Last Saturday’s games was rough on the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-12-2-2), suffering a pretty bad loss against the St. John’s Ice Caps. This Friday night the Pack came back out on their home ice to play one of their biggest rivals, the Syracuse Crunch (22-9-5-0), ready for redemption. A packed XL Center was pumping with good energy as the Wolf Pack stormed the ice, introducing a new goalie NHL and AHL veteran, Yann Danis and rookie forward Tyler Brown.
The first period got off to a relatively quick start. Hartford managed to pump out some hard shots and appeared to play with composure and skill, refusing to give up any unnecessary penalties. The game was pretty back and forth, both teams firing hard shots at the goal. Gaining a 5 on 3 power play toward the end of the first, the Wolf Pack were finally able to capitalize on the power play that has so badly plagued them. A hard shot fired in by Chris Bourque, assisted by Michael Kostka and Oscar Lindberg. Overall it was a great first period for the Wolf Pack, it seemed that Coach Ken Gernander’s words finally got through to his struggling team.
To start off the second Hartford bagged out another perfectly executed goal. Scored by Sean O’Donnell, assisted by Chad Nehring, the two made an amazing set up putting the Wolf Pack up 2-0. The early lead couldn’t stop the Crunch from coming right back and getting one past Danis to make it 2-1, still in the Pack’s favor, but you could tell the Crunch had some firing burning in them. The game began to get a little chippy as the Crunch started to get more into the game, the two teams went back and forth with penalties. Surprisingly, the Wolf Pack really bolted down this game; they didn’t let the penalties or chirpy play ruin their good game. Finishing the second 2-1 Hartford and leading 18-14 for shots on goal, the Pack certainly were on a roll tonight.
Coming into the third period Hartford started to slip up, giving up the tying goal to Syracuse’s Dylan Blujus. The tie brought out the aggression from both sides, tempers flared on the ice as refs began to once again issue penalty after penalty. The Pack fought hard, it was quite evident that over the week Gernander had worked the team hard. Still tied up at the bell that ended regulation play, we headed into overtime.
Poised and confident the Pack proved victorious at 2:34 in OT with a fierce goal by Dylan McIlrath. The Wolf Pack winning 3-2 over the Crunch certainly brought life to the crowd and gave the team the atonement that they’d needed.
Post game the team of course was completely elated. O’Donnell who had a great game commented, “We didn’t stray away from the game plan, these games coming up are crucial.” Which is completely true as the Pack fight for playoff positioning.
Even Gernander who usually has some harsher words for the team, seemed to be joyous and said that he thought that the Wolf Pack brought their best, especially considering that the team has faced much adversary against the Crunch in the past. He did say however that the one thing he remains troubled by is the penalties taken by his team.
Scratches: Hartford- Cedrick Desjardins, Tommy Hughes, Ryan Malone, Ryan Potulny, Justin Vaive
Scratches: Syracuse- Jake Dotchin, Philippe Paradls
3 – Stars
1. Dylan McIlrath – Hartford
2. Chris Bourque – Hartford
3. Shawn O’ Donnell – Hartford