Pack’s European Presence Comes up Big in Allentown

Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander was in a bit of joking mood after the Wolf Pack’s 3-1 preseason win at Lehigh Valley on Saturday, having seen his team control play in the third period to the tune of an 11-3 shots advantage and score a pair of third-period goals.

Of Slovakian-born Marek Hrivik (goal and two assists) and Czechs Peter Zamorsky (goal and an assist) and Richard Nejezchleb (two helpouts), who combined for seven points in the victory, the Wolf Pack bench boss quipped, “I guess those Eastern-Bloc countries mesh pretty well. I mean, when you add Zamorsky and Nejezchleb and Hrivik, they all had strong games.”

Staying with the European angle, North American pro newbie defensemen Zamorsky and Swedish import Calle Andersson manned the points on a Wolf Pack power play that was 2/6, and both scored.

Richard Nejezchleb (left) and Chris McCarthy (center) in preseason action for the Wolf Pack at Lehigh Valley (photo courtesy of JustSports Photography)

Richard Nejezchleb (left) and Chris McCarthy (center) in preseason action for the Wolf Pack at Lehigh Valley (photo courtesy of JustSports Photography)

“I remember saying to Beuk (Assistant Coach Jeff Beukeboom) before the game, ‘I don’t know, two of your rookies out there, that might be tough,’” Gernander smiled, “and he said, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ And they proved me wrong, they really played well on the back end on the power play, made some nice plays.”

Third-year pro netminder Jeff Malcolm went the whole way in Saturday’s game and looked impressively sharp. The only puck to get by the former Yale Eli was a healthy deflection by Taylor Leier from right in front of Malcolm, and though he didn’t get tested much in the third, Malcolm faced several good chances in the first 40 minutes, during which time the Wolf Pack were outshot by a margin of 24-18.

“There were a couple of instances where it got a little bit scrambly,” Gernander said of the Pack’s play in the defensive zone. “He (Malcolm) made a big save right prior to the one goal there. We went back the other way and scored a goal, but he made a big save prior to that. I liked his game as well.”

The game seemed to have a much faster pace to it than the Pack’s first preseason contest, a 3-2 overtime win Thursday night over Bridgeport at Wonderland of Ice. That’s to be expected, as the Wolf Pack’s Thursday lineup was mostly comprised of tryout players and they had only two tryouts, winger Alex Krushelnyski and defenseman Justin DaSilva, play Saturday, but Gernander felt that being in a regular AHL building, the Phantoms’ PPL Center home ice, had just as much to do with it.

“It’s a little bit different atmosphere, bigger building, bigger crowd,” he said. “It felt more like a road game, where we were in a night early, staying at the hotel. The whole feel just felt a little bit closer to regular season.”

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