BRODZINSKI POTS TWO AS WOLF PACK EDGE THUNDERBIRDS 3-1Oct 14, 2023
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Jonny Brodzinski lit the lamp twice on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield to propel the Wolf Pack to a 3-1 victory over the Thunderbirds in the first installment of the ‘I-91 Rivalry’ for the 2023-24 season. The win completed a perfect 2-0-0-0 weekend for Hartford.
Brodzinski, the shootout hero on Friday night in Providence, blasted home the game-winning goal 4:02 into the middle stanza on a five-on-three powerplay. Brennan Othmann, who scored twice on Friday night, played the puck up the right-wing wall to Mac Hollowell at the point. Hollowell then slid a pass to Brodzinski at the top of the left-wing circle, where the captain blasted home a one-timer for his first goal of the season.
For the first time this season, the Wolf Pack struck first in a game. Adam Edström gained the offensive zone on the left-wing side, barreling down the boards. Edström evaded a check from Dylan Coghlan and carried the puck deep into the zone. He then sent a pass to a streaking Alex Belzile, who beat his check to the front of the net. Belzile tapped home the pass at 19:26 of the first period for his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack.
The Wolf Pack controlled the opening period, outshooting the Thunderbirds by a 13-7 margin. The period featured quite a bit of special teams play, as both teams had three powerplays in a frame where five-on-five hockey was hard to come by.
Springfield came out with a jump in the middle stanza and capitalized early. Nathan Walker, in his first game with the club since the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, scored his first goal of the season just 1:34 into the period. Adam Gaudette corralled a rebound and sent a backhand pass to Walker in the slot, who quickly snapped a shot by Dylan Garand for the T-Birds’ lone goal of their home opener.
Moments later, the Thunderbirds ran into penalty trouble that would cost them the game. Coghlan was whistled for slashing, and shortly after was joined in the box by Jamieson Rees. On the five-on-three, Brodzinski blasted home the club’s third powerplay goal of the season, and the eventual game-winner.
Garand was strong in his first start of the season, making 23 saves. Seven of those saves came in the third period, with the home side pushing hard for the equalizer. The penalty kill also shined for the second night in a row, keeping the Thunderbirds off the board by killing all six of their powerplay situations.
In the waning moments of the game, Brodzinski flung a backhand shot towards an empty net for his second goal of the game, preserving the victory for Hartford. Jake Leschyshyn picked up the lone assist on the goal, his first of the season.
The Wolf Pack return to the XL Center for their 2023 home opener on Friday night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come to town. The puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. $2 beers and $2 hot dogs will be available until the end of the first intermission, and the first 5,000 fans will receive a rally towel courtesy of CM Concessions and Carvel. 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.