Hartford, CT – There’s nothing like a Sunday afternoon matinee on the ice, especially for the Hartford Wolf Pack (30-17-4-3), who have been on quite the hot streak the past few games. This weekend the team even got to see one of their MVPs, goalie Mackenzie Skapski, be called up to the Rangers and achieve his first NHL win, plus back to back overtime wins, so to say the least, things have been going pretty well for the Pack. Coming on to the ice this afternoon, everyone seemed pretty amped up, especially since opponent, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (30-18-2-4) was expected to give Hartford quite a game.
With such an evenly matched team, the first period started off a bit slow. The Wolf Pack managed to gain substantial control in the first couple minutes of the game, with some good power play work. Despite this being demonstrated, the Penguins were able to fight back. Andrew Ebbett, Penguins’ center, managed to get the puck right through Danis’ legs at 5:45, which resulted in the Penguins taking a 1-0 lead. Coming back after the goal, the Wolf Pack stepped it up, Danis came in hot with some great saves and the boys picked up a couple of power plays- none of which proved a success. Closing down the first period, still with the Penguins in the lead, Nick Tarnasky, a player who we don’t see very often on the ice took it up a notch, with a goal at 18:19. The first period ended tied up 1-1. Even though the Pack had tied it up in the last couple minutes, the mood appeared tense, and Tarnasky who one would expect to be pretty excited about his first goal was visibly frustrated. Mat Bodie, however, stated, “[The first period] was sloppy on both sides. We seriously needed to get back to playing smart hockey, like we’ve been doing”.
The second period proved evident that something had snapped in both teams; things were getting testy on the ice. Adding more fuel to the fire, a 2 on 1 goal led to a second goal for the Penguins. With the Penguins assuming control over the Wolf Pack, both teams were literally walking on thin ice with one another. Finally, the tension broke, about half way through the period, Dylan MacIlrath delivered a bone crushing hit and like dominos a team wide brawl broke out on the ice. It was obvious that the second period had irritated the Wolf Pack, the team continued to slip up the rest of the period, leaving an air of uncertainty as to how the third period would play out.
The Wolf Pack have a tendency of a rough first two periods but, they bounce back. Overall, they’re pretty resilient; they pull themselves together quite nicely in the end – even if they don’t win. As soon as the puck dropped in the third, it was clearly visible that the second period tension was killing the team. It seemed as if they were really letting the Penguins run them down. Right from the face off the Penguins picked up another goal, adding another point to their increasing 3-1 lead. Losing their cool, the Wolf Pack proceeded to give up power plays to the Penguins, causing yet another goal to be given up at 16:51. The game really didn’t pick up much after that, the Wolf Pack looked slow, sluggish and a bit crippled by the lead and the Penguins’ skillful aggression. The final score read 4-1, Penguins, a painful loss for the Pack.
The Wolf Pack will be back on home ice February 28th, once again to play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Stars of the Game:
1. Andrew Ebbett – WBS
2. Tom Kostopoulos – WBS
3. Nick Tarnasky – HFD
This loss snapped an 6-0-1 streak at home for the Wolf Pack