TWO MINUTES FOR THOUGHTS: MAY 3RD, 2022May 3, 2022
It certainly didn’t end the way we anticipated or hoped it would. For the eighth time in a row, the AHL regular season ends without a playoff berth in Hartford. While the missed opportunity certainly will sting for the time being, now is the time to reflect back on the season that was and look ahead to the 26th season of Wolf Pack hockey this fall.
Although the end result wasn’t the desired one, there were plenty of highlights from this past season, and there is a lot to look forward to in 2022-23.
Let’s start with the bad news first, then get to the good stuff. Obviously, it was a disappointing end to a promising season in Hartford. The Wolf Pack headed into the All-Star break in first place in the Atlantic Division, but when the dust settled on the morning of April 25th, they were outside of the playoff cutline. It was a disappointing and, in many ways, shocking end to the season.
The Pack battled hard until the bitter end, however, even taking their final two games in regulation against playoff-bound clubs in the Bridgeport Islanders and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the club came up a point short in arguably the toughest division in the American Hockey League.
While there is certainly a sting from the end result, there are so many great moments to look back on from this season.
In the milestone department, Jonny Brodzinski set a franchise record for most consecutive games with a goal. The captain lit the lamp in nine straight contests, punctuating it with a late tally on February 5th in a victory against Lehigh Valley. Although the streak stopped in the tenth game, Brodzinski scored the overtime winner for the Wolf Pack one game later. In all, he scored in nine straight contests and ten of eleven. It was a stretch never before seen in Hartford.
The return of you, the fans, on opening night was outstanding as well. The excitement in the building could be felt everywhere you went, and the atmosphere was second to none. Throughout the course of the season, you came down to the XL Center and set the tone for this club. The January 28th home game against the Providence Bruins stands out to me in particular. The building was jumping that night, and the Pack secured an emotional shootout victory over the Bruins. In my brief broadcasting career, I can honestly say that was the loudest a building I’ve worked in has been.
There were also plenty of great development moments throughout the season. Who could forget Lauri Pajuniemi scoring his first career professional goal in North America on opening night? How about Matthew Robertson’s first professional goal on February 12th? The rookie defenseman opened the scoring early in the third period with an absolute bullet of a shot. Bobby Trivigno nearly blew the roof off the XL Center in the season finale, scoring his first career goal to put Hartford ahead for good.
We witnessed Braden Schneider begin his professional career here in Hartford. The 19th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft would begin the year with the Pack, then make his NHL debut on January 13th. Schneider scored that night and hasn’t looked back since. He’s now a mainstay with the Rangers as they get set to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A Look Ahead
Now is the time for decompressing and enjoying the good weather that is making its way towards Hartford. Still, hockey season is always right around the corner, and the 2022-23 season will be here before you know it.
As there is every summer, there is lots of roster uncertainty with the Wolf Pack. We know veteran forward Tanner Fritz will be back for a second season, as he inked a one-year AHL contract extension during the winter. Other than that? You’ll need to keep your eye on the transaction wire as the off-season heats up in July.
The best way to do that? Stay tuned to www.hartfordwolfpack.com, and be sure you are following us on all social media platforms.
It isn’t just player news that will be coming your way, either. We’ll also have you covered with the Pack’s schedule for next season. Stay tuned for our guaranteed dates for 2022-23, along with the full schedule later this summer. Who knows, there may even be a few new faces on the schedule this time around.
Good Luck Rangers!
The New York Rangers open their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff schedule tonight at Madison Square Garden when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their First Round series.
Nine players on the current Rangers roster and one coach spent time with the Wolf Pack prior to this playoff run. Forwards Chris Kreider (2012-13, 2013-14), Filip Chytil (2017-18, 2019-20), Greg McKegg (2021-22), and Brodzinski (2020-21, 2021-22), defensemen Ryan Lindgren (2017-18 – 2019-20), Libor Hájek (2018-19, 2019-20, 2021-22) and Schneider (2021-22), and goaltenders Igor Shesterkin (2019-20) and Alexandar Georgiev (2017-18 – 2018-19) all suited up for the club prior to their time in New York. Assistant Coach Gord Murphy also spent two seasons as an Associate Coach in Hartford.
In addition to those on the active roster, eight Wolf Pack players are currently serving as ‘Black Aces’ for the club. Forwards Tim Gettinger and Pajuniemi are joined by defensemen Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist, Jarred Tinordi, and Robertson. In goal, both Keith Kinkaid and Adam Húska are with the club.
Best of luck to the Wolf Pack alumni suiting up, and to the Rangers in their series against the Pens!
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to take a quick moment to thank you, the fans. I mentioned it in my last broadcast on April 24th, but I can’t thank the fans enough for their support and acceptance this past season. Broadcasting professional hockey for a living is a lifelong dream come true. To do it in Hartford, a New England market where my father used to come and watch games, is surreal.
I can’t thank the organization enough for taking a chance on me, and I can’t thank you, the fans, enough for accepting me as one of your own and making me feel welcomed here in Hartford. I cannot wait for season two together in October, and I look forward to seeing you all at the XL Center next year!
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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.