The Hartford Wolf Pack put forth a valiant effort against the AHL’s top team, but came up short, falling 4-2 to the Hershey Bears, who won their franchise record-tying 10th straight. Hartford’s power play, so good over the past two games, not only went scoreless and failed to convert on a 5-minute major penalty — including 1:35 of 5-on-3 play — but also gave up the eventual game winner early in the third period.
Already missing a top defenseman in Corey Potter, who was called up by the Rangers earlier in the day, the Pack also lost Brian Fahey in the first period, when he was wiped out by Greg Amadio’s elbow to the head at 13:25. Amadio earned a major penalty on the play. That gave Hartford, which was already on a power play, 1:35 of 5-on-3 time. The Pack moved the puck well with the 2-man advantage, but failed to get many quality shots on goal. The final 1:48 of Amadio’s major was wiped out when Hartford was penalized for having too many men on the ice.
The Bears, who’s 111 goals for are 21 more than the next highest scoring team in the league, had already gotten on the board eight minutes earlier when Maxime Lacroix took the puck off Vladimir Denisov in the right corner, accepted the return feed from Andrew Gordon and beat starting goaltender Matt Zaba for his first of the season with a shot along the goal line from the right corner. It was only Hershey’s second shot on goal, and a tough break for the Pack, who’d had the only five shots of the game through the first five minutes of play. They would get only four more the rest of the period, while Hershey finished the frame with 15.
The Bears made it 2-0 at 5:16 of the second when Mathieu Perreault poked the puck past a pinching Bobby Sanguinetti and skated in with fellow rookie Francis Bouchard on a 2-on-1. Perreault threaded a pass through Hartford defender David Urquhart to Bouchard who put the puck in the open side of the net.
Artem Anisimov scored his 11th of the season at 11:19, giving him goals (5) in each of his last four games, and nine goals in his last nine games. The second-year pro started the play in the neutral zone, stealing the puck from left wing Chris Bourque and carrying it into the Bears zone for a shot that was stopped by Bears goaltender and fellow Russian Semen Varlamov. The rebound went to the corner where Brodie Dupont retrieved it and fed P.A. Parenteau in the left circle. Parenteau made a nice move to get around a defender and fired a shot on the rookie netminder. Varlamov made the stop, but Anisimov was able to pull the rebound out of the tangle in front and tuck it behind his former Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and Russian junior team teammate and friend to draw the Pack to within one.
The Bears would get the eventual game winner just 3:55 into the third. With the Pack on a power play, Denisov pinched along the far boards and lost the puck, allowing Patrick McNeill and Kyle Wilson to skate in on another 2-on-1, this time with only Sanguinetti back. Sanguinetti challenged the puck carrier Wilson, who fed the puck across to McNeill for the easy goal.
The Wolf Pack cut the lead back to one just over a minute and a half later when Jordan Owens, who played yet another strong game for the Pack, particularly in the third period, fed Tommy Pyatt with a beautiful behind-the-back pass from behind the net. Pyatt roofed his 3rd of the season from just off the left post to make it 3-2 at 5:37.
Wolf Pack alumni and former Ranger property Alexandre Giroux put the game away at 16:48 when he picked off Ethan Graham’s telegraphed pass at the Hershey blue line, skated in on a breakaway and beat Zaba with a wrist shot to the stick side for his league-leading 18th goal of the season.
Highlights from the game are available from AHL Live.
- Matt Stefanishion was signed to a professional try-out contract earlier in the day and made his Wolf Pack debut wearing number 37 and playing on a line with Greg Moore and Patrick Rissmiller. He had two shots, and threw a big hit in the third, but otherwise wasn’t particularly noticeable.
- Parenteau was a combined -6 on the weekend. Anisimov -5. Rissmiller -4. Sanguinetti -3.
- With back-to-back losses, the Pack fell back under the .500 mark at 10-11-1-2. They remain last in the Atlantic Division.
- Saturday was Teddy Bear Toss night, resulting in a lengthy delay following Hershey’s first goal as almost 4,000 stuffed animals were cleared from the ice surface.
- Hershey ended up outshooting Hartford 34-28. Zaba was strong in goal, despite allowing four goals against.
- Uncomfortable seats aside, the Giant Center is a great place to see a hockey game. The arena’s great sitelines, wide concourse, ample concession selection and abundant bathrooms make it my favorite of an ever-growing list of AHL barns. (No lines in the ladies room between periods? Are you kidding me?!)
1. Lacroix (1) (Gordon, Joudrey) 5:41
2. Bouchard (8) (Perreault, Osala) 5:16
2. Anisimov (11) (Parenteau, Dupont) 11:19
3. McNeill (1) (Wilson, Gordon) 3:55 (SH)
3. Pyatt (3) (Owens) 5:37
3. Giroux (18) 16:48
Rissmiller – Moore – Stefanishion
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Owens – Pyatt – Soryal
DiDiomete – Ouellette – Weise
Denisov – Fahey
Sauer – Urquhart
Graham – Sanguinetti
Zaba / Wiikman
1. Andrew Gordon
2. Patrick McNeill
3. Sasha Pokulok
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