Gumby Legs cleans house (Chris Rutsch photo)
The Hartford Wolf Pack finished off the pre-season with their third straight victory, by 5-3 over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers earlier today at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, Ct.
Lee Falardeau scored twice for the second straight game, with Greg Moore and Dwight Helminen also scoring for the Wolf Pack. Both of Falardeau's goals were beauties-- the first one coming on a crisp seeing-eye wrister to the top corner after Falardeau had gathered a loose puck at center ice, the second one coming after Craig Weller took a hit along the end boards but was still able to feed the puck nicely back to the front of the net.
Hugh Jessiman is showing definite progress at being able to use his body and leverage more along the boards, though he and Brandon Dubinsky (newly returned from Rangers camp) are both too easily toppled on open-ice hits. Jessiman successfully dropped the gloves in this game, hammering Drew Fata with a couple of roundhouse rights, although Jessiman quickly lost his balance and fell to the ice. The fight started after Jessiman and Chris Ferraro ran into each other with their sticks too high, sparking a shoving match between the two of them. Drew Fata then jumped Jessiman from behind, drawing an instigating penalty as well as a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
Brandon Dubinsky (Chris Rutsch photo)
Marvin "Gumby Legs" Degon also dropped the gloves, defending himself against Bridgeport's Jamie Johnson. Degon has played very well this pre-season, and perhaps more than any other Hartford defender has combined some offensive ability with being able to set a physical tone on the ice.
Newcomers Ryan Callahan and Zdenek Bahensky have both been making effective contributions on offense (Callahan had two assists today, if I remember correctly), while Jakub Petruzalek has more catching up to do.*
Al Montoya wasn't as sharp as he had been on Thursday night against Worcester, making a bunch of stops just because the puck happened to bounce off him as much as anything else. Montoya can be tempted to move a bit too far out in the direction of the carom whenever a shot goes wide of the net, and he just seemed to be standing in the wrong spot a number of times, for whatever reason. The defense looks like it's going to be a concern for the Wolf Pack this season; on the opposite side, Hartford has been generating plenty of offense, though puck movement down low is still a problem. I'm not sure if it was the ice conditions at Champions or what, but far too often the Pack players were losing the handle on the puck from the face-off dots on in, without being under any immediate physical pressure from a Bridgeport defender.
Cromwell has long been my least favorite rink for watching pre-season games, mostly because the place is always packed (unlike Simsbury, Veterans, Shelton, and the other public rinks where the crowds are a lot more reasonable) and it's impossible to find a spot to watch without being bumped into or having to look over someone's big fat head literally every minute of the game. The business card-sized tickets that were handed out at the door today read "Preason Game", a mis-print that was closer to "Prison" than "Pre-Season", and that describes about as well as anything else what it's like to watch a Wolf Pack game in Cromwell.
*Monday's Courant article credits Petruzalek with two assists in Sunday's game, so I must've been asleep or getting my toes stepped on or something.
The article also says, regarding the final roster cuts, "Jim Schoenfeld didn't want to say who might have failed to earn a contract as a tryout or could be going to Charlotte of the ECHL, but he mentioned Lee Falardeau, Ryan Callahan, Jakub Petruzalek and Ryan Constant as players who improved their status."