Hartford, CT - The Hartford Wolf Pack jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead over the Providence Bruins, and then held on for a 4-2 win Friday night at the XL Center, in the AHL regular-season opener for both teams.
Chris Bigras had the shorthanded game-winning goal, and added an assist, for Hartford, and Cole Schneider had a goal and an assist. Marek Mazanec made 24 saves, holding Providence scoreless for the first nearly 50 minutes of the game. Austin Fyten and Mark McNeill scored third-period goals for the Bruins.
The Wolf Pack started the game with excellent offensive pressure, and at 5:11 of the first period, rookie left wing Tim Gettinger scored the first goal, getting the puck past Bruins starting goaltender Zane McIntyre. Assists went to Bigras and right wing Ville Meskanen.
“Gettinger found a good hole in the net for that first goal,” Bigras said, ”He works in front of the net well, we definitely have a lot of young talent here.”
Forty-three seconds later, the Wolf Pack was granted a power play opportunity. At 6:06, Schneider, the new Wolf Pack captain, was able to put another puck in the net for a power play goal, receiving the scoring pass from centerman Peter Holland. Defenseman John Gilmour was also credited with an assist.
“I thought our start was excellent, our forecheck was strong, and it was a smart play by Schneider on the power play,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said.
The Wolf Pack special teams struck again at 12:39, when Bigras received a pass from center Steven Fogarty to score a shorthanded goal against McIntyre, with Lias Andersson in the penalty box for slashing. It was after the third goal that the Bruins replaced McIntyre (seven saves) with Dan Vladar, who would go on to stop all eight shots he faced.
The Wolf Pack was on penalty kill for much of the second period. One of the three penalties was given to right wing Shawn St. Amant at 3:21 for goaltender interference. Almost as soon as St. Amant’s penalty was over, Fogarty received a penalty for interference at 5:56. The third penalty for the Wolf Pack was given to defenseman Rob O’Gara for tripping.
Luckily for the Wolf Pack, the Bruins did not score on any of their power play opportunities. “We were on our heels for a little bit of the second period and gave the Bruins some momentum,” said McCambridge.
The Bruins got a shorthanded goal of their own to foil Mazanec’ shutout bid, with Fyten scoring on a shot to Mazanec’ stick side at 9:19 of the third, with Emil Johansson off for slashing. The Providence power play then cut the lead to one with 4:38 left, when a McNeill centering try from below the goal line went off of Wolf Pack defenseman Libor Hajek in front of the goal and past Mazanec.
Holland put an end to the Bruin comeback bid, though, with an empty-net goal at 18:48, chasing down a loose puck on the left side and flicking it into the vacated cage.
“The third period we played a little better in regards to staying in the offensive zone, and we were able to get some saves out of Mazanec,” McCambridge said. “It was a real nice win for our home opener.”
The Wolf Pack are right back at the XL Center this Sunday, October 7, as the Laval Rocket make their only Hartford visit of the season. Faceoff is 3:00 PM, and fans can take advantage of the Wolf Pack’s “Click It or Ticket Family Value Pack”, which includes two tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas, all for just $40.
Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy 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 $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.