Looks like I picked a perfect night to get stuck late at work. By the time I got home the Wolf Pack was already down by four and the Rangers game was just about to kick off. I opted to watch the Rangers game, and despite the fact they lost too, I’d say I made the right decision. I won’t be watching this one in the archive, so we’ll all have to make do with Bruce Berlet’s take, compliments of the Wolf Pack.
HARTFORD, Conn. About the only good news for the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night was that they killed successive 5-on-3 power plays for the Hershey Bears early in the third period.
Unfortunately for the depleted Wolf Pack, they were already six goals down and on the way to seeing their unbeaten record at home come to an end.
And left wing Alexandre Giroux, the AHL MVP last season just back from three games with the parent Washington Capitals, led a former Wolf Pack theme, getting two goals and two assists in a 6-0 victory before 2,531.
â€œTheyâ€™re one of the elite teams in the league, and when you come out nonchalant, thatâ€™s what happens,â€ said Wolf Pack defenseman Brent Henley, who was involved in two fights. â€œGiroux is a terrific player, but as a team, theyâ€™re solid, move the puck, took advantage of our mistakes, outworked us in the corners, and if you donâ€™t work, youâ€™re generally going to lose, especially to a team thatâ€™s that skilled.
â€œWhen you get outworked by that amount of skill, you lose 6-0 at home and get booed. This stinks, especially on home ice. And if getting booed doesnâ€™t extra motivate you for the next game (tonight against Providence), then you shouldnâ€™t be in the game. We all lost together (Friday night), and we better all win together (tonight).â€
It was the Wolf Packâ€™s worst loss since an 8-2 loss at Lowell on Jan. 27, 2006. It also was the second-worst shutout loss to a 7-0 loss to Worcester on Dec. 22, 2000. The Wolf Pack (4-6-0-0) had their fewest shots of the season (26) as they lost their first game in four starts at the XL Center.
The Wolf Pack were without right wing P.A. Parenteau, who led the AHL in goals (eight) and the team in points (14), and left wing Dane Byers, who are on recall to the New York Rangers. They were replaced by Nigel Williams and Tyler Arnason, who missed two games last weekend because of his auntâ€™s death. And with Parenteau and Byers missing, defensemen David Urquhart and Mathieu Dandenault played some up front.
But coach Ken Gernander didnâ€™t want to hear anything about the team not having Parenteau and Byers.
â€œThat doesnâ€™t excuse what transpired,â€ Gernander said. â€œIf you battle like crazy and goals are hard to come by, thatâ€™s another story. But if youâ€™re not 100 percent committed or mentally into it, youâ€™re not going to look good in anything. This is an opportunity to play. Guys are getting called up to the New York Rangers because theyâ€™re playing hard, participating and doing what theyâ€™re supposed to do. Guys should be chomping at the bit.â€
So did the game have any redeeming value?
â€œNo. None,â€ Gernander said.
That made it easy for Bearsâ€™ goalie Jason Bacashihua to get his first shutout of the season and 13th in his AHL career.
After Bacashihua denied Corey Locke in front off a 2-on-1 at 3:52, the defending Calder Cup champion Bears (6-4-0-0) scored on successive shots on the way to a 3-0 lead after the first period.
With the Wolf Pack on a power play, Steve Pinizzotto passed to Andrew Joudrey, who got behind back-checking Paul Crowder for a breakaway and put the puck between Miika Wiikmanâ€™s legs at 9:30. The Bears doubled their lead on their next shot as Francois Bouchard got around Ilkka Heikkinen and slid the puck into the left corner of the net at 11:47.
Then with the period winding down, Giroux took a pass from Patrick McNeill, got behind Michael Sauer and Nigel Williams and beat Wiikman to the stick side with 21.2 seconds left.
Another former Wolf Pack left wing, Boyd Kane, gave the Bears a 4-0 lead when he took a centering pass from Pinizzotto and scored from 25 feet in the slot at 3:35 of the second period. The Wolf Pack were basically shorthanded because Brodie Dupont hadnâ€™t got back into the play after getting a new stick at the bench. Wiikman was then pulled in favor of Chad Johnson after allowing four goals on 13 shots.
And the former Wolf Pack theme continued when Girouxâ€™s centering pass deflected off the knee of Mathieu Perreault and into the open side of the net for a 5-0 lead at 9:30. Giroux scored his second of the game at 2:39 of the third period, taking a pass from Bouchard, skating into the slot and beating Johnson from 20 feet.
The Wolf Pack then killed off the Bearsâ€™ back-to-back, two-man advantages and had their best chance to score, but Andres Ambuhl shot high after picking off a Hershey clearing attempt and skating in alone with 5:45 left.
Hershey 3 2 1 — 6
Hartford 0 0 0 — 0
First Period-1, Hershey, Joudrey 2 (Pinizzotto, Alzner), 9:30 (sh). 2, Hershey, Bouchard 4 (Giroux), 11:47. 3, Hershey, Giroux 6 (McNeill, Bouchard), 19:38. Penalties-Amadio, Her (slashing), 9:11; Amadio, Her (interference), 13:07.
Second Period-4, Hershey, Kane 2 (Pinizzotto, Beagle), 3:35. 5, Hershey, Perreault 1 (Giroux, Bouchard), 9:30. Penalties-Arnason, Hfd (hooking), 0:12; Sugden, Her (fighting), 3:37; Henley, Hfd (fighting), 3:37; Osala, Her (hooking), 10:13; Amadio, Her (fighting), 15:13; Dupont, Hfd (fighting), 15:13.
Third Period-6, Hershey, Giroux 7 (Bouchard), 2:39. Penalties-Soryal, Hfd (roughing), 5:34; Weise, Hfd (roughing), 6:23; Potter, Hfd (roughing), 7:22; Osala, Her (fighting), 9:58; Henley, Hfd (fighting), 9:58; Bruess, Her (tripping), 18:22.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 10-7-7-24. Hartford 9-8-9-26;
Power Play Opportunities-Hershey 0 of 4; Hartford 0 of 4;
Goalies-Hershey, Bacashihua 3-0-0 (26 shots-26 saves). Hartford, Wiikman 2-2-0 (13-9); Johnson (11 shots-9 saves); A-2,531;
Referee-Zac Wiebe; Linesmen-Paul Simeon, Glen Cooke.
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