MAXIM LETUNOV THE OVERTIME HERO AS WOLF PACK BEAT CHECKERS 4-3Apr 10, 2022
HARTFORD, CT – It was a great day to snap some streaks. The Hartford Wolf Pack battled hard and scored a massive 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday afternoon against the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Wolf Pack and snapped a 16-game losing streak for the club at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Maxim Letunov played the role of hero just 21 seconds into overtime, scoring his second goal with the Wolf Pack and his 15th overall this season. Zac Jones gained the offensive zone on the right wing side, then pulled up in the near faceoff circle before dropping the puck back to Anthony Greco. Greco danced into the slot, then dropped a pass to Letunov. Letunov tried to thread a backhand pass back to Greco but hit the leg of a Charlotte defender. Letunov regained possession and quickly fired a forehand shot that slipped through Checkers starter Christopher Gibson and in.
The goal was just the third overtime winner for the Wolf Pack this season, and their first since February 12th.
For the first time on this road trip, the Wolf Pack opened the scoring. Jones broke the ice just 1:45 into the game, beating Gibson for his ninth goal of the season. The Wolf Pack broke into the Checkers zone on a three-on-one, with Patrick Khodorenko holding possession. Khodorenko fed Jones with a cross-ice pass, and Jones made no mistake as he put it up and over the pads of the sliding Gibson.
The Checkers needed just 35 seconds to respond, however, as Luke Henman tied the game 1-1 at the 2:20 mark. Henman glided into the Wolf Pack zone on the right wing side, eventually finding himself in the faceoff circle. Henman wired a shot over the glove of Adam Húska for his sixth goal of the season and second in as many games.
Charlotte would gain their first lead of the afternoon at 15:42, with Zac Dalpe burying his team-leading 28th goal of the season. Aleksi Heponiemi was hauled down at the offensive blueline while on the powerplay. The sequence resulted in a delayed penalty against the Wolf Pack, but Charlotte never did get their five-on-three. That’s because the puck bounced right to Dalpe, who found himself in alone on Húska. Dalpe went to the backhand for the powerplay goal that put the Checkers ahead.
Tanner Fritz snapped a nine-game goalless drought at 18:46, tying the game 2-2. Ty Ronning fed Fritz in the faceoff circle on the left wing side of the Charlotte zone. Fritz quickly snapped a shot that cleanly beat Gibson over his glove for the veteran’s 12th goal of the season.
The Wolf Pack would regain the lead 5:21 into the middle frame, scoring the period’s only goal. Tim Gettinger tipped a pass into the Checkers zone, where Khodorenko was. Khodorenko gained possession and barreled his way towards the goal. Instead of firing a shot, he slid a backhand pass across to Greco, who had a wide-open net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season.
The Checkers would not go quietly, however, and tied the game 3-3 9:05 into the final stanza. Alexander True lit the lamp for the second game in a row against the Wolf Pack, scoring his 17th goal of the season at 9:05. The goal forced overtime, the second time this season that the two foes needed extra time.
Letunov found paydirt just 21 seconds in, giving Hartford their first win against the Checkers this season and their first win in Charlotte in franchise history.
The Wolf Pack continue their seven-game road trip on Wednesday night when they visit the Belleville Senators. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. The road trip concludes with visits to Toronto on April 15th, and Rochester on April 16th.
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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.