Hartford Wolf Pack 4, Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2
By Bryce Grundy
Hartford, CT, January 25, 2020 – The Hartford Wolf Pack completed a sweep of a two-game weekend Saturday night at the XL Center, defeating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 4-2, in both teams’ last action before the AHL All-Star break.
The Wolf Pack had knocked off the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on home ice by a 4-1 score on Friday night.
Hartford is now 18-1-0-2 at home on the season, and is currently on a 10-game win streak at the XL Center. Igor Shesterkin shined yet again in net Saturday, stopping 28 of 30 shots. Ryan Gropp’s two-goal night included the third-period game-winner.
“We played a good team game,” said Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch. “A lot of respect for our opponent tonight.”
Relentless offensive-zone pressure by the Phantoms led them to a 2-0 lead early in the game.
The first Lehigh Valley goal came from forward Max Willman at 5:39 of the first period, and it only took 31 seconds for the Phantoms to find the back of the net again, this time on a goal by winger Greg Carey.
“A lot of credit to the Phantoms,” mentioned Knoblauch. “They came out hard and wanted to win this game.”
The Wolf Pack responded with two unanswered goals of their own shortly thereafter. Phil Di Giuseppe’s shot went wide into the right-wing corner, and a charging Darren Raddysh shot the puck on net and caught Phantoms starting netminder Jean-Francois Berube by surprise, cutting the lead in half and 7:49.
Then Hartford created an offensive zone turnover, as a result of an aggressive forecheck that started with forward Ryan Dmowski. Gropp took advantage of an out of position Berube with a whistling one-timer in the slot at 10:58. Forward Shawn McBride assisted on the goal.
That ended the night for Berube, who was replaced by Alex Lyon after making two saves
Defense and goaltending highlighted the second period, as both clubs were held scoreless.
Gropp snipped the game winner at 9:01 of the third frame. Linemate Dmowski created another scoring opportunity, as he sped through the neutral zone, attracting three Phantom players towards him and freeing up the slot for a wide-open Gropp.
“I thought we were the better team the second half. Our fourth line came up huge,” noted Knoblauch.
Di Giuseppe added an empty-netter to his two-point night, sealing the win for Hartford with 7.7 left.
The Wolf Pack return from the All-Star break with a home game this Friday, January 31 vs. the Springfield Thunderbirds. Faceoff is 7:15, 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 (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, or click here to request more info. To visit the Wolf Pack on line, go to www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack 4
Saturday, January 25, 2020 – XL Center
Lehigh Valley 2 0 0 – 2
Hartford 2 0 2 – 4
1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Willman 3 (de Haas, Willcox), 5:39. 2, Lehigh Valley, Carey 13 (O’Reilly, Kase), 6:10. 3, Hartford, Raddysh 6 (Di Giuseppe, O’Regan), 7:49. 4, Hartford, Gropp 2 (McBride), 10:58. Penalties-Fogarty Hfd (tripping), 1:50.
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Bunnaman Lv (tripping), 13:55.
3rd Period-5, Hartford, Gropp 3 (Dmowski, Nieves), 9:01. 6, Hartford, Di Giuseppe 13 (Jones, O’Regan), 19:52 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 13-7-10-30. Hartford 6-12-8-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 0 / 1; Hartford 0 / 1.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, Berube 9-8-4 (4 shots-2 saves); Lyon 9-13-2 (21 shots-20 saves). Hartford, Shesterkin 17-4-3 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Conor O’Donnell (41), Mike Dietrich (15).
Linesmen-Nick Briganti (58), Glen Cooke (6).