Miika Wiikman made 32 saves to pick up his first win since January 24th, Greg Moore scored a pair of goals, and P.A. Parenteau added a highlight reel game winner and an assist as the Hartford Wolf Pack topped the fifth place Worcester Sharks, 4-2, in Worchester on Friday night.
Both teams got off to a slow start, with a string of early icings killing the flow of the game. The Wolf Pack put up the first three shots on goal before overlapping penalties by Mark Bell at 3:49 and Corey Potter at 5:44 gave the Sharks an opportunity to get into the game. While the Pack held them off the board, the home team built off their power play momentum, outshooting the Pack 13-6 the rest of the way. Wiikman, filling in for the injured Matt Zaba, showed little rust in only his fourth start in the last 23 games — all but one of them loses — and kept the Sharks off the board until his teammates woke up in the second period.
A 1:15 two man advantage gave the Wolf Pack the wake-up call then needed early in the middle frame. Seventeen seconds after Lukas Kaspar was whistled for holding to put the Sharks down by two, Patrick Rissmiller blasted a slap shot from the center blue line which got past Worcester goalie Thomas Greiss and was tipped by Artem Anisimov, giving Hartford the first lead of the game. The goal was Anisimov’s team-leading 28th of the season and came at 4:31. It was the only tally of the second period which saw the Pack outshoot the Sharks by a 10-8 margin.
Greg Moore tallied his 20th of the season to give Hartford the 2-0 lead at 4:31 of the third period. Dale Weise did the work on this one, powering his way out from the corner to shovel the puck toward the net, where it deflected off Greiss’ stick directly to Moore in the slot. The Wolf Pack’s Captain made quick work of putting it over Greiss’ glove and into the top corner of the net.
The Sharks answered right back, however, cutting the lead in half on a Patrick Traverse goal at 5:26. After Jordan Owens‘ pass to Anisimov just inside the offensive zone was intercepted, the Sharks countered 4-on-2, with Tom Cavanagh feeding the wide-open Traverse for his eight of the year from the hashmarks.
An extended 4-on-3, set up when Moore was whistled for tripping three seconds after Devin DiDiomete and Dan DeSilva each received matching unsportsmanlike minors, became even more extended with the scoreboard clock failed to start its countdown until approximately 20 seconds after play resumed. No one on the ice or benches noticed, giving the home team extra power play time to work with. The Pack killed it off, but the Sharks used the momentum they built with the man advantage to tie the game at 10:52 when Riley Armstrong’s wraparound attempt went in off a skate in front.
Parenteau has scored 27 goals this season, but few have been as impressive as the game winner he scored at 14:46 of the third. The 25-year old winger skated in on the Shark net on a 2-on-1 with Rissmiller, who’s late return pass arrived behind Parenteau as he was closing in on the right goal post. Parenteau reached back with his left skate, deflecting the puck up in the air and towards the goal. As the puck dropped below crossbar level, Parenteau reached around the net and batted it in out of midair to give the Wolf Pack their final lead.
Moore added his second of the game into an empty net on the power play after Worcester’s Mike Moore went to the box for cross-checking the Wolf Pack’s captain head first into the boards. Defenseman Michael Sauer broke up a pass in the Pack zone to lead Moore, who skated it in on the empty net for his 21st of the year.
The win allowed the Wolf Pack to remain tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with Providence, who beat the struggling Portland Pirates in Providence. The Devils ended Manchester’s winning streak at six, leaving the Monarchs in third place with 72 points, while Portland remains in fourth with 69 points, only two ahead of the fifth place Sharks.
Hartford hosts the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the fifth and final time on Saturday, before returned to Worcester for a rematch on Sunday afternoon.
- Zaba suffered a hand injury and is likely to miss “a couple weeks”. Wiikman is expected to see the bulk of the time in goal in his absence, but ECHL call-up Maxime Daigneault could see playing time with three games in three days this weekend and four games in five nights starting Wednesday.
- Coach Ken Gernander switched up his lines in the second to spark his lackluster crew: Tommy Pyatt and Parenteau joined Rissmiller, Bell and Weise skated with Moore, Brodie Dupont and Owens flanked Anisimov, and Mike Ouellette saw occasional time between DiDiomete and Brandon Sugden.
- Potter was playing his first game after missing the last four with an undisclosed upper body injury.
2. Anisimov (28) (Rissmiller, Parenteau) 4:31 (PP)
3. Moore (20) (Weise) 4:31
3. Traverse (8) (Cavanagh) 5:26
3. Armstrong (22) (Demers, Desjardins) 10:52
3. Parenteau (27) (Rissmiller, Sauer) 14:46
3. Moore (21) (Sauer, Dupont) 19:42 (EN/PP)
Bell – Rissmiller – Moore
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – Sugden – Weise
Potter – Sanguinetti
Denisov – Fahey
Urquhart – Sauer
Wiikman / Daigneault
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Riley Armstrong
3. Patrick Rissmiller
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