Hartford, CT, October 8, 2017 – Adam Tambellini scored the only goal of the shootout, and the only Hartford Wolf Pack regulation goal, against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Sunday at the XL Center, in a 2-1 Wolf Pack win.
The game featured a fine goaltending duel between the Wolf Pack’s Chris Nell, who made 28 saves and went 3-for-3 in the shootout, and Lehigh Valley’s Alex Lyon, who stopped 35 shots and was 2-for-3 on shootout attempts.
Just like Friday’s Wolf Pack opener, a 5-4 loss to the Charlotte Checkers, the Wolf Pack scored first in Sunday’s matchup. After Lehigh Valley racked up slashing penalties to T.J. Brennan and Phil Myers, the Pack was given a 5-on-3 opportunity. At the 9:40 mark, Joe Whitney snapped a pass to a wide-open Tambellini on the left back door. Defensemen Nick Pionk also assisted on the goal.
Tambellini said of his power play goal, “Joe’s an extremely skilled player and he really did the whole thing. I just put it in.”
Both teams continued to exchange chances, but could not get another goal until there was 2:07 left in the first. This time it was the Phantoms evening the score. Danick Martel got the puck in the high slot, after Mike Vecchione won a faceoff, and ripped a snap shot into the top corner. Nell could not get his blocker up in time to make the save.
At 12:51 of the second, the Pack had to kill off another penalty, as Steven Fogarty picked up a boarding call. The Pack killed off the two minutes of man-down hockey and picked up a few shorthanded chances as well.
The Phantoms dominated the last minute of the second period and peppered Nell with a flurry of shots and chances. The Pack stayed strong, with great defensive work and several blocked shots helping to keep the score tied at one.
At 11:07 of the second, Cole Schneider of the Wolf Pack made his way to the penalty box for slashing, giving the Phantoms their third power play chance. Despite a number of good chances by the Phantoms, the Wolf Pack fought off the two minutes of man-down time.
With no goals scored in the third, the game headed into overtime. The Pack entered overtime with 53 seconds left on a power play. They could not convert, though, against Lyon, who faced the only three shots credited in OT.
Both goalies continued to dominate during the shootout, as the first two shooters on both sides were foiled. Tambellini, though, broke through on the third Wolf Pack attempt, putting a shot in off of Lyon’s right pad, after the Phantom goaltender tried a poke check. Lehigh Valley’s Phil Varone then put his shot against Nell of the side of the net, giving Hartford the win.
“It felt good,” said Nell of the victory. “Our [defense] did a good job keeping things to the outside and letting me see pucks.”
Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge was also pleased with his team’s showing. “We generated lots of chances off the rush,” he said, “and obviously capitalizing on a 5-on-3 is a must to get the win, and I enjoyed our work ethic. I thought our guys played really hard.”
The Wolf Pack’s next action is also at home, this Friday night, October 13, when they take on the Toronto Marlies. Faceoff is 7:15 PM, and, as at all Friday-night Wolf Pack home games, fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period, presented by Dave & Buster’s.