Game 45: Hartford Wolf Pack 1 @ Albany River Rats 0
Wednesday January 23rd 2008, 10:26 pm

The Wolf Pack got their first shut out of the season tonight behind the strong play of Miika Wiikman and some strong last-minute penalty killing. For Wiikman, it was his first North American pro shutout, as he makes a strong bid for taking over the starting role from a struggling Al Montoya.

The lone goal of the game came on the power play at 8:28 of the first off the stick of Bourret, who took a beautiful cross-crease pass through traffic from Parenteau and wristed the puck past Rats goalie Michael Leighton, who had no chance to get across in time. Liffiton got in his first fight since returning from a concussion with a minute and a half left in the period, but it ended up being more of a wrestling match than anything else. The Rats outshot the Pack 13-11 in a pretty evenly played period.

The second saw the two teams swap opportunities, with the Pack having perhaps a slight edge in quantity, though not necessarily quality. Wiikman was forced to make some tough and timely saves, but nothing too spectacular. There were a number of missed calls that could have gone in the Pack’s favor through the middle of the period, but alas, referee Chris Brown decided to more or less let the teams play… until the final minutes of the game, anyway. (More on that in a second!) The Pack finished the period with a 10-6 advantage in shots.

The third brought more of the same. Both teams generated some good chances and had stretches where they applied pressure deep in the other’s zone, but there weren’t an abundance of high quality scoring opportunities. Honestly, I was convinced the Pack were going to give this one up, because, they continually tried to get too fancy, or to do too much by themselves and lost the puck as a result. They were given a gift power play at the 9:31 mark when former Ranger property Jacob Petruzelak was called for a really soft cross checking penalty but were unable to generate much until the final seconds of the penalty. The Rats would get theirs back, however, with 3 minutes 13 seconds to go in the game when Moore was called for a somewhat suspect holding penalty. With about a 1:45 to go the Rats pulled their goalie to get the 6-on-4 advantage.They managed to generate a number of good chances, applying pressure down low in front of the net. With 1 second to go in Moore’s penalty, following a bit of a shoving match which ensued after Wiikman froze the puck, referee Brown inexplicably decided to call an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Liffiton. That gave the Rats a 1 second 3-man advantage and let them finish out the remaining 1:13 of game with the 6-on-4 advantage once Moore returned. Fortunately, some very good PKing on the part of the Pack, a couple good saves by Wiikman, and the good luck of Albany sending some shots wide allowed the Pack to hold on to the win and put an end to their 3-game winless streat (0-1-2). It also allowed them to draw within 1 point of the idle Portland Pirates for 2nd place in the division.

Pack Scoring
1. Bourret (8) (Parenteau, Moore) (PP) 8:28

Lines

Parenteau – Moore – Bourret
Byers – Anismov – Callahan
Dupont – Korpikoski – Jessiman
Pyatt – Ouellette

Liffiton – Taylor
Hutchinson – Potter
Pock – Sauer

Wiikman / Montoya

Three Stars

1. Miika Wiikman
2. Michael Leighton
3. Alex Bourret

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Filed under: Hartford Wolf Pack

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