Brandon Halverson made 25 saves in the Hartford net for his first AHL win of the season, and Ryan Gropp’s early third-period goal was the game-winner. Jori Lehtera scored the only Lehigh Valley goal, and Alex Lyon made 31 stops in the Phantom net.
“I thought the group as a whole did a lot of the little details that give you a chance to win hockey games,” said Head Coach Keith McCambridge of the Wolf Pack, whose last win had also been against Lehigh Valley, a 6-5 overtime victory at the XL Center January 18.
The Wolf Pack controlled much of the action in the first period, outshooting Lehigh Valley 13-5, and came out of the frame with a 1-0 lead.
Peter Holland put the Wolf Pack in front at the 8:13 mark, as the Wolf Pack broke an 0-for-24 power-play drought. With Connor Bunnaman off for holding, Chris Bigras passed from the middle of the blue line to Holland just above the right faceoff dot, and his one-timer beat the catching glove of Lyon and flew into the top corner of the net.
McCambridge said of the power play, “We made some adjustments there, to what our setup was in-zone. And I thought that unit did a good job with the breakout, the entries, and finally were rewarded for their shots going to the net.”
After a scoreless second period, the two teams combined for a pair of goals in a span of only 1:19 early in the third session.
Gropp doubled the Wolf Pack lead at 3:52, with his second goal in three games. After Lehigh Valley defenseman Reece Willcox had a pass deflected near his own blue line, Hartford’s Steven Fogarty moved down the right side in the Phantom end. He got almost to the corner before sending a feed to Gropp in the slot, and he snapped a shot past Lyon on the stick side.
That goal loomed large because Lehtera cut the margin back to one at 5:11. Lehtera, who was making his Phantom debut after having been assigned by the parent Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, broke up an attempted Wolf Pack breakout feed near the blue line and sent a quick bid towards the net. With Colin McDonald attacking the net, Lehtera’s shot eluded Halverson, ending his shutout bid.
The Phantoms could get nothing else behind Halverson, who was making only his second Wolf Pack appearance of the year, though, despite getting Lyon to the bench for an extra attacker with more than a minute-and-a-half left, and exerting some strong pressure.
“I thought [Halverson], when there were breakdowns, he was in good position,” McCambridge said. “And, obviously, having a goaltender that plays the puck as well as he does, was a big benefit to help our breakouts.”
The Wolf Pack and Phantoms play a rematch Sunday afternoon at the PPL Center, with faceoff at 3:05 PM. All of the action can be heard live on News Radio 1410 AM, and 100.9 FM, WPOP, and on-line at www.newsradio1410.com and iHeartRadio. Video streaming is available at theahl.com/AHLTV.
The next Wolf Pack home game is this Wednesday, February 13, a 7:00 PM contest vs. the Toronto Marlies. That is another chance to take advantage of the Wolf Pack’s “Click It or Ticket Family Value Pack”, which includes two tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas, all for just $40.
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.
Hartford Wolf Pack 2 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1
Saturday, February 9, 2019 - PPL Center
Hartford 1 0 1 - 2
Lehigh Valley 0 0 1 - 1
1st Period-1, Hartford, Holland 18 (Bigras, Andersson), 8:13 (PP). Penalties-O'Donnell Hfd (tripping), 2:41; Bunnaman Lv (holding), 6:44; Goulbourne Lv (tripping), 13:05.
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Meskanen Hfd (tripping), 18:14.
3rd Period-2, Hartford, Gropp 5 (Fogarty, Gettinger), 3:52. 3, Lehigh Valley, Lehtera 1 5:11. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Hartford 13-8-12-33. Lehigh Valley 5-11-10-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 2; Lehigh Valley 0 / 2.
Goalies-Hartford, Halverson 1-1-0 (26 shots-25 saves). Lehigh Valley, Lyon 11-10-1 (33 shots-31 saves).
Referees-Beaudry Halkidis (48), Tim Mayer (19).
Linesmen-Jud Ritter (34), Patrick Hanrahan (19).
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