Jul 26, 2022

Is this thing on? Happy summer, everyone! I hope you’re having a terrific off-season and have been enjoying the summer weather. Not to rush you through the summer, but next Monday is August 1st and that means hockey season is right around the corner. Before you know it, the New York Rangers will be opening training camp and, shortly after that, the Pack will be back on the ice at the XL Center getting ready for the 2022-23 campaign.

The last few weeks have included more than just the beach and the sun. The Rangers and Wolf Pack have made a number of transactions, while the AHL’s 2022-23 schedule was released last week. That’s why we are dusting off the keyboard for a summer edition of ‘Two Minutes for Thoughts’.

New Faces and Old Friends

The 2022-23 AHL schedule was released last week, and there was some fun news included for Wolf Pack fans. Hartford will take on three Central Division opponents during the 2022-23 campaign, as the Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals, and Rockford IceHogs will each face the Pack twice.

Hartford will host Rockford on December 3rd (7:30 p.m. all times eastern) at the XL Center and then visit the BMO Harris Bank Center on December 17th (8:00 p.m.). The Pack will host the Admirals and Griffins on back-to-back nights in downtown Hartford, with Milwaukee in town on December 9th (7:00 p.m.) and Grand Rapids on December 10th (7:00 p.m.). Hartford visits Milwaukee on December 14th (8:00 p.m.) and Grand Rapids on December 16th (7:00 p.m.).

Just how rare are these matchups? The Wolf Pack have faced the Admirals and Griffins just twice each before in franchise history. Hartford and Milwaukee last faced off during the 2002-03 season. The Pack scored a 6-3 victory on February 14th at the XL Center, the only previous meeting in Hartford, while the foes tied 4-4 on November 1st in Milwaukee. As for the Griffins, Hartford took a 3-1 decision on January 2nd, 2009, in the last meeting, played at the XL Center. On November 14th, 2008, the Griffins won 3-2 in the first-ever meeting in Grand Rapids.

The Wolf Pack and IceHogs have never faced off against each other before, meaning history will be seen on December 3rd in downtown Hartford.

With the new faces come some familiar foes. The Wolf Pack will once again have a steady diet of the Atlantic Division. The Pack will play the Charlotte Checkers eight times this season, up from last year’s six meetings. The club will play four times in Charlotte, and four times in Hartford. The season actually opens in Charlotte on October 14th, the first of two straight in North Carolina.

The Wolf Pack will see their three Pennsylvania rivals quite a bit again this season. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are on the slate six times and will be the opponent for both the home opener on October 22nd and the home finale on April 14th. They’ll also be at the XL Center on February 4th. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are on the schedule just four times, with their two visits coming on December 7th and February 10th, both at 7:00 p.m.

Lastly, the Pack and Hershey Bears will face off six times, including four times in November. The Pack will be at the Giant Center on November 19th (7:00 p.m.) and 20th (5:00 p.m.), while the Bears will be in Hartford the day after Thanksgiving, November 25th, and the 26th (7:00 p.m. for both).

Heading into New England, the Wolf Pack will play the Providence Bruins ten times in 2022-23. The first meeting comes in Rhode Island on December 4th (3:05 p.m.), while the B’s first trip to Hartford is on January 14th (7:30 p.m.). In fact, Hartford and Providence will face each other five times in a span of 13 days from January 14th to the 27th.

The ‘Battle of Connecticut’ will see twelve installments in 2022-23, with the first coming on October 23rd in Bridgeport. The Islanders make their first visit to Hartford on December 23rd for a rare 5:00 p.m. start. The first three installments of the battle, and four of the first five, will be played in Bridgeport.

The ‘I-91 Rivalry’ will also get twelve installments in the upcoming season. The Wolf Pack and defending Eastern Conference Champion Thunderbirds first face each other at the MassMutual Center on November 4th (7:05 p.m.). The T-Birds fly into Hartford for the first time on November 9th (7:00 p.m.)

Lastly, the Wolf Pack will face four teams from the North Division. The club will play a home-and-home set with the Utica Comets, Toronto Marlies, Rochester Americans, and Syracuse Crunch. Hartford will make their lone visit to Canada when they visit the Marlies on March 11th (5:00 p.m.).

Now, for the fun facts regarding the 2022-23 schedule:

  • This is the first time the Wolf Pack will open on the road since the 2014-15 season when they opened in Syracuse
  • This is the first time in franchise history that the Wolf Pack will open the season in Charlotte.
  • This is the first time in franchise history that the Wolf Pack will face the Penguins in the home opener.
  • Hartford hosts a game on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. when the Springfield Thunderbirds come to town.
  • The Pack’s longest road trip is five games, which will occur from February 19th through March 4th.
  • The club’s longest homestand is also five games, occurring from January 28th through February 10th. The homestand includes visits from the Syracuse Crunch, Providence Bruins, Utica Comets, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

For the full schedule, and for tickets, be sure to visit our website! The full promotional schedule will be released at a later date, so be sure to stay on the lookout for that!

Rangers, Wolf Pack Active in Free Agency

Every off-season, change happens at every level for every team. The Wolf Pack has been no exception this summer. Veterans like Anthony Greco (SHL Frölunda) and Keith Kinkaid (Boston Bruins) have inked contracts elsewhere to continue their careers. There have been additions, too, as the Rangers inked forward Turner Elson, defenseman Andy Welinski, and goaltender Louis Domingue early in free agency. The club also acquired defenseman Ty Emberson via trade from the Arizona Coyotes.

Retentions have been a big part of the off-season, as well. Forwards Tim Gettinger and Austin Rueschhoff both signed one-year deals with the club last week, while forwards Alex Whelan, Cristiano DiGiacinto, Easton Brodzinski, and Zach Giuttari all agreed to one-year deals with the Pack for 2022-23.

AHL free agency was busy too, as General Manager Ryan Martin inked forwards Ryan Lohin and Zach Jordan, along with defensemen Blake Hillman, Louka Henault, and Luke Martin. In goal, Parker Gahagen was signed to a one-year deal in mid-July.

The Wolf Pack stands to be a much different team than the one that skated off the ice on April 24th. A combination of NHL free agents, AHL free agents, and prospects gives Hartford a much different mix as the summer begins to wind down.

The possible infusion of veteran skill and leadership with the young, hungry prospects has the excitement building for next season. Enjoy the summer, friends. We’ll be back at it sooner than you think!

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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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