Mar 24, 2023

HARTFORD, CT – After coming up short against their rival Springfield Thunderbirds last Friday, the Hartford Wolf Pack hit the ice looking for revenge. Will Cuylle led the way for the Pack, scoring his first professional hat trick as Hartford stunned the T-Birds with a thrilling 6-5 comeback victory.

Cuylle’s third goal of the night stood as the eventual game-winner. A delay of game penalty to Matthew Highmore initiated the fifth Wolf Pack powerplay opportunity of the period. Jonny Brodzinski sent a centering pass for Ryan Carpenter, but Tyler Tucker deflected the pass. A scramble for the loose puck ensued in front of the Springfield net before Cuylle corralled it and flipped a shot over a sprawled-out Vadim Zherenko to reinstate the Wolf Pack lead for good. The goal capped off a hat trick for the rookie forward, who leads Hartford with 24 goals and 41 points on the campaign.

Cuylle’s goal also represented the fourth time the Wolf Pack powerplay struck in the contest, the first time the team had converted on four powerplays in a single game this season. Additionally, Brodzinski’s assist on the score was his fifth point of the night, the first time he has ever tallied five points in a single game in his career.

The Wolf Pack broke the ice early in the first period. Turner Elson snapped a shot from the right circle that Zherenko turned away. Lauri Pajuniemi pounced on the rebound and buried it into the Springfield net, giving the Wolf Pack the game’s first lead just over the two minute mark in the opening stanza. The goal was Pajuniemi’s 18th on the campaign, good for second on the team. The tally was also Pajuniemi’s 30th point of the season, the seventh member of the Wolf Pack to hit that mark.

Cuylle extended the Wolf Pack lead seven and a half minutes later. Zherenko denied a shot from Brodzinski, but the puck trickled through the five-hole of the Springfield netminder. Cuylle dove for the puck and pushed it just over the red line, pushing the Hartford lead to two. The goal was Cuylle’s first point of an eventual four-point night.

The Thunderbirds answered to the tune of three goals in the middle stanza. With Wyatt Kalynuk in the box for hooking, Martin Frk got Springfield on the board, skating to the right circle, and snapping a shot past Louis Domingue to cut the Hartford lead in half three and a half minutes into the period.

Greg Printz drew the teams even nine minutes later. The Thunderbirds had the extra skater on thanks to a delayed penalty. Springfield wouldn’t need to go to the powerplay, however, as Printz collected the rebound from a Matthew Peca shot and promptly lit the lamp to tie the game at two.

The Thunderbirds took their first lead of the game late in the middle period. Penalties to Ty Emberson and Brandon Scanlin initiated a five-on-three sequence. Adam Gaudette buried a rebound from the left circle to put the T-Birds on top for the first time in the game at 18:39. Springfield took that lead into the final period.

Springfield struck again just twenty seconds into the final stanza. Peca snapped a shot past the blocker of Domingue to stretch the T-Birds lead to two. It was the third time the Thunderbirds had struck on the powerplay on the night.

Will Bitten gave the Thunderbirds their biggest lead of the contest 38 seconds later, scoring on a partial breakaway opportunity to push the lead to three. Bitten’s tally was Springfield’s only even-strength goal on the night.

From there, the tides turned in favor of Hartford. Cuylle cut into the lead with his second goal of the night, positioning himself in front of the Springfield net and burying a pass from Carpenter over the glove of Zherenko. Officials reviewed the tally before ultimately awarding the rookie forward his 23rd goal of the campaign. Cuylle’s goal began a stretch of four straight powerplay goals in the final fourteen minutes for Hartford.

Brodzinski drew the Pack within one ten minutes later. With Hugh McGing in the box for slashing and the extra skater out in favor of Domingue, Brodzinski took advantage of a downed Zherenko and lit the lamp with a blast over the blocker of the Springfield netminder. It was the 17th time Brodzinski has found twine on the campaign.

Nikita Alexandrov was called for tripping at 16:46, initiating another late powerplay for the Wolf Pack. Once again, Hartford converted, as Tanner Fritz scored his seventh goal of the campaign. Fritz grabbed a pass from Brodzinski and snapped a shot past Zherenko for Hartford’s third straight powerplay goal, evening the score with just over two minutes to play. It was the club’s second goal with the net empty, the first time this season they have done that.

Cuylle sent the hats flying at 19:06, and the Wolf Pack completed the comeback to earn a thrilling 6-5 victory and a much needed two points.

The Wolf Pack return to the XL Center tomorrow night for a rematch with the Thunderbirds. The puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. To get tickets, visit   

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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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