ALEX BELZILE STARS IN RETURN TO LAVAL AS WOLF PACK STORM BACK TO WIN 4-3 IN SHOOTOUTDec 8, 2023
LAVAL, QC – It started with Alex Belzile receiving a tribute video for his five years of service to the Laval Rocket organization. It ended with Belzile, the Rocket’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, and points, securing first star honors after burying the shootout winner that completed the Wolf Pack’s 4-3 come from behind victory over the Rocket.
The win gives the Wolf Pack points in eight straight games (7-0-1-0), while the loss was the Rocket’s ninth in a row.
Belzile completed the comeback in the bottom half of the first round of the shootout. He carried the puck in and beat Jakub Dobes to put the Wolf Pack ahead 1-0. After Emil Heineman bobbled the puck and lost possession, Brett Berard cemented the win when he went top-shelf for his first career shootout goal.
The game didn’t start according to plan for Hartford. Just 2:13 into the game, the club was down on a five-on-three penalty kill after Connor Mackey (1:52) and Brandon Scanlin (2:13) were both assessed cross-checking minors. The Rocket made the Wolf Pack pay, scoring on both penalties.
Philippe Maillet opened the scoring 3:47 in when he ripped a shot by Louis Domingue for his fourth goal of the season. Just 23 seconds later, Joshua Roy would make it a 2-0 game with a five-on-four advantage.
Roy was streaking in down the right-wing side and took a feed from Heineman. Roy’s initial attempt was denied by Domingue, but he stuck with the play and jammed home the rebound for his eighth goal of the season.
The Wolf Pack powerplay got a chance to counter at 5:08 when Brady Keeper was called for hooking. They wasted little time converting, as less than a minute into the powerplay Mac Hollowell gained a 2-on-0 with Belzile. Hollowell slid a pass to Belzile, who potted his eighth goal of the season at 6:01 to make it a 2-1 game.
Hollowell’s assist on the goal was his 21st of the season. That leads the AHL.
38 seconds later, however, a bad bounce would end up in the net behind Domingue. Logan Mailloux was attempting to send the puck towards the goal, but it hit the legs of Adam Sýkora and came to Riley McKay. McKay quickly blasted a shot by the blocker of Domingue to restore the two-goal lead for the home side.
The Wolf Pack settled down from there, however, and Domingue was perfect the rest of the way.
Hartford’s hard work was rewarded twice in the middle stanza, as two goals in 21 seconds brought the game back to even footing.
First, a Bobby Trivigno shot from the right-wing point was deflected by Turner Elson in the slot at 7:53. The shot evaded Dobes and found the back of the net for Elson’s second goal of the season.
Then, 21 seconds later, Matej Pekar intercepted a pass at the top of the offensive zone. Pekar flung a shot towards the goal that Dobes denied, but the rebound came right to Matt Rempe. Rempe was also denied, but Ryder Korczak was also in the neighborhood. Korczak found the loose puck and slammed home his fourth goal of the season to make it a 3-3 game at 8:14.
Both goaltenders were strong in the final period, each making eight saves to earn a point for their respective teams. In overtime, Brandon Gignac created two good opportunities, including one that struck the crossbar. Neither side found paydirt, however, and a shootout was required.
Belzile opened the shootout with a first round goal, the game-winner, before Berard ended it in the second round. Domingue denied both Rocket shooters and is now a perfect 5-for-5 in the shootout this season.
The win is Hartford’s first in franchise history at Place Bell. Previously, the club was 0-4-0-1 in five visits.
The Wolf Pack conclude their two-game road trip tomorrow when they again take on the Rocket at 3:00 p.m. Wolf Pack Pregame starts live with play-by-play broadcaster Alex Thomas at 2:45 p.m. on AHLTV & Mixlr.
The Pack returns home next Friday night to host the Rochester Americans. The puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets are available at www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
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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.