Hartford Top Springfield to Close Out Regular Season
Sunday April 12th 2009, 1:07 pm

Dale Weise returned to the line-up on Saturday and made his presence known, breaking a 3-3 tie midway through the third period, and captain Greg Moore added an empty net marker to give the Hartford Wolf Pack a 5-3 victory over the Springfield Falcons in their final game of the regular season.  Patrick Rissmiller added a goal and an assist, defenseman David Urquhart scored his first goal in 28 games, and Artem Anisimov added his team-leading 37th of the season to finalize the Wolf Pack’s season record at 46-27-3-4. Matt Zaba stopped 22 of 25 shots to earn his 25th win of the season.

The match had all the makings of a let down game for the home team, and when they let Springfield come back from 3-1 with a pair of second period power play goals, it looked like the Pack had mentally moved on to bigger and better thoughts of the playoffs.  But Hartford opened a shooting gallery on Springfield goalie Dany Saourin in the tenth minute of the third period with a string of three consecutive 30-foot slap shots — two from Rissmiller and one by Brian Fahey — before the third rebound came directly to Weise at the top of the circles.  Weise made sure the fourth time was a charm, scoring his 11th of the season at 10:50 of the frame on a slap shot that beat Sabourin on the stick side to give the Wolf Pack a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

Rissmiller had put the Pack ahead early when he scored on the Wolf Pack’s first shot of the game 39 seconds in. The veteran center took a feed from Mark Bell in the neutral zone and carried in for a slap shot from the top of the circles that beat Sabourin stick side high.  It was Rissmiller’s 14th goal of the campaign and gave him 19 points in his final 17 games of the season.

Anisimov put his team ahead by two at 6:05 when he finished a pretty give-and-go with Weise with a sharp-angle shot from the goal line to the right of the net.  It was his 9th goal and 14th point the final 10 games of the season, sending him into the post season on a better than point-per-game average.

Devin DiDiomete put the Pack down a man 1:05 later when he earned an extra roughing call following a fight with Dinos Stamoulis, and has happened far too many times in the past few games, the Pack wasted little time allowing their opponent to respond to a goal with a power play goal of their own.  It was the first of three man advantage goals they’d give up in the match.  Ryan Stone earned this one, his 17th marker of the campaign, when he tipped Jordan Eberle’s slap-pass from the right circle past Zaba at 6:23 to make it 2-1.

The Wolf Pack capped off the first period scoring with a beautiful three way passing play with 2:20 remaining in the session to regain the two goal lead.  Fan Favorite award winner Jordan Owens — who played the season on an AHL contract and will undoubtedly earn himself an NHL deal somewhere this summer — carried into the Springfield zone on a 2-on-1 with Mike Ouellette, faking the pass to his long-time linemate before dropping it back to a trailing Urquhart, who snapped a shot over Sabourin’s shoulder to send the Pack into the locker room with the 3-1 lead.

If there’s one concern for coach Ken Gernander heading into the playoffs, it’s his teams inability to stay out of the penalty box, regardless of how many times the coaching staff has called for discipline as part of its keys to the game.  With the penalty kill leaking goals like a sieve it’ll be even more important once the playoffs start.  On Saturday the Pack PK unit gave it gave up three, including two in the second period that allowed the visitors to climb back into the game.  The first went to Springfield leading scorer Ryan Potulny at 10:31 with Urquhart in the box for slashing.  Potulny took a pass from behind the net and beat Zaba from in close for his 38th of the season, moving him into third over all in the league, one place ahead of Anisimov.

Eberle tied the score 16:06 with Crowder in the box for slashing.  The Oilers 2008 first round pick, playing on an Amateur Try-Out contract after concluding his junior season with the Regina Pats, got a step on Nightingale and beat Zaba with a wrist shot from the hashmarks on the partial breakaway.  Nightingale argued the play was offsides, but earned only a two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his efforts.  It was the third goal in nine games for 19-year old Eberle.

That set things up for Weise’s third period tie-breaker midway through the third and Moore’s eventual empty net insurance marker at 19:33.

