I’ll be trying something a little different when it comes to covering the Wolf Pack this season. This blog has always been a labor of love, and to be honest, last season’s squad was pretty hard to warm up to. The off-season introduction of Howard Baldwin, the constant force-feeding of the Hartford Whalers, and the impending mid-season spectacle of changing the team’s name on the fly only makes it more difficult to contemplate spending hours of my life after each game writing about it. But since there are a couple of prospects I’m quite fond of in Hartford this season, I’m feeling compelled to keep watching. So instead of spending my post-game time writing, I’m going to endeavor to live blog the games I’m able to watch. We’ll see how it goes. It may end up being an utter failure, or it could turn out to be something people find useful. As always, thoughts and comments welcome and appreciated.
Puck drops at 3pm. I’ll be back with updates then.
Pre-Game: Goaltender Chad Johnson will make his second straight start, and defenseman Jyri Niemi will spend his second straight game in the press box. Jared Nightingale will join him, meaning Lee Baldwin makes his season debut.
Wolf Pack Starters: Byers, Newbury, Weise, Valentenko, N. Williams, Johnson
2:25 – Jeremy Williams gets called for a lazy hook behind the play, Worcester goes on the games first power play.
2:39 – Alternate captain Kris Newbury breaks in alone shorthanded, but Sharks goaltender Alex Staylock poke-checks him successfully. Newbury tosses the rebound back towards the crease, but there was no one following up the play.
3:27 – Worcester takes the early lead as Benn Ferrieo puts home Nick Schaus‘ rebound. 1-0 Sharks.
4:22 – Newbury just misses the far post on a backhand wrap-around, but mouths off to referee Chris Brown after getting drilled into the boards and goes to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Worcester back on the power play.
5:25 – Johnson gets his leg kicked out from under him in the crease, no call.
6:22 – Penalty killed.
8:10 – Lucky break for the Wolf Pack as Garet Hunt shanks his shot on a 2-on-1.
9:01 - Johnson with a good stop on Mashinter, who stole the puck off Matt Zuccarello, skated in on the left side and wristed a shot from the left circle. Pushing and shoving ensues, with Mashinter the only player headed to the box. Wolf Pack get their first power play.
11:01 – Wolf Pack fail to create any scoring chances, power play over.
11:27 – Rocket Richard Trophy-winner Jonathan Cheecho gets his second goal in two games, deflecting Ferrio’s shot from the right point past Johnson. Sharks up 2-0.
13:39 – Brodie Dupont heads to the box for tripping. Sharks back on the power play.
15:08 – Things go from bad to worse: Newbury gets whistled for high sticking. Worcester to the 2-man advantage for 32 seconds.
15:34 - And that didn’t take long. Johnson loses track of a rebound sitting in the crease and T.J. Trevelyan puts it in with 6 seconds remaining in the 2-man advantage. 3-0 Sharks.
19:28: Kelsey Tessier steals the puck in the high slot, but fires his shot high.
End of First – The period comes to a merciful end. Sharks outshoot the Wolf Pack 11-3. Bad effort all around. Expect the team will get an earful from coach Gernander between the periods.
:28 – J. Williams with a brutal whiff and ensuing giveaway, but Pavel Valentenko comes to the rescue and bowls over the Shark in the neutral zone.
2:10 – Dane Byers gets a good deflection off a Newbury shot, but Staylock comes up with the save. Pack off to a better start so far.
3:27 – I spoke to soon. Wolf Pack have spent the past two minutes largely pinned in their own zone.
6:22 – Valentenko blocks yet another shot, but Baldwin promptly clears the puck over the glass and heads to the box. Power play Sharks.
6:44 – Johnson comes up with a glove save off a point shot through traffic.
7:49 – Pile-up in front, but Johnson is able to see the puck and makes the stops. Defense doing a little better on coverage this period.
9:00 – Turnabout is fair play. Schauss puts the puck over the glass, Wolf Pack go to their second power play.
9:23 – Not impressed with J. Williams so far. Now he takes a boarding call to cancel out the Wolf Pack power play.
10:34 – Zuccarello buzzing 4-0n-4, creates a couple chances for Evgeny Grachev in the crease, but the Sharks defense prevents him from getting any shots through to the goal.
11:23 – All penalties over. Score still 3-0 Sharks.
14:55 – Tomas Kundratek tries to put the puck out through the middle, but Lucia pick it off and Johnson is forced to come up with a big stop.
16:29 – Tessier’s long shot goes up and over Staylock and Grachev gets his first of the season by being Johnny-on-the-spot and tapping it over the goal line. 3-1 Sharks. Assists to Tessier and Byers.
19:46 – J. Williams with a beautiful setup for Grachev at the left hashmarks, but Staylock gets across and picks it off with his glove. Huge save for Staylock.
