P.A. Parenteau scored his first ever hat trick for the Hartford Wolf Pack and Corey Locke added two goals and an assist as the Wolf Pack earned a decisive victory in its home opener against the Springfield Falcons, 7-3. Nigel Williams and Brodie Dupont also added goals for the Pack, which improved its record to 2-1 with the win.
The news wasn’t all good for the Pack, who lost starting netminder Matt Zaba to a concussion when he took a deliberate elbow to the head during a race for the puck with Springfield’s Liam Redddox at the end of the first period. Zaba did not return to start the second, and was diagnosed with a concussion after the game. Miika Wiikman, who was assigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL earlier this week so he could rehab from a groin injury, has been recalled for Hartford’s game in Providence on Sunday.
Chad Johnson was solid in relief for Zaba, stopping 27 of 28 shots he faced and looking more comfortable than he did in Friday’s debut. The rookie goalkeeper finished the game as the goaltender of record, earning his first win as a professional.
Williams opened the scoring for the Wolf Pack on the power play at 3:12 of the first period. Locke carried the puck into the Springfield zone and dropped it off for the 21-year old sophomore, who slapped a bullet past Falcons keeper Devan Dubnyk from the top of the right circle.
Locke added his first of the game six and a half minutes later, again on the power play. Defensman Corey Potter, obviously trying to adhere to New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella’s principles of offensive aggression — with mixed results — carried the puck the length of the ice, held up at the top of the left circle and fed the trailing Locke, who wristed a shot past Dubnyk on the stick side.
Parenteau gave the Wolf Pack a three goal lead 1:03 later, picking up the rebound of Bobby Sanguinetti’s shot from the right circle and flipping it over Dubnyk’s glove from right in front of the Springfield cage.
But the Pack let the Falcons back into the game by spotting them a a pair of goals in just over two minutes. Playing 4-on-4, Geoff Paukovick was able to stuff Colton Fretter’s rebound under Zaba’s pad at 11:58. A pair of penalties to Locke and Patrick Rissmiller then put the Wolf Pack down two men for 12 seconds, and Ryan Potulny capitalized seven seconds after Locke exited the box, tucking Chris Artmstrong’s cross-slot pass under the crossbar for the power play goal.
With the Pack once again on the power play as the final seconds of the period ticked off, Zaba found himself in a footrace with Reddox as the puck came over the Pack blueline. Zaba won the race handily and cleared the puck out of the zone, but Reddox followed through with an elbow to Zaba’s head, leaving the goaltender down on the ice in obvious pain. Inexplicably, Reddox was given only two minutes for goaltender interference.
But the Wolf Pack made it count, recapturing the two-goal lead 47 seconds into the second period when Locke earned his second of the game by jamming home the rebound of a shot from Evgeny Grachev.
Springfield pulled back within one with another power play goal at 3:08 of the period when Armstrong scored into the open side of the net off a quick cross-slot pass from Potulny. The penalty kill continued to be an issue for the Pack in this game, surrendering two man advantage tallies on nine attempts. Although it’s still very early, so far the PK has thwarted only 6 of the 18 attempts it’s faced, which puts the unit in a tie for second worst in the league at 66.7%.
On the plus side, Hartford’s power play has been lights out, converting on four of eleven chances in the game and seven of 21 on the season. That ties the Pack for tops in the league with the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears at 33.3%.
Parenteau picked up the Pack’s fourth power play goal at 11:12 of the period when a blocked clearing attempt dropped out of the air right in front of him in the slot. The veteran scorer wasted little time batting the bouncing puck through Dubnyk’s five hole to give the pack a 5-3 lead.
Dupont got his first of the season at 11:26 of the third period when Dale Weise controlled the puck at the Springfield blueline and passed it off to the third year pro, who skated to the top of the circles and blasted a slapshot past Dubnyk on the stick side.
Parenteau capped off his hat trick with a penalty shot at 15:12. Exiting the penalty box and the end of 1:27 of Springfield 5-on-3 time, the Hull, Quebec native picked up the puck in the neutral zone and broke in on Dubnyk, only to be hauled down from behind as he approached the net. Referee Nygel Pelletier awarded Parenteau the penalty shot, and the alternate captain — who’s sharing that duty with Potter and Dane Byers — made it look easy, beating Dubnyk top shelf.
The Wolf Pack will look to carry their momentum — and exact revenge for Friday night’s defeat — when they travel back to Providence to face the Bruins at 4:05 Sunday afternoon.
Video highlights are available from AHL Live.
- Wolf Pack General Manager Jim Schoenfeld, Mark Messier, and Gordie Clark (I think) were amongst the Rangers brass taking in the game from high atop of the XL Center.
- There’s no love lost between Springfield’s Jake Taylor and his former club. The defenseman earned 11 minutes in penalties, including a double minor for roughing when he jumped Rissmiller after a hit on Potulny, and earning another two for kneeing plus five for fighting against Dupont. Taylor won his fight with Dupont handily.
- Dupont was also on the losing end of a bout with Adam Henrich with 19 seconds left to go in the game. More concerning: the Manitoba native may have been hurt as he took Henrich down to the ice at the end of the scrap, as he remained down after the linesman pulled Heinrich away. The 22-year old winger — who also spent time centering the sparingly-used fourth line — eventually made his way off the ice under his own power.
- No one was willing to take on Justin “Scaryal” Soryal, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer in the second period during one of the game’s many post-whistle scrums. The sophomore winger pounded on perennial pest Theo Peckham while he was down after Peckham jumped Rissmiller for a hit along the boards. Peckham had also squared off with Parenteau at the end of the first when Parenteau tried to get at Reddox for his hit on Zaba. Soryal, who earned an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, may have injured Peckham in the altercation — I don’t recall seeing him after that, and Peckham’s not the kind of player who usually allows himself to go unnoticed.
- Other scraps: Brent Henley, splitting time on offense and defense to allow David Urquhart to make his season debut on defense, took on Kip Brennan at 4:40 of the first in an entertaining draw. Everyone paired up as the final buzzer sounded, with Jordan Owens and former Pack player Dean Arsene dropping the gloves. That turned out to be more of a wrestling match than a fight, and ended with Arsene taking the smaller Owens down to the ice.
- Tyler Arneson sat out to make room for Urquhart. Its unclear whether the center was injured in Friday’s game in Providence, but I don’t recall seeing him on the ice late in that game.
- The Wolf Pack outshot the Falcons by a margin of 43-38.
- Locke has five goals and one assist in his first three games for the Pack after signing as a free agent this summer. He’s tied for the team lead in scoring with Parenteau, who’s picked up three goals and three assists in the same span.
1. Williams, (1) (Locke, Weise), 3:12 (PP)
1. Locke, (4) (Potter), 9:36 (PP)
1. Parenteau, (1) (Sanguinetti, Crowder), 10:39
1. Paukovich, (1) (Fretter), 11:58
1. Potulny, (2) (Armstrong, Linglet), 14:05 (PP)
2. Locke, (5) (Grachev, Heikkinen), 0:47 (PP)
2. Armstrong, (1) (Potulny, Linglet), 3:08 (PP)
2. Parenteau, (2) , 11:12 (PP)
3. Dupont, (1) (Weise), 11:26
3. Parenteau, (3) , 15:12 (SH/PS)
Lines: (changed frequently during the game, this is how they started)
Byers – Rissmiller – Owens
Grachev – Crowder – Parenteau
Ambuhl – Locke – Weise
Soryal – Dupont – Henley
Potter – Heikkinen
Williams – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Zaba / Johnson
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Corey Locke
3. Ryan Potulny
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