Rivalries are what sports are all about. They’re what elevates a regular meeting and gives it juice. Think of all the great battles in sports history and the best of them are Army and Navy in college football; Yankees and the Red Sox in baseball, Lakers-Celtics in hoops, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg in tennis, Ali-Frazier in boxing and the list goes on and on. The granddaddy of them all however lies in hockey with the battles between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.
The Rangers - Islanders rises above all those others because this rivalry transcends the major league level and filters down into their minor league system as well.
Saturday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard, 5,007 witnessed yet another round that elevated the battle in this storied rivalry which saw the Wolf Pack come out victorious 4-1 for their fourth win in a row and sixth in their last seven and moved the team into third place in the Atlantic Division.
Storylines were everywhere.
Greg Moore, last season’s Pack captain, saw action for the first time on the other side of the fence having signed over last summer with the Islanders and has since became a member of the Sound Tigers.
Another ex-Pack saw his first action against his former mates from the other side. Enforcer Trevor Gillies was sporting the orange, blue and white of the Sound Tigers as well.
The Pack started slowly and at first seemed to be a step behind and not winning the one-on-one battles. But midway through the first the effort started to rise and the Wolf Pack got on the board first. With 4:55 remaining Andres Ambϋhl’s shot from the left circle struck the stick of the net crashing Mathieu Dandenault and flipped in past Sound Tiger starting netminder Nathan Lawson. It was Dandenault’s first goal and first AHL point since signing a professional tryout contract with the Pack on October 21st.
Just 2:05 later the Pack struck again as the league best power play unit cashed in on a four-on-three man advantage situation. Bobby Sanguinetti fed P.A. Parenteau low on the left wing side. Parenteau waited, what seemed like forever, for Mark Flood to commit to how he was going to play. Parenteau faked a pass and when the defensemen went down, the Hull, Quebec native slid a perfect pass under the D-man and right to the stick of Corey Locke who one timed it past Lawson from low in the right circle. The Pack would hit the lockers at the end of the first with a 2-0 lead.
At 6:58 of the second period, Dandenault seemed to take a real bad angle shot from the right side corner goal line. The puck wound up high and was then gloved in the crease by Bridgeport defenseman Jon Gleed. Referee Jaime Koharski saw it and promptly called for a Pack penalty shot. Ken Gernander called out Parenteau to try and add a third Pack goal. The right winger came in with speed on Lawson but, “The puck sort of stuck to my blade. I knew what I wanted to do, but it was too late,” Parenteau said. He fired a shot from the left circle but the wrister missed the net.
It didn’t take long though for the Pack to strike again. Just 1:28 later, Dale Weise came up right wing and fed Tyler Arnason on the rush. Arnason in turn floated if to Evgeny Grachev, who’s hard shot from the left circle ripped the black out of the puck and deposited itself over the glove of Lawson and into the corner pocket for the 3-0 lead.
Falling behind 3-0 you could feel that the Tigers were going to try something to elevate themselves of their poor play. After Pascal Morency tried to engage the Pack’s Derek Couture and couldn’t get the Pack winger to swallow the bait that things elevated to a different level.
Gillies left the Calgary native no choice when he jumped Couture and began to pound on him. After making a useless effort defending himself, Couture had no choice but to fall to the ice and turtle himself and wait for the referees to step in.
For his efforts, Gillies received a two-minute instigating, five for fighting, an instigating misconduct and a game misconduct for being an aggressor.
When Sean Bentivolglio was sent to the sin bin for a two minute stretch for a hooking call at 14:30 it gave the Pack a two man advantage for 1:22 and the Tigers paid for it on the ensuing power play.
1:13 into the five-on-three, Sanguinetti put a shot on Lawson. The rebound fell in front and there was a mad scramble in front. Corey Locke got the puck from right in front of the goalmouth and fed Grachev. The 19 year old showed incredible patience and slid the puck across to the cutting Sanguinetti who elevated a shot over the fallen goaltender. It was 4-0.
Frustration was settling in on the home team.
The intensity rose quite dramatically in the third period. Jordan Owens and Matt Martin both took roughing penalties and then Sanguinetti joined them in the box setting up a four-on-three advantage for the home team.
Off a face-off win by Moore, Mark Katic fed Dustin Kohn at the point. Kohn slid over to his left and from the top of the slot let a shot fire that deflected off a Pack defender and spoiled Chad Johnson’s bid for his first career shutout at 6:30.
Tensions continued to rise when a backchecking Brodie Dupont absolutely leveled Mark Flood who had his head down. No penalty was called on the hard, but clean hit.
Minutes later Parenteau and Michael Haley went at it after the whistle had blown and both were given misconduct penalties that ended their respective nights.
But the excitement was far from over.
With 2:10 remaining as the two teams were changing, Pascal Morency jumped over the boards and just molested Dupont and when the Pack forward couldn’t get any footing he went down to the ice and turtled. Morency rained a storm of punches on the Pack forward.
Dupont was given two minutes for roughing but referee Jaime Koharski threw the book at Morency. he received a five minute fighting major, two minutes for instigating, an instigating misconduct and then an instigator misconduct (last 5:00).
“I probably play our lines more than any other coach in this league. They’re line us up (the Morency line) and they went over and what ever took place, took place.” Sound Tigers head coach Jack Capuano said. “From my stand point I had nothing to do with it. The league it’s in their hands and they can review it.”
