Mar 28, 2022

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack battled back from holes of 1-0 and 2-1 on Monday night at the XL Center against the Utica Comets but couldn’t fight back a third time as they eventually fell 7-3 in the finale of a four-game homestand.

Fabian Zetterlund scored his 24th goal of the season 11:45 into the third period to give Utica the elusive insurance marker they had been searching for most of the night. Frederik Gauthier cut into the Hartford zone and beat a defenseman before sending a backhand pass to a streaking Zetterlund. In one motion, Zetterlund collected the puck and snapped it by Adam Húska to make it a 4-2 game. The goal would prove to be the eventual winner when the dust settled on a wild final twenty minutes.

The Comets needed just 1:44 to open the scoring on this night. Following a Wolf Pack turnover in their own zone, Brian Flynn fired a puck that Húska denied. Graeme Clarke found the rebound, however, and deposited his ninth goal of the season to break the ice. The Wolf Pack countered, converting on a Comets’ turnover just over 12 minutes later. Anthony Greco sent a pass to Zac Jones in the far faceoff circle, where the rookie defenseman stepped into a one-time blast that beat Akira Schmid at 13:59. The goal was Jones’ eighth of the season, which leads Wolf Pack defensemen.

Utica regained their lead 6:36 into the middle stanza on their first powerplay of the night. Austin Rueschhoff took a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass, and the visitors made the Pack pay. After a wild sequence in the Hartford zone, Zetterlund stepped into a shot that was destined to go wide before Ryan Schmelzer got a piece of the puck. The deflection was enough for his 14th goal of the campaign.

Once again, however, the Wolf Pack countered. Anthony Greco collected possession just inside the blueline of the Utica zone and then split a pair of Comet defenders. Greco’s initial shot after splitting the defense was denied by Schmid, but he followed the rebound and jammed home his 16th goal of the campaign at 8:57.

The seesaw continued with Utica’s second powerplay goal of the period at 14:34. This time, Justin Richards was whistled for a hooking penalty. Once again, the Comets made quick work of their advantage. A.J. Greer was stationed in front of the Wolf Pack net, and tipped a Reilly Walsh shot home for his 19th marker of the season.

The Comets extended the lead to 4-2 at the 11:45 mark of the third period, as Zetterlund tacked on the insurance marker that eventually stood as the winner.

The Wolf Pack did get back within a goal, as Lauri Pajuniemi found a rebound and stuffed it by Schmid at 13:33 of the third period. The goal, Pajuniemi’s eleventh of the season, seemed to breathe some life into the club.

Unfortunately, that spark lasted only 13 seconds. Chase De Leo scored his 13th goal of the season as he converted a feed from Greer at 13:46 to take the wind out of the Wolf Pack’s sails. De Leo then added an empty net goal at 17:14 to put an end to the intrigue, while Clarke added his second goal of the season at 18:49 with the result long decided.

Hartford will hit the road on Wednesday night when they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a key Atlantic Division tilt. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. The Pack returns home Friday night when they host the Belleville Senators at 7:00 p.m. Join us for $2 beers and $1 hot dogs presented by our friends at Nomads Entertainment.  

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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