BLAIS POTS TWO GOALS TO LEAD WOLF PACK PAST COMETS 4-3Feb 3, 2023
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack continued their homestand on Friday night, hosting the Utica Comets for the final matchup between the teams this season. Sammy Blais scored two goals in the third period, including the eventual game-winner, leading the Pack to a 4-3 comeback victory.
Blais’ eventual game-winner came late in the third period. Ryan Carpenter had a breakaway opportunity, but Akira Schmid denied his shot. Blais collected the rebound, danced his way toward the net, and sent a backhand shot by the glove of Schmid to put the Pack back on top with two and a half minutes to play in the game. The goal was Blais’ first AHL game-winning tally since February 1st, 2019, with the San Antonio Rampage. Blais has found twine four times since being loaned to Hartford on a conditioning stint from the New York Rangers on January 23rd.
The Wolf Pack quickly broke the ice in the first period. Jonny Brodzinski took a shot from the top of the right circle that Schmid denied. Lauri Pajuniemi pounced on the rebound and buried the puck into the Utica net just 23 seconds into the contest. Pajuniemi’s tally marked the fastest start for the Wolf Pack this season.
Brodzinski’s assist extended his point streak to six games. Brodzinski has recorded a point in all six games since being assigned to Hartford by the Rangers on January 22nd.
The Comets would answer back midway through the opening stanza. Simon Nemec took a pass from Ryan Schmelzer and sniped a shot from the blue line that Dylan Garand never saw, evening the contest at 10:08 of the first. Nemec has recorded goals in back-to-back games for the Comets.
The Pack retook the lead late in the period. Tim Gettinger fired a pass across the ice to Zach Giuttari, who blasted a shot home from the right circle for his second goal of the season. Both Gettinger and Brodzinski earned their second assist of the night on the score at 18:53.
The Comets would take their first lead of the night in the middle stanza, thanks to a pair of goals from Brian Halonen in the period’s first four minutes. Halonen scored his first goal just over a minute into the period, deflecting a point shot from a Jeremy Groleau and beating Garand to even the score.
Halonen’s second goal of the period came about three minutes later. With Ty Emberson in the box for slashing, Halonen skated to the slot, took a pass from Joe Gambardella, and promptly lit the lamp to put the Comets in the lead for the first time in the contest.
The Pack answered back in the final period with Sammy Blais potting a pair of goals. Blais’ first tally came at 1:38. Hunter Skinner wrapped around the Utica net and made a centering attempt to Gustav Rydahl. Rydahl couldn’t get a shot away, but Ryan Carpenter found the puck in the right circle, drawing Schmid out of the net. Carpenter sent a pass to Blais, who tapped the puck into the open net to even the score at three.
Blais scored again at 17:29, putting the Pack ahead for good and cementing a 4-3 victory to snap the team’s three-game home losing streak.
The Wolf Pack continue their five-game homestand tomorrow night, hosting the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Join us for ‘Star Wars Night’! The 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.