Hartford, CT- Sunday afternoon, the crowd at Hartford’s XL Center is buzzing- probably still hyped up from the Hartford Wolf Pack’s (12-9-2-1) shootout loss to the Springfield Falcons (17-7-1-0) the night before. The Wolf Pack v. Falcons game had ended 1-0, with the game’s only goal coming in the shooutout scored by Falcon’s Sean Collins. Not only were the fans energetic, but you could sense some serious energy coming from the team as they warmed up. The Wolf Pack were not going to let the loss last night bring them down, they certainly were still pumped up from the night before and ready to bring the Binghamton Senators (11-9-2-1) to their knees. Considering “the Captain” himself, Mark Messier, was in attendance, the Wolf Pack certainly didn’t want to let the legendary star down.
It didn’t take long for Hartford to build confidence in the first period with a goal at 1:20 by always-reliable left wing, #17, Chris Bourque. The team seemed more aggressive than ever, even when the Senator’s evened the score at one off a rebound, there was no discouragement felt by the team. Hartford’s rookie, budding-star of a goalie, Mackenzie Skapski, tried his best to block the puck, futilely diving across the net in an attempt to make the save. The Wolf Pack fought their way back at 11:48, with a beautiful goal set up by C. Bourque, and #29 Danny Kristo who pounded the puck in.
Minutes after the goal, with 6:38 left in the period, the first fight of the game broke out between Senators’ #37, Darren Kramer and Hartford’s newcomer #16, Chad Nehring. Tension remained in the air even after the players were brought to the penalty box, both teams became very physical consistently pushing and shoving one another. Regardless the Wolf Pack came out on top with both shots on goal (14-11) and keeping their 2-1 lead.
Heading into the second period, tension still clinging to the frozen air. Oscar Lindberg, #24, remained strong, winning a big face off. Throughout the period, however, both teams continued to push, shove and fight one another. Double penalties came at 2:58 to #10 Buddy Robinson of Binghamton and Hartford’s #4 Conor Allen for roughing.
Dallas Jackson, #20, usually a Wolf Pack defensemen was brought up to the front line, playing left wing, and definitely proving himself capable with a beautiful goal assisted by Nehring and fellow newcomer #21 Shawn O’Donnell. Goal scoring was a plenty for a Wolf Pack offense that’s been struggling, with yet another goal at 9:53 by Kristo and assisted by Bourque.
Perhaps getting cocky, the next couple minutes were filled with Hartford penalties by Dylan McIlarth, #8, and Joey Crabb #14. The Senators managed to pull a 5 on 3 for about 45 seconds, but this was quietly killed by the Pack. The team definitely seemed to be playing a lot smarter than in previous games.
Coming into the third period, Binghamton appeared ready to fight for a comeback 0:13 into the period they quickly put one past Skapski making the score 4-2. Yet Hartford remained strong through the final period, which carried on with a lot of pushing and shoving.
Later in a post-game interview, Skapski would say, “This was definitely a bounce back game. We were so much more upbeat.”
Coach Gernander would agree as well that, “[the team] played some pretty, solid hockey the past two nights.” And noting that Danny Kristo [had] been playing some serious hockey sine joining the Wolf Pack”. This is definitely a completely different opinions coming out of Gernander who’d previously said during the losing streak in November that he was beginning to feel that the team was not being ‘physical enough’ in their playing. Hopefully the upward trend continues in the next game coming up Friday the 11th verse the Albany Devils (11-8-1-4)
Hartford’s efforts paid off, with the team winning 4-2.
*Hartford Scratches- Ryan Malone, Ryan Potulny, Steve Spinell, Nick Tarnasky
*Binghamton Scratches- Michael Sdao, Brad Mills, Alex Guptiill, Ryan Dzingel
*Danny Kristo was unavailable post game as he was receiving medical treatment
*Mackenzie Skapski stopped 45 of 47 shots
*First meeting between clubs since 2013
1. Mackenzie Skapski- Hartford
2. Chris Bourque- Hartford
3. Danny Kristo- Hartford