WOLF PACK CAN’T HOLD OFF SECOND PERIOD SURGE FROM THUNDERBIRDS, FALL 7-4Dec 28, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Hartford Wolf Pack scored the game’s first goal for the second consecutive time against the Springfield Thunderbirds, but for the second time in as many meetings they could not hold off a second period surge from their rival. This time, the T-Birds struck five times on their way to a 7-4 victory in the ‘I-91 Rivalry’.
Jake Neighbours scored his fifth goal of the season and his first of two on the night with just seconds remaining in the second period, capping off a five-goal stanza for the home team. Neighbours took a pass in the left faceoff circle of the Wolf Pack zone, then darted towards goaltender Dylan Garand. Neighbours fired a quick shot that beat Garand to put the T-Birds ahead 5-3 at the time. The goal would stand as the eventual game-winning tally.
The Wolf Pack struck first on this night, as Austin Rueschhoff broke the ice 12:51 into the tilt. Brandon Scanlin sent a backhand pass towards the slot that hit the stick of Joel Hofer, bouncing right to Rueschhoff. Rueschhoff would bang home his second goal of the season, giving Hartford a 1-0 lead for the sixth straight game.
For the second straight matchup with the Thunderbirds, the Wolf Pack would take a 1-0 lead into the middle period. Will Cuylle extended the lead to 2-0 just 62 seconds into the frame, firing a sharp angle shot from the goal line that fooled Hofer for his eighth goal of the year. The 2-0 lead would not last, however.
Just 47 seconds later, a defensive zone turnover ended up on the stick of Matthew Highmore, who buried his seventh goal of the season at 1:49 to make it a 2-1 contest. Turner Elson ballooned the lead to 3-1 at 3:16, converting on a centering pass from Karl Henriksson for his sixth goal of the campaign. From there, however, it was all Thunderbirds.
Martin Frk scored a five-on-three powerplay goal at 6:48, firing a puck into an empty net after Garand had been knocked down on a collision between Ty Emberson and Highmore. The T-Birds would tie it up just under ten minutes later, as Mitchell Hoelscher found a loose puck and stuffed it by Garand at 16:02.
Frk’s second goal of the night came 18:14 into the second period. Frk took a feed from Dmitrii Samorukov in the right faceoff circle before stepping into a heavy wrist shot that beat Garand to give the T-Birds a 4-3 lead. With just 3.9 seconds remaining in the period, Neighbours would score to make it 5-3, potting the eventual winner.
The T-Birds extended their unanswered goal streak to six in the third period. First, Will Bitten scored a powerplay goal with a long shot through a screen at 5:54. Then, Neighbours would score his second of the night at 8:26 to make it a 7-3 spread.
Ryan Carpenter did score his sixth goal in three games at 9:40, deflecting a Rueschhoff pass by Hofer, but it wouldn’t be enough on this night.
The Wolf Pack return to the XL Center on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, for a matchup with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Puck drop is set for 5:30 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.