Hartford, CT, October 24, 2018 – Four goals-against in the first period doomed the Hartford Wolf Pack Wednesday night at the XL Center, in a 7-3 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Chris Conner scored twice in the first for Lehigh Valley, which also got goals in the opening stanza from Greg Carey and German Rubtsov.
The first three Phantom goals came in a span of 3:31, in the first 4:36 of the game, chasing Wolf Pack starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
Only 1:05 in, Carey took a pass from Phil Varone and buried a shot from about 20 feet out.
Conner made it a 2-0 game with his first of the evening at 3:40. That was on a power play, with Peter Holland off for interference, Conner deflecting Rubtsov’s try into the net.
Just 56 seconds later, Rubtsov ended Tokarski’s night with a third Phantom goal. Colin McDonald fed Rubtsov with a pass from deep in the zone on the right side, and Rubtsov roofed it into the net from close range.
Marek Mazanec replaced Tokarski at that point, and he was unblemished until only 38.1 seconds remained in the period. That was when Conner struck again, taking a feed from Carey and dragging the puck away from a Wolf Pack defender before firing it in.
Lehigh Valley then made it a 5-0 game only 30 seconds into the second period, on a goal by Mike Vecchione. Mazanec stopped a shot from the left point by Zach Palmquist, but the rebound came to Vecchione in the slot and he backhanded it home.
“We have a young team, lots of guys adjusting to the AHL,” Wolf Pack winger Shawn O’Donnell said. “But when the puck drops at the beginning of the game, we just need to be ready to play the full 60 minutes.”
The Wolf Pack would get the next two goals, starting with a power-play marker by Steven Fogarty at 1:26, only 56 seconds after Vecchione’s goal. Fogarty’s fourth of the season came on a rebound of a shot by John Gilmour.
O’Donnell then got the first of his two goals on the night, also on a rebound, at 12:03. Phantom goaltender Michal Neuvirth (31 saves) stopped Gabriel Fontaine’s close-in shot, but had no chance on O’Donnell’s follow up.
Lehigh Valley’s Cole Bardreau and O’Donnell traded goals only 1:09 apart in the third, starting with Bardreau’s rebound finish at 8:04. O’Donnell answered that at 9:13, on a deflection of a shot from the blue line by Libor Hajek.
“Libor was able to give me a nice play there, and I was fortunate enough to get a nice tip,” O’Donnell said.
That made the score 6-3, and Philip Samuelsson iced the game with an empty-net goal with 1:13 remaining.
The next action for the Wolf Pack is their first meeting of the year with their in-state rivals the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, this Saturday night, October 27. Faceoff is 7:30, and it’s “Harry Potter Night”, also featuring the Wolf Pack’s Halloween celebration. Plus, the first 2,000 fans into the game receive a free Wolf Pack coffee mug, courtesy of ESPN 97.9.
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.