Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Swimming with the Sharks

Ryan "Who da man" Callahan getting knocked around; Koharski
then called a roughing penalty on Callahan (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack found themselves down three goals quickly to the Worcester Sharks last night and still nearly pulled off a comeback, eventually losing by a score of 5-4. The fifth Worcester goal came at 18:28 of the final period, when Wolf Pack defenseman Bryce Lampman juggled the puck on his stick and into his own net.

The game was another Jamie Koharski-reffed gem, with 17 power plays called leading to 6 power-play goals between the two teams (all four Wolf Pack goals came on the power play). Hartford out-shot Worcester 47-31, including 19-5 in the third period.

Al Montoya gave up three goals in the first 15 minutes and was pulled for the second straight game, although at least 2 of the goals he surrended were slightly re-directed by either a stick or a skate. Steve Valiquette filled in for Montoya the rest of the way, making 20 of 22 saves and earning the third star of the game even though he was feeling under the weather-- at one point taking off his mask and glove and throwing up on the ice, which I don't think I've ever seen a player do during a game before*.

With the Pack down 4-1 in the second period, Ryan Callahan almost single-handedly led the Wolf Pack's comeback charge. At 18:17 of the second period, Callahan scored the first of his three consecutive power-play goals on the night when he slid the puck across the crease and the Sharks' Brennan Evans put his stick down to the ice in an attempt to block Callahan's pass, accidentally tipping the puck in behind Worcester goalie Dimitri Patzold.

Callahan scored again to start off the third period, making the score 4-3, and then, after Lampman's bobble made it 5-3 Sharks, Callahan netted his second hat trick of the season during a 6-on-4 with 8 seconds left.

Brad Is-a-buster (Heather Rutsch photo)

Newly-acquired Brad Isbister (rhymes with DustBuster, cuz they both suck) was credited with 3 shots on net, but wasn't much of a factor.

Said assistant coach Ken Gernander in today's Courant, about Ryan Callahan-- "You can talk positives about him all day. It's pretty evident he's a hungry player. He's got a nose for the net, good hands to finish and plays with courage. He's not afraid to go in the hard areas in front and take a whack to get the job done or finish checks in the neutral zone."

Dan Girardi assisted on all three of Callahan's scores, giving Girardi eight assists in his last five games. Nigel Dawes added two assists of his own, and now has three points in his first three games with the Pack since being sent down from the Rangers.

The only fight of the game happened two minutes into the first period, when Worcester's Glenn Olson and Hartford's Dale Purinton (back on defense, after playing at forward for a stretch of games) held a light scrum in the corner next to the Hartford net. It was probably the most boring fight I've seen all year, as Dale-- who rates alongside Richard Scott as one of the best enforcers in Wolf Pack history-- just doesn't seem to have it anymore (either that, or he's protecting his face for his future career as Jason Lee's stunt double).

Dale Purinton's shoving match with Glenn Olson (Heather Rutsch photo)

During the game, the video board flashed the message: "The Wolf Pack are 4-4-1 in their last 9 games". There was a time when that would've been considered an off month, but coming on the heels of a 1-6 start, it's now something to brag about.

*Maybe I was wrong when I said that Worcester's jerseys wouldn't make anyone puke?