After the final horn sounded, as the two teams headed for their respective lockers, words were passed between Pack enforcer Justin Soryal and Capuano. The third year Tiger coach had plenty to say after the game.
“I was walking off the ice,” He said. “I heard one of their players (Soryal) yipping at somebody and I looked and obviously there was nobody behind me, so I guess it was me, but you know what? If he has a problem, he knows where to find me.”
Capuano continued. “I’m don’t talk to players and players shouldn’t be talking to coaches and the players handle the game and if he thought there was a problem at the end of the game, like I said, we just roll our lines. Our lines roll. That’s the way that I coach. It’s about development. If we had wanted to do anything (Morency attacking Dupont) it would have been before the five minute mark ‘cause I know the rules and regulations. It’s not like there’s a minute left and let’s go out there and try to do something. That was never the intention.”
The Cranston, Rhode Island native was asked if he had discussed this kind of thing in the past with the players. “We haven’t had a problem all year. They know the rules probably and we just don’t play like that. So whatever happened at the end happened at the end. I’m sure it had something to do with…the bench (getting) riled up on the hit on Mark Flood there…maybe with Dupont there at one point. If we wanted to do something we’d have done something.”
Pack head coach Ken Gernander was pleased with the performance of his team, but still considerably and visibly upset, especially how the end of the game went down.
“In the final five minutes of the game he (Morency) comes off the bench and jumps Dupont.” Later it was confirmed that the Pack have asked the league to look into this incident.
The Pack return for round two of this season long battle in Bridgeport on November 29th.
* Greg Moore on playing his first game for the Tigers against his former mates. “There was a little bit of nerves. I was excited, a little nervous. It was certainly a lot weirder than I expected to see all those guys on the other team and playing against them and stuff. But in the midst of it, every shift you don’t think about anything else about your job.” The Maine native added, “There are no friends on the ice during the sixty minutes so we’ll continue to do our job and I’m sure they’ll do the same thing.”
* In the game against Calgary Saturday night the Rangers laost both Chris Drury and ex-Pack Brandon Dubinsky for what appears to be extended periods of time. Drury was lost to a concussion from a cheap shot by the Flame's Curtis Glencross's hit to the head. Dubinsky appeared to have possibly broken his wrist when a shot hit him in the bar part above his glove. In all liklihood that means that that Pack, and the AHL's top two scorers, Corey Locke and P.A. Parenteau will head to New York for an extended stay. There's an outside chance that it could be Grachev who heads up to The Show. For those who will still be here, now will be the time to elevate their game and shine, otherwise the Pack could be headed very far south.
* BTW, please forgive the lateness of this report. After having it myself a week ago, now both of my sons, (Ross 7, and Tory 5), have Swine Flu. It's more of a concern for my five year old since he is slightly asmatic and this isn't helping any.
Owens – Locke – Parenteau
Grachev – Arnason - Weise
Garlock – Dupont - Couture
Soryal – Crowder - Ambϋhl
Sauer - Dandenault
Heikkinen - Sanguinetti
Potter - Henley
(Assistant Captains Italicized)
Dane Byers – Recall with NY Rangers
Devin DiDiomete – Sent to Charlotte for Conditioning
Dave Urquhart – Healthy
Nigel Williams - Healthy
1. HFD - 19 Evgeny Grachev
2. HFD - 29 Chad Johnson
3. HFD - 21 Bobby Sanguinetti
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jamie Koharski (84), Referee
Luke Galvin (2), Linesman
Kevin Redding (16), Linesman
The third place Wolf Pack are off until Wednesday when they finsih up this three game road trip against first place Manachester who they trail by four points. Game time is 7pm.
Hartford 2 2 0 - 4
Bridgeport 0 0 1 - 1
1st Period-1, Hartford, Dandenault 1 (Ambuhl, Crowder), 15:05. 2, Hartford, Locke 9 (Parenteau, Sanguinetti), 17:00 (pp). Penalties-Morency Bri (hooking), 3:17; Locke Hfd (hooking), 7:45; Heikkinen Hfd (roughing), 8:06; Mauldin Bri (roughing), 8:06; Dupont Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:36; Haley Bri (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:36; Kohn Bri (hooking), 16:30.
2nd Period-3, Hartford, Grachev 5 (Arnason, Weise), 8:26. 4, Hartford, Sanguinetti 5 (Grachev, Locke), 15:33 (pp). Penalties-Gillies Bri (roughing), 1:44; Ambuhl Hfd (interference), 4:46; Couture Hfd (roughing), 10:52; Gillies Bri (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating, game misconduct - aggressor), 10:52; Bentivoglio Bri (hooking), 14:30; Soryal Hfd (hooking), 16:24.
3rd Period-5, Bridgeport, Kohn 2 (Katic, Moore), 6:30 (pp). Penalties-Potter Hfd (tripping), 0:39; Owens Hfd (roughing), 5:12; Martin Bri (roughing), 5:12; Sanguinetti Hfd (roughing), 5:33; Sanguinetti Hfd (holding), 9:28; Parenteau Hfd (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:21; Haley Bri (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:21; Dupont Hfd (roughing), 17:50; Morency Bri (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating, game misconduct - instigator (last 5:00)), 17:50.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 12-13-12-37. Bridgeport 6-9-14-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 2 of 6; Bridgeport 1 of 6.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 6-3-0 (29 shots-28 saves). Bridgeport, Lawson 3-4-0 (37 shots-33 saves).