What a difference a day makes.
On Friday night the Hartford Wolf Pack suffered an embarrassing 6-0 defeat in front of their home crowd at the hands of the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. Twenty-four hours later, in front of the same home fans, it was the Pack causing the embarrassment with a 7-0 drubbing of the Providence Bruins.
It was the largest margin of victory in a shutout in the team’s thirteen year history.
Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti had two goals and two assists, fellow sophomore Dale Weise also scored a pair of goals and added an assist, and Corey Locke earned a goal and three assists. Jordan Owens and Illka Heikkinen each added a goal and an assist, and rookie Chad Johnson earned his first professional shut out with a 17-save performance.
Saturday’s Wolf Pack squad had a decidedly different look to it, with four new faces in the line-up after being recalled from Charlotte of the ECHL. Goaltender Matt Zaba sat on the bench as the backup for Johnson, but Chris Chappel, Ryan Garlock, and Derek Couture each earned significant ice time up front. The call-ups were necessitated by the recall to the NHL of P.A. Parenteau and Dane Byers, but also served as a wake up call to the players remaining in Connecticut’s capital.
The shake up had its intended effect. The Pack allowed the baby Bruins just 17 shots in the game, only three of which came in the first period and four of which were fired off in the final frame. And they proved the adage “you make your own luck”, scoring no less than three tallies on deflections off Bruins players.
Weise got the Pack on the board early with an unassisted, shorthanded marker just 2:34 in. The 21-year old winger stepped up in the neutral zone, knocking a pass out of the air at the red line and skating in alone on Providence goaltender Matt Dalton. Weise cut in from the right side boards and fired a wrist shot through Dalton’s five hole for his first of the game and third of the season, tripling his season output.
Like any good divisional game, this one got nasty early. Justin Soryal squared off with Brett Clouthier at 5:57 and held his own in an entertaining bout with the veteran heavyweight. Michael Sauer got in a rare fight with just under three minutes remaining in the period when he challenged Drew Larman after Larman kneed Owens near the boards. Sauer ultimately wrestled Larman to the ice in a scrap that lacked any significant punches.
Hartford tripled their lead in the second period — and they started early. With Jeff LoVecchio in the box serving a late-first period delay of game penalty, Sanguinetti’s wrist shot from the left point deflected off Providence defenseman Adam McQuaid in front, beating Dalton just 39 seconds into the frame.
Owens, who’d been struggling offensively in his first season playing on an NHL contract, scored his first goal of the season at 7:05. Tyler Arnason dropped the puck off to the scrappy winger in the right faceoff circle. Owens wound up and fired a perfectly-placed bullet in the short side top corner. From the look on his face, it was as if a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders after going the first ten games of the campaign with just a single assist.
A scary moment came at 13:10 of the period when Sanguinetti was shoved from behind into the end boards as he skated in behind the net. The New Jersey native went into the boards heavily, leading with his head and right shoulder. He remained down on the ice for some time being attended to by Pack trainer Damian Hess before skating off the ice under his own steam. He returned before the end of the period after missing a shift or two. No penalty was assessed on the play.
A minute and 12 seconds later Owens laid a similarly dangerous hit on a Bruin at the opposite end of the ice. Guillaume Lefebvre challenged the Pack forward, who’s proven to be more than able to hold his own in a scrap, but defenseman Brent Henley inexplicably jumped in, putting an end to the bout and earning himself a game misconduct for being the third man in. Owens was given a two minute charging minor for the original hit.
More game misconducts would follow. Soryal and former Wolf Pack captain Craig Weller — returning for the first time since signing with the Phoenix Coyotes in July 2007 — were sent to the showers early when they squared off after the horn sounded to mark the end of the second period. Soryal was the clear victor in the bout, and appeared to open a cut over Weller’s left eye.
Brodie Dupont and Lefebvre followed them to locker room at 4:11 of the third period after they tried to get at each other following an uneventful fight between Andy Wozniewski and newcomer Chris Chappell. Dupont and Lefebvre each earned ten minute misconducts to go along with their game misconducts, with Lefebvre getting an extra two for roughing.
The Wolf Pack broke the game open in the third, starting with a power play goal scored with Lefebvre in the box. Weise earned his second of the game by putting the puck in off defenseman Drew Fata’s skate from the right post. Locke and Sanguinetti earned the assists on the power play goal at 4:30 of the period.
Sanguinetti made it 5-0 at 11:01 when his wrist shot from the right point deflected off two different Bruins players and floated over Dalton’s shoulder into the back of the net. The goal marked Sanguinetti’s first multiple-goal game as a pro and came off assists by newcomer Garlock and Owens, who earned his second point of the game.
The Wolf Pack’s puck luck continued 2:15 later when Locke fired a pass off Andrew Bodnarchuk’s skate and into the open side of the cage from the right corner. With the primary assist on the goal, Sanguinetti earned his fourth point of the night, a career high for the sophomore blueliner and a little bit of redemption after finishing -4 in Friday night’s debacle against Hershey.
Heikkinen completed the scoring with 2:10 remaining in the game when he took a feed from Locke at the top of the circles and fired a slap shot through Dalton’s five hole. The assist gave Locke his fourth point on the night, tying him for the team lead in points with Parenteau, who was returned to the Wolf Pack by the parent New York Rangers Saturday evening after scoring his first NHL goal on Wednesday. The pair’s 14 points tie them for third in the AHL scoring race with ex-Pack member and current Hershey Bear Alexandre Giroux.
Parenteau is expected to return to the line-up on Sunday afternoon when the Wolf Pack host the division-leading Manchester Monarchs at 3pm.
- The Wolf Pack power play went 3-for-5 and remains tops in the league at 29.8%. Despite killing off each of the seven shorthanded opportunities they’ve faced in two games this weekend, the Pack’s penalty kill remains 28th in the 29-team league with a 74.1% success rate.
- Sanguinetti ranks second in AHL scoring by defenseman with 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists), behind only Providence’s Andy Wozniewski.
- In addition to the call-ups mentioned above, goaltender Miika Wiikman and winger Ryan Hillier were assigned to Charlotte.
1. HFD Weise, (3) , 2:39 (SH)
2. HFD Sanguinetti, (2) (Locke, Weise), 0:39 (PP)
2. HFD Owens, (1) (Arnason, Sauer), 7:05
3. HFD Weise, (4) (Locke, Sanguinetti), 4:30 (PP)
3. HFD Sanguinetti, (3) (Garlock, Owens), 11:01
3. HFD Locke, (7) (Sanguinetti, Heikkinen), 13:16 (PP)
3. HFD Heikkinen, (2) (Locke, Grachev), 17:50
Grachev – Locke – Weise
Chappell – Dupont – Couture
Garlock – Arnason – Owens
Ambuhl – Crowder – Soryal
Heikkinen – Sanguinetti
Dandenault – Sauer
Henley – Potter
Johnson / Zaba
1. Dale Weise
2. Bobby Sanguinetti
3. Corey Locke
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