The Pack Strikes Back
The last time rival Hartford journeyed to Glens Falls, the Wolf Pack failed to register a single goal against Cal Heeter in a December 6th encounter. Hartford exacted their revenge in their first meeting of 2014 with the Phantoms and prevailed 4-2 in a come-from-behind decision on Friday night.
Adirondack held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period but the Wolf Pack rallied to equalize and then take the lead and after that were able to scramble and throw bodies in front of their recently acquired goalie, David LeNeveu, to hang on for the win. It was LeNeveu's first game for Hartford in five years as the veteran journeyman goalie had just signed with the Wolf Pack from the ECHL earlier in the week.
Jason Akeson (13th) and Kris Newbury (12th) cranked up power-play goals in the first period for Adirondack's offense. Ryan Bourque (8th), Darroll Powe (6th), Andrew Yogan (3rd) an then Jesper Fast (3rd) with an empty-netter all lit the lamp for Hartford who ended a six-game losing streak at Adirondack's expense while acquiring their first win of 2014. Hartford captain Aaron Johnson notched three assists on his way to #1 Star of the Game honors.
While the Phantoms led 2-1 at the first intermission, head coach Terry Murray was not entirely satisfied with how things were progressing even at that point and sensed possible trouble developing for the remaining 40 minutes.
"The first period was the difference," Murray said. "It ends up, we score a couple goals on the power play. They score (too). But at 5-on-5, they were carrying the edge, the advantage. They were digging harder along the boards, they're recovering pucks, they were on us fast on the fore-check. We had some turnovers at 5-on-5 that gave them a lot of momentum and I think it carried through into the second period."
Jason Akeson blasted a center-point slapper on the power play past LeNeveu's blocker about six minutes into the game from Bruno Gervais and Nick Cousins as the Phantoms drew first blood. Akeson extended his point-streak to eight games and now has a four-game goal-streak as well. Akeson has scored seven goals and five assists for 12 points in his eight-game point streak.
Ryan Bourque, son of the prominent Hall of Fame great Ray Bourque, tied the score for Hartford midway through the first period with his deflection in the slot of Aaron Johnson's dish from the left circle on the power play. It was the first 5-on-4 goal surrendered by Adirondack in 2014 (last one allowed was December 26). The Phantoms entered the game having given up just two power-play goals in the last 41 chances but both of those had been 5-on-3 until Bourque broke Adirondack's streak.
Kris Newbury put the Phantoms on top again with his nicely timed wrister from the right circle for his sixth goal in his last seven games. It was Newbury's first goal this season against his former team. The 31-year-old veteran had spent the last four seasons playing for Ken Gernander in Hartford before an off-season trade to the Flyers organization in exchange for Danny Syvret who was appearing on Glens Falls Civic Center ice again, this time of course for the opposition.
The Phantoms led 2-1 after the first period with a pair of man-advantage tallies and also had 1:47 of carry-over power-play to begin the second to try to extend the lead. But Hartford killed the power-play at the start of the second and then gradually built their own momentum from there.
Jesper Fast snuck past the Phantoms defense on the breakaway early in the second period and Oliver Lauridsen was called for a stick infraction on the play affording a penalty shot to Fast. But Heeter put a right-leg kick on Fast's snapper from the slot to keep Adirondack in front.
Just a minute later, former Philadelphia Phantom and Flyer Darroll Powe would shoot from the slot in ring a perfectly placed blast off the underside of the corner of the cage over Heeter's right shoulder to the tie game at 2-2.
Petr Straka was called for an unusual five-minute fighting major without a matching five-minute penalty being given to Hartford. The Wolf Pack received a five-minute power-play and Straka was tagged with a match penalty as well for his continuation of the altercation. Hartford only had three minutes on that advantage as they took their own two-minute minor partway through and the Phantoms were able to kill that off but they would be without Straka for the rest of the night.
An early third-period goal by Andrew Yogan would push Hartford into the lead as the big winger carried the puck out in front from the end-boards untouched and had time to put a little head-fake on Heeter to get the goalie to bite towards the far-side allowing him to flip the shot upstairs on the short-side from the right circle.
Adirondack had numerous chances in the third period including a big power-play slap shot from center-point by Brandon Manning that went off and through the stick of LeNeveu and straight behind him...almost. The Wolf Pack goalie got just enough of it to knock it barely wide as the crowd gasped at the near-miss. Moments later, Bruno Gervais rushed into the right circle and appeared to blast one off the post and out.
Several other quality opportunities never made it through to the cage due to the frenetic and scrambling efforts of the Wolf Pack defense. A late-empty net goal would finish the night for Hartford as the Phantoms essentially ran out of time in their comeback efforts while having the visitors up against the ropes for much of the final frame.
"We bounced back in the third," Murray said. "We had a pretty good third period. We had lots of offensive zone time but the early part of the game. I think that was the difference."
The setback was only the second loss in the last eight games for the Phantoms (6-2-0) and just their fifth defeat in their last 16 (11-5-0 since December 6).
Hartford out-shot the Phantoms 37-28 including 15-8 in the third period as many of Adirondack's blasts were blocked and deflected by Wolf Pack defenders. Adirondack was 2-for-5 on the power-play while Hartford finished 1-for-4. Adirondack slipped to the #9 spot in the Eastern Conference behind St. John's who moved back up to #8 via a 4-1 victory over Manchester. The Phantoms are 25-10-2 while Hartford picked up to 12-20-5. Adirondack is 2-2-1 against the Wolf Pack this season at the midway point of the 10 games slated between the Northeast Division rivals.
"I think it was a tough one tonight," Akeson said. "It's just one of those things where we didn't have it. Tonight there were flashes of good things. But like I said many times before, that's why this game is so good, we get to come out tomorrow and prove ourselves again. So it's one you want to put on the back-burner and look ahead to tomorrow."
The Phantoms tangle with Northway Rival Albany on Saturday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Dax's Big Birthday Bash featuring all his best mascot friends. Mascot VIP Guests to help Dax celebrate his big night include Sonar (Hartford Wolf Pack), Devil Dawg (Albany Devils), Tux (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), Finz (Worcester Sharks) and many more. Fun for the whole family! Saturday is also Law Enforcement Night with discount tickets available for all Law Enforcement to benefit Special Olympics New York.
Pink the Rink presented by Glens Falls Hospital is Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 against Hartford with the Phantoms wearing and then auctioning special pink jerseys in the fight against breast cancer. January 31 is Pack The House Night presented by John Ray & Sons with discount tickets available. Let's show the league what we've got. Let's Pack The House on Friday, January 31! Call the Phantoms for tickets in advance to save: 518-480-3355.
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American Hockey League Stories from January 17, 2014
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