Pack beat Sound Tigers, 3-2
Al Montoya (Chris Rutsch photo)
Any doubts that I might've had about Al Montoya before this season started were pretty much erased Saturday night, as he played a spectacular game in beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-2. Montoya stoned any scoring opportunities the Sound Tigers had all night-- cutting down angles instantly, seeing the puck well in traffic, and showing some amazing athletic moves and quickness-- and didn't let a puck get past him until Bridgeport's 51st shot of the game trickled underneath his pads with only about 3-1/2 minutes left in 3rd period. Bridgeport's second goal was practically meaningless, coming with 8 seconds left after Hartford had already sealed the win on an empty-netter by Ryan Hollweg.
With the Rangers wanting to take a closer look at recent acquisitions Fedor Fedorov and Jeff Taffe by giving them some ice time in New York, Czech forward Petr Prucha was sent down to Hartford in order that he could continue to play regularly as well. In his Wolf Pack debut last night, Prucha right away showed the skills that make him an impact player, scoring 8 minutes into the game when he drew two Bridgeport defenders out of position, faking Rob Collins into moving towards the middle while Prucha was already darting behind him and burying the puck past Wade Dubielewicz, the Bridgeport goalie. This came right after Prucha had created an earlier scoring chance that led to his taking a quick, hard shot from the slot, only Dubielewicz was able to stop him that time. Prucha showed more skating strength and quickness later in the game when he stripped one Bridgeport player of the puck and then in the same move split two defenders to set up a breakaway chance.
(I'd been practicing the proper pronounciation of "Prucha" all day, supposedly with the hard "ch" that only Eastern Europeans know how to do, but still couldn't get it right. The Wolf Pack PA announcer, Don Steele, just used the generic "PRU-ka".)
The game also featured the first fight I've seen all season, after 6 games already, when Ryan Hollweg beat up Kevin Colley with about 8 minutes to go in the third period. As soon as the gloves were dropped, Hollweg quicky tied up Colley by his jersey and then pulled Colley's jersey over his head (the old Stu Grimson move), so that Colley was barely able to get in even one punch the entire fight. Hollweg's goal late in the game came when Prucha carried the puck down the right-hand side and selflessly slid the puck over to Hollweg as the two of them skated mostly alone towards the undefended Bridgeport net, allowing the gritty forward the easy empty-netter.