End of Second Period – Definitely an improved effort. Gernander switched up the lines midway through the period and it seemed to give the team a bit of a jolt. If they can continue to build on the strong finish to the period and stay out of the box, there could be hope yet. Shots in the period 11-9 in the Wolf Pack’s favor.
:43 – Byers with a nice set-up to Tessier, who shot wide looking for a Grachev deflection that never happened.
2:41 – Byers wins the puck on the right wing boards and sets up Tessier again, and this time he taps it through Staylock’s five hole from the top of the crease for his first goal as a pro. 3-2 Sharks. Byers gets the lone assist.
4:32 – Staylock stones Zuccarello from point blank.
5:24 – Ryan McDonagh gets dinged for holding while chasing down Cheechoo on a partial breakaway. Sharks to the power play.
6:47 – Worcester gets their 3rd power play goal of the game. Marcou shovels the puck past Johnson on a 2-on-1 down low with Cheecoo after Grachev and Garlock get caught in the Sharks zone looking for offense shorthanded. 4-2 Sharks.
8:34 – Johnson fumbles a dump in and nearly gives it up to Trevelyan.
12:09 – The fourth Sharks goal appears to have taken some of the wind out of the Wolf Pack’s sails. Not much happening on either side at the moment. Lots of back and forth but no significant scoring chances to be had.
12:30 – For a guy who hasn’t played center in two years, Grachev’s been pretty good on faceoffs.
13:26 – Newbury throws the puck on net from the sharp angle, but Staylock had the post covered.
14:57 – Nick Petrecki heads to the box for cross-checking. Wolf Pack head to their third power play.
15:52 – Dale Weise gets a couple whacks at a loose rebound, but Staylock keeps his pad against the post. Sean Sullivan took exception and tried to rough Weise up after the whistle. Bad decision on Sullivan’s part, as Weise absolutely wrecked him when the gloves came off.
17:38 – Pack have kept the Sharks pinned in their zone, even after the penalty expired. Byers, Zuccarello and Williams generated a few chances, but nothing Staylock couldn’t stop.
18:25 – Time out Hartford. Johnson to the bench.
19:29 – Pack applying good pressure, but shots coming primarily from the outside.
19:43 – Dupont gets a few tries at a rebound of Grachev’s flip shot, but Staylock finds it and covers up. Petrecki takes exception, gloves drop, but Dupont gets pushed back over Staylock and goes down. Petrecki gets a few good shots in on the way.
19:55 – Tessier gets his second of the game with a deflection on Wade Redden’s point shot. Sharks lead 4-3 with 4.4 seconds to go in regulation. Second goal of the game for Tessier, who also added an assist.
19:59 – With just over a second on the clock Valentenko takes a huge windup from the neutral zone, but misses the puck and goes down in a heap as the buzzer sounds. A bit of comic relief in a game that offered little to smile about. Game over, Sharks win 4-3.
Decent effort in the final 30 minutes, and particularly in the third when the Pack outshot Worcester 19-4, but the no-show first period was too much for the boys to overcome. Penalties were a problem — Hartford’s penalty kill gave up three goals on seven attempts. As much as the team changed in the off-season, slow starts and too many penalties are bug-a-boos that appear to have carried over from last year. On the bright side, rookie Tessier looks like a player, finishing with two goals and an assist, which gives him four points over his first two pro games. He looked particularly good when put on a line with Byers, who finished the game with a pair of assists himself, and looks to be picking right back up where he left off last season.
So with opening weekend in the books, the Pack are off to a 1-1-0-0 start. They’ll get the week to work out some kinks before hitting the road for their first three-games-in-three-nights stint which starts in Albany on Friday, continues in Bridgeport on Saturday and wraps up in Providence on Sunday.
1. WOR Ferriero, (1) (Schaus, Trevelyan), 3:27 (PP)
1. WOR Cheechoo, (2) (Braun, Ferriero), 11:27
1. WOR Ferriero, (2) (Cheechoo, Sullivan), 15:34 (PP)
2. HFD Grachev, (1) (Tessier, Byers), 16:29
3. HFD Tessier, (1) (Byers), 2:54
3. WOR Marcou, (1) (Cheechoo, Mashinter), 6:47 (PP)
3. HFD Tessier, (2) (Redden, Newbury), 19:55
Dane Byers – Kris Newbury – Dale Weise
Brodie Dupont – Evgeny Grachev – Matt Zuccarello
Jeremy Williams – Brandon Wong – Justin Soryal
Chris McKelvie – Ryan Garlock – Kelsey Tessier
Wade Redden – Tomas Kundratek
Pavel Valentenko – Nigel Williams
Ryan McDonagh – Lee Baldwin
Chad Johnson / Cam Talbot
1. Benn Ferriero
2. Jonathan Cheechoo
3. Kelsey Tessier
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