AHL

Pack erase five goal deficit, fall in OT to Utica

Utica Comets 6, Hartford Wolf Pack 5 (OT)

Utica, NY, January 15, 2020 – The Hartford Wolf Pack stormed back from a 5-0 first-period deficit Wednesday night at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, only to fall 6-5 in overtime to the Utica Comets, in the first of a pair of games between the two teams this week in Utica.

Lukas Jasek won the game for the Comets with 36 seconds left in OT, after Vinni Lettieri’s second goal of the game had capped the Wolf Pack comeback with 14.8 seconds remaining in regulation, and goaltender Tom McCollum on the bench for an extra attacker.

On the winner, the Comets’ Brogan Rafferty stickhandled towards the goal line on the right side, before flipping a shot at the net. The bid handcuffed McCollum, who had the puck go off the top of his right pad and drop behind him. Jasek then knocked it into the net from the goal crease.

That was the only goal allowed by McCollum on the 15 shots he faced in relief of starter Adam Huska.

Lettieri, the Wolf Pack’s leading scorer, forced overtime with a one-timer from the slot, his 17th goal of the season, after Patrick Newell hooked the puck out of a scrum in the right-wing corner.

Simply getting the game to overtime was a major accomplishment for the Wolf Pack, after the Comets swamped them with five goals in the first period, three of them by Justin Bailey.

Utica opened the scoring on a power play only 1:42 in, after Darren Raddysh was called for hooking at 1:19.

Nikolay Goldobin played the puck from the top of the left circle to Rafferty at the center point, and he sent a snap shot towards the net that Bailey deflected past Huska.

Bailey clicked again exactly three minutes later, as he ended up with a breakaway after a shot by Yegor Rykov from the slot in the Utica end hit a Comet defender, and Wolf Pack blueliner Nick Ebert lost his footing high in the slot while going after the loose puck. Bailey moved in alone on Huska and beat him with a deke to the forehand.

Goldobin then upped the lead to 3-0 at 9:03.

A pass attempt by Rykov out of his own end was intercepted in center ice by Reid Boucher, who broke into the Wolf Pack end on a 2-on-1 with Goldobin. Boucher held the puck on the left side until Rykov slid down on to the ice, and the passed it around him to Goldobin, who put a backhander high into the net behind Huska.

Bailey completed his hat trick with another Utica power-play goal at 15:14, with Joey Keane off for hooking. Goldobin fed the puck out of the left-wing corner to Rafferty at the point. He unloaded a slap shot, and Bailey’s re-direction eluded Huska.

Rafferty scored a shorthanded goal at 18:18 to make it a 5-0 Comet advantage, after Guillaume Brisebois had been sent off for tripping at 17:28. Rafferty got past Keane in the slot in the Wolf Pack zone with a move to the inside, and then put a forehand shot over Huska’s catching glove.

The Wolf Pack changed goaltenders to start the second period, replacing Huska (eight saves) with McCollum, and he would face only one shot in the period, as the second was almost a mirror image of the first.

The Wolf Pack started to turn the momentum almost immediately, as Vitali Kravtsov got Hartford on the board only ten seconds after the opening puck-drop of the second period. Steven Fogarty carried the puck into the Comet zone on the left side and dropped it to Kravtsov, and he fired a snap shot that hit the underside of Utica goaltender Michael DiPietro’s catching glove and went into the net.

The Wolf Pack then cut the margin all the way down to two goals, with a pair of strikes in a span of 26 seconds.

Lettieri shaved the lead to 5-2 at 6:24, with his first of the game, exchanging the puck with Boo Nieves. Lettieri sent Nieves over the Comet blue line with a backhanded pass, and Nieves spun at the right side of the net, before sending a pass back across the middle to Lettieri. DiPietro (34 saves) had no chance on Lettieri’s quick shot from the left side of the slot.

Then, at 6:50, Raddysh made it a 5-3 game. Newell knocked the puck loose in the right-wing corner of the Utica end, and it went off of a Comet stick to Nieves in the slot. His hard drive was denied by DiPietro, but the rebound went right to Raddysh in the left circle, and he fired it over the sprawling netminder and high into the cage.

Shots on goal were 16-1 in favor of the Wolf Pack in the middle frame, and the Wolf Pack continued the comeback only 2:25 into the third period, as Danny O’Regan made it a one-goal game with his ninth goal of the season.

Vincent LoVerde worked the puck down the left-wing wall to Fogarty along the end boards, and he sent a pass to O’Regan at the left side of the goal mouth. He fired a quick shot past DiPietro’s glove side.

The Wolf Pack and Comets will tangle again Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center, with faceoff at 7:00. The next home game for the Wolf Pack is next Friday, January 24 vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with faceoff at 7:15. That is “Pucks and Paws Night” at the XL Center, and all Friday-night Wolf Pack home games feature $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period, presented by Nomads Adventure Quest.

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 (877) 522-8499. 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, or click here to request more info. To visit the Wolf Pack on line, go to www.hartfordwolfpack.com.

Hartford Wolf Pack 5 at Utica Comets 6 (OT)
Wednesday, January 15, 2020 – Adirondack Bank Center

Hartford 0 3 2 0 – 5
Utica 5 0 0 1 – 6

1st Period-1, Utica, Bailey 17 (Rafferty, Goldobin), 1:42 (PP). 2, Utica, Bailey 18 (Brisebois), 4:42. 3, Utica, Goldobin 13 (Boucher), 9:03. 4, Utica, Bailey 19 (Lind, Rafferty), 15:15 (PP). 5, Utica, Rafferty 6 (Juolevi), 18:18 (SH). Penalties-Raddysh Hfd (hooking), 1:19; Stevens Uti (hooking), 5:41; Brisebois Uti (high-sticking), 7:01; Fogarty Hfd (slashing), 10:52; Keane Hfd (hooking), 14:07; Brisebois Uti (tripping), 17:28.

2nd Period-6, Hartford, Kravtsov 3 (Fogarty, LoVerde), 0:10. 7, Hartford, Lettieri 16 (Nieves), 6:24. 8, Hartford, Raddysh 5 (Nieves), 6:50. Penalties-Stevens Uti (hooking), 1:26.

3rd Period-9, Hartford, O’Regan 9 (Fogarty, LoVerde), 2:25. 10, Hartford, Lettieri 17 (Gropp, Jones), 19:45. Penalties-Geertsen Hfd (slashing), 11:11.

OT Period-11, Utica, Jasek 10 (Rafferty, Boucher), 4:24. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Hartford 9-16-11-3-39. Utica 13-1-10-4-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 / 4; Utica 2 / 4.
Goalies-Hartford, Huska 8-4-4 (13 shots-8 saves); McCollum 0-1-1 (15 shots-14 saves). Utica, DiPietro 11-5-1 (39 shots-34 saves).
A-3,935
Referees-Corey Syvret (42), Reid Anderson (49).
Linesmen-Matt Brady (86), Adam Wood (23).

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