Wolf Pack Weekly: Business As Usual For Rangers Minor Leaguers

Wolf Pack Goal

Coming off a week that had one game on tap, the Wolf Pack are preparing for the busy week ahead. Despite the constant change on the roster, Hartford continues to find ways to win games. Entering the week, Hartford has won four straight and six of their last ten games. This puts the Pack fifth in the Atlantic Division with a record of 11-9-1-2 for 25 points. A few points separate the second place Bridgeport Sound Tigers to the seventh place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Let’s take a look at the latest happenings.

Roster Moves Galore

Moves Involving the Maine Mariners

  • Forward Terrence Wallin was released from his Professional Tryout Agreement (PTO) and assigned to Maine. The forward was brought in for four games when Hartford lost a few players from the call ups from New York. He was a good fourth-line player after he adjusted. He was doing the small aspects of the game simple. I think we will see him up again at some point.
  • In another move, prospect forward Ryan Gropp was assigned to Maine as well. The prospect spent a full season with Hartford last season, notching 14 goals and seven assists for 21 points. In his rookie year, he was off to a good start. Fast forward to this season, he is struggling. Keith McCambridge and Chris Drury gave the prospect 19 games to perform. Unfortunately, his time was up.  He recorded two goals and three assists for five points. His defensive game was not entirely noticeable and was usually quiet on the ice. The forward also struggled offensively, generating not many chances. His overall game needs improvement and taking a step back is not always a bad idea. He will get top line minutes along with the other Rangers prospects in Maine. He needs to get comfortable and find himself.

Moves Involving Additions

  • Forwards Matt Beleskey and Vinni Lettieri were up in New York and assigned to Hartford. Both players performed well with the Wolf Pack. The length of their stay is unknown as the Rangers are off until Saturday.
  • Alexandar Georgiev was sent down and is expected to play a few games. In the past, he was sent down to play a game or two before getting called back up to New York. I expect his assignment to be short-term and eventually be up with New York.
  • Defenseman Vince Pedrie joins Hartford after spending a week with Maine. This move was unusual as Hartford had enough defenseman to play. There are no injuries that are known. It’s possible his assignment is for a brief period of time.

Players Going Up

  • Goaltender Dustin Tokarski has got the call up to New York. The scenario is interesting as the veteran goalie has performed well in the last four games. He was the hot goalie entering this week for the Pack. Depending on the situation with Alexandar Georgiev, Dustin Tokarski could return soon.

Standings Update

Here is a look at the Atlantic Division.

AHL

Hartford’s one game last week allowed other teams in the division to catch up for the number of games played. At the end of last weekend, multiple teams had played at least four to five games less than Hartford. Now, the gap is just one or two games. This is ideal for Hartford because we see a true measurement of where the Pack is in the competitive Atlantic Division.

As you can see, a losing streak potentially could bump you down near the bottom of the standings. A winning streak allows you to stay close with the higher ranked teams. Divisional games are key to win and Hartford has done well in winning those contests.

Keep in mind that Hartford plays Charlotte three times within the next two weeks. The Pack could possibly bring the Charlotte Checkers down in the dog fight for spots two through six. The gap between the two clubs still stands at 10 points.

Streaky Players

Let’s take a look at players who have raised their game as of late to help Hartford in the recent games.

  • Peter Holland is becoming noticeable nightly on the score sheet. Currently, the veteran has points in seven straight games. He also has points in nine of the last eleven games (3G, 10A).
  • The Cole train is rolling! Captain Cole Schneider has points in six straight games (3G, 4A). He had a slow start to the season, but has found a spark when he was put on the fourth-line. The veteran has responded well since then.
  • John Gilmour continues to find his offense. The offensive blue-liner has points in six of the last eight games (3G, 6A).
  • Matt Beleskey has found an offensive spark in the last four games, recording two goals and four assists for six points. This earned him a brief call up to New York. He has played a well-rounded game on both ends of the ice and has contributed to plays that resulted in goals. He helps get the dirty goals!

Who’s in Maine?

Currently, there are four Rangers prospects and two players on American Hockey League deals with the Maine Mariners.

Rangers Prospects

  • Ryan Gropp
  • Ty Ronning
  • Sean Day
  • Brandon Halverson

AHL Deal With Hartford

  • Drew Melanson
  • Jason Salvaggio

The Rangers organization has more than usual with their ECHL affiliate. This is due to the competition for spots in New York and Hartford along with the rebuild process that involves an influx of young prospects. Any of these players could be back in Hartford if they perform well enough with Maine.

Upcoming Games

Hartford has three games on tap this week.

Wednesday, December 5th vs Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders) at 7pm, Webster Bank Arena

  • This is the fifth meeting in the rivalry series against Bridgeport. So far, Hartford is 3-1 in the season series.
  • Two weeks ago, Hartford swept a home at home series against Bridgeport with a shootout plus regulation win.
  • Bridgeport is five points ahead of Hartford for second place.
  • The Sound Tigers have lost three of their last five contests.
  • Hartford has collected six out of eight possible points in the season series.

Friday, December 7th vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 7:15pm, XL Center

  • This will be the second out of eight meetings against Charlotte. The first meeting was on December 1st as Hartford won 5-3.
  • The Checkers have lost two of their last five games. However, they are 6-3-1 in the last ten games.
  • Charlotte is ahead of Hartford by ten points.

Saturday, December 8th vs Hershey Bears at 7pm, Giant Center

  • This is the second meeting between both clubs. Hartford lost the first meeting on November 4th in the shootout, 2-1.
  • Hershey has lost three of their last five games, and five of their previous ten.
  • Hartford face the Bears a total of six times this season.
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