Elsewhere in the division Worcester shutout Providence 3-0 but couldn’t catch Portland, who topped Manchester 5-4 to hold on to third place.  That sets up a Hartford – Worcester first round match up, which will get underway in Hartford on Thursday.  [Round 1 Schedule]

Notes:

  • The Wolf Pack handed out its team awards following the game.  Owens won the Bob Girouard Character Award and earned the title of Fan Favorite; Michael Sauer picked up the well-deserved Unsung Hero Award; Corey Potter was named Defenseman of the Year; and P.A. Parenteau was named the team MVP.
  • Parenteau was on hand to pick up his post-game MVP award as well as a crystal award recognizing his selection as an AHL First Team All Star during a pre-game ceremony, but once again did not play due to what has now been revealed to be a concussion.  Tommy Pyatt also remained out of the line-up.  Both are possible for the start of the playoffs, and Dane Byers could make a return as early as the first round as well.
  • DiDiomete got the best of Stamoulis in their first period fight after Carle Place, NY native Stamoulis threw himself off balance with his first (missed) punch and DiDiomete scored with a succession of rights as Stamoulis got back up on to his feet.  Another hard right connected to put the 25-year old back to his knees and end the bout.
  • Fahey got in a rare fight when he took exception to a cross-check to the back along the boards by Guilllaume Lefebvre and challenged the Falcon left wing.  It wasn’t much of a fight as neither player connected with any punches, with the two taking turns throwing the other to the ice.
  • Rookie defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti finished the game +2 and was +11 in his final 28 games, finishing the season a -8 after falling as low as -19 in mid-February.
  • Springfield protested Moore’s empty netter, claiming Owens’ missed attempt from the Pack side of the red line seconds earlier should have been whistled down for icing.  But referee Nygel Pelletier ruled that Owens shot had deflected off the arm of a Springfield player, negating the icing call.
  • Springfield defenseman Bryan Young left the game in the first period after taking a Sauer dump-in in the mouth.  He did not return.
  • The Wolf Pack finished 0 for 5 on the power play and failed to score in the final three games of the season, going 0 for 10 in that time.

Scoring:
1. Rissmiller (14) (Bell) 0:39
1. Anisimov (37) (Weise) 5:05
1. Stone (17) (Eberle, Wild) 6:23 (PP)
1. Urquhart (6) (Owens, DiDiomete) 17:40
2. Potulny (38) (Stone, Wild) 10:31 (PP)
2. Eberle (3) (Potulny, Stamoulis) 16:06 (PP)
3. Weise (11) (Fahey, Rissmiller) 10:50
3. Moore (23) 19:33 (EN)

Lines:
Bell – Rissmiller – Crowder/Moore
Dupont – Anisimov – Weise
DiDiomete – Ouellette – Owens
McBride – Moore – Sugden

Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Nightingale – Fahey

Zaba / Wiikman

Three Stars:
1. Dale Weise
2. Patrick Rissmiller
3. Jordan Eberle

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11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

    I can’t believe Anisimov didn’t pick up a share of MVP honors.

    Comment by kovazub94 04.12.09 @ 11:43 pm

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised. It’s a shame there’s no public acknowledgment of the remarkable season he’s had — which is all the more remarkable given his age. But Parenteau had the stronger second half and was leaned on more as the go-to guy throughout. Still, without either of them, I don’t think there’s any way this team would have turned its season around the way it did in January. The offense is far more balanced now, but that line carried the team through a good stretch of the season.

    I should add that Zaba deserves a lot of credit too. He got on a roll around mid-February and gave the team a ton of confidence. Without him, they probably could have squeaked into the playoffs, but it would have been a really close call.

    Comment by laurie 04.13.09 @ 11:06 am


    Thank you, Laurie,

    I’m in no way diminishing PAP’s impact and contribution to the Pack’s successful season. I was just saying it had been a two pony carriage.
    Thank you for the links – I never used to go back to the game reports so I had no idea that there were links added afterwards.
    What do you think of the Pack’s chances in the play-offs?

    Comment by Kovazub94 04.13.09 @ 2:30 pm

    I’d like to say they have a good shot at making it to the conference finals, but in the four years since the lockout that I’ve been following them, they’ve gotten through the first round exactly once… and that was because a goalie named Chris Holt came out of nowhere and dragged them into the second round.

    With Rissmiller and (hopefully) Parenteau on one line, Anisimov and Dupont on another, and the Pyatt-Ouellette-Owens line doing its thing as a third, I really like the depth they have up front. Unlike in Jan/Feb, it’s no longer a team where if you shut down the top line, they lose. Plus you’ve got Moore and potentially Byers to throw in the top six where necessary.

