decided to try and take on defensemen Jake Taylor and he did and won the fight/wrestling match.
The Pack totally dominated the territorial game and dictated tempo in first period and out shot the Sound Tigers 9-6 and led after 1 period of play 2-0.
The second period action came right from the face-off as :39 seconds in with the Tigers applying pressure down low. A puck manages to squirt through Wiikman's legs and heads for the goal line. Just inches before it gets there Thomas Pock gets his stick on the puck and pushes it under Wiikman stopping a sure goal and the play.
Three minutes later left-wing Steve Regier breaks in alone on Wiikman after Ryan Constant fumbled the puck at the Tigers blue line. Wiikman came up big, as he would a number of other times in this game and stopped Regier cold. In fact it took just twenty seconds later as it was Andrew Hutchinson's turn to give the puck away at the blue line. He gave it to the wrong player, NHL left wing on the last of his 3 game rehab assignment from the Islanders, Shawn Bates. Bates skated in on Wiikman and beat him glove side top shelf from the right post to bring he score to 2-1.
At 7:45, just 3 and a half minutes later, Thomas Pock got his first goal of the season. Hugh Jessiman gave the puck to Nigel Dawes who fed Pock in the high slot. Pock blasted a rising wrister that beat MacDonald high and once again the Pack led by two goals.
Jessiman got involved in the play moments later when after roughing his opposing number 27 Darryl Bootland they fought and Jessiman was slammed to the ice. 1 minute 25 seconds into the power play, the Tigers would get their only power play score of the afternoon as Ben Walter found himself all alone in front of Wiikman as coverage was blown down low. A pass by Comeau moved quickly to Regier who found Walter and Wiikman had no chance and the Tigers were as close as they would get and trailed 3-2.
After two consecutive penalties to the Pack, the last creating a 3 second 5 on 3. The Pack won the ensuing face-off to killed the 5 on 3 but after some play in the defensive zone managed to clear the puck down to the right of MacDonald. MacDonald took a very lazy and casual approach to getting the puck and Brodie Dupont raced down and blocked MacDonald's attempt to clear the puck to defenseman Jamie Fraser, picked up the puck and backhanded a wrap around shot on the left doorstep that slipped past MacDonald for a shorthanded goal and a 4-2 lead.
The Sound Tigers had 5 straight power plays in the period and were ignited by that as they fired 19 shots on Wiikman, 3 more than any other period this season. At the end of 2 it was 4-2 with the Tigers out shooting the Pack 25-16.
The third period started off much like the rest of the game with penalty after penalty being called 3 out 4 this time going against the Tigers. At 8:47 while on the power play, Hutchinson was on the right point and fed Pock at the other. Pock looked and found Dawes creeping in from the right face off circle and he blasted his second of the game past a badly beaten MacDonald for a 5-2 lead.
The Wolf Pack hadn't even had the goal announced yet when 19 seconds later with Wiikman screened Andrew MacDonald intercepted and deflected a clearing pass past the Pack netminder for his first career goal, unassisted making the score 5-3.
MacDonald made a couple of outstanding saves the first on Dane Byers and the second on on Korpikoski. 14 seconds after that stop Matthew Spiller took a cheap shot on Byers which caused a fight. That isn't something in particular that's noteworthy except that after the linesmen got between them Spiller refused to stop punching and hit the linesmen a couple of times. He was given a 10 minute Game misconduct for persisting a fight, a suspension should be forthcoming.
The Pack stifled the Tiger attack the rest of the way but were out shot 31-29 but more importantly the Pack held on for the win 5-3.
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Dawes - HFD
2) Pock - HFD
3) Walter - BPT
Here's the game report and a complete game summaryas well as reports with the incomparable Bruce Berlet at The Hartford Courant and for the Bridgeport point of view read Michael Fornabaio in the Connecticut Post. Bob Crawford has his summary at HartfordWolfpack.com.
News and Noteworthy:
*** The Bridgeport penalty kill which entered the game 2nd in the league gave up 3 PP goals on 8 chances.
*** Bridgeport lost for the 5th time in their last 6 games.
*** MacDonald has lost 7 of his last 8 starts after starting the season 2-0.
*** Chris Holt's knee sprain will keep him out of action 4-6 weeks.
*** Marty Straka tweaked his hamstring in the game against Florida last night and it is safe to assume that Greg Moore will be held there a bit longer as insurance given also that Sean Avery has a tweaked wrist. Ryan Callahan is expected to make his return to action on Sunday.
Anisimov - Jessiman - Dawes - Pock - Taylor - Wiikman (starters)
Parenteau - Oullette - Dupont - Hutchinson - Waddell
Byers - Korpikoski - Murphy - Potter - Constant
Lee - Graham
Baranka & Moore (In NY)
Montoya (Back - Day to Day)
Holt (Knee 4-6 weeks)
Liffiton (Concussion - Indefinitely)
Sauer (Concussion - Indefinitely)
Bourret (Concussion - Indefinitely)
Fritz (Shoulder - 2 months minimum)
Lessard (Knee - Possibly done for the year)
Pyatt (High Ankle Sprain - Day to Day)
Lowell is currently in last place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-10-1-0 record in 17 games played. They are currently on a 2-7-1 streak in their last 10 games. In the net for the Devils is Zach Parise's brother, Jordan Parise who in 6 games this season has a 2-4-0 record with a 2.68 GAA and a .917%. The Devils are a HEAVILY NHL experienced squad (Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Grant Marshall, Richard Matvivhuk, Ian Moran, Erik Rasmussen, as well as a couple others with limited, but actual NHL experience) but for some reason cannot seem to find a way to put the biscuit in the basket. They have only one player in the top100 in scoring, Petr Vrana who in 17 games has 3 goals and 9 assists, conversely, the Wolf Pack have 4 (Greg Moore, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, Andrew Hutchinson & Brodie Dupont).
Check back at Howlings for a complete recap of the game and any news concerning the Wolf Pack...
(Nigel Dawes, Thomas Pock and Ryan Fraser pictures courtesy of viewimages.com, Steve Regier closing in on Mikka Wiikman courtesy of Christian Abraham & The Connecticut Post and puck photos courtesy of TheAHL.com)