Feb 22, 2024

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack rallied back from a three-goal deficit on Thursday night at the XL Center to earn a point against the Cleveland Monsters. Despite their best efforts, however, the rally came up just short as Hunter McKown scored the winner in the bottom half of the fifth round to give the Monsters a 4-3 shootout victory.  

McKown waited out Wolf Pack goaltender Louis Domingue before tucking in the deciding tally. Trey Fix-Wolansky also scored in the shootout, while Brett Berard had Hartford’s lone marker in the skills competition.

The Monsters needed only 16 seconds on their second powerplay attempt to open the scoring on this night. Brendan Gaunce tipped a point shot from Marcus Björk past Domingue to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead at 4:37 of the opening frame. The goal was Cleveland’s third powerplay marker against the Wolf Pack this season.

The Wolf Pack went on the kill for a third time at 8:10, giving the Monsters a chance to extend their lead. The Monsters’ leading scorer among defensemen, Jake Christiansen, buried a shot from the high slot to make it 2-0 just 33 seconds into the advantage. Christiansen’s initial bid rang off the post before finding its way back to his stick, where he made his second try count at 8:43.

The Pack brought good energy following the Christiansen tally, testing Jet Greaves on numerous occasions to try and cut into the deficit heading into the intermission. Greaves, however, made eight saves in the opening frame to keep it 2-0 for the visitors.

Monsters forward Jake Gaudet went off for boarding 4:41 into the middle stanza, giving the Wolf Pack their first crack at the man advantage.

During a desperation play to keep the puck in the zone, Roman Ahcan snuck behind the Wolf Pack defense and was sprung in on a shorthanded breakaway by Tyler Angle. Ahcan waited out Domingue and tucked the puck by his pad to make it 3-0 Monsters at 5:21.

The Wolf Pack responded swiftly, connecting on the powerplay as Jake Leschyshyn fed Tyler Pitlick in the slot. Pitlick roofed his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack to make it 3-1 at 6:05. Berard notched an assist on the powerplay tally as well, which came 44 seconds after Ahcan’s shorthanded marker.

Midway through the third period, the Wolf Pack found themselves shorthanded yet again at 8:39. This time around, it was Hartford returning the favor with a shorthanded goal of their own.

Berard broke free on a breakaway after the Monsters failed to keep the puck in the zone, busting down the right wall before beating Greaves short-side to make it a 3-2 game. Berard’s tally was his team-leading 17th and his second shorthanded.

Samuel Knazko went off for delay of game late in the third period, giving the Wolf Pack a chance at some late-game heroics. With the goalie pulled, Nikolas Brouillard hit an open Ryder Korczak with a cross-ice pass. Korczak ripped home his sixth goal of the season to tie the game 3-3 at 17:48. Pitlick notched his second point of the night (1 g, 1 a) on the play.

A back-and-forth overtime saw numerous chances to win it from both ends, but 65 minutes would not be enough. For just the third time this season, the Wolf Pack were pushed to a shootout.

Despite Berard opening the shootout with a goal, Fix-Wolansky would tie it in the bottom half of the first round before McKown provided the winner in the bottom half of the fifth round. Greaves denied the final four Wolf Pack shooters to claim his first victory against Hartford.

Despite the loss, the Wolf Pack finished the season series with six of a possible eight points against the Monsters (2-0-1-1).

The Pack finishes off their six-game-in-eight-day stretch tomorrow night when they visit the Springfield Thunderbirds. The puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.

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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