Nearly half of the Wolf Pack roster watched some of the game from the penalty box Friday night as they played their in-state rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Many teams would consider nine penalties too many but it felt like even more for the Pack who are the least penalized team in the league.
There were a fair share of poorly timed penalties. Wolf Pack forward Luke Adam and defenseman Ryan Graves went to the box for minor penalties, both of them at 14:04 of the second period. With the team down two defenders goalie Magnus Hellberg had to stand on his head making saves for two minutes. He and the Wolf Pack held serve as they did not allow a goal while at a disadvantage. As the penalty time came to an end the 5,188 in the audience gave the team a loud ovation that shook the XL Center.
The final stat sheet shows that the Wolf Pack held Bridgeport 0-7 on their power play opportunities. As amazing as that was fans at the XL Center witnessed a rare Wolf Pack’s power play goal in the first period. The Wolf Pack continue to have the leagues worst power play percentage at about 11.7%. Marek Hrivik scored on the power play his 10th of the season and the Pack held that 1-0 lead until the closing minutes of the second period.
The Sound Tigers did tie the game on an even strength goal late in the second period. The Sound Tigers thought they had taken the lead the next period when it was ruled that Bridgeport forward Alan Quine had scored at 7:31 of the third. Initially it looked like Quine had put the puck in the net over Hellberg’s shoulder but after a lengthy review the referees called no goal as the replay showed the puck hit the post and bounced through the crease but it did not cross the goal line. The game remained tied and it stayed that way until the end of the third period.
For the third straight home game the Wolf Pack were headed to overtime. They’re ability to keep the puck out of their own net even when short handed ended up paying off. Wolf Pack center Chad Nehring put the game to bed by scoring his team leading 20th goal of the season. The entire team greeted and congratulated him in the northeast corner of the rink. The Wolf Pack had won their seventh game out of their past eight. They have been impressively gritty on this last point run but it doesn’t get any easier. They will have to keep up this intensity of play for the remainder of the season if they are to make the playoffs. Plenty of teams lie ahead of them in the standings.
The first team ahead on their schedule is the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Wolf Pack hit the road but you can still listen to the voice of the Wolf Pack Bob Crawford call the game on 1410AM Fox Sports Radio.
The Pack have really turned the corner since acquiring Nicklas Jensen on January 8. The Wolf Pack are 22-9 since he joined the team.
Dollar hotdog night at the Wolf Pack is always a hit since its inception in the 2012-2013 season. This year the XL Center announced that they have sold 21,830 hotdogs. Every one at the Fan Appreciation Night game on April 9th will get a free hot dog for breaking the 20,000 hotdog mark.
Looking at the past hockey season on weeknights the Wolf Pack and UConn both upped their average week night attendance from last year. UConn is still the top dog on getting people downtown for hockey on a weeknight. In six midweek games the Wolf Pack drew an average of 3,112. UConn pulled in 54% more with six Tuesday night games that averaged 4,842. The Huskies benefit from a season ticket base that is estimated to be more than ten times larger than the Wolf Pack. They also benefit from having 80,000 alumni within a 45 minute drive of Hartford. UConn has three more years on a five year deal with the XL Center and their is a possible 20 more years if the XL Center gets the “transformation” to a modern, and profitable arena. An arena that would keep the Huskies and an AHL tenant for a long time.