BRETT BERARD NOTCHES SHORTHANDED GOAL, BUT WOLF PACK FALL 4-2 TO CHECKERS IN HOMESTAND OPENERJan 31, 2024
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack opened a season-long, six-game homestand on Wednesday night at the XL Center. Despite scoring on both the powerplay and the penalty kill, the Pack fell 4-2 to the Charlotte Checkers in the first of eight games against their division rival.
It would be Checkers forward Gerry Mayhew’s ninth of the season that proved to be the game-winner at the 14:51 mark of the third period. Mayhew found his way to the front of the net and connected on a behind-the-net feed from Patrick Khodorenko to give the Checkers a 3-2 lead. The goal came 2:51 after Hartford tied the game while shorthanded.
Scoring chances were few and far between in the opening minutes of the contest, but the Pack got their first powerplay opportunity of the evening at 6:47 of the first period as Checkers defenseman Uvis Balinskis went off for slashing.
The Checkers’ penalty kill unit gave the Wolf Pack some trouble early, but it would be Karl Henriksson with just under 30 seconds left on the man advantage who notched his eighth goal of the season to open the scoring. Henriksson buried a short side shot above the right shoulder of Spencer Knight to make it 1-0 Wolf Pack. The goal was Henriksson’s eighth of the season, a new career high.
The Checkers’ response was swift and felt, as they recorded the next nine shots of the game. The offensive pressure led to the tying goal at 11:39 as Cameron Morrison converted on a rebound in tight to beat Dylan Garand for his second tally of the season, making it a 1-1 game.
Shortly after the Charlotte goal, Anton Blidh went off for holding at 12:17 to give the Checkers their first powerplay of the night. Just over a minute into the man advantage, Charlotte’s leading scorer, Lucas Carlsson, provided the go-ahead tally. Carlsson gloved down a clearing attempt, then fired a shot into traffic. The bid clipped off of a Hartford defender and found the back of the net at 13:30. The goal was Carlson’s team-leading 13th of the season.
The middle stanza saw Hartford gain some offensive momentum, with Blake Hillman and Adam Sýkora both hitting the iron. Charlotte had a surge of their own in the final minutes of the period, shortly after the Pack killed off a Mackey penalty. Garand was the story in this period, capping off a strong performance with a great save in the final seconds off of Zac Dalpe.
The Pack opened the third period with a slew of strong shifts, as Artem Anisimov and Blidh got some early shots in on Knight. The Checkers returned the favor with some high-danger chances of their own, testing Garand. Blidh went off for tripping at 10:30, giving Charlotte a chance to extend their lead.
Brett Berard gave the building life, scoring the first shorthanded goal of his professional career on a breakaway to tie the game at two apiece at 12:00. Berard took a loose puck that rocketed off of Henriksson just inside the Hartford zone, then went top-shelf on Knight for his team-leading 13th goal.
Charlotte got to work immediately following the tying goal, however, and regained the flow of play. This led to their eventual game-winning goal courtesy of Mayhew. An empty netter from Rasmus Asplund at 18:32 sealed the 4-2 win for the Checkers.
The Wolf Pack march ahead on their six-game homestand, hosting the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this Friday night. Be sure to join us for $2 beers and $2 hot dogs until the end of the first intermission!
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.