RYDAHL’S HAT-TRICK PUSHES WOLF PACK TO THRILLING 6-4 VICTORY OVER PHANTOMSFeb 19, 2023
ALLENTOWN, PA – The Hartford Wolf Pack secured their second multi-goal, third period comeback in less than 24 hours on Sunday evening in thrilling fashion. Trailing by scores of 3-1 and 4-2 in the final stanza, the Wolf Pack lit the lamp five times in the final 12:46 to stun the crowd at the PPL Center, ripping a 6-4 victory from the jaws of defeat.
Libor Hájek scored his first goal in the AHL since March 1st, 2020, with just two minutes remaining in regulation to give the Wolf Pack a 5-4 lead they would not lose. After a scrum in front of the Phantoms’ net, the puck popped to Hájek in-between the faceoff circles. In just his fourth game with the Wolf Pack this season, Hájek stepped into a shot that found its way through the traffic and beat Pat Nagle to complete the comeback.
Hartford started the game with a rather strong first period on the road, outshooting the Phantoms 12-8 and scoring the game’s first goal. Ty Emberson stepped into a shot from the point that Nagle initially denied, but Gustav Rydahl found the rebound and potted his fifth goal of the season at 12:42.
The Phantoms controlled the middle stanza, however, answering back and then some. Garrett Wilson evened the affair just 99 seconds into the frame, converting on a defensive zone turnover by the Wolf Pack. The Phantoms powerplay would put them ahead moments later, striking at 5:20. Elliot Desnoyers took a pass from Ronnie Attard in front of the Hartford net after sneaking in behind the defense. Desnoyers quickly snapped home his 18th goal of the season, and second powerplay goal in as many games against the Pack.
Wilson struck again at 12:34, extending the lead to 3-1 with his seventh goal of the season. Wilson took a pass from Bobby Brink, darted by a Wolf Pack defender, and then beat Louis Domingue by the blocker for a highlight reel goal.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, the Wolf Pack would not back down. Will Cuylle got the club back within a goal at 7:16 with a powerplay tally. With Zayde Wisdom in the box for holding, Ryan Carpenter won possession of the puck behind the Phantoms’ net. Carpenter sent a centering pass to Cuylle, who beat Nagle by the glove for his team-leading 16th goal of the season.
Just 2:08 later, however, Wilson would trigger a storm of hats. The veteran forward located a loose puck to the right of the Hartford net, and banked a puck off the arm of Domingue and in for the hat-trick goal.
The 4-2 lead had the assembled crowd in a frenzy, but the Wolf Pack faithful in attendance would get the last cheer.
Rydahl potted his second goal of the night at 12:50, again bringing the Pack within one. Tanner Fritz sent a pass to the front of the net that Rydahl jammed on Nagle. Nagle made the initial save, but again Rydahl pounced on a rebound and found the back of the net.
2:42 later, Rydahl would complete his first career AHL hat-trick. Fritz again sent a centering pass from behind the net, this time on his backend, that Rydahl sent towards goal. This time, no rebound was necessary as the puck cleanly beat Nagle at 15:32 to tie the game 4-4.
Hájek put Hartford ahead at 18:00, finishing off a dominant sequence in the offensive zone for the Pack. Turner Elson would cap the five-goal period with an empty net tally at 19:25, his 12th goal of the season. Fritz, meanwhile, recorded three assists in the third period comeback.
The Wolf Pack continue their longest road trip of the season on Wednesday night when they visit the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. The Pack return to the XL Center on Sunday, March 5th, for a matinee matchup with the Charlotte Checkers. The puck drop is set for 3:00 pm. 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.