A Harder Test In Hartford

The P-Bruins aren’t playing great hockey right now.  It was good for the Phantoms to take care of some business, get some guys back on the ice, and get a decisive win in regulation.  Christian Marti went down, so Jesper Pettersson was recalled from Reading.  Stoli, as the clear #1 goalie at this juncture, should get the start again, I would guess.

Tonight, though, a trip down the pike to Hartford.  And a tougher test on the ice.  Here’s the preview note from der Eishockeyzuschauer:


hartford wolfpack

The Hartford Wolf Pack, who had made such a bright start to the new 2015/16 season with four victories from their first five matches, finally ended a nasty seven-game losing streak by hanging on to defeat the host Utica Comets (who sold out their modest arena in upstate New York for the 22nd consecutive America Hockey League contest) by the narrow margin of 3-2 on Friday night but, in the process, witnessed their number one goaltender exit as a result of injury.

Magnus Hellberg, the 22-year-old Swede who was the 2nd round pick (# 38 overall) of the Nashville Predators at the 2011 NHL Draft and a 2015 AHL All-Star game participant on behalf of the Milwaukee Admirals last season, had to leave the ice roughly halfway through the game against Utica after allowed just one goal on twenty shots. Signed to a two-way contract by the New York Rangers organization this summer, Hellberg made at least 30 saves per night during Hartford’s four-game winning streak at the start of the season but had been decidedly out of form in three of his last four appearances for the Wolf Pack going into last night’s meeting with the Comets. The status of Hellberg (14 ga, 2.73 avg, .904 avg), who has appeared in all but three of Hartford’s games this season, is unknown and so it is quite possible that the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms will see second-year pro Mackenzie Skapski or perhaps even highly experienced veteran Cedrick Desjardins in Connecticut on Saturday night.
Skapski, the 6th round pick of the New York Rangers at the 2013 NHL Draft, had a rather strong rookie season for the Hartford Wolf Pack (28 ga, 2.40 avg, .914 svpct) despite starting out in the East Coast Hockey League with the Greenville Road Warriors. The 21-year-old Canadian even got two NHL games for the Rangers but later had hip surgery in the summer and was out of action to begin this new 2015/16 campaign. Skapski, who just recently gave up six goals to Wilkes-Barre Scranton during the mighty Penguins’ dramatic 7-6 overtime victory in Hartford, has only made three appearances (4.75 avg, .851 svpct) all season including last night’s relief work in Utica.
Cedrick Desjardins, the 29-year-old veteran who has been sitting on the sidelines since late last December after undergoing ACL surgery, was added to the Wolf Pack’s roster just this past Wednesday and might be ready to make his season debut against Lehigh Valley; the very well-traveled Canadian with the handsome $ 325,000 AHL contract was the first choice for Hartford (15 ga, 2.63 avg, .910 svpct) before getting hurt last fall.
A late check of the AHL’s official website on Saturday afternoon reveals that the Hartford Wolf Pack have, indeed, recalled third-year pro Jeff Malcolm from the newly renamed Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. It was, as a matter of fact, the 26-year-old Canadian who won the NCAA title with Yale University in the spring of 2013 who also between the pipes for the Hartford when the Wolf Pack beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1 in the very first exhibition contest at the PPL Center in Allentown earlier this season. Malcom (3 ga, 2.38 avg, .906 svpct) has already registered a win and a loss in two starts for Hartford this fall and has now appeared in 20 career AHL games (2.97 avg, .897 svpct) in parts of three seasons with the Wolf Pack.  
Meanwhile, until that wild 7-6 loss to the WBS Penguins last Sunday, the Hartford Wolf Pack had been having an extremely hard time simply finding the back of the net. Hartford have only managed to score more than two goals in just three of their last 12 AHL games. What’s more, the Wolf Pack went through a scoreless stretch of no less than 208 minutes, 23 seconds over a five-game period no so long ago. That particular ‘streak’ included three consecutive shutout losses to the Toronto Marlies, Albany Devils and Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 
One of the more underachieving players for Hartford this season has been Jayson Megna (17 ga, 3 go, 7 pts, 6 pen, – 3 def), the expensive free agent signing who has a one-way contract ($ 600,000) with the New York Rangers this season after scoring 26 goals in 63 AHL games for the WBS Scranton Penguins last term.

Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey


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