Wolf Pack Weekly: Rangers AHL Team Pushes Upwards in Standings

Wolf Pack Goal

The Wolf Pack are chugging along as of late. Last week proved to be huge for the club as they collected all six points up for grabs. This brings the group above .500 and into third place in the competitive Atlantic Division. Hartford has swept the home-and-home series against Bridgeport and defeated their other rival, Providence.

Entering this week, the Wolf Pack are 10-9-1-2 for 23 points. In the Eastern Conference, Hartford is ranked fifth. Impressive, right? The club went from losing a stretch of eight of ten games to winning six of their last ten. The boys are buzzing! Let’s take a look at the latest updates.

Vinni Lettieri Dominates After Demotion

Last week was productive for the talented Rangers prospect. Vinni Lettieri was the hero of the week in helping the Wolf Pack collect wins. He has shown strong offensive instincts and is proven to dominate the American Hockey League. This held true since joining the Wolf Pack.

Vinni Lettieri has three goals, two assists in three straight games in Hartford. He also recorded a shootout tally that was the game winner.

Last Wednesday, Vinni Lettieri notched his first goal of the season. This was a beauty, going coast to coast.

On Friday, he recorded both goals for Hartford in regulation. Here’s the first goal of the night.

The second of the night was the tying goal.

Then he ended the night with the game-winning shootout tally.  On Saturday, the forward collected two assists to help in Hartford’s 3-1 victory against Bridgeport.

Gilmour Finds His Touch

John Gilmour has found his game after he stepped up in the Pack’s school day game on November 14th. Since then, he has continued to show up on the points sheet and became the player that Hartford needed him to be. The prospect defenseman is on a two-game point streak (G, 2A). However, he has three goals and five assists in the last seven games for eight points.

The offensive defenseman continues to help build Hartford’s struggling power play with goals such as these.

Peter Holland Also Finds His Touch

In similar timing to John Gilmour, the veteran has found his game and is continuing to deliver, despite a slow start to the season. Holland has points in six straight games (2G, 6A) for eight points.  This puts the veteran forward tops in total points for the club with 19.

Here’s his latest goal from last Saturday’s game.

The Cole Train Chugs

Hartford’s captain Cole Schneider has had a sluggish start to the season. As a result, head coach Keith McCambridge has bumped the forward to the fourth line as of late in an attempt to wake up the forward. As a result, Cole Schneider has become a better player and is earning points in his limited ice time. The captain has notched points in five straight games, compiling two goals and four assists.

As many remembered last year, Joe Whitney was the captain for Hartford last season. He did not produce and was also bumped to the fourth line. As a result, he was traded to Hershey. This is not the case with Cole Schneider as he has proven that he wants to play better and stick with the group. He should be bumped up depending on the thinking of Keith McCambridge.

The hard work pays off. The captain has to help contribute regardless of which players he is with. This was the case when he got the assist on the whole fourth line crashing the net and causing ruckus afterward.

Dustin Tokarski Improves

The struggling veteran goaltender made strong strides last week. Dustin Tokarski has started three straight games in net and won each start. This improves his record to 4-3-1 with a goals against average of 3.43 and a save percentage of .896. At the beginning of the season, the veteran goalie struggled and had no confidence in net when he gave up multiple goals that could have been stopped.

However, this past week was different.  Dustin Tokarski stopped 87 of the 93 shots he faced. He has made the saves when needed to keep Hartford in the game, especially on Wednesday against Providence and Friday against Bridgeport.

Let’s hope he can keep this up. This is going to be interesting as he has become hot. The competition for who will play each game will be higher. Originally, Marek Mazanec had split even time with Dustin Tokarski. Then Marek Mazanec was the starting goalie. Now with Dustin Tokarski becoming hot, there will be a change once again.

Atlantic Division Standings

Here is the current situation with the standings.

AHL

Hartford is in a great position.  However, the issue is the games at hand for the Wolf Pack. The group has played the most games out of any team in the division. Hartford will only play one game this weekend to allow other teams to catch up. By the day of the game on Saturday, Hartford may go down a spot or two depending on the outcomes of other contests.

The Charlotte Checkers are too far ahead in the standings to worry about. The Wolf Pack are ten points behind the Checkers. Unless the Checkers have a downfall, then first place is out of reach currently.

Bridgeport is still in reach for the Pack. Hartford is winning the season series 3-1 and there are six games remaining in the season series. Any combination of Hartford winning and Bridgeport losing would benefit the Pack. Bridgeport is only one game less to Hartford as well.

Springfield is behind Hartford by a point with four games in hand. However, the Thunderbirds are struggling as of late after a dominating start to the AHL season. Springfield has lost six of their last ten games. In addition, Hartford only faced the Thunderbirds once out of the ten-game season series. Points are still on the line against Springfield.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are also a point behind Hartford. The Phantoms are generally a dominant team in the AHL. This season proves to be different. Despite Hartford getting outplayed in the first meeting against Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms since have struggled. The Phantoms has lost the last five of ten games. Lehigh Valley is a team that is normally atop the standings. As similar to Springfield, points are on the line in the season series as the Pack only played them once out of eight meetings.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Providence Bruins, and Hershey Bears are only at a few games at hands against Hartford. Currently, those teams are close to the Pack, but they need other scenarios to happen if they want to compete against the top tier teams of the division. I am not worried about those three at the moment looking at the standings.

Notable Notes

  • Dustin Tokarski had the primary assist in the game-winning goal against Providence last Wednesday.
  • Hartford has shown their rough edge as of late. The gloves have been dropped in three straight games.
  • Matt Beleskey had a good week. He notched two goals on Wednesday followed by one assist on Saturday.

  • After the completion of the home game on Saturday against Charlotte, the Pack will be on the road in the next seven of ten meetings.
  • A highlight of the away games consists of two meetings with Charlotte that are back to back in the same week. Hartford will see Charlotte a total of four times in December.
  • Hartford faces the Rochester Americans in back to back games before Christmas.
  • The Pack will face Bridgeport twice at Webster Bank Arena.

Teddy Bear Toss

Last Saturday featured the annual teddy bear toss game for Hartford. Score the first goal and the toys will go flying for Toys for Tots. On Monday during the second intermission of the Rangers game, I found myself on MSG150! I definitely needed help to get over my bear over the glass!

Here is the original video that is longer from the night.

Here is another view…

Ty Ronning Update

Rangers prospect Ty Ronning had himself a night last Saturday with the Maine Mariners. The prospect recorded a hat trick plus two assists for a five-point night against the Manchester Monarchs. That is encouraging to see as he needed a confidence booster.

Roster Moves

  • Chris Nell was moved from Maine to Greenville of the ECHL on 11/20.
  • Vince Pedrie was assigned to Maine on 11/23.
  • Tim Gettinger has been up and down.  Currently, he is with Hartford.

Upcoming Games

There is just one game on tap for this weekend.

Saturday, December 1st vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 7 pm, XL Center

  • The first of eight meetings between the clubs.
  • The Checkers are first in the league with wins and points (16 wins, 33 points).
  • The Checkers enter the week winning three straight. They have lost four games in regulation and one in overtime.
  • This is a test for Hartford. The Pack last season went 2-6 against Charlotte. Both wins were at home while Hartford was swept away, going 0-4.
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