PACK NOTES: The Hartford Wolf Pack posted a 3-1-0-0 record in four games last week and now prepare to close out their 2003-04 regular season this week with a pair of road matches before heading home to host a pair at the Civic Center.
The Wolf pack sit atop the AHL's Atlantic Division with a record of 41-21-12-2, for 96 points through 76 matches.
With a 3-0 win over the Lowell Lock Monsters this past Friday, the Pack have now posted 17 shutouts on the season (Jason LaBarbera recorded his 13th shutout). Among NHL and AHL records, only one club - the 1928-29 Montreal Canadiens - has recorded more shutouts in one season with 22.
In the win, defenseman Rory Rawlyk scored his first AHL goal, on the power play, with Rick Kozak picking up his first professional assist. Kozak, who was acquired by the Rangers in the March 9 trade that sent Vladimir Malakhov to Philadelphia, recently completed his Western Hockey League (WHL) season with the Kamloops Blazers and joined the Wolf Pack on an amateur tryout (ATO) basis. Forward Nigel Dawes recently joined the Wolf Pack as an ATO as well.
In addition, Hartford welcomed seven players back to their roster on Saturday following the Rangers' season-ending game in Washington. Jozef Balej, Cory Larose, Garth Murray, Lawrence Nycholat, Jed Ortmeyer, Fedor Tyutin and Layne Ulmer were reassigned to the Wolf Pack and will join the Pack for their run at the 2004 Calder Cup championship.
TEAM LEADERS:(includes totals with other NHL teams) GOALS - Chad Wiseman (25), Jozef Balej (25), Alexandre Giroux (23) ASSISTS - Cory Larose (34), Jozef Balej (34), Chad Wiseman (27) POINTS - Jozef Balej (59), Chad Wiseman (52), Alexandre Giroux (48) PENALTY MINUTES - Martin Grenier (250), Jeff Paul (198), Garth Murray (135) SHOTS ON GOAL - Alexandre Giroux (214), Layne Ulmer (197), Chad Wiseman (180) PLUS/MINUS - Matt Kinch (+21), Jozef Balej (+20), Lawrence Nycholat (+18)
UPCOMING GAMES: Wednesday, April 7 at Worcester Ice Cats (7:05 PM ET) Thursday, April 8 vs. Lowell Lock Monsters (7:05 PM ET) Saturday, April 10 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:05 PM ET) Sunday, April 11, 2004 vs. Providence Bruins (4:05 PM ET)
RECENT GAME RECAPS: April 4, 2004 - Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Providence Bruins 2 Steve Valiquette stopped 35 shots to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack past the Providence Bruins, 3-2. Valiquette held Providence scoreless for the first two periods and stopped 18-of-20 shots in the third to pick up the win. Garth Murray, Jeff Heerema and Craig Weller tallied for Hartford, which has won four of its last five games. Andy Hilbert produced a goal and an assist and Ivan Huml supplied two helpers for Providence, which has dropped four of its last six contests. Tim Thomas made 27 saves in defeat.
April 3, 2004 - Hartford Wolf Pack 1, Worcester Ice Cats 3 Blake Evans and Peter Sejna each produced a goal and an assist and the Worcester IceCats scored three unanswered goals to upend the division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack, 3-1. After Bryce Lampman gave Hartford a 1-0 lead late in the first period, Evans answered 79 seconds later with his third goal in four games. Reigning AHL Rookie of the Month Mike Glumac scored what proved to be the game-winner with 3:25 left in the second period and Sejna added a power-play marker midway through the third to ensure the win. Curtis Sanford made 14 of his 30 saves in the final period to preserve the win for Worcester, which has won two its last three games to move into third place in the Atlantic Division. Jason LaBarbera surrendered three goals on 34 shots to suffer just his second loss in his last 20 appearances. Despite the loss, Hartford has gone 3-1-1-0 in its last five games to maintain a six-point lead over the second-place Manchester Monarchs.
April 2, 2004 - Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Lowell Lock Monsters 0 Jason LaBarbera earned his league-leading 13th shutout as the Hartford Wolf Pack blanked the Lowell Lock Monsters, 3-0. LaBarbera, who has just one loss in his last 20 appearances, made 15 of his 29 saves in the final period to preserve the win. Brandon Cullen and Jeff Heerema netted back-to-back goals in the second period and Rory Rawlyk added a power-play goal in the third to cap the scoring for the Wolf Pack, who are unbeaten in four straight (3-0-1-0) and have a league-record 17 shutouts this season. Jamie Storr stopped 29 shots in the losing effort for Lowell, which is winless in their last six meetings with Hartford (0-4-2-0).
