Wolf Pack suffer first loss of preseason
Saturday September 26th 2009, 10:29 pm

Derek Couture continued to make a case for a roster spot with his team-leading fourth goal of the preseason (and a fight) and Dane Byers added a goal (and a fight) of his own, but the Wolf Pack fell 3-2 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  The Pack outshot their hosts 40-18, but Matt Zaba stopped just 15 shots in his preseason debut for the Pack.  I’ll get back in the swing of things once the regular season starts next week; in the meantime, here’s the game wrap from the Wolf Pack.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3, Hartford Wolf Pack 2

Shelton, CT, September 26, 2009 – Vladimir Nikiforov scored the game-winning goal and added two assists, and former Hartford Wolf Pack forward Paul Healey scored two goals, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers handed the Hartford Wolf Pack their first loss in three AHL preseason games, 3-2, Saturday night at The Rinks at Shelton.

The Wolf Pack lost despite outshooting the Sound Tigers 40-18 in the game.

Healey gave Bridgeport the game’s first lead at the 8:13 mark of the first period.  Nikiforov’s shot from the left wing side hit a crowd in front of Pack starting goaltender Matt Zaba and Healey flipped in the rebound.  That marked the first time Hartford had trailed in three preseason games.

That lead lasted until 19:33, when Derek Couture scored his team-leading fourth goal of the preseason to tie it up for the Wolf Pack.  Couture cleanly beat Bridgeport starter Scott Munroe with a shot from the top of the right-wing circle.

Hartford took its only lead of the game 4:03 into the second frame, just as a power play was expiring.  Stationed along with Paul Crowder in front of relief goaltender Mikko Koskinen, Dane Byers poked in the rebound of a shot by Andres Ambuhl.

Healey got that goal back for the Sound Tigers at 9:43, as he again buried the rebound of a Nikiforov try.

After Koskinen preserved the tie by stopping Ambuhl on a one-on-one chance at 12:56, one of Koskinen’s 13 saves in the second period, Nikiforov notched the deciding goal at 9:18 of the third session, with the Wolf Pack’s Corey Potter in the penalty box for slashing.  Nikiforov beat Zaba after Dustin Friesen threw the puck in front from the left-wing circle.

That was one of only two shots on goal for Bridgeport in the period, and Koskinen stopped all 17 Wolf Pack shots in the frame.  Koskinen got the win, with 30 total saves and one goal-against.

The Wolf Pack finish their 2009 preseason slate Sunday, September 27 at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury at 3:00 PM, hosting the Worcester Sharks.  The Wolf Pack’s 2009-10 regular-season home schedule kicks off Saturday, October 10 at the XL Center against the Springfield Falcons (7:00).  Once again this season, tickets to the home opener are only $10 each.

Hartford Wolf Pack 2 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3
Sep 26, 2009 – The Rinks at Shelton

Hartford 1 1 0 – 2
Bridgeport 1 1 1 – 3

1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Healey 1 (Sixsmith, Nikiforov), 8:13. 2, Hartford, Couture 4 (Henley, Rissmiller), 19:33. Penalties-Henley Hfd (roughing), 3:01; Figren Bri (hooking), 5:22; Lesperance Bri (hooking), 9:07; Sauer Hfd (holding), 13:01; Romano Bri (hooking), 17:20.

2nd Period-3, Hartford, Byers 1 (Ambuhl), 4:03. 4, Bridgeport, Healey 2 (Nikiforov, Sixsmith), 9:43. Penalties-Owens Hfd (interference), 0:48; Bourbeau Bri (holding the stick), 1:58; Couture Hfd (fighting), 4:59; Gannon Bri (fighting), 4:59; Gannon Bri (hooking), 13:06; DiDiomete Hfd (roughing), 15:51.

3rd Period-5, Bridgeport, Nikiforov 1 (Friesen), 9:18 (pp). Penalties-Sellars Bri (holding), 1:21; Byers Hfd (fighting), 8:47; Bourbeau Bri (fighting), 8:47; Potter Hfd (slashing), 9:06; Sellars Bri (interference), 10:09; Sellars Bri (hooking), 14:03; Owens Hfd (diving), 18:14; Lesperance Bri (hooking), 18:14.

Shots on Goal: Hartford 9-14-17-40. Bridgeport 7-9-2-18.
Power Play Opportunities: Hartford 0 of 8; Bridgeport 1 of 5.
Goalies: Hartford, Zaba 0-1-0 (18 shots-15 saves). Bridgeport, Munroe 0-0-0 (9 shots-8 saves); Koskinen 1-0-0 (31 shots-30 saves).
A: 1,723

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