By Zack Grenier
Hartford, CT, December 27, 2014 – Shawn O’Donnell had a goal and an assist, and Mackenzie Skapski made 26 saves, Saturday night at the XL Center, as the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Portland Pirates by a score of 3-1.
O’Donnell’s two-point game was the first multiple-point effort of his AHL career, and the Wolf Pack also got goals from Joey Crabb and Mat Bodie. Jordan Martinook scored the only Portland goal, foiling Skapski’s shutout bid 36 seconds into the third period. Mike McKenna made 24 saves in the Pirate net.
The Wolf Pack drew first blood at 9:14 of the first period, when Crabb made an instant impact in his first game back with the team after battling the mumps. It was Michael Kostka who fired the puck on net from the blue line that lead to Crabb digging out a rebound. Crabb’s first shot was blocked, but he stuck with it and kicked the puck back to himself and beat McKenna to give the Pack a 1-0 lead.
“We wanted to have more traffic and we wanted to put some pressure on our forwards to crash that net and get some rebounds, second and third chances,” said Hartford coach Ken Gernander.
With 14:30 left in the second period, Bodie was able to extend the Wolf Pack lead to two. O’Donnell left the puck for a trailing Bodie, who then fired a slap shot at McKenna. McKenna did knock the puck down, but it still trickled past him to give the Pack a 2-0 lead.
“It was a good pass by ‘Odie’ (O’Donnell),” said Gernander. “I think our bench gave him a little help to let him know that ‘Bodes’ (Bodie) was coming late. We really didn’t have a lot of offense the prior three games. You start looking to make plays or pass pucks, instead of just keeping it simple and just put that puck on net.”
Not long after, Ryan Bourque was at the side of the left faceoff circle and sent the puck to the net. O’Donnell, breaking towards the net, deflected the pass out of the air and into the net, for his first goal of the season at 8:54.
“It’s awesome to see a guy like that get rewarded,” said Bodie. “One of the harder workers on the team and making simple plays, going to the net hard and being able to get a stick on it.”
Just 34 seconds in to the third period, Martinook scored a similar goal to O’Donnell’s, to get Portland on the scoreboard. Justin Hodgman threaded a pass across the slot to find Martinook on the right side for an easy finish, making it a 3-1 game.
“I thought we were good systematically,” said O’Donnell. “We really paid attention to detail, and when you have all five guys working as a cohesive unit it makes for an easier game.”
The Wolf Pack’s next action is also against the Pirates, a trip to Portland this Wednesday night, New Year’s Eve. That game faces off at 7:00 PM, and all of the action can be heard live on Fox Sports Radio 1410, and on-line at www.foxsportsradio1410.com and iHeartRadio. Video streaming is available at www.ahllive.com.
The next home action for the Wolf Pack is this Friday, January 2, with the St. John’s IceCaps visiting the XL Center for a 7:00 game. All Friday-night Wolf Pack home games feature $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period.
Tickets for all 2014-15 Wolf Pack home games are now on sale at the XL Center ticket office, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Wolf Pack tickets start as low as $12 for youth 12 years old or younger.
To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Portland Pirates 1 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Saturday, December 27, 2014 – XL Center
Portland 0 0 1 – 1
Hartford 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Hartford, Crabb 4 (Kostka, Lindberg), 9:14. Penalties-Louis Por (hooking), 12:28; Shinnimin Por (boarding), 14:50.
2nd Period-2, Hartford, Bodie 3 (O’Donnell, Kristo), 5:30. 3, Hartford, O’Donnell 1 (R. Bourque, Mueller), 8:54. Penalties-Lindberg Hfd (closing hand on puck), 2:24; Spinell Hfd (holding), 11:24; Malone Hfd (hooking), 18:31.
3rd Period-4, Portland, Martinook 6 (Hodgman, H. Samuelsson), 0:36. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Portland 8-8-11-27. Hartford 12-8-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 3; Hartford 0 / 2.
Goalies-Portland, McKenna 10-12-0 (27 shots-24 saves). Hartford, Skapski 7-5-1 (27 shots-26 saves).
Referees-David Banfield (77).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Brent Colby (7).