HARTFORD, Oct. 5 – A new season of professional hockey began Saturday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The green and white colors and uniforms of the Connecticut Whale have consigned to the history books and Ebay.
The Hartford Wolf Pack returned to the ice in its red, blue and white uniforms and they brought some excitement with them. Darroll Powe’s goal with 0.4 seconds left in the third period forced overtime but the visiting Norfolk Admirals prevailed in a shootout, 3-2 before an announced crowd of 6,347 fans. Still, Hartford picked up a point for tying in regulation.
The Admirals led 2-1 with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation, when, with Hartford goaltender Cam Talbot on the bench for an extra attacker, the Wolf Pack’s Micheal Haley won a faceoff in the Admiral end. Chris Kreider fired a low shot that Norfolk goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped with his left pad, but Powe and Brandon Mashinter crashed the net and Powe was able to poke the puck underneath Andersen and into the net.
Referee Geno Binda originally signaled that the goal didn’t count, but after consulting the video replay system, he reversed himself and allowed the goal to stand.
Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly scored shootout goals for Norfolk, though, and Danny Kristo was the only one of five Wolf Pack shooters to solve Andersen, who stopped 35 of 37 shots in regulation and overtime. Talbot made 25 saves for the Wolf Pack.
After a scoreless first period, the Admirals opened the scoring only 1:15 into the second, with Steven Whitney capitalizing on a Wolf Pack defensive-zone miscue. Kristo tried to drop the puck off to Conor Allen in his own end, but Whitney intercepted and was able to fire a shot off of Talbot and into the goal.
Rakell made it a 2-0 Norfolk advantage only 37 seconds into the third period, on a five-on-three power play. Charles Sarault threaded a pass from the right-wing circle across the goalmouth to the right-handed-shooting Rakell along the goal line, and Talbot had no chance to stop Rakell’s high shot.
Kristo got the Wolf Pack on the board at 5:38 with a power-play goal, Kristo’s first pro tally. Veteran Aaron Johnson, chosen as the Wolf Pack’s new captain before the game, fed Kristo on the left-wing side, and Kristo’s snapshot went under the crossbar behind Andersen.
Opening weekend continues today as Hartford hosts the Albany Devils at 3 p.m.
NOTES – The Rangers have sent forward J.T. Miller to the Wolf Pack. Miller, 20, had one shot on goal, was credited with one hit and one blocked shot, and logged 11:58 of ice time in the Rangers’ season opener on Thursday at Phoenix. He has recorded two goals and two assists in 27 career regular season games with the Rangers.
The 6-1, 205-pound forward returns to Hartford where he registered eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points, along with 29 penalty minutes in 42 games last season. Miller ranked third among team rookies in goals and assists, and tied for fourth in points. He was selected to represent the Eastern Conference at the 2013 AHL All-Star Game.
The East Palestine, Ohio native was originally selected by the Rangers as a first round choice, 15th overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Material and information from the AHL and the Wolf Pack used to help compile this report.
Norfolk 3, Hartford 2
Norfolk 0 1 1 0 – 3
Hartford 0 0 2 0 – 2
No Scoring. Penalties-Stortini Nor (holding), 2:05; Staubitz Nor (interference), 6:03; Stortini Nor (fighting), 8:18; Haley Hfd (fighting), 8:18; Hrivik Hfd (roughing), 11:00; Stortini Nor (fighting), 18:14; McIlrath Hfd (fighting), 18:14.
1, Norfolk, Whitney 1 1:15. Penalties-Johnson Hfd (boarding), 6:50; Sarault Nor (hooking), 9:03; Allen Hfd (interference), 11:45; Laganiere Nor (tripping), 14:12; Kreider Hfd (roughing), 16:26; Haley Hfd (delay of game), 17:43; Noesen Nor (slashing), 18:02; Clark Nor (fighting), 19:48; Bickel Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:48; Yogan Hfd (instigating, fighting, misconduct – instigating), 19:48.
2, Norfolk, Rakell 1 (Sarault, Gagne), 0:37 (PP). 3, Hartford, Kristo 1 (Johnson, Haley), 5:38 (PP). 4, Hartford, Powe 1 (Mashinter, Kreider), 19:59. Penalties-Yonkman Nor (interference), 4:37; Staubitz Nor (interference), 7:45; Wagner Nor (boarding), 14:33.
No Scoring. No Penalties
Shootout – Norfolk 2 (Rakell G, Sarault NG, Smith-Pelly G, Whitney NG), Hartford 1 (Lindberg NG, Kristo G, Kreider NG, Yogan NG, Bourque NG).
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 9-9-6-3-1-28. Hartford 9-15-12-1-0-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 1 / 7; Hartford 1 / 8.
Goalies-Norfolk, Andersen 1-0-0 (37 shots-35 saves). Hartford, Talbot 0-0-1 (27 shots-25 saves).