Wolf Pack Clinch Playoff Spot with Win over Falcons

Apr 10, 2015

The Wolf Pack clinched a berth in the Calder Cup playoffs Friday night at the XL Center, with a 5-0 win over the Springfield Falcons.

Combined with the Albany Devils’ 6-3 loss to the Binghamton Senators in Binghamton, Friday night’s Wolf Pack win assured Hartford (39-23-5-4, 87 pts.) of a postseason spot, with five games still left to play in the regular season.

Danny Kristo scored a pair of goals to lead the Wolf Pack attack Friday, and Yann Danis stopped all 31 Springfield shots to get the shutout.  Chris Bourque added a goal and an assist, and Dylan McIlrath and Shawn O’Donnell also scored Hartford goals.

“We’re all thrilled about it,” said Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander of securing the playoff berth. “That’s why we play, for the opportunity to win a cup, and it means a lot for this group as players, and as people, to experience that. I think it’s great.”

Bourque echoed his coach’s sentiment. “All season we strive to get to the playoffs,” he said. “That’s why you play. They haven’t made it the last couple of years, so to come in here and help the team get to the playoffs is awesome.

Hartford showed they would be putting up a determined fight with an early goal from Kristo at 5:59 of the first period. 

Tyler Brown threaded a pass between two Springfield defenders to find Kristo streaking towards the net. Kristo kept his head and buried the shot between the legs of  Falcon starting goaltender Scott Munroe, to give the Wolf Pack a 1-0 lead. Assists were credited to Brown and Chris Mueller.

“I’m not really sure how I got so open there,” said Kristo of the goal. “It was kind of a mini-breakaway, but I like to have a couple moves in my head before the game. I’ve done one or two moves a lot, and scored a couple goals on them this year.”

Just 38 seconds later, Bourque took a shot from an almost impossible angle that caught Munroe extremely off guard. He wasn’t able to handle the puck properly and it bounced in off his pad, giving the Wolf Pack a 2-0 lead with 13:33 remaining in the period. Joey Crabb and Tyler Hughes got the nod for assists. 

“I saw Oscar [Lindberg] going to the net and I was just hoping for a rebound,” said Bourque. “I think I caught him by surprise, but it was a big goal. I’ll take it.”

The ferocious attack did not abate in the latter half of the first period, as at 10:36, Dylan McIlrath put a shot on net from the point that sailed through traffic and ricocheted in off the post on Munroe’s stick side. After the goal Springfield decided they had seen enough, and pulled Munroe (eight saves) in favor of backup Joonas Korpisalo.

“We did a real good job of putting pucks on the net early,” said Gernander of the fast start. “Getting off on the right foot certainly was a big part of our win tonight.”

Danis could not have agreed more. After three key saves early in the game, he was happy to see the momentum swing towards his team.

“That’s what goalies are for,” he said. “You want to make the right saves at the right time and try to give the team momentum. Fortunately tonight I was able to do that, and whenever your team is able to get five goals it definitely makes your job easier.”

The second period began scoreless with some close calls for the Wolf Pack. Beginning the period down two men, Hartford killed off the penalty and defended against a spirited Falcon attack. Danis was in top form, denying several close chances and doing his best to keep the visitors scoreless.

Hartford broke through for a fourth goal with 3:56 remaining on a rebound goal by O’Donnell. With a traffic jam in front of Korpisalo, Lindberg put a shot on net from the slot that rebounded straight to a waiting O’Donnell. It was his third goal on the season, helped by Lindberg and Chad Nehring.

Within seconds Hartford struck again, courtesy of Kristo. His second goal of the night was an easy rebound put-away, similar O’Donnell’s goal 45 seconds before. Bourque put a shot on net from above the circle that rebounded off Korpisalo’s pad, and the netminder had a difficult time tracking the puck with all the bodies in front of him. As the puck floated out to the high slot, Kristo was waiting with open arms for his 22nd of the season. Bourque and Justin Vaive were credited with the assists, the goal coming with 3:01 remaining in the period.

The third period passed scoreless, and the Wolf Pack were able to celebrate their win and breathe the rarified air of a postseason berth.

The Wolf Pack are right back at the XL Center Saturday night, hosting the Albany Devils in a 7:00 game.  That is the Wolf Pack’s “Police and Fire Appreciation Night”, as the Pack salute the police officers, firefighters and other first responders who serve our community.

Tickets for all remaining 2014-15 Wolf Pack home games are now on sale at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.  Wolf Pack tickets start as low as $12 for youth 12 years old or younger. 

To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.


Springfield Falcons 0 at Hartford Wolf Pack 5
Friday, April 10, 2015 - XL Center

Springfield 0 0 0 - 0
Hartford 3 2 0 - 5

1st Period-1, Hartford, Kristo 21 (Brown, Mueller), 5:59. 2, Hartford, Bourque 28 (Crabb, Hughes), 6:37. 3, Hartford, McIlrath 5 (Hrivik), 10:36. Penalties-Bourque Hfd (slashing), 11:00; Labrie Spr (fighting), 17:45; Vaive Hfd (fighting), 17:45; Crabb Hfd (hooking), 18:21; Bourque Hfd (hooking), 19:38.

2nd Period-4, Hartford, O'Donnell 3 (Nehring, Lindberg), 16:04. 5, Hartford, Kristo 22 (Vaive, Bourque), 16:49 (PP). Penalties-Labrie Spr (hooking), 6:31; Allen Hfd (interference), 13:39; Anderson Spr (roughing), 16:04; Sifers Spr (delay of game), 17:28.

3rd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-McIlrath Hfd (tripping), 6:54; Brown Hfd (hooking), 8:32; Weber Spr (holding), 12:16; Vaive Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:01; Larkin Spr (holding), 16:30; Anderson Spr (roughing), 17:59; Vogelhuber Spr (misconduct), 17:59; Bourque Hfd (roughing, misconduct), 17:59; Vaive Hfd (misconduct), 17:59; Tarnasky Hfd (slashing), 20:00.

Shots on Goal-Springfield 13-8-10-31. Hartford 17-11-6-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Springfield 0 / 7; Hartford 1 / 5.
Goalies-Springfield, Munroe 9-11-1 (11 shots-8 saves); Korpisalo 0-2-0 (23 shots-21 saves). Hartford, Danis 14-12-2 (31 shots-31 saves).
Referees-Mark Lemelin (41), Jake Brenk (15).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Paul Simeon (66).

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