ANDY WELINKSI’S OVERTIME HEROICS PUSH WOLF PACK PAST CHECKERSOct 29, 2022
HARTFORD, CT – Andy Welinski lit the lamp for the first time as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday night, beating rookie goaltender Mack Guzda 47 seconds into overtime to push the Wolf Pack to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Charlotte Checkers at the XL Center.
C.J. Smith fended off a Checkers defender along the far boards in the offensive zone at the start of three-on-three overtime, giving himself enough time to thread a pass to Welinski. Welinski took the puck in the far faceoff circle and darted toward Guzda, quickly releasing a shot at the bottom of the circle that beat the netminder on his glove side for the overtime dagger.
For the second night in a row, the Wolf Pack would open the scoring. This time, it was a powerplay goal that got the party started as Jonny Brodzinski scored his second of the season 10:23 into the game. Welinski handled the puck at the offensive blueline while Hartford’s top powerplay unit went to work. The veteran defenseman connected on a pass to Brodzinski in the far circle, who took it to the dot and snapped a shot that beat Guzda for the icebreaker.
Despite many chances at both ends in the second period, the Wolf Pack and Checkers could not find twine. Guzda was forced to make 14 saves against the Wolf Pack to keep it a 1-0 spread, while Dylan Garand made four stops to keep his club in the lead. The Checkers managed a season-low four shots on the goal in the period but had a number of chances that just missed the net in the frame.
The Checkers were given a gold opportunity to tie the game early in the third, as Hartford took two minor penalties that forced them to play three-on-five for a full two minutes. The Wolf Pack got the kill, but the Checkers still managed to tie the game shortly after the penalties expired.
John Ludvig fired a shot from an angle that Garand denied, but the rebound hit the leg of Grigori Denisenko and bounced into the goal at 8:57 to make it a 1-1 game.
Less than seven minutes later, the Wolf Pack would regain their lead. Blake Hillman stepped into a shot at the blueline that Lauri Pajuniemi got a stick on, deflecting the puck by Guzda at 15:22 to make it a 2-1 game.
Once again in the final moments, the Checkers would get a five-on-three opportunity, this time for 55 seconds. Once again, Hartford would get the kill but surrender a goal shortly after. With Ben Harpur in the penalty box and the extra attacker on, the Checkers struck at 19:03 to tie the game. Logan Hutsko found a rebound in front of the Hartford net and deposited his third goal of the season to force overtime.
In overtime, the Wolf Pack wasted no time in getting revenge for their season opening loss, as Welinski beat Guzda in the opening minute to push Hartford to their second victory in as many nights.
The Wolf Pack hit the road next Friday, November 4th, when they visit the Springfield Thunderbirds. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. with pregame coverage starting at 6:50 p.m. on AHLTV and Mixlr. The Pack will return to the XL Center on Wednesday, November 9th, for a rematch with the T-Birds. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. To get tickets, visit 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.