The Hartford Wolf Pack bounced back from last night’s overtime loss to Norfolk to beat the Admirals in convincing fashion in the rematch, 5-1. I missed this one in favor a trip to the Garden to watch the Rangers beat the Devils (Maaaarrrr-tttttyyyy! Maaaarrrr-tttttyyyy!) but a look at the scoresheet offers a number of reasons to smile: ECHL call-ups Derek Couture and Kenny Roche continued to contribute, Couture with two goals, Roche with one — his seventh point in ten games. Justin Soryal, better known for his fists than his scoring touch, got his second of the season, only three games after tallying his first. Dane Byers continued to be captain-like, picking up another goal; during the Wolf Pack’s recent rash of injuries he’s had five goals and seven points in nine games. Corey Potter, in his second game back after recovering from a concussion, contributed three assists. Corey Locke, who’s offensive production has suffered since he lost his wingman P.A. Parenteau, also picked up three helpers. And Matt Zaba stopped 33 shots, and is starting to look more and more like the rookie sensation Wolf Pack fans fell in love with last season each day.
Bob Crawford’s report from the scene is below.
Hartford Wolf Pack 5, Norfolk Admirals 1
Norfolk, VA, February 6, 2010 – Derek Couture scored two goals, and Corey Locke and Corey Potter had three assists apiece, to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to a 5-1 victory over the Norfolk Admirals Saturday night at Norfolk Scope.
The two-goal effort was Couture’s first multiple-point game in a Wolf Pack uniform, and the win was the Wolf Pack’s first regulation victory in 13 games. Matt Zaba made 33 saves to get the win in the Hartford net.
Norfolk struck first in the game, on a goal by Justin Keller at the 3:17 mark of the first period. Keller snapped a shot high into the net past Zaba from the top of the circles, but that would be the only time the Admirals would be able to solve the Wolf Pack netminder.
The Wolf Pack answered that goal only 37 seconds later, at 3:54, on Couture’s first of the game. Potter carried the puck deep into the Norfolk zone and passed to Couture at the left side of the goalmouth for a tap-in.
Justin Soryal then gave the Wolf Pack a lead they would never relinquish at 18:32 of the first. On a three-on-two break, Andres Ambuhl backhanded the puck to the left side of the crease and Soryal deflected it past Admiral goaltender Justin Tokarski.
The goal was Soryal’s second of the season, and both have come in the last four games.
Hartford dominated the action for most of the second period, and scored a pair of goals in the middle frame to widen their advantage to 4-1.
Couture got his second of the contest at 5:03, after Nigel Williams intercepted a cross-ice pass by Norfolk’s Mark Parrish. Williams stepped down the left side and centered the puck, which deflected off of Couture’s skate and got past Tokarski.
Pack captain Dane Byers then notched his 14th of the year at 11:43, deflecting a one-timer from the middle of the blue line by Potter.
Kenny Roche rounded out the scoring with his third goal in seven games with the Wolf Pack at 5:18 of the third period. On a Wolf Pack power play, Ikka Heikkinen flipped the puck from the right point toward the net, and Roche deflected in down off the ice and bounced it by Tokarski.
The victory gave the Wolf Pack a three-game points streak (2-0-1-0), and upped their season record to 25-20-3-4 for 57 points. The Wolf Pack are now off until this Friday night, when they travel to Providence to take on the Bruins at 7:05, before returning home on Saturday to host Bridgeport (7:00).
Notes: the Wolf Pack’s last regulation win was a 5-3 triumph in Worcester January 8. The Pack’s previous four wins had been in overtime. That January 8 game was also the last time the Wolf Pack had scored as many as five goals. Locke was +4 in the game and now has at least a point in eight of his last nine games (3-9-12). The win was the Wolf Pack’s first in three tries vs. the Admirals (1-1-1-0), and was only their fourth non-divisional win of the season (4-9-1-2).
Hartford Wolf Pack 5 At Norfolk Admirals 1
Feb 6, 2010 – Norfolk Scope
Hartford 2 2 1 – 5
Norfolk 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Keller 9 (Simek, Szczechura), 3:17. 2, Hartford, Couture 7 (Potter, Locke), 3:54. 3, Hartford, Soryal 2 (Ambuhl, Potter), 18:32. Penalties-DiDiomete Hfd (interference), 7:31.
2nd Period-4, Hartford, Couture 8 (Williams), 5:03. 5, Hartford, Byers 14 (Potter, Locke), 11:43. Penalties-Fornataro Nor (hooking), 7:37; Soryal Hfd (hooking), 16:39.
3rd Period-6, Hartford, Roche 3 (Heikkinen, Locke), 5:18 (pp). Penalties-Ambuhl Hfd (tripping), 2:31; Tyrell Nor (slashing), 5:11; served by DiDiomete Hfd (bench minor – too many men), 6:43; Fritz Nor (roughing, roughing), 6:43.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 10-14-11-35. Norfolk 11-10-13-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 of 3; Norfolk 0 of 3.
Goalies-Hartford, Zaba 5-8-1 (34 shots-33 saves). Norfolk, Tokarski 16-14-1 (35 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Francis Charron (46).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (28), Paul Reid (62).
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