Wolf Pack Season Comes to a Disappointing End… Again
Sunday April 26th 2009, 3:57 am

The Hartford Wolf Pack’s season came to an early end on Saturday night when they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Worcester Sharks in game six of their Atlantic Division Semifinal series at the DCU Center in Worcester.  The 4-2 series loss, which came as the result of four straight losses after the Pack had taken a 2-0 lead in the series, marks the third consecutive season in which the New York Rangers top farm club has ended a promising regular season with a disappointing first round loss.

The victory gave the fourth place Worcester Sharks their fist playoff series win in the franchise’s three year history.

Worcester took and early lead for the third straight game, scoring their first goal at 3:53 of the first period after an extended stretch of Shark pressure in the Wolf Pack zone culminated in a shot from the high slot by Frazer McLaren.  Starter Matt Zaba made the initial stop, but Andrew Desjardins picked up the reboud right in front and put it over the goaltender for his second of the playoffs.

The Wolf pack responded at 6:31 on the power play.  Bobby Sanguinetti, who finished with five points in six playoff games to lead the team in scoring, put a shot on goal from the center point which Dane Byers deflected past netminder Thomas Greiss.

The Sharks took a two goal lead in a span of 2:12, beginning at 12:17 of the first frame.  Winger Lukas Kaspar got credit for the goal when his shot from the left half boards deflected off Wolf Pack defenseman Vladimir Denisov and between Zaba’s legs.  Dan DeSilva followed up with his first of two in the game, when he was left all alone at the left post and tapped home a cross-slot pass from Frazer McLaren at 14:29.

Hartford rookie Dale Weise scored his first of two early in the second period to pull the Pack back within a goal.  The Winnepeg native carried the puck down the right wing boards before cutting into the right face off circle and beating Greiss cleanly on the stick side with a quick wrist shot.

Discipline remained an issue for the Pack, and an elbowing penalty against Tommy Pyatt put the team back down by two goals when DeSilva scored on a perfectly executed back-door play, getting the easy tap-home from the left post off a pass from Jason Demers on the power play at 16:52 of the second period.

Logan Couture put the game out of reach when he powered through a check by left wing Brodie Dupont at the Hartford blueline and cut in off the right wing boards towards Zaba’s cage.  The San Jose Sharks 2007 ninth overall draft pick, who was playing in only his tenth professional game, stuffed the puck on goal from the right side post.  Zaba appeared to make the stop, but Wolf Pack winger Devin DiDiomete, coming hard on the back check, ran into his goaltender, seemingly pushing him, and the puck, into the net.  Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander protested briefly, but referee David Banfield seemed to indicate that the shot went in independently of DiDiomete’s bump on his goaltender.

Weise cut Worcester’s lead back to two with 1:07 remaining in the game.  With the Pack buzzing in the offensive zone (and Zaba still inexplicably in his net) the first year pro carried the puck out from behind the net and across the top of the circles, beating Greiss with another wrister from the right faceoff circle and tying Byers for the team lead in goals with three in the series.

But once again it was too little, too late, as that was as close as the Pack would get despite applying good pressure in the final 67 seconds of the match.

I’ll be posting a proper postmortem for the another disappointing season and individual player grades in the coming days.

Notes:

  • Wolf Pack General Manager and Rangers Assistant Coach Jim Schoenfeld was in attendance, but disappeared during the third period, most likely right around the time the organization found out he’d be filling in for the suspended John Tortorella during Sunday’s game between the Rangers and Washington Capitals.  The Record’s Andrew Gross reports that he could return to New York with Wolf Pack head coach Gernander and assistant J.J. Daigneault in tow to assist him on the bench during Sunday’s game.
  • P.A. Parenteau missed his 10th consecutive game as he recovers from a concussion.  The 26-year old forward is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and after failing to get a shot in the NHL in two years with the Rangers organization, is unlikely to return for a third.
  • Wolf Pack captain Greg Moore got the wind knocked out of him by a clean, hard check along the boards in the opening minutes of the game, but was able to return for his next shift.
  • Defenseman Brian Fahey returned to the line up in favor of ATO-signee Tomas Kundratek.  The veteran defenseman assisted on Weise’s second goal, and was a -1 in the game.
  • With temperatures outside the arena well into the mid-80s, the game was plagued with frequent delays as the officials fixed problems with the ice surface.
  • The Wolf Pack finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Sharks were 1-for-4.  The home side held a slight advantage in shots, 33-30.
  • Kudos to Mike Ouellette for being the lone Wolf Pack player to acknowledge the contingent of Hartford fans in the corner, who made the trip to Worcester and cheered their team on right to the bitter end, before the team left the ice for the final time this season.

Scoring:
1. Desjardins (2) (McLaren, DaSilva) 3:53
1. Byers (3) (Sanguinetti) 6:31 (PP)
1. Kaspar (2) (Fornataro, Vesce) 12:17
1. DaSilva (1) (McLaren) 14:29
2. Weise (2) (Dupont, Sanguinetti) 5:53
2. DaSilva (2) (Demers, Armstrong) 16:52 (PP)
3. Couture (2) (Demers, Armstrong) 13:18
3. Weise (3) (Fahey, Ouellette) 18:53

Lines:
Byers – Anisimov – Rissmiller
Dupont – Moore – Weise
Pyatt – Owens – Ouellette
DiDiomete – Crowder – Bell

Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Denisov – Fahey

Zaba / Wiikman

Three Stars:
1. Dan DaSilva
2. Thomas Greiss
3. Frazer McLaren

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