Belleville, Ontario - The Hartford Wolf Pack finished a three-game Canadian road trip with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Belleville Senators Saturday night at CAA Arena.
The Wolf Pack finished the trip 0-1-0-2, but gained at least a standings point Saturday for the 11th time in 12 games on the season (8-1-0-3).
Joey Keane’s team-leading sixth goal of the season tied the game for the Wolf Pack with 54.5 seconds left in regulation time and goaltender Igor Shesterkin on the bench for an extra attacker.
Nick Ebert and Steven Fogarty had a goal and an assist each for Hartford, and Patrick Newell scored his first pro goal. Jordan Szwarz had a goal and an assist for Belleville, and scored the only goal of the shootout, and Cole Cassels added a goal and an assist.
“That was big, at the end, to score that goal, something we definitely need, a key goal,” Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Hopefully that goal can give us some confidence moving forward.”
The Wolf Pack jumped ahead twice in the first period, but the Senators replied both times.
Fogarty opened the scoring 2:28 into the game, going to the front of the net and deflecting a pass from the right-wing boards by Ebert past Belleville goaltender Filip Gustavsson (33 saves).
Michael Carcone tied the game at one exactly eight minutes later, at 10:28. After Shesterkin (32 saves) made a sharp stop on one Senator chance, Carcone was able to poke the rebound inside the goalpost to Shesterkin’s left.
Ebert, a former Senator, got the lead right back for the Wolf Pack at 12:10, just 1:43 after Carcone’s goal. Ville Meskanen worked the puck to Ebert high in the slot, and he snapped a shot past Gustavsson on the glove side.
The Senators equalized again, though, with 1:08 remining in the frame. Szwarz rushed up the left side, battling Darren Raddysh to get to the middle. Shesterkin stopped Szwarz’s close-in shot, but Jonathan Davidsson, trailing the play, jumped on the rebound and banged it in.
Belleville then took its first lead of the game at 5:45 of the second period, on a shorthanded goal by Szwarz. He poked the puck away from Keane in center ice and then fended Keane off as Szwarz bore towards the Wolf Pack net, ultimately flicking a shot just inside the post on Shesterkin’s glove side.
Then it was the Wolf Pack’s turn to come back, and they leveled the score at three at 8:41, just three seconds after an interference minor to Jack Daugherty expired. Newell finished the play, dunking in a Phil DiGiuseppe pass from the left side of the goal mouth.
The Senators went ahead again at 6:59 of the third on a goal by Cassels, who was playing his first AHL game of the season after joining Belleville from Utah of the ECHL. An Ebert pass attempt from below his own goal line got through DiGiuseppe, and Cassels found the loose puck and wired it past Shesterkin from the slot.
The Wolf Pack’s comeback hopes took a hit when Boo Nieves was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking with only 2:08 left in the third, but during that power play, Belleville’s Drake Batherson was called for high-sticking at 18:35. That made it a 4-on-4, and the Wolf Pack pulled Shesterkin for a 5-on-4 skater advantage.
After the Wolf Pack won an offensive-zone draw, Fogarty sent the puck cross-ice to Vinni Lettieri at the right-wing faceoff dot, and he dropped it back to Keane high in the slot. He sent a long shot that was deflected in front of the goal and eluded Gustavsson for the tie.
“That’s absolutely a talent, getting shots on net, not getting blocked,” Knoblauch said of the rookie defenseman Keane’s early goal-scoring success. “He’s found ways, and you could say, yeah, there’s some luck, but there’s a lot of skill to that too.”
Belleville had a power play in overtime, on the carry-over time of Nieves’ penalty from the third, and then the Wolf Pack got a man advantage when Alex Formenton was called for tripping with two minutes left, but neither man-advantage unit could click.
Szwarz scored on Belleville’s first shootout attempt, and that stood up as the difference. Shesterkin stopped the next two Senator shooters, Josh Norris and Batherson, but Fogarty, Lettieri and Meskanen were all denied by Gustavsson.
The Wolf Pack are back on home ice at the XL Center for their next action, this Friday, November 8, a 7:15 PM game vs. the Hershey Bears. Once again this season, 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.