I Am... I Said
Not even the chair
The Hartford Wolf Pack got blown out by the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night, 5-2, ending the lowly Falcons' 9-game losing streak and dropping Hartford's record so far in the month of February to 1-3.
It was also "Rob Murray Night" in Springfield, as the Falcons honored their former team captain (now an assistant coach with Providence) with a pre-game ceremony that delayed the start of the game by a good 30 minutes ("Murray scored 16 goals in 56 games with the Moncton Hawks in '92-'93..." OK, OK, drop the puck already). Murray, who seems like a decent enough guy (he was sitting two tables away at the restaurant we were at before the game), was given a chair that had been re-upholstered with one of his old Falcons game jerseys, and then his #23 was raised to the rafters; good thing that "We Are The Champions" is such a short song, since the ceiling in Springfield isn't really all that far above the ice.
In any case, the Wolf Pack players had to skate their warm-up laps while navigating the carpeting and furniture that was still being carried away from their end of the ice, and then quickly found themselves behind in the score once the game started. Kyle Wanvig put the Falcons on the board only 1:10 after the opening puck drop, and then Springfield scored again just past the mid-way point of the first period, to take an early 2-0 lead.
Springfield's second goal came on a nice pass by Matt Smaby, who deftly stepped past a Wolf Pack defender and sent the puck over to Daniel Corso, as the Falcons easily played tic-tac-toe around the Hartford penalty-killing unit.
Not even two minutes after the Falcons' second goal, a major brawl broke out in the Wolf Pack end. First, David Liffiton was creamed from behind as he was skating backwards at speed along the blue line, taken down by either a leg-whip or a clothesline. Seconds later, with Liffiton still laying on the ice, Wanvig skated straight through the crease and steam-rolled Steve Valiquette. Liffiton ended up fighting Wanvig, who lost his jersey in the fight. The pushing and shoving still hadn't settled down when Dane Byers and Brandon Elliot started to go at it, each of them drawing a game misconduct for "secondary altercation". Wanvig was given roughing and charging minors, along with a fighting major.
Ryan Callahan was also involved in the rough stuff-- taking a few swings in defense of his goalie, Valiquette, though drawing no penalty-- as well as laying out at least three hard checks during what was a fairly physical first period for him. Callahan also recorded 7 shots on goal for the game.
Kyle Wanvig getting smacked by Dane Byers (Photo: Jessica Hill/Springfield Republican)
Hartford tied the game, 2-2, with two goals in the second period. The first goal came on the power play, with Brad Isbister tipping home a hard shot by Marvin Degon. Greg Moore then scored a short-handed goal three minutes later, set up on a nice pass by Lauri Korpikoski from the left-hand side of the goal mouth.
Trailing 3-2 midway through the third period, Hartford had a golden opportunity to tie the game during a full two-minute 5-on-3, with Daniel Corso and Norm Milley both drawing hooking minors at the 10:44 mark. Ryan Callahan then seemed to score early in the power play to tie the game, but the goal was waved off, with the referee, Chris Ciamaga, saying that the puck was kicked.
A video from packattack.org has several slow-motion replays that seem to show that Callahan did use a kicking motion, though his skate was tripped up by Dan Cavanaugh's stick.
Ten seconds after the 5-on-3 expired, Springfield scored again, with Wanvig completing the hat trick. The Falcons added an empty-net goal with a minute-and-a-half left, scoring on all three of their shots on goal in the third period.
Francis Lessard provided one of the few third-period bright spots for the Wolf Pack, pummeling the Falcon's Rosie O'DonHill in the last half-minute of the game, though O'DonHill got in a couple of good punches of her own. The fight had the Springfield fans on their feet, pumped up over their last-place team's first win in weeks; the cops had even thrown out a couple of Falcons fans earlier in the third period, for shouting go-fuck-yourselves at Wolf Pack fans (we were just across the aisle from them) and what not.
Anyway, in honor of the laid-back Springfield fans who never like to swear (and Rob Murray's nice chair), here's Neil Diamond: