Line Shuffle Leads to Wolf Pack Bounce-back Win

A demoralizing 6-1 home loss to St. John’s on Friday convinced the Wolf Pack coaching staff that the Pack’s line combinations were getting stale, and they shuffled up the deck for Saturday’s visit to Glens Falls.  The result was a 4-2 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms, the Pack’s sixth straight in the season series and their eighth in ten games between the two clubs on the year.

The only line that remained intact was the fourth line, with Nick Latta centering Kyle Jean on left wing and Shawn O’Donnell on the right side, and that threesome gave the Pack some real quality forechecking shifts, against an Adirondack defense that was missing five regulars to either illness or injury.Action Shot for Blog - 03-23-14 - Jean, Latta

J.T. Miller between Ryan Bourque on left wing and Jesper Fast on the right side had been a dynamic combination for quite a while for Ken Gernander and Co., but Miller had been held without a point for four straight games going into Saturday and Bourque and Fast had combined for only three points in the previous six games.  So Danny Kristo took Fast’s spot on the right side on that line, and Fast moved on to an all-European line with fellow Swede Oscar Lindberg at center and Marek Hrivik on left wing.  The third line was a “graybeard” group of seventh-year pros T.J. Hensick, Micheal Haley and Darroll Powe.

Of course, all of the scoring in the game was on special teams, with the Wolf Pack scoring three power-play goals and a shorthander, so you could argue that the regular line combinations were irrelevant, but the new groupings seem to provide an overall spark.  Fast had his first three-point game in North America, with two goals and an assist, Kristo got his 20th goal of the season and had an assist, Miller had two assists and Lindberg scored his first shorthander in North American pro.

Whatever the Wolf Pack have had against the Phantoms this year, it’s too bad that they couldn’t have bottled it and used it against the rest of the league.  The Pack finished the season series 8-1-0-1, with wins in the last six straight, and went 12/43 (27.9%) against an Adirondack penalty-killing unit that has been challenging for tops in the league throughout the season.  And the Wolf Pack power play had been 0/17 in the previous four games heading into Saturday, and 1/31 in the previous seven.

Saturday was the Pack’s last visit to Glens Falls to play the Phantoms, who are moving to Allentown, PA for next season.  The Pack were 7-4-2 in 13 games at the Glens Falls Civic Center over the five years that the Phantoms have played there, and were 18-5-2-1 overall against the Adirondack franchise.

This is the second time Glens Falls has seen the AHL leave, and there currently is no team set to replace the Phantoms, although the city has not given up on attracting a replacement for next year.  The old Adirondack Red Wings called the Glens Falls Civic Center home for 20 years from 1979-80 through 1998-99, winning four Calder Cups, and the market then was without the AHL for 10 seasons before the Phantoms moved from Philadelphia for the 2009-10 campaign.

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