Allentown, PA - A five-game Hartford Wolf Pack win streak came to an end Saturday night at the PPL Center, as the Wolf Pack were bested 4-2 by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, in the second half of a home-and-home series.
On “Teddy Bear Toss” night in Allentown, the home team brought the toys out only 1:22 into the contest, after having been shut out by the Wolf Pack, 4-0, the previous night in Hartford.
Lehigh Valley’s first shot of the game came from the left point, off the stick of former Wolf Pack defenseman Chris Bigras. It went through a screen set by Isaac Ratcliffe and eluded Hartford goaltender Adam Huska (29 saves).
The Wolf Pack power play had a golden opportunity to tie the score, when both Andy Andreoff (holding) and Greg Carey (slashing) of the Phantoms received minor penalties at 6:56, giving Hartford a full two minutes of two-man advantage.
The Wolf Pack were unable to capitalize on that, however, and the Phantoms made it a 2-0 lead at 15:57 with a shorthanded goal, after Maksim Sushko was called for tripping at 14:08.
Tyler Wotherspoon sent German Rubtsov and Nicolas Aube-Kubel away on a 2-on-1, and Rubtsov fed the puck from the left side across to Aube-Kubel, who made a move to the backhand to beat Huska.
After a scoreless second period, Ryan Gropp, playing in just his third AHL game of the season, got the Wolf Pack on the scoreboard 2:22 into the third.
Boo Nieves sent a breakout pass out of the Hartford zone to Tim Gettinger in center ice, and he handed off to Gropp on the right side. Gropp cut towards the net in the Phantom end and put a backhand shot up under the crossbar behind Lehigh Valley netminder J.F. Berube (26 saves).
Gerry Fitzgerald restored the two-goal margin, though, at 11:38, with a one-timer from the top of the left-wing circle off of a pass from Reece Willcox.
The Wolf Pack climbed to within one again on a power play at 16:36, as Vinni Lettieri became the first Hartford player to hit double digits in goals with his tenth of the season.
With Nate Prosser off for hooking, Joey Keane moved the puck from the middle of the blue line to Danny O’Regan in the right circle. He threaded a feed to Lettieri just below the left faceoff dot, and he ripped a quick shot into the net.
The Wolf Pack pulled Huska for an extra attacker with 2:00 left, but Sushko foiled that strategy with an empty-net goal at 18:24. Berube stopped the puck behind the net for Wotherspoon, and he passed to the left side to Sushko, who took a couple of steps before lifting the puck all the way down into the vacated cage.
It was the first regulation loss in eight games for the Wolf Pack, who had been 5-0-2-0 in their previous seven and were playing their sixth game in nine days.
The Wolf Pack continue a stretch of three straight road games this Tuesday night, December 17 at 7:00 PM, playing the first of back-to-back games in Charlotte, NC against the defending Calder Cup-champion Charlotte Checkers. The next home outing for the Wolf Pack is their last action before Christmas, a battle with the Providence Bruins Saturday, December 21. That game also faces off at 7:00.
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.
Hartford Wolf Pack 2 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4
Saturday, December 14, 2019 - PPL Center
Hartford 0 0 2 - 2
Lehigh Valley 2 0 2 - 4
1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Bigras 2 (Gabriel, Prosser), 1:22. 2, Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel 5 (Rubtsov, Wotherspoon), 15:57 (SH). Penalties-Andreoff Lv (holding), 6:56; Carey Lv (slashing), 6:56; Wotherspoon Lv (tripping), 12:50; Sushko Lv (tripping), 14:08; Di Giuseppe Hfd (roughing, fighting), 18:52; Brennan Lv (cross-checking, fighting), 18:52; Ebert Hfd (slashing), 19:54.
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Beleskey Hfd (tripping), 5:51; Geertsen Hfd (cross-checking), 7:42.
3rd Period-3, Hartford, Gropp 1 (Gettinger, Nieves), 2:22. 4, Lehigh Valley, Fitzgerald 2 (Willcox, Brennan), 11:38. 5, Hartford, Lettieri 10 (O'Regan, Keane), 16:36 (PP). 6, Lehigh Valley, Sushko 4 (Wotherspoon, Berube), 18:24 (EN). Penalties-Prosser Lv (hooking), 15:49; Keane Hfd (high-sticking), 19:32.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 10-9-9-28. Lehigh Valley 7-8-18-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 5; Lehigh Valley 0 / 4.
Goalies-Hartford, Huska 5-2-4 (32 shots-29 saves). Lehigh Valley, Berube 5-4-3 (28 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Jake Rekucki (84), Michael Sheehan (74).
Linesmen-Patrick Dapuzzo (57), J.P. Waleski (14).
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