Dec 17, 2023

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack and Toronto Marlies battled back and forth all afternoon on Sunday, with each team holding the lead at various points. In the end, however, the Marlies prevailed by a score of 4-3 when the dust settled on a wild overtime period.

Topi Niemelä ended the proceedings just 54 seconds into overtime, scoring his fifth goal of the season to give Toronto their fourth straight win. Riley Nash and Brennan Othmann connected on a pretty passing play at one end leading to a terrific scoring chance for the Wolf Pack. Keith Petruzzelli made the save of the game, however, then flung the puck up ahead to Nick Abruzzese.

With all three Wolf Pack caught up in the play, Abruzzese and Niemelä entered into the zone with an odd-man rush. Abruzzese fed Niemelä for the dagger, while Petruzzelli picked up the secondary assist.

The Marlies opened the scoring 13:27 into the contest, as Kieffer Bellows potted his eighth goal of the season immediately after the club’s second powerplay of the game. As the penalty to Matej Pekar for high-sticking expired, the Wolf Pack could not clear the puck. Dmitry Ovchinnikov wrapped the puck around but was denied by Wolf Pack starter Dylan Garand.

The rebound popped in front of Garand, however, and Bellows was able to locate it and quickly snap a backhander into the net.

The Marlies extended their lead to 2-0 just 5:29 into the middle frame, completing a pretty three-way passing play. Dylan Gambrell entered the zone on the left-wing side, then flung a pass to Alex Steeves on the right wing. Steeves then sent a pass to Abruzzese, who buried his fifth goal of the season.

From there, however, the Wolf Pack took over for a large stretch. The club exploded for three five-on-five goals in a span of 7:48 to take a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame. First, Matt Rempe got the Wolf Pack on the board at 10:02 when a puck went off his leg and in. Bobby Trivigno deflected a pass behind the Marlies’ net, where Matej Pekar was able to find it. Pekar centered the puck for a streaking Rempe, who collected his fourth goal of the season.

Just 38 seconds later, Alex Belzile tied the game with his ninth goal of the season. Nash won a puck battle behind the net and put a pass onto the stick of Othmann, who was to the right of Petruzzelli. Othmann tapped the puck into the slot for Belzile, who made no mistake on the equalizer.

Adam Edström, fresh off his NHL debut and first NHL goal, then gave the Wolf Pack their first lead of the game at 17:50. Edström’s initial bid was denied by Petruzzelli, but he was able to find the rebound and drag the Marlies netminder out of position. Edström then wrapped around the net and banked the puck off a stick for his eighth goal of the season.

For the second straight game, however, the Wolf Pack could not hold a lead in the third period. Joseph Blandisi took possession off of a turnover in the neutral zone just over five minutes into the third period and entered the Wolf Pack zone. Blandisi dropped the puck to Zach Solow, who patiently waited out a diving Wolf Pack defenseman.

Solow then rifled his second goal of the season by Garand at 5:11 to even the scoring 3-3.

Both teams earned powerplay opportunities in the final minutes, but both Garand and Petruzzelli were up to the task.

In overtime, Petruzzelli stole the show with a terrific save that led immediately to the Niemelä goal. The assist was the first of Petruzzelli’s season and the second of his career, while the goal was Niemelä’s first career game-winner in the AHL.

Despite the loss, the Wolf Pack do have points in nine consecutive home games (6-0-3-0).

The Wolf Pack will wrap up a three-game homestand this Friday night when they host the Bridgeport Islanders. The puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. and there will be $2 beers and $2 hot dogs until the end of the first intermission! 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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