Hartford, CT- The Hartford Wolf Pack (30-20-5-3) took the ice this afternoon after a defeat by the Worchester Sharks, to add a fourth loss to their current losing streak last night. Despite the loss the Wolf Pack debuted two new team members, Carl Klingberg, who contributed an assist, and Chris Summers. On the other side of the ice, this afternoon’s opponent the Hershey Bears (36-15-5-2) had been on a five-game winning streak until last night’s game playing the Providence Bruins. However, this has only been the second loss during regulation play for the Bears in the past twenty games.
The Wolf Pack are currently 1-1-1-0 in this season’s meetings with the Bears, and today being the last of the teams meeting it isn’t much of a surprise that Hartford’s XL Center was packed and rowdy. During the last meeting between the Wolf Pack and the Bears back in October, the Wolf Pack suffered a 1-0 loss in overtime.
A 3:30pm puck drop and we were off to a quick start with a shot in the net by Klingberg to get an early 1-0 lead. However, the Bears didn’t take long to make a comeback, tying the game with 14:10 left in the period. The early goals seemed to be setting a tone for the game, a true battle for Eastern Conference seeding. As the first period plunged on, tension was starting to rise. A penalty for slashing by Hershey’s Casey Wellman gave the Wolf Pack a nice power play. Then, with a beautiful set up by Conner Allen; Chris Bourque ripped one past Bear’s goalie, Phoenix Copley, giving the Pack the lead back. C. Bourque has been on roll when it comes to getting the puck in the net, an All Star player, and sitting in a tied position for 8th in terms of points in the AHL. C. Bourque is certainly one of the players the Wolf Pack can count on to come up big.
Although it appeared things were running smoothly for the Wolf Pack, a surprise twist in the period came with a very proactive response from the Bears; first tying up the game with 10:57 left (immediately after the Wolf Pack’s second goal), and then again with 4:47 left in the first to break the tie. The first period closed with a bit of flying fists between Chad Nehring and Bear’s player, Garrett Mitchell. The period closed with Hershey remaining in the lead 3-2 while Hartford lead 17-9 for shots on goal.
As expected, the second period was bound to heat up. Remaining strong in the net, Wolf Pack goalie, Yann Dennis, fought each shot that came at him. A lot of back and forth play, and the board still favoring the Bears with 12:30 left. Luck came onto the Wolf Pack side however, when Danny Kristo who’d been in the box for tripping, was exiting and caught a breakaway to tie it up 3-3. The score tied again, stressing both teams, things on the ice began to get chippy. Back to back fights broke out between Ryan Haggerty (HFD) and Steve Olskey, (HBH) followed by Shawn O’Donnell (HFD) and Kris Newbury (HBH) , causing another series of penalties and chippy play. The second period closed tied up, 3-3, the Wolf Pack still leading in shots on goal, 24-17, for the game.
The chippy play continued into the third with the Wolf Pack beginning to slip up more, cracking under the pressure. With 13:36 the Bears break the tie and take the lead, 4-3. Despite having a power play and the opportunity to put another notch on the board, the Pack continued to spiral; the energetic and confident vibes that the team initially had coming onto the ice had nearly disappeared. The Wolf Pack, sluggishly waved their white flag, and with about 4 minutes left in the game, the Bears widen the lead 5-3. Unable to pick themselves up and recover; the Wolf Pack faced another loss. The game ending 5-3, Bears, shots on goal 37-20 Wolf Pack.
The team was visibly upset about the outcome of this afternoon’s game, as nobody would comment postgame including Coach Ken Gernander. The Wolf Pack will be on the road for the next week, returning home to the XL Center March 20th to play the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
1. Tim Kennedy (HBH)
2. Kris Newbury (HBH)
3. Chris Bourque (HFD)