It was only game four of this young AHL season. Some are saying its too early for hockey but for the hockey die-hards it was a little more than just an early season game. The AHL has thirty teams and only two have more than six points. The Hartford Wolf Pack and the Manchester Monarchs, the two teams are no longer in the same division but there was that New England rivalry feeling. I tweeted this game out talking about the match up and here is what the Monarchs and Hartford.com had to say.
@HindlePete 18 Oct
Early but all AHL eyes will be on Hartford, the two top teams face off tonight at the XL Center. @WolfPackAHL @MonarchsHockey #Hartfordhasit
@MonarchsHockey 18 Oct
@HindlePete We tend to think #ManchesterHasIt http://ow.ly/pVbLY
@HartforddotCom 11h 18 Oct
.@MonarchsHockey @HindlePete @WolfPackAHL Um, #HartfordHasIt #timesinfinity #nogivebacks #getyourownhashtag
It wasn't until later in the afternoon that we learned that top Ranger Brass were in the building. General Manager Glen Sather, brand new Ranger head coach Alain Vigneault and of course Wolf Pack General Manager Jim Schoenfeld. The trio could be seen at the top of section 107 but they were not approachable to fans, they were very focused on watching the players. It looked to me like Vigneault likedTalbots play last night. They also took a trip to the top of the XL above the score board to watch the game play from above.
They got a good look at the team in a game where the Pack had to rebound. The Monarchs had scored first on a goal by Tyler Toffoli. He later would scrap with Stu Bickel. (Video on page) The Pack would tie it up when Danny Kristo wristed a shot past Manchester goalie Martin Jones. Kristo's goal was assisted by Conor Allen and Chris Krieder.
The second period began with an early unassisted goal by Manchester left wing Tanner Pearson. The Monarchs extended that lead to 3-1 when defenseman Colin Miller scored. A majority of the game was spent in the defensive zone the Pack appeared to have trouble setting up pressure until later in the game.
The third period began with the Pack killing off penalties. Oscar Lindberg was called for a four minute major for high sticking. Dylan McIlrath was called for slashing. The Pack killed six of the Monarchs seven power play opportunities. Talbot played a large part of that. He made an NHL caliber say on Linden Vey on a quick wrister in front of the net going to his left.
The Pack got within one when Martin Hrivik scored with the teams playing four on four. Hrivik's goal was assisted by Brandon Mashinter and Wolf Pack Captain Aaron Johnson. Johnson got his first goal of the season when and he scored a short handed game tying goal. The Pack was short handed because Chris Krieder was called for interference shortly after Hrivik's goal. At the end of regulation Talbot had faced as many shots, 33, as the number on his jersey.
Tied at three the teams went to over time The played to a stale mate when the referees must have ruled that Manchester Center Linden Vey wasn't able to get a shot off. Vey would take a penalty shot against Cam Talbot. Vey went up and down the ice in a wavy pattern as he approached Talbot. He would have scored had he gone high right on Talbot but Talbot put his right pad directly in front of Vey's shot. The teams would have to go to a shoot out. Talbot stopped four of five shooters and Martin Jones stopped three of five. Hrivik and Mashinter were able to score and Talbot made the final save in the shoot out to preserve the victory. Talbot wanted to win and pumped his fist after making that final save.
The Wolf Pack have nine points more than any other AHL team in the league. Yes it's early but good starts in October help you in April when the division is on the line.
Attendance at tonights game was 2,843. The Packs next game is Saturday night against the Lewiston Pirates of Portland. They are playing in Lewiston due to some issues with the city of Portland. You can get the game on 1410AM and listen to Bob Crawford call the game.