WOLF PACK FALL TO ISLANDERS 4-3 IN HOME PRESEASON FINALEOct 8, 2021
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack battled back from an early two-goal deficit and a late one-goal deficit on Friday afternoon but came up just short as they fell to the Bridgeport Islanders by a final score of 4-3 at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.
Defenseman Mitch Vande Sompel snapped home his first goal of the preseason at 14:48 of the third period to give the Islanders the lead for good. The Islanders had jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 3-2 earlier in the game but couldn’t find the decisive goal until late in regulation time.
The Islanders opened the scoring just 7:35 into the game when a heavy shot came off the stick of Simon Holmstrom and beat starting goaltender Adam Huska. The shot rang off the post and ricocheted into the back of the net to give the Islanders their first lead of the contest.
Bridgeport extended their lead at the 14:40 mark when forward Cole Coskey found a rebound and chipped it over Huska for the insurance marker. His first goal of the preseason was assisted by Blade Jenkins.
The Wolf Pack would not go quietly, however, as they battled back to eventually tie the hockey game.
Lauri Pajuniemi continued to wield the hot stick as he got the Wolf Pack on the board with his third goal of the preseason at 16:30 of the opening frame. Cedric Lacroix and Patrick Khodorenko picked up the assists on the tally.
Hartford carried that momentum into the second period, scoring the only goal of the frame to tie things up at 2-2. Anthony Greco fired a shot that was denied by Jon Gillies, but defenseman Zach Giuttari activated into the play and tapped home the rebound for his first goal of the preseason at 13:07.
Bridgeport, under heavy fire from a plethora of Wolf Pack shots in the final forty minutes, was able to break the tie midway through the third period. Jeff Kubiak gave the Islanders back the lead with his first goal of the preseason at 10:19 of the third, tipping home a one-time shot that came off the stick of Grant Hutton.
The lead was short lived, however, as the Pack struck back moments later on the powerplay. Austin Rueschhoff found a loose puck in front of the Islander net and jammed it by Gillies at 11:21 to even things at 3-3. His first of the preseason was assisted by Matthew Robertson, whose point shot created the rebound, and Pajuniemi.
The seesaw continued, however, and Bridgeport was once again able to wrestle the lead back from the Wolf Pack 3:07 later. Vande Sompel was sprung ahead by Paul Thompson and gained the zone, speeding in and firing a heavy shot over the blocker of goaltender Tyler Wall that found the back of the net.
Despite a frantic effort late, and a 39-27 Wolf Pack advantage in shots, Gillies was able to slam the door shut in the final moments and preserve the victory for the Islanders.
The Wolf Pack conclude their 2021 preseason schedule tomorrow at 1:00 pm when they visit the Islanders in Bridgeport. The Pack then begin their 25th anniversary season on Friday, October 15th, when they play host to the Islanders on opening night. Opening weekend concludes two days later on October 17th when the Providence Bruins come to town.
Single game tickets for the 2021-22 Hartford Wolf Pack season are on-sale now! To secure your seats and join the fun for this milestone season, visit www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
# # #
ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.