It’s hard to pick an angle from which to tell the story of last night’s game. Is it the Pack’s second complete annihilation of an opponent in three games? Their team record-setting 9 goal margin and record-tying 10 goals in a game? Is it the pre-game scrum in which the teams engaged in during warmups, which brought Springfield out to start the game fired up and physical, only to see that physical edge neutralized after Theo Pechkam charged Mike Ouellette and Mitch Fritz mauled him in response, inspiring the Pack to systematically shut down the Springfield power play and pick up their own physical play? Was it Andrew Hutchinson breaking Tomas Pock’s franchise record for points by a defenseman? Recent ATO-signee Mike Taylor picking up two goals and an assist in only his second professional game? Or maybe the best angle is to point out that the Pack seem to be coming together at just the right time, climbing into a tie in points for 2nd place in the league, opening up a 9 point lead on third place division rival and likely playoff opponent Portland, and trimming first place Portland’s lead to only 6 points. Whatever it is, it was sure fun to watch!
Springfield got off to a quick start, scoring just 54 seconds in when Jake Taylor fell down at the Springfield blue line with the puck and Stephen Werner stole the puck and skated in on a 2-on-1 and beat LeNeveu through the five hole for what could only be termed a softie. LeNeveu looked a little shaky through the first period, but fortunately, the team made sure that didn’t matter by beginning their onslaught before the period ended. First came Greg Moore at 7:05, on the power play, when he took a cross-crease pass from Lauri Korpikoski and put it in the open side of the net. Then Corey Potter, sneaking in for a back door play, took a signature cross-ice pass from P.A. Parenteau in the left circle and fired it past Springfield goalie Devan Dubnyk to give the Pack the 2-1 lead almost 7 minutes later. That’s how the period would end, with the Pack coming back strong to hold a 12-9 advantage in shots.
The real fun started about halfway through the second, when, after they killed off three consecutive Falcon power plays, the Pack finally got one of their own and converted when Dane Byers tapped in an Andrew Hutchinson rebound for his 23rd of the year at 9:54. Thirty-four seconds later, Jessiman picked up his 3rd goal in as many games on yet another strong rush after he skated the puck up the left side and cut in on net and put the puck past Dubnyk. That sent Dubnyk out of the net in favor of backup Glenn Fisher, who was playing in his first AHL game — it wouldn’t be a good debut.
Just under three minutes later Mike Ouellette stuffed home a pass from Mike Taylor, giving the former Ivy Leaguer Taylor his first professional point at 12:37. He got his first professional goal not long after, on a shorthanded rush with Moore after Moore stole the puck in his own zone and used his speed to beat the Springfield defenseman and feed Taylor for the tap in at 17:08. A minute and forty seconds later, Hutchinson broke Pock’s single season scoring record when fired a hard slap shot past Fisher, giving the Pack a 7-1 lead that they’d take to the locker room at the end of the period a minute and twelve seconds later.
Firsher’s debut ended with the 2nd period, and Dubnyk returned to the Springfield net to start the third. Despite making an impressive save on Moore a minute in, he couldn’t do enough to keep the Pack from piling up the goals — despite the fact that coach Ken Gernander rested his top offensive players like Moore, Parenteau, Korpikoski and Byers for the majority of the third period. Taylor picked up his 2nd of the game just 3:03 in off a nice feed from Ouellette, and four and a half minutes later Josh Gratton made it 9-1 with a backhander off a scramble in front at 7:38. Despite the crowd’s call for “we want 10!” it looked like that’s where the score would end up, especially when Gratton was called for interference at 17:39, giving Springfield the opportunity to finish most of the game on the power play. But with just under 30 seconds to go Springfield defenseman T.J. Kemp, who was the goat on a number of the Pack’s goals, fell down with the puck just inside his own blue line, allowing Artem Anisimov, on his first ever shift as a penalty killer for the Pack, to pick it up and skate in alone on Dubnyk. And it looked like he might blow it, after skating in too close and leaving himself with no place to put the puck, but — showing great patience and skill with the puck — he toyed with Dubnyk until he gave him a hole through which to shoot it, for his first ever shorthanded goal at 19:38.
- Ivan Baranka left the game with a shoulder injury in the 2nd period after taking a hard hit along the boards. He did not return, and Tomas Pock dropped back to defense after starting the game at forward.
- With a Pack win today in Bridgeport, and a loss by Portland in Albany, the Pack can clinch 2nd place and home ice advantage for the first round.
- The Pack have won 4 in a row, by a combined score of 25-6. They are 1-1-0-1 in their last 10.
- Hutchinson’s lead over the second highest scoring AHL defenseman is 12 points.
- Parenteau has 15 points in his last 9 games and is 4th in AHL scoring.
- Moore and Jessiman both have 9 points in their last 6 games.
- Korpikoski has 9 in his last 9. Byers 6 in 6. Pock 4 in his last 3.
- Anisimov has 7 in his last 7 games, and has moved into a tie for 13th in rookie scoring.
1. Moore (25) (Korpikoski, Parenteau) 7:05 (PP)
1. Potter (4) (Parenteau, Hutchinson) 13:55
2. Byers (23) (Hutchinson, Pock) 9:54 (PP)
2. Jessiman (15) (Gratton, Anisimov) 10:28
2. Ouellette (12) (Taylor, Fritz) 12:37
2. M. Taylor (1) (Moore, Sauer) 17:08 (SH)
2. Hutchinson (17) (Jessiman, Ouellette) 18:48
3. M. Taylor (2) (Ouellette, Fritz) 3:03
3. Gratton (10) (Anisimov, Jessiman) 7:38
3. Anisimov (13) 19:38 (SH)
Korpikoski – Moore – Parenteau
Byers – Anisimov – Jessiman
M. Taylor – Ouellette – Pock
Fritz – Gratton
Potter – Hutchinson
Brown – Baranka
J. Taylor – Sauer
LeNeveu / Wiikman
1. Mike Taylor
2. Andrew Hutchinson
3. Hugh Jessiman
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