WOLF PACK BATTLE BACK, BUT FALL 6-5 IN SHOOTOUT TO ISLANDERSDec 22, 2021
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack found themselves in a 3-0 hole for the second consecutive game on Wednesday night, but once again battled back to force overtime at the XL Center. Unfortunately, the Wolf Pack couldn’t complete the comeback tonight, falling 6-5 in the shootout to the rival Bridgeport Islanders.
Mitch Vande Sompel led off the top half of the fourth round of the shootout and weaved his way down the slot before firing a shot through the five-hole of Keith Kinkaid to put the Islanders ahead 2-1 in the shootout. Jakub Skarek denied Anthony Greco in the bottom half to cement Bridgeport’s second victory over the Wolf Pack this season.
The Islanders opened the scoring 3:31 into the contest, as Jeff Kubiak tapped home his second goal of the season on a pass from Cole Bardreau. The goal was Kubiak’s second in three games, and first against Hartford on the campaign.
In the second period, the Islanders extended their lead early. Just one minute into the period, Michael Dal Colle found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. He redirected a one-time bid from Paul LaDue, who collected his third assist on the goal. The Islanders made it a 3-0 game 9:17 later, as Grant Hutton blasted his fourth goal home at 10:17. Veteran Paul Thompson provided the screen for Hutton.
The Wolf Pack, as they always seem to do, found a way to fight back. 42 seconds after Hutton’s goal, the puck bounced to Lauri Pajuniemi, who tapped a pass to Ty Ronning. Ronning fired a shot that fooled Skarek for his seventh of the season.
The Islanders restored their three-goal at 17:10, this time converting on a Wolf Pack turnover. Erik Brown found the puck just inside of his own zone and led a three-on-one into the Hartford zone. Brown found Thompson out in front, and he tapped the puck into a wide-open cage for his second goal of the season.
Once again, however, the Wolf Pack responded quickly. This time, it took just 46 seconds for the Pack to strike back. Matthew Robertson fired a shot that Skarek denied, but the rebound popped right to Austin Rueschhoff. Rueschhoff quickly wrapped it around the net and tucked home his third goal of the season at 17:56.
Hunter Skinner, for the second game in a row, got Hartford within one in the third period. Skinner fired another bomb from the point by Skarek at 3:59, making it a 4-3 game. Less than two minutes later, however, the Islanders restored the two-goal lead. Hutton scored his second of the night, this one on the powerplay, when he stepped into a shot from the near point.
Hartford refused to quit again, however, and struck twice to even the game. First, Jonny Brodzinski tipped a Jarred Tinordi shot home for his tenth goal of the year at 10:58. The assist was Tinordi’s first as a member of the Wolf Pack. Then, Anthnoy Greco loaded the gun and blasted his seventh of the year home at 12:34 to get the score back to even.
For the second game in a row, overtime solved nothing at the XL Center. Kinkaid made a number of key saves to keep the Wolf Pack alive, including a diving stop late in the overtime.
In the shootout, Brodzinski gave Hartford a 1-0 lead, but the Islanders turned the tables and made a comeback of their own. Chris Terry evened the shootout in the second round, then Vande Sompel won it in the fourth.
The Wolf Pack return to action next Wednesday night when the ‘Battle of Connecticut’ resumes as the Wolf Pack visit the Islanders in Bridgeport. Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm. The Pack is back at the XL Center next Friday when they host the Providence Bruins at 3:00 pm. The game is also our annual ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ game! Tickets are still available at 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.