Pack Tops Rocket, 3-1
Hartford, CT - The Hartford Wolf Pack rebounded from a Wednesday-night home loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in commanding fashion Friday night, beating the Laval Rocket 3-1 at the XL Center.
Goaltender Tom McCollum got his first win in a Wolf Pack uniform with a 20-save performance, in his first home-ice action in six Wolf Pack appearances.
"He did well for us," Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch said of McCollum. "His passing skills alleviate a lot of pressure. Making saves is really important, but not letting them establish a forecheck, I know our defense appreciate that."
"I felt really good tonight," said McCollum. "I think a lot of it really boils down to a total team effort. The guys in front of me did a really good job, they were blocking a lot of shots and giving me clean lanes to see pucks. Our forwards were doing a good job to create back pressure, which helped our defense."
A struggling Laval team, which was 1-4-2-1 in its previous eight games was no match for a dominant Wolf Pack team that is now 21-2-0-2 on home ice.
"The fans bring a lot of good energy," said Wolf Pack forward Danny O'Regan. "Especially on the weekends. It's fun to play in front of a crowd when they're excited about it. We just have that confidence; we know we're a good team at home. I think confidence is the key."
Hartford's early and often attack gave the a quick 2-0 led in the first period. O'Regan put on a stellar display of stick handling right in front of Rocket netminder Cayden Primeau for a 1-0 Wolf Pack lead at the 5:28 mark. Vitali Kravtsov and Vincent LoVerde assisted on the goal.
"Danny has been very important to us throughout the year, and that was maybe his best game," said Knoblauch. "I thought he won a lot of key faceoffs, the majority of his shifts were against their top line, which is pretty dangerous. So not only was he providing offense, he did a lot of defensive responsibilities. I thought his game was really good."
Team leading scorer Vinni Lettieri followed with a goal of his own shortly thereafter, at 8:55. Lettieri collected his own rebound at the top of the circle, skated into open ice toward the point and sniped one through traffic. Nick Ebert and Matt Beleskey had the assists.
"The first period, I don't think we could've played any better. I thought we did an outstanding job," mentioned Knoblauch. "I thought it was a pretty good effort here with everybody."
Laval was next on the board after a scoreless second period. Riley Barber buried a rebound in the slot midway through the third period to cut the deficit in half. This was not enough for Laval, however, as Tim Gettinger put away an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game, securing the two points for Hartford.
The Wolf Pack are back in action Saturday night, traveling to Allentown, PA to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Faceoff is 7:05. The Wolf Pack's next home game is next Saturday, February 22, when they host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:00. That is "Hartford Hockey Heritage Night", as the Wolf Pack celebrate over 40 years of Hartford hockey history. The first 2,00 fans into the game that night will receive a free 2020 Wolf Pack Sonar bobblehead, presented by Xfinity.
Tickets for all 2019-20 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Sunwave Gas & Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (860) 722-9425. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $10 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack's many ticketing options, call (860) 722-9425. To visit the Wolf Pack on line, go to www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
Laval Rocket 1 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Friday - XL Center
Laval 0 0 1 - 1
Hartford 2 0 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Hartford, O'Regan 10 (Kravtsov, LoVerde), 5:28. 2, Hartford, Lettieri 22 (Ebert, Beleskey), 8:55. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Newell Hfd (delay of game - faceoff violation (batting puck with hand)), 7:53; Kravtsov Hfd (tripping), 16:30; Olofsson Lav (tripping), 19:32.
3rd Period-3, Laval, Barber 13 (Varone, Olofsson), 10:14. 4, Hartford, Gettinger 12 (Fogarty), 19:45 (EN). Penalties-Lettieri Hfd (slashing), 4:42.
Shots on Goal-Laval 7-7-7-21. Hartford 10-10-6-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Laval 0 / 3; Hartford 0 / 1.
Goalies-Laval, Primeau 12-9-3 (25 shots-23 saves). Hartford, McCollum 1-2-2 (21 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10), Peter Schlittenhardt (12).
Linesmen-Jonathan Deschamps (84), Glen Cooke (6).
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