Zuccarrello Scores First North American Game Winner
Former Swedish Elite MVP Shines in Division Win
Zuccarello Scores First Game Winner
By Gerry Cantlon European Hockey.net
BRIDGEPORT,CT-He gave family and friends something to cheer about.
Hartford Wolf pack rookie center Mats Zucarrello with his uncle and a pair of friends looking on rifled a 35 foot shot snap shot with left in regulation to give the Hartford Wolf Pack a 2-1 win over their in-state and division rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers before 6.217 fans at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
The three Norwegians saw Zuccarrello show fearlessness and the scoring gift that led the N.Y. Rangers to sign him.
Back behind the play he was knocked down and Zuccarello the smallest player on the ice got back and gave a the offending Sound Tigers player a whack and then took off to get back in the play.
As he crossed the blue line Russian linemate Evgeny Grachev spotted Zuccarrello speeding in and from the right wing half wall put a perfect pass on his stick and and while moving to his left he snapped a a laser shot top shelf left corner on the game’s tallest player Finnish goalie 6’5 Mikko Koskinen.
In the Nordic battle- Norway 1 Finland 0.
“I like the fact that he stood his ground (the hit behind the play),but he showed composure and what a great release and shot,” remarked Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander.
Zuccarello had a smile as wide as the Atlantic Ocean.
“Kind of nice revenge. Grachev made an unbelievable play and pass. I just kind of whip it to the top shelf. It was kinda of lucky shot,” said Zuccarrello.
Gotta be good to be to be lucky.
His uncle and two friends came to New York to some golfing took in the game and that certaintly raised his spirits and they egt to take back good news to Norway.
“It was nice to speak some Norwegian, “ he laughed, “It’s a good league (AHL) you can’t expect to go out and dominate every shift, you take care of your defensive end and you can contribute offensively.”
His teammates were quite impressed with his late game performance.
“He’s obviously a sniper and that’s his jobs to put those top of shots in. he’s a big part of this team,” commented team captain Dane Byers who played a strong physical game in a very chippy hockey game between the two teams in their first meeting of the season.
“i could see it was a rolling puck the whole way and he still put it where he wanted to.you can see his goal scoring ability. Some guys might have shot the puck 10 feet over the net,but he put it where he wanted to. He has awesome goal scoring ability,” said goalie Chad Johnson.
Johnson was very sharp in his second straight start and made 21 saves and no more important was denying rookie Rhett Rakhshani from 10 feet out on the left wing side with 3:32 remaining.
“The biggest thing is I had a better start and haven’t had those the last couple of games and the two goals last night (in Albany) weren’t very good goals.” Said Johnson
The Sound Tigers tied the game at 1 when Russian defenseman Anton Klemteyev’s shot came back to him off Wolf Pack defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s arm and he bulled his way past Ryan Garlock and put a shot on Johnson who made the save,but Rakhshani swooped in from the took the rebound and fired a shot that went off Johnson and into the net.
“It was a tough game and honestly both goalies played well and a 2-1 game could have been a 4-2 game easily,” remarked Bridgeport head coach Jack Capuano.
Story added on 17th October 2010 at 16:28 GMT
Story submitted by: Gerry Cantlon.