Greg Moore celebrated his first game as captain of the Hartford Wolf Pack with a first period shorthanded goal and Jordan Owens and Mike Ouellette added goals of their own in the final five minutes of play, leading the Wolf Pack to a 3-1 victory over in-state rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Hartford on Friday night. The win, coupled with a regulation victory by the Portland Pirates over the Providence Bruins, set up a three-way tie at the top of the Atlantic Division between the three teams, each with 53 points. The fourth place Worcester Sharks stand a mere point behind with 52.
Moore’s goal was the lone tally through 55:21 of play in a tightly-contested match between two teams near the top of the respective divisions. It came eleven seconds into the second of back-to-back Wolf Pack penalties and served as a bit of redemption for the third-year pro, who’d been whistled for a lazy offensive-zone holding penalty 2:16 earlier. Wolf Pack leading scorer P.A. Parenteau fed Moore in the neutral zone and the Maine native raced down the left wing boards before cutting in on the Bridgeport net and beating Sound Tiger goaltender Nathan Lawson with a backhander on the short side. It was Moore’s fourteenth of the season and second in as many games. Michael Sauer earned his first of two secondary assists in the game on the play.
Hartford would hold on to the one-goal lead until the final five minutes of the game, despite ample opportunity to extend the lead in the second period, when they were awarded four of the period’s five power plays. But the home team generated few good scoring opportunities with the man advantage, finishing 0-for-6 on the night. Hartford out shot the Sound Tigers by a 10-7 margin in the second frame, after being out shot 12-8 in the first period. Both Lawson (26 saves) and Hartford starting netminder Matt Zaba (25 saves) were strong in goal, making key saves and leaving little opportunity for second chances.
Jordan Owens finally broke the 42-minute deadlock at 15:21 of the third period when he and Moore skated into the Sound Tiger zone on a 2-on-1. Owens opted to take the shot and beat Lawson with a wrister from the right face-off dot for his ninth goal of the season.
With the two-goal lead seemingly secured and on their sixth power play of the game after Bridgeport All-Star Mike Iggulden was penalized for high-sticking Parenteau, the Pack relaxed. That allowed left wing Sean Bentivoglio to carry the puck into the Hartford zone shorthanded, dropping it to the Sound Tiger’s leading scorer, Trevor Smith. Smith one-timed the pass top shelf from the right circle for his 23rd goal of the season, thwarting Zaba’s shutout bid with just 1:43 remaining.
Hartford coach Ken Gernander responded to the shorthanded goal with the hard-forechecking line of Owens, Mike Ouellette and Dale Weise, and his decision paid near-immediate dividends. Just 31 seconds after the Bridgeport tally, with the line cycling the puck down low, Owens found Ouellette in front of the net for his ninth goal of the season to re-secure the two goal lead. The goal took the wind out of the visitors’ sails, and this time the Pack didn’t let up, playing a solid final 1:29 to emerge with the 3-1 win.
The Wolf Pack make their first trip to Manchester on Saturday night to face the sixth place Monarchs, who’ve fallen short in two visits to Connecticut’s capital so far this season.
Highlights from the game are available from the Sound Tigers web site.
- Rookie defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti returned to the line up after missing the Pack’s final game before the AHL All-Star Classic. Sanguinetti required dental surgery to repair the damage resulting from a puck to the face in last Friday’s game against the Lowell Devils and wore a full cage.
- The Wolf Pack recalled goaltender Maxime Daigneault from Charlotte of the ECHL on Friday to serve as Zaba’s backup, subbing for Miika Wiikman, who missed the game due to illness.
- Hartford tough guy Brandon Sugden squared off with former Wolf Pack enforcer Mitch Fritz just 2:33 into the game in a fairly even heavyweight bout.
- In a more entertaining dance late in the second period, Joe Callahan challenged Weise after the Wolf Pack winger threw a big, but clean hit on Bridgeport captain Mark Wotton. Both players landed a number of shots in the extended bout, but Weise finished strong, landing consecutive rights and using a solid uppercut to buckle Callahan’s knees.
- Artem Anisimov’s season-high 8-game scoring streak came to an end as the 20-year old center was held scoreless for only the second time in his last 17 games. He fell back to sixth in league scoring as Houston’s Corey Locke and Manitoba’s Jason Krog leap-frogged him, each earning their 49th point Friday night.
1. Moore (14) (Parenteau, Sauer) 13:21 (SH)
3. Owens (8) (Fahey) 15:21
3. Smith (23) (Bentivoglio) 18:17 (SH)
3. Ouellette (9) (Owens, Sauer) 18:48
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Pyatt – Ouellette – Ford
Owens – Moore – Weise
DiDiomete – Rissmiller – Sugden
Potter – Sanguinetti
Nightingale – Sauer
Urquhart – Fahey
Zaba / Daigneault
1. Greg Moore
2. Jordan Owens
3. Matt Zaba
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