Feb 23, 2024

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Tyler Pitlick scored twice for the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday night, helping the team build a 2-0 lead on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The T-Birds would score six of the game’s final seven goals, however, taking a 6-3 decision in the seventh installment of the ‘I-91 Rivalry’.

For the second time in as many meetings, Zach Dean scored the game-winning goal for the Thunderbirds. Dean curled into the high slot and ripped a shot by Dylan Garand to break a 3-3 tie 6:50 into the third period. The goal was Dean’s fifth of the season and was the T-Birds’ first at five-on-five on the night.

The Wolf Pack jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a pair of goals 38 seconds apart. First, Pitlick notched his second with the Wolf Pack when a Hugh McGing outlet pass hit a leg and came right to the veteran forward. Pitlick fired a low shot that Colten Ellis never saw to make it 1-0 just 10:57 into the game.

Another turnover by the Thunderbirds resulted in a net-mouth scramble in front of Ellis. This time, Matthew Robertson jammed home a rebound for his fourth goal of the season at 11:35.

The Wolf Pack got into some penalty trouble after building the lead, as Blake Hillman took a roughing penalty at 11:46, and Brandon Scanlin went for cross-checking at 12:24. Dylan Coghlan wasted no time on the five-on-three, scoring just five seconds in via a shot from the point at 12:30.

51 seconds later, at 14:21, the T-Birds would even the game with a five-on-four goal. Coghlan’s shot was blocked by a Wolf Pack penalty killer but came right to Adam Gaudette. The veteran sniper quickly fired home his 26th goal of the season to tie the game 2-2.

The Thunderbirds got their second five-on-three of the game at 7:31 of the second period and took the lead on their third powerplay goal of the night 15 seconds into the advantage. Jakub Vrana’s shot from the point was going wide but hit Matthew Peca at the side of the goal. The puck came right to Ryan Suzuki, who had a wide-open net to bury his fifth goal of the season to make it 3-2.

The Wolf Pack refused to quit, however, and tied the game just 20 seconds into the final frame. Jake Leschyshyn intercepted a pass from Coghlan and fed Brett Berard in the slot. Berard’s bid was denied by Ellis, but the rebound came free and was jammed home by Pitlick for his third goal with the Wolf Pack.

Dean’s marker at 6:50 broke the tie for good, however. Joseph Duszak blasted home a shot at 13:01 to make it 5-3, while Gaudette hit the empty net to seal the deal at 17:29.

The win is the Thunderbirds’ third straight in the ‘I-91 Rivalry’. They have a 4-3-0-0 edge in the season series.

The Pack is back at the XL Center on Wednesday, February 28th, at 7:00 p.m. when the Charlotte Checkers come to town.

Tickets are 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.  

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