March 31, 2004 - Hartford Wolf Pack 5, Albany River Rats 2 Layne Ulmer scored twice and assisted on a pair of goals to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to a 5-3 triumph over the Albany River Rats. Ulmer tied the score at 1-1 with 7:18 remaining in the second period, helped out on a power-play goal by Bryce Lampman 6:25 later and broke a 2-2 tie with 7:36 left in the third. He also assisted on an empty-net score by Juris Stals in the final minute of the contest. After Tuomas Pihlman retied the score for Albany with 5:16 left in the third, Dominic Moore scored the game-deciding goal about two minutes later for Hartford, which improved to 21-9-6-0 at home this season. Jason LaBarbera turned away 24 shots for his league-leading 30th win of the season. Joe Hulbig netted a power-play goal in the first period and Steve Guolla collected a shorthanded goal 8:36 into the third for the River Rats, who dropped to 2-9-0-2 over their last 13 games. Ari Ahonen gave up four goals on 32 shots for the loss.
GERNANDER, LABARBERA GARNER AWARDS: Gernander named Wolf Pack's American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year March 30, 2004 -- The Hartford Wolf Pack is proud to announce that captain Ken Gernander has been named the Wolf Pack's winner of the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year Award for his outstanding contributions to community and charitable organizations in the Hartford region during the 2003-2004 season.
As a long-time member of the community, Gernander has taken community commitment to a new level. A proven and visible leader on the ice, he works to ensure he and the rest of the players have strong ties with the community. He is the epitome of the words "role model" and although he has a family of his own, is always the first player at an event, and often speaks on behalf of the club.
Gernander participates in every team event, along with reading projects and hospital visits, and does it all with a great sense of humor and spirit. In recognition of his efforts, Gernander will be presented with an etched crystal trophy during the team's Awards Night on Sunday, April 11.
Gernander is now one of 28 finalists for the 2003-04 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award honoring the overall American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year. The league award, named after the former Hershey Bears forward who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia, will be presented during the Calder Cup 2004 Final.
LaBarbera Named First Team AHL All-Star April 1, 2004 - The American Hockey League announced the 2003-04 AHL First and Second All-Star Teams, as voted by AHL players and media in each of the league's 28 member cities. Hartford Wolf Pack goaltender Jason LaBarbera was named a First Team All-Star.
LaBarbera, 24, has posting a 30-8-9 record in 54 appearances with Hartford this season, while establishing a new American Hockey League standard with 12 shutouts. His 1.59 goals-against average and .936 save percentage are also on pace to surpass the previous AHL bests, while his 30 wins lead the AHL.
The Burnaby, BC native has also established a franchise record, going unbeaten in 14 straight decisions (11-0-3) from January 30 to March 17, 2004.
Wolf Pack Head Coach Ryan McGill says the award is indicative of LaBarbera's play all year.
"Jason's been there for us the entire season, he's steady as a rock and makes the big play when it counts," he said. "We're looking for big things out of him in the playoffs."
The 6-2, 205-pounder made a point of recognizing his teammates' efforts.
"The guys in front of me deserve a lot of the credit. For me, this really is a team award."
LaBarbera's record-setting season also includes shattering the regular season shutout record of nine, first set back in 1941-42. He has recorded back-to-back shutouts three times this season.
Gernander named Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award Winner April 5, 2004 - Hartford Wolf Pack captain Ken Gernander has once again been named winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to the game of hockey. The American Hockey League made the announcement today.
"I'm very proud to be this year's recipient of the award, especially since it's voted on by my peers and the media," said Gernander. "I don't take this lightly. I'm honored to be associated with the qualities the Fred Hunt Memorial Award represents."
Wolf Pack Head Coach Ryan McGill says Gernander's leadership is key to the team's overall character. "Ken is a stable and positive influence on our team as a whole. He's a role model for our players both on and off the ice, and I speak on behalf of our entire team when I say we're happy that 'G' has been recognized by the league with this Award."
The 34 year-old native of Coleraine, Minnesota first won the honors in 1995-96, while with Binghamton. He is one of only three players to ever garner the award twice. On March 31 of this year, Gernander became just the 11th player to reach the 900-game plateau. A three-time AHL All-Star, he enters the final week of the regular season with 286 goals, 321 assists for 607 points and just 321 penalty minutes in 903 career AHL contests.