On Saturday night Michael Sauer became an unlikely hero when he scored in overtime to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack over the Portland Pirates in Hartford. On Sunday afternoon, Brodie Dupont got the job done early, breaking a 2-2 tie with just 5.2 seconds remaining in the third to lead the Pack to a 3-2 road victory over the Manchester Monarchs. The victory was Hartford’s third of a busy three-in-three weekend, all against Atlantic Division rivals, and vaulted them into sole possession of second place in the division with 65 points.
Dupont’s late-game heroics were made possible by a broken play. With time running out, rookie defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti shanked a one-timer from the left point, sending the puck off the heel of his stick into the left corner. Artem Anisimov fought past a Manchester defenseman to pick it up behind the goal line, and fire a quick no-look shot at the net from the bad angle. The puck deflected off Manchester goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s stick at the side of the goal and carried straight out into the slot where Dupont smacked it home before Bernier could react. It was the 12th goal of the season for the unsung hero of the Pack’s top line, and his third game-winner of the campaign.
The Pack jumped out to a two goal first period lead before allowing the Monarchs to claw their way back in the second. P.A. Parenteau put the Pack on the board on the first power play of the game when he snuck Anisimov’s cross-slot pass from the right corner around a Monarch defenseman and through Bernier’s pads from the left post. It was Parenteau’s team-leading 26th goal of the season and came at 5:58 of the period.
Mike Ouellette doubled Hartford’s lead 1:25 later when he backhanded the rebound of defenseman David Urquhart’s shot from the left circle past Bernier on the glove side. The goal developed off a rush lead by second year pro Tom Pyatt, who earned the secondary assist.
The Pack took the 2-0 lead into the locker room at the end of the first with the two teams deadlocked in shots, 9-9.
In the second Hartford would go ahead in shots (9-7) but come up on the short side of the scoreboard as Manchester struck for goals early and late. Their first came at 4:03, on the power play, when right wing Teddy Purcell fed 6-7, 244 pound Brian Boyle with a perfect cross-slot pass for his sixth goal of the season.
The hosts added their second in dramatic fashion with just seven seconds remaining in on the clock. Recently-reassigned Swedish center Oscar Moller won the puck behind the net and skated out around the left post to roll a shot over the shoulder of surprise starter Matt Zaba, who was playing his fourth game in five nights after Miika Wiikman was struck with the flu Sunday morning. The Wolf Pack signed Jeff Hill of the nearby Danbury Mad Hatters of the Eastern Professional Hockey League to a professional try out contract earlier in the day to fill in for the ailing Wiikman on an emergency basis, since there wasn’t time to recall a backup goaltender from Charlotte. (Hill has since been released from his PTO.)
Manchester used the momentum of their late-period goal to take the play to Pack in the third, outshooting the visitors 21-10 in the frame for a final margin of 37-28. As he was all week, Zaba was outstanding, stopping all 21 third period shots en route to earning second star honors. His strong work paved the way for Dupont’s last second winner, which earned him his 14th win of the season and fourth in his last give starts. The rookie goaltender’s outstanding week has moved him up to 20th overall in goals against average (2.57), while he ranks fourth in the league in that category among first year AHL netminders.
Hartford takes a break from divisional play on Wednesday when they travel to Pennsylvania to face the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. They return home for a rematch with Manchester on Friday night and before heading to Portland to take on the second place Pirates on Saturday.
1. Parenteau (26) (Anisimov, Potter) 5:58 (PP)
1. Ouellette (10) (Urquhart, Pyatt) 7:23
2. Boyle (6) (Purcell, Gauthier) 4:03 (PP)
2. Moller (1) (Gauthier, Meckler) 19:53
3. Dupont (12) (Anisimov, Sanguinetti) 19:54
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Rissmiller – Avery – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Zaborsky
DiDiomete – Moore – Ford
Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Nightingale – Fahey
Zaba / Hill
1. Brodie Dupont
2. Matt Zaba
3. Gabe Gauthier
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