    But the Sharks just got a bunch of guys back who’ve played a good number of games in the NHL this season, so they’ll be a tough team to beat. I think the Pack’s top 4 defenseman are solid, and I really like Denisov, but he appears to have played himself into the dog house with one particularly bad game. Urquhart and Nightingale have been better than expected this season, but each have their issues. If they lose Potter or Sauer to call up or injury, the picture changes quickly.

    If they get through Worcester, I like their chances against Providence or Portland, though they’ve lost to Portland twice in the playoffs in the past 3 years and Parenteau tends to either dominate or get totally thrown off his game when he plays his old team — there’s no in between — so it could go either way.

    Right now, I think it’s game over if/when the reach the conference finals, though. On the plus side, if they were to get that far, all four of their possible opponents are as close or closer to me than Hartford is, so I would potentially get to see a lot more hockey games. ;)

    Comment by laurie 04.13.09 @ 4:07 pm

    Question about the AHL Live broadcasts: I know you’ve had problems with them over the course of the year. How has it been recently? What’s the quality like? If I sign up on one computer can i watch it on another?

    The four possible opponents in the finals would be from Hershey, Bridgeport, Philly or Scranton? All are closer than Hartford? Even Hershey?? I’m in Manhattan.

    Comment by Alan 04.13.09 @ 5:50 pm

    Alan – the delivery of the games has gotten pretty good, it’s been a couple months since I had any issues with the feed not working or anything like that. The quality always depends on the arena the game is being played in. A place like Lowell has one camera, it just follows the puck up and down the ice, no replays, no zooming in when play is around the goals, etc. Hartford’s feed is pretty good, and includes an on-screen scoreboard showing the score, any power plays, and time remaining. They also show replays. It’s certainly not up to MSG standards or anything like that, but is perfectly acceptable, IMHO. If I’m remembering correctly, Worcester games are frequently shown on a local TV channel, so the quality of their broadcast is one of the better ones. Unfortunately, AHL Live has locked me out of the archives so I can’t even pull up a game and check right now.

    When you buy a game (or the package) you get an account and can log into it from any computer anywhere. Just not more than one at a time, because then they lock you out.

    As for distances for the conference final teams… I’m in northwest NJ, so I’m literally halfway between Hartford and Hershey. The other three are between 1:15 (WBS) to 2 hrs (Philly) for me. From Manhattan, Hartford’s probably an hour closer than Hershey. Philly and WBS are probably the same distance as Hartford (2 hrs). And Bridgeport is the closest of all — about 1:15 or so. All ballpark numbers, of course. And that’s all a long way away… they’d have to win two rounds first.

    Comment by laurie 04.13.09 @ 8:18 pm

    Thanks, Laurie. Very helpful.
    I’m thinking about a doubleheader on Saturday: Watching the Rangers at 1 and then taking a ride up to Hartford to see their game two. I’ll let you know if I do.

    Comment by Alan 04.16.09 @ 3:06 pm

    Alan – that’s my plan as well. I’m just hoping the Rangers game doesn’t go into OT!

    P.S. If you do go, skip the parking garage across the street and head for one of the lots a block away. You’ll save three bucks and get out a lot quicker after the game.

    Comment by laurie 04.17.09 @ 9:30 am

    As I was just about to buy tickets through Ticketmaster I thought exactly that. I guess if we do go, it will be last minute and we’ll get tix at the box office.
    We used to go to a fair amount of games and always parked in the garage across the street and spent a long while getting out. You’d think I would have learned by now not to park there.
    Great win last night. I listened to the Sharks radiocast because I couldn’t get the Pack’s radio up. Any idea why?

    Comment by Alan 04.17.09 @ 11:11 am

    I couldn’t get into the WTIC web site last night either (I got home early enough to catch the last 10 minutes of the pre-game show) but fortunately have the stream address bookmarked. I’ll try to remember to post it when I get home. You can also get the radio broadcast for both teams (for free) through AHL Live, though the one time I actually tried they didn’t have the Pack feed available. Just go to http://www.ahllive.com/ and click on the “Radio” tab all the way to the right.

    Comment by laurie 04.17.09 @ 12:29 pm



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