Hartford CT: The Hartford Wolf Pack (42-23-5-4) has been on a real role lately; tonight they were back out on home ice at Hartford’s XL Center. Over the past few weeks, the Pack has managed to win all of their home games; two of which were come from behind victories. As the team enter into playoffs, the main goal is to maintain the same momentum that they’ve had during the past couple of weeks; skillful, smart play. Facing the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (27-39-7-1) tonight, the Wolf Pack needs to keep themselves level headed and not let their emotions get the best of them. The Sound Tigers are coming off a 4-0 loss against the Manchester Monarchs to end their season home games.
A quick start to the game and first period at 5:05, as Hartford’s Oscar Lindberg scored his 27th goal of the season. Assisted by Chris Bourque, who picked up the puck at the top of the offensive zone sent a hard shot down, which Lindberg was able to tip into the net past Sound Tiger goalie, C.J. Motte.
Despite the efforts to maintain the early 1-0 lead, the Sound Tiger’s clawed their way back. With just 16.9 seconds left in the first period, Bridgeport’s Dustin Jeffrey tapped one in on Hartford’s goalie, Yann Danis. Jeffrey’s goal came from a power play after Matt Bodie (HFD) was called for interference. The first period closed in a 1-1 tie.
Coming into the second both teams were anxious to break the tie, and regain any stolen momentum. With fifteen minutes left to go in the second period, Joey Crabb came through for the Wolf Pack. Again, with 4:40 remaining, Marek Hrivik took advantage of some sloppy handling in front of Bridgeport’s goal. With the 3-1 lead in favor of the Wolf Pack, and the period nearing an end, Bridgeport once again struck back with only a short bit to go. Sound Tiger’s Matt Carkner got credit for the second goal.
A quiet and scoreless third period to close the game; although both the Wolf Pack and Sound Tiger’s pushed with great effort to really take the lead, the score remained 3-2, Wolf Pack. Hartford’s Head Coach Ken Gernander said of the winning streak, “We’re finding ways to get it done. It’s not the same cast of characters night in and night out getting on the scoreboard. We’re getting it from all different sources.”
Crabb was also quick to comment on the recent success, “Our main focus is to try and shut the other team down and play a defensive game.” He went on to say, “It’s awesome to have Yann step in and do such a great job.” Danis, a veteran to the league, has come forward in the past couple of games to nail down the net after Hartford’s other starting goalie, McKenzie Skapski was injured last week.
Next weekend starts the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs. Tonight’s win against the Sound Tigers pushes Hartford to into being within one point of its first regular-season division championship title since winning the Atlantic Division 2008-2009 season title. To get this point, the Wolf Pack needs either another win or at the very least an overtime or shoot out loss to bump them into that first place spot. Finishing at the top of the Northeast does however ensure a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference bracket, however with the remaining two games it’s hard to tell the Pack’s first-round pair.
The Wolf Pack hit the road Saturday to face off against the Albany Devils.