JOSH LEIVO’S HAT-TRICK SINKS WOLF PACK IN FIRST INSTALLMENT OF I-91 RIVALRYNov 4, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, MA – They say first impressions are everything. For Josh Leivo, that was certainly the case on Friday night as the veteran forward scored three goals for the Springfield Thunderbirds in their 5-1 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack at the MassMutual Center.
Will Bitten scored his AHL leading third shorthanded goal of the season 15:58 into the first period, putting the Thunderbirds up 2-0 at the time. Bitten won a footrace to a loose puck in the neutral zone, then worked his way around Ty Emberson and to the bottom of the near faceoff circle. There, Bitten uncorked a shot that clipped the shoulder of Louis Domingue and rocketed in for the Thunderbirds’ fourth shorthanded goal of the season. The goal would stand as the eventual winner.
The Thunderbirds would strike first 11:34 into the hockey game, using Matthew Kessel’s first career regular season goal to break the ice. Kessel took a feed from Martin Frk and darted into the near faceoff circle in the Wolf Pack zone, beating Domingue to open the scoring. Just over four minutes later, Bitten’s shorthanded goal extended the lead to 2-0 for the home team.
The Thunderbirds completed a torrid offensive stretch with a goal from Leivo at the 16:35 mark. Matthew Highmore sent a centering pass to Leivo in the slot after he won a battle along the boards. Leivo then, in one motion, collected the puck and snapped home his first goal as a member of the Thunderbirds.
Leivo would strike again just 44 seconds into the middle frame, extending the lead to 4-0. Leivo broke into the offensive zone on a two-on-one with Mathias Laferriere, electing to shoot for his second goal in his debut.
Turner Elson snapped home his second goal with the Wolf Pack 8:34 into third period, but it would prove to be less than enough on this night. Joel Hofer attempted to hit the empty net in the final minute, but Emberson knocked the puck down in the neutral zone, allowing Leivo to collect it and fire it into the open cage for the hat-trick at 17:59.
The Wolf Pack hit the road again tomorrow night to take on the Bridgeport Islanders. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage starting at 6:45 p.m. on AHLTV and Mixlr. The Pack will return to the XL Center on Wednesday, November 9th, for a rematch with the T-Birds. 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.