Lettieri's Hat Trick Not Enough for Wolf Pack
Hartford, CT - Vinni Lettieri had his first pro hat trick for the Hartford Wolf Pack Sunday at the XL Center, but Devante Smith-Pelly also scored three times for the Hershey Bears, who prevailed over the Wolf Pack by a score of 5-3.
The Wolf Pack, who had won three straight coming into the game, had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but Hershey scored three times in the third period and outshot Hartford 17-8 in the third.
"It was tough we didn't get that win today," Lettieri said. "I think whether you're up or down, playing the full 60 (minutes) is the most important thing."
John Gilmour had three assists for the Wolf Pack, as had Hershey's Nathan Walker. Former Wolf Pack Jayson Megna had a goal and an assist for the Bears.
Adam Huska, fresh off of the end of a three-year career at UConn, made his pro debut in the Wolf Pack net, making 25 saves.
"I liked Adam's game," Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said of Huska. "I thought he played well. He's a big goalie and he moves well. There's lots of positive things there."
The Wolf Pack controlled much of the first period, outshooting Hershey 15-7, but came out of the frame tied at one.
Hartford opened the scoring on the game's first power play at 12:59, with Mike Sgarbossa off for high-sticking. Lettieri started his big day with a low snap shot from the top of the right circle. Gabriel Fontaine screened Hershey netminder Vitek Vanecek (25 saves), and the puck got by Vanecek on the stick side.
"Vinni's an offensive player that we can lean on for those offensive opportunities," McCambridge said. "He's been a real big contributor for us."
The Bears equalized with 2:31 left in the period, on the first goal in six AHL games on the year for Smith-Pelly, the long-time NHL winger. Hershey won a defensive zone draw and Tyler Lewington passed the puck from the right point to Aaron Ness on the left point, and his shot was deflected by Smith-Pelly off of the right shoulder of Huska and into the net.
Lettieri struck for his second of the game, and 20th of the season, only 30 seconds in the second period, to put the Wolf Pack up 2-1. After a Ryan Gropp pass attempt was broken up, Gilmour put the puck on net from the left-wing boards, and the rebound went off Vanecek's pads to Lettieri at the right side of the goal mouth, and he easily buried it.
"Our line's been doing great," said Lettieri. "When I get the puck I always try to get it to Gropp or (Steven) Fogarty and then try and get ahead of the play, and they always seem to find me."
Hershey tied the score again, though, at 5:53, on their first power play of the contest. With only eight seconds left on a cross-checking penalty to Gropp, Garrett Pilon fired home a one-timer, off of a pass from the right-wing corner by Juuso Ikonen.
The Bears then took the lead only 1:54 into the third frame, on Smith-Pelly's second of the game. The Wolf Pack turned the puck over in the neutral zone, allowing Hershey to break 3-on-1. Megna passed across the slot from the left side to Smith-Pelly, and he shot back against the grain, putting the puck past Huska to his right.
Hershey's second power-play goal of the game made it a 4-2 Bear lead at 8:53. With Ryan Lindgren off for cross-checking, a cross-ice feed by Riley Barber found Sgarbossa on left wing, and he let go a shot that Megna tipped past Huska.
The Bears gave the Wolf Pack a chance to get back in the game with penalties 44 seconds apart, to Megna for tripping at 14:39 and Liam O'Brien for a hook at 15:23. Six seconds after Megna got out of the box, Lettieri completed his hat trick with his 21st of the season at 16:45. Gilmour set up Fogarty in the left circle, he fed across to Lettieri below the right faceoff dot, and Lettieri's quick shot found its way in behind Vanecek.
Not to be outdone, Smith-Pelly would get his hat trick goal only 44 seconds later, at 17:29, to restore the two-goal margin. A Smith-Pelly pass sent Walker in on a partial breakaway, and Huska stopped his bid, but Smith-Pelly jumped on the rebound and knocked it in.
The next action for the Wolf Pack is a home game this Wednesday night, March 13 vs. the Binghamton Devils. Faceoff is 7:00 PM, and that is another chance to take advantage of the Wolf Pack's "Click It or Ticket Family Value Pack", which includes two tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas, all for just $40.
Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack's 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack's many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Hershey Bears 5 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Sunday - XL Center
Hershey 1 1 3 - 5
Hartford 1 1 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Hartford, Lettieri 19 (Gilmour), 12:59 (PP). 2, Hershey, Smith-Pelly 1 (Ness, Lewington), 17:29. Penalties-Sgarbossa Her (high-sticking), 11:26; O'Brien Her (cross-checking), 13:35.
2nd Period-3, Hartford, Lettieri 20 (Gilmour, Gropp), 0:30. 4, Hershey, Pilon 7 (Ikonen, Walker), 5:53 (PP). Penalties-Gropp Hfd (cross-checking), 4:01; Lindgren Hfd (hooking), 9:36; O'Donnell Hfd (slashing), 15:33.
3rd Period-5, Hershey, Smith-Pelly 2 (Megna, Walker), 1:54. 6, Hershey, Megna 15 (Sgarbossa, Barber), 8:53 (PP). 7, Hartford, Lettieri 21 (Fogarty, Gilmour), 16:45 (PP). 8, Hershey, Smith-Pelly 3 (Walker), 17:29. Penalties-Crawley Hfd (tripping), 4:04; Lindgren Hfd (cross-checking), 7:53; Megna Her (tripping), 14:39; O'Brien Her (hooking), 15:23.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 7-6-17-30. Hartford 15-5-8-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Hershey 2 / 5; Hartford 2 / 4.
Goalies-Hershey, Vanecek 16-9-4 (28 shots-25 saves). Hartford, Huska 0-1-0 (30 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Michael Sheehan (74), Beau Halkidis (48).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (47), Nick Briganti (58).
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