Hartford, CT - The Hartford Wolf Pack picked up their third win in a row Sunday evening, taking down the Rochester Americans, 6-4, at the XL Center.
Former Amerk Dan Catenacci scored the game-winning goal with 3:31 remaining in the third period, and added an assist, and the Wolf Pack survived a hat trick scored by Rochester rookie C.J. Smith
The key term behind Sunday’s victory was resilience. The Wolf Pack were able to make the most of several second chances in their win, as they bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit against the Americans.
The Americans were able to strike first in this game, with Smith scoring two quick goals in the opening 5:02 of the first period, which prompted Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge to call a time out to calm his team down.
“Overall when you look at those time outs, it’s either that we are not playing well and you're looking to give your guys a wake-up call, or it’s to calm things down in this instance,” McCambridge said. After calming things down, the Wolf Pack began to settle into the game, playing more physically and taking more shots, 13, in the first period.
The Wolf Pack were able to get on the score board as well in the first period, at 9:34, as Chris Bigras scored his first goal in eight games since joining the Wolf Pack to cut the Rochester lead to 2-1. Bigras noted the Wolf Packs physical play Sunday saying, “We have to keep working hard, we need to be resilient, and we showed that tonight.”
Coming into the second period, the Wolf Pack looked to net an equalizer, but they failed to put a shot on goal in the first ten minutes, as the Americans more than doubled their shots from the first. With 12:21 remaining in the second period, the Americans were able to find the net, as Arvin Atwal beat Wolf pack goaltender Marek Mazanec with a slap shot to extend the Americans’ lead to 3-1.
The Wolf Pack, though, retaliated with a trio of goals of their own. After a slap shot was blocked by the an Americans defender, Vinni Lettieri was able to score off of the rebound at 12:10, for his team-high 18th goal of the season, cutting the lead to 3-2. Just 1:21 later, Hubert Labrie scored a goal of his own, his first point in 16 games with the wolf Pack, which would knot the game up at 3-3 with 6:29 remaining in the second period.
As the second period was winding down, Brenden Kotyk caught Amerk goaltender Jonas Johansson off guard, and was able to throw a puck from the redline into the net after a face-off, for his first AHL goal of his career. That came at 19:16.
The Wolf Pack came into the third period strong, looking to extend their lead, but failed to do so, and Smith of the Americans was able to complete his hat trick at 11:02 of the third, deflecting a Matt Tennyson bid into the net for a 4-4 tie.
The resilient style of play from the Wolf Pack continued, however, as Catenacci poked the puck in off a scramble in front of a crowded net, at 16:29 of the third.
“Dan is doing a good job of staying positive this season,” McCambridge said. “When he’s playing the right way and making use of the attributes he has, he is rewarded with more ice time, and it’s nice to see him get that goal here tonight.”
Lettieri was able to seal the game with an empty-net goal with 52.6 seconds remaining in the final period of play, which would move him to 19 goals scored on the season for the Wolf Pack.
The Wolf Pack are now off until this Saturday, March 24, when they host the Hershey Bears in a 3:00 PM game. That is “Super Hero Day” at the XL Center, as the first 1,000 kids 12 years old or younger receive a free Wolf Pack super hero cape, courtesy of the U.S. Army.