Manchester Extends Wolf Pack Winless Streak
Lokitonov Starts Monarchs Win
Manchester Downs Hartford 4-1
By Gerry Cantlon
HARTFORD, CT-The Wolf Pack winless streak is stretched to 7 as the Manchester Monarchs defeated Hartford 4-1 before an announced crowd of 2,016 at the XL Center.
The Monarchs wasted little time coming out on the Wolf Pack and scoring early. Russian Andrei Lokitonov swirled around behind the net and beat goalie Chad Johnson’s left skate to the goal post at 2:16 for his first of the year having been recently sent down by the parent LA Kings. The play started because defenseman David Kolamitis shot was blocked and the errant puck went right to Lokitonov.
“That wasn’t a great goal. You don’t see a lot of wraparound goals now, but it was what it was. It was a tough start,” remarked Hartford head coach
Goalie Chad Johnson was in complete agreement with his coach.
“I played the guy on the right side, and I just thought there was more support on the left side,” he said. “I just didn’t get over and get my right pad up. That’s definitely one I’d like to have back. I knew that period was going to be important, and we came back to tie, but we don’t know what we’re doing right now.”
This has been the luck of the Wolf Pack in this winless stretch.
The Wolf Pack’s Justin Soryal did even things at one as he barreled to the net and converted a Ryan Garlock pass right on the doorstep for his first of the season at 12:52.
The play was one of the few times in recent games the Wolf Pack surged to the net area rookie Canadian Kelsey Tessier made a nice one touch pass to Garlock outworking two Monarch players behind the net. The whole sequence wouldn’t have been even possible because Garlock dove to keep a Monarchs player from reaching the loose puck and got it to defenseman Jared Nightingale who fired a shot that started the scoring play.
The second period was a epitome of the teams poor play very little hitting and when they did have the puck too many perimeter shots. The Monarchs were able to repeatedly get out of their own zone meeting little resistance and swarmed all around Johnson with a 23-9 shot advantage two off the all time 14 year Wolf Pack franchise record for shots given up in a period.
The Monarchs David Meckler, a Yale product followed up and converted Richard Clune’s rebound roofing his 7th of the year at 14:25 for a 2-1 lead. The Monarchs added to the lead as Justin Azevedo buried his 4th of a 3 on 2 break streaking down the right wing converting Corey Elkins cross ice feed at 19:24.
The fans in attendance rightly booed a poor second period.
In the third, Monarchs defenseman Alec Martinez finished things off at 8:55 coming off the right point unchecked and fired a bullet past Johnson for his third of the season at 8:55.
The team now has just 7 goals in the winless streak, a league worse 1.77 goals per game and a prime example has been captain Dane Byers robbed all alone in front by goalie Jeff Zartkoff for a second straight game in the final minute of the second period off a pass from Norwegian Matt Zuccarello on the powerplay.
Byers has 18 shots on goal in 3 games and no goals.
Goalie Chad Johnson’s frustration boiled over at the end of the game at his locker and his pads sitting in front of him.
“I don’t know what to do,” Johnson said shrugging his shoulders. “Honestly, right now we don’t have an identity. What are we as a team? Are we a hard-working team? Are we an offensive team? Are we a systems-structured team? Are we defensive specialists? Last year, we were a hard-working, offensive-minded team, but right now, we’re just lost.”
The Calgary, Alberta native continued his discourse in an empty locker room.
“Every team has an identity, and I think that’s what our problem is; We don’t have an identity. We’re just out there. I don’t think we know what we are. We need an identity, and it comes kind of within our team and within the games, finding where we are. We can’t kid ourselves. We have to realize we’re not a good hockey team right now.”
The teams continues a critical 4 games in 5 day stretch in Manchester for a rematch Friday, then back to back home games with in-state and division rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday night in Bridgeport and a rare Sunday night home at 7.
It’s early in the season, but if the winless streak continues changes are bound to be coming and it just not the name change on November 27th.
NOTES: Russian defenseman Alexander Voyunov played well at both ends of the ice was third star hit the post early in the first and a semi-breakaway to start the second goal…The loss had the Wolf Pack matching the all time team record set in the 1998-1999 season…. The Wolf Pack announced earlier in the day that the February 19th game with Providence will be an outdoor game at Rentschler Field and it will be a night game at 7:00pm, so hot chocolate sales will be big. Curiously they were no AHL officials or Providence officials in attendance for the announcement…. The two week celebration of hockey will feature 4 college games and a slew of public and prep school games. The high school schedules have not been finalized…A source at the press conference told EHN that the Hartford bid for 2010 Womens IIHF World Championships is one of two under consideration to host the event.
Story added on 6th November 2010 at 18:42 GMT
Story submitted by: Gerry Cantlon.