Hartford, CT– It was a bumping Saturday night at the Hartford XL Center, more crowded and more spirited than usual actually. The support is what the Hartford Wolf Pack (11-9-2-1) needed after facing a pretty rough loss Friday night against the Syracuse Crunch (13-7-3-0). The Wolf Pack who’s been struggling lately and slipping in the standings, would not let the Springfield Falcons (17-7-1-0), walk all over them, despite the Falcons coming into the game with a 10 game winning streak.
It was pretty clear from the initial face off that this was going to be one of the more challenging and hard fought Wolf Pack games. Springfield getting in the first shot on goal, which goalie Cedrick Desjardins fiercely blocked, the team fired right back with #24 Oscar Lindberg attempting a shot on goal, followed by another attempt on net by both #17 Chris Borque and #28 Michael Kostka- neither of which were able to bury the puck. Despite having no goals to show for their efforts, Hartford did manage to control a majority of the first period. Obtaining their first of three period power play opportunities at 11:49 on Springfield’s left wing #29 Jerry D’Amigo for tripping- though even the power play wouldn’t result in a goal the Wolf Pack pressed on with another power play opportunity at 16:28 after a penalty on Springfield’s #11 Mike Hoeffel. Hartford just couldn’t seem to capitalize on any of the plays though (as per usual lately), and the period ended with the scoreboard still blank.
Despite a frustrating first period, the team felt confident in themselves. #16 Chad Nehring commented in between periods that the team “was better than before, [we’re] puck watching and creating opportunities”. The hopeful center, whose claim to fame is his record of a whopping 72-goals scored over the past three years proclaimed “We’ve gotten our momentum back.” Even though the team was failing to score, they have been improving in scoring opportunities, ending that first period with the leading 11 shots on goal, most held by Kostka who had an impressive first period in terms of determination.
Gliding into the second period, the Wolf Pack still kept it up on their defensive end. Desjardins made a fantastic stop on a rebound-which helped maintain the still scoreless game. Faltering a little as the period moved along, Springfield gained two power plays due to #2 Mat Bodie’s tripping at 1:53 and then followed up by Justin Vaive with an interference at 7:11 then again at 13:37. Regardless of Springfield obtaining these chances, they were unable to slam one past Desjardins who was playing his absolute heart out in this game.
With about 6 minutes left to go in the second period, the Wolf Pack faced what could have been a very scary situation. It appeared in an attempt to slide one past Desjardins, Springfield’s #12 Ryan Craig managed to fall on top of the goalie, a domino effect occurred and everyone seemed to be piled atop Desjardins. Down for a few minutes, the goalie was able to shake it off, though he was seen rubbing his head and neck as he skated back to the net for a quick drink, he didn’t let the crash falter his play. With 4:30 left on the clock, and the game still 0-0, Springfield’s Alex Wennberg, #24, tried to take advantage on the possibly shaken goalie. Wennberg fired a shot past Desjardins, which missed the post by just mere inches. Even with the period ending in a Hartford power play, the Wolf Pack still couldn’t quite get the puck past Springfield’s goalie Anton Forsberg, who also deserves credit for standing on his head tonight. Though, this has been a regular occurrence lately for Forsberg.
The Wolf Pack’s energy seemed to decline as the third period began. Despite starting off still on the power play, no one was able to capitalize on the chance. Dragging their skates this time around Bodie was called for an un-sportsmanlike conduct penalty at 5:25, which nearly resulted in a Springfield goal, but was blocked on a great, goal saving play by #8 Dylan Mcllrath. Again, at 13:56, Chris Bourque gave Springfield their second power play of the period due to tripping. Picking themselves up, the Wolf Pack decided to step it up again, almost managing to get that coveted goal that STILL had yet to be scored in. Coming close, Forsberg put a stop to it with a great glove save. With the third period over, the Wolf Pack and the Falcons headed into overtime.
Overtime could have been almost described as the type of hockey you’d see in a playoff game. Both teams were working hard, going back and forth, unable to get a shot in. Both goalies seemed to be really on their toes, even when Springfield had a 3 on 1 they were unable to capitalize. With seconds left, Hartford’s #19 Chris Mueller snagged the puck on a break away and headed for the goal. His hard shot at Forsberg just missed, sending the teams into a shoot out.
The shoot out ended in dismay. Round one Hartford’s C. Bourque was called to shoot and missed, while Springfield’s Sean Collins, #17, managed to finally break through Desjardins’ shield. Rounds two and three failed to produce goals for either team, resulting in Springfield winning the shootout 1-0.
Despite a heart breaking loss in the shoot out this was one of the Wolf Packs harder fought battles. It’s safe to say that this was not a loss the Pack should be ashamed of and Coach Ken Gernander agreed, seeming less upset with this loss and more proud of his team’s effort saying, “we played a good hockey club and we played a good game,” and that “[the game] was a good rebound after last night’s loss.”
Sunday the Wolf Pack takes the ice at home again to play the Binghamton Senators (11-8-2-1).
*Friday was a night of firsts as Ryan Malone and Chad Nehring scored their first AHL goals
*Before the game Josh Nicholls was sent from Hartford to the ECHL
*Hartford recalled Shawn O’ Donnell from the ECHL
*Springfield Falcons are the top affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets
*Hartford was coming off a season high 3 power play goals Friday
1. Sean Collins- Springfield
2. Cedrick Desjardins- Hartford
3. Anton Forsberg- Springfield