Wolf Pack Off To A Quick Start
Wolf Pack Off To A Quick Start
Tjutin, Ulmer Give Pack Early Lead
October 12, 2003
By BRUCE BERLET, Courant Staff Writer
Except for a spirited Richard Scott-Dwayne Zinger battle early in the second period, the Wolf Pack and Portland Pirates demonstrated less physicality Saturday night at the Civic Center than the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Wolf Pack had 21 of the game's first 25 shots, including goals by Fedor Tjutin and Layne Ulmer, then survived some pressure in the second period and Lawrence Nycholat's missed penalty shot early in the third for a 3-1 victory.
Goalie Jason LaBarbera, hardly tested until the midway point, had 23 saves and came within 19 seconds of his third AHL shutout before Zinger scored on a 40-foot slap shot after the Wolf Pack lost a faceoff in their own end.
"Sure I wanted the shutout, but the puck just kind of squirted through and went in off my blocker, I think," LaBarbera said. "But that's OK. We pretty much dominated the whole game doing the little things. I put a lot of pressure on myself in a game like this because you don't want to lose that momentum the team has built up by giving up a goofball goal.
"I left way too many rebounds, but the defense did an awesome job boxing out and clearing pucks. It's nice to know you can rely on your defensemen."
Several hundred of the 3,712 fans were watching baseball on the concourse TVs when Tjutin sneaked in off the point and jammed in Bobby Andrews' pass 9:36 into the game.
The Wolf Pack had an 18-4 shot advantage in the first and continued to press early in the second when Ulmer made it 2-0 at 2:39, poking in rookie Juris Stals' rebound. Scott, who also got an assist, then engaged Zinger, with each landing several haymakers.
After LaBarbera made good stops on Andrej Podkonicky and Trent Whitfield, Zinger hauled down Nycholat on a breakaway. But the defenseman shot high, making the Wolf Pack 2-for-6 all-time on penalty shots.
The Pirates got a five-minute power play when Scott took a major for charging Zinger into the boards at 6:01. Andrews had an apparent goal disallowed for kicking in his own rebound, but Chad Wiseman scored on a 5-on-3 power play when he took a pass from Nycholat, broke down the right wing and powered a shot past Rastislav Stana (34 saves) for his first goal with Hartford.
"Our goal was to give up under 25 shots, and we did great job clogging the neutral ice on the penalty killing [6-for-6], backchecking and getting our sticks in shooting lanes," said coach Ryan McGill, singling out captain Ken Gernander for his blocks. "It started in the first period when we got pucks deep behind their defensemen, and rather than looking for something good or better, we got the puck to the net.
"Their goalie kept them in it the first period, but we did a lot of things we set out to do, and when you do that, your team gains confidence very quickly. Keep in mind it's only Game 2 and there's going to be nights when it's going to be tough, but I like our character, attitude and maturity level. Everybody wants everyone else to succeed, and when you have that, the chemistry comes together."
Rookie center Dominic Moore, who scored the Wolf Pack's third goal in Friday night's 3-3 tie with Bridgeport, sat out with a sternum injury. Brandon Cullen replaced Moore, and Ulmer slid into his spot on a line with Stals and Garth Murray. Defenseman Matt Kinch was a healthy scratch and replaced by Craig Weller.
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