Feb 2, 2024

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack saw a 4-1 lead evaporate on Friday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the XL Center. The Pens railed to force overtime at 4-4, but the Wolf Pack got the last laugh when Brett Berard snapped home the first overtime goal of his career to give the Wolf Pack a 5-4 win in front of 6,453 fans.

Berard was the hero tonight, dancing through all three Penguins’ players before sneaking a shot under the glove of Magnus Hellberg to secure the 5-4 overtime victory. Nikolas Brouillard notched his second assist of the night on the play, while Berard’s tally was his team-leading 14th.

The Penguins applied heavy pressure on the opening shift, culminating in the opening goal of the contest on only their second shot. Alex Nylander directed a shot on goal that got lost in a couple of Wolf Pack bodies before Joona Koppanen found the loose puck and beat Louis Domingue for his fourth of the season to put the Pens up 1-0. The goal came at 2:09 and marked the fourth straight meeting in which the Penguins opened the scoring.

The Pack’s response was swift, as Alex Belzile fired a shot on goal that caught a piece of Adam Sýkora to tie the game at one apiece at 9:59.  Sýkora’s tally was his fifth of the year, with Matthew Robertson notching his 50th career professional point with a secondary assist.

The Pack came out swinging in the middle stanza, bringing sustained offensive zone pressure. A balanced attack gave way to a go-ahead goal for the Wolf Pack, as Belzile fired a shot in tight to beat Hellberg and make it 2-1. Connor Mackey recorded his seventh assist, as his point shot caromed to the stick of Belzile who fired the quick wrister at 4:12.

Hartford continued their strong play in the ensuing minutes, extending their lead off of a pretty passing play that culminated with Robertson’s third goal of the season to make it 3-1 Wolf Pack at 6:43. An efficient breakout led to a perfectly executed give-and-go between Robertson and Turner Elson to put Robertson in prime position to put the Pack up two.

Brennan Othmann sniped home his eleventh goal of the season on the powerplay to put the Pack up 4-1 at 12:45. The all-star extended his point streak to seven games with the goal, a career-high.

In the closing minutes of the period, Peter Abbandonato broke free in the slot and beat Domingue up high to cut the deficit to 4-2. Abbandonato’s seventh of the season came at 17:06 and gave the Penguins the spark they needed heading into the third period.

The Pack started strong in the final frame, registering the first six shots. Their momentum surge was broken up as Jack Rathbone fed Vinnie Hinostroza by the back post to make it a 4-3 hockey game. Hinostroza’s sixth goal of the year came at 6:43.

The Pens had Hartford on their heels for the back half of the period. Domingue shined as part of a crucial penalty kill, making sixteen saves in the third period alone. With an extra attacker at 17:55, however, the Pens would find the equalizer. It would be Hinostroza again, this time tying the game 4-4 off a net-front pass from Sam Poulin. The goal forced the first overtime period between the foes this season and Hartford’s first trip to extra time since January 13th.

Berard’s game-winner stopped the Pens’ comeback bid in its tracks and snapped the Pack’s three-game skid in the head-to-head series. The win also gives the Wolf Pack a ten-game (8-0-1-1) point streak against the Penguins at home.

The Wolf Pack is right back in action tomorrow night, welcoming the Springfield Thunderbirds to town on ‘Women in Sports Night presented by Nissan’! The first 1,500 fans 12 and under will also receive a replica Wolf Pack specialty jersey.

The puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available on 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.  

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