Pack surrender two-goal lead, lose in shootout
Monday November 30th 2009, 11:57 am

With both teams playing their fourth game in five nights, you’d think the Hartford Wolf Pack and Bridgeport Sound Tigers would have wanted to wrap Sunday afternoon’s tilt in Bridgeport up as quickly as possible.  Instead, the clubs took a full 65 minutes plus an extra round in the shootout to decide a winner.  In the end, it was the Sound Tigers that came away with the extra point, after rookie Matt Martin beat Wolf Pack starter Matt Zaba in the sixth round of the skills competition to give his club a 3-2 victory.

It was far from a full sixty five minute effort from the Pack, who were playing without defensemen Brent Henley, Mathieu Dandenault and Nigel Williams, all of whom missed the game due to injury.  Yet despite being outplayed from the start and managing only a single shot through the first nine minutes of play, the visitors found themselves with a 1-0 lead at 9:17 of the first period. Devin DiDiomete earned his first point of the season in his fourth game back from rehabbing a broken arm in Charlotte when he fed Andres Ambuhl as he crashed in from the top of the circles.  The Swiss import scored his third goal of the campaign — and second in three games — with a quick wrist shot that beat Bridgeport netminder Scott Munroe high on the glove side.

The Pack entered the second period with the 1-0 lead despite being out shot 13-7 in the first and it was the third line of DiDiomete, Ambuhl and Paul Crowder that would strike once again early in the frame.  The trio cycled the puck deep in the offensive zone before Ambuhl dropped the puck back to David Urquhart at the left point.  Urquhart dished the puck to Michael Sauer at the opposite point, where the third-year defenseman launched a low wrist shot on goal which Crowder tipped over Munroe’s glove to, giving Hartford a two goal lead at 1:41.

The Sound Tigers cut the lead in half at 13:38 when Trevor Smith — who’d been stoned by Wolf Pack starter Zaba twice in the closing minutes of the first period — one-timed a pass from behind the net over Zaba’s shoulder from point blank range.

The home side knotted the score at two at 1:24 of the third period.  Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, fresh from his latest call-up by the New York Islanders, scored his third goal of the season from the right point with Smith setting the screen on Zaba.

The teams traded power play opportunities midway through the third period, but neither could convert.  In fact, Hartford had just that one chance on the power play in the game, and without Bobby Sanguinetti or P.A. Parenteau, both on recall to the New York Rangers, the unit hardly threatened.

It was the Sound Tigers that had the better of the play through the remainder of regulation, finishing the period with an 11-7 shot advantage.  They had the territorial advantage for the bulk of overtime as well, though the Wolf Pack came on strong at the end to finish the extra frame tied in shots with four.  But neither team was able to light the lamp, sending the game to the shootout.

Former Wolf Pack captain Greg Moore was the first to score in the shootout, beating Zaba high with a quick wrist shot in the second round after Dale Weise, Dane Byers and Smith had each been stopped.  Corey Locke tied things up in the fourth round with a forehand-backhand deke.  Bridgeport forwards Greg Mauldin and Justin DiBenedetto each rang shots off the crossbar, while Munroe stopped both Andres Ambuhl and Jordan Owens.  That left Martin to score the shootout winner in the sixth round with a low shot from the slot, giving the Sound Tigers the extra point and a spit of the two games played in the ten game season series.

It was the second straight post-regulation loss for the Wolf Pack, which finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 13-8-1-2.  On the plus side, it was the fourth straight game in which the Pack were able to earn at least a point, and eighth time in their last nine games.

The Wolf Pack has another busy week ahead, with a three-in-three-nights set starting Friday in Manchester against the Monarchs.  Then it’s an overnight trip to the Keystone State, where the Pack will face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday and the Hershey Bears on Sunday.

Notes:

  • The Wolf Pack re-called defenseman Jared Nightingale and Mike Berube from Charlotte prior to the game to fill in for Dandenault and Williams, who were both injured in Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Providence.
  • According to the ECHL Transactions page, Miika Wiikman was also recalled from Charlotte on November 26th, though the Wolf Pack haven’t confirmed the call-up and he wasn’t with the team for the weekend’s games.  Unless its an error on the ECHL site, it was seem the third-year goaltender has been recalled in order to be loaned to another club, either in the AHL or Europe.
  • Apologies for the lack of coverage this week.  I missed Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Lowell and though I saw most of both Friday’s 4-3 overtime thriller against Portland and Saturday’s game against Providence, some emergency work at my paying job has prevented me from spending the time required to write about either… and taken a significant bite out of my so-called holiday weekend.
  • You might also have noticed that this web site was down frequently over the weekend.  That was the result of my web host shutting it down — on two separate occasions –  for “abusing” their server resources.  Last night, when the server crashed completely while my site was still disabled, they finally realized it has nothing to do with this little blog and its minimal traffic and everything to do with their crappy server.  Obviously, it’s back up and running now, but if it goes down again, please have patience.

Scoring:
1. Ambuhl, (3) (DiDiomete), 9:17
2. Crowder, (6) (Sauer, Urquhart), 1:41
2. Smith, (8) (Sixsmith, Marcinko), 13:38
3. MacDonald, (2) (Kohn, Smith), 1:24

Hartford Shootout:
Dale Weise    No Goal
Dane Byers    No Goal
Paul Crowder    No Goal
Corey Locke    Goal
Andres Ambuhl    No Goal
Jordan Owens    No Goal

Bridgeport Shootout:
Trevor Smith    No Goal
Greg Moore    Goal
Greg Mauldin    No Goal
Justin DiBenedetto    No Goal
Andrew MacDonald    No Goal
Matt Martin    Goal

Lines:
Byers – Dupont – Weise
Grachev – Locke – Owens
Couture – Garlock – Soryal
DiDiomete – Crowder – Ambuhl

Potter – Berube
Urquhart – Sauer
Heikkinen – Nightengale

Zaba / Johnson

Three Stars:
1. Matt Martin
2. Trevor Smith
3. Andrew MacDonald

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