WOLF PACK STORM BACK FROM 4-1 DEFICIT, BUT FALL 6-5 TO CHECKERS IN WILD SHOOTOUT AFFAIRNov 12, 2022
HARTFORD, CT – After a scoreless opening period, the Hartford Wolf Pack and Charlotte Checkers erupted for ten goals in the final forty minutes in one of the wildest games of the young season. In the end, the Checkers would prevail with a 6-5 shootout victory for their first road win of the season.
After each of the first seven shooters were denied by goaltenders Mack Guzda and Dylan Garand, Gerry Mayhew stepped up in the bottom half of the fourth round. With the game on his stick, Mayhew snapped a shot toward the five-hole of Garand that the goalie initially stopped, only to see the puck slowly trickle through to push the Checkers to victory.
A scoreless first period did have one key highlight, as Dylan Garand made a highlight reel save on Checkers forward Riley Nash. Garand dove across the crease and flashed the leather on Nash, keeping the Checkers’ powerplay off the board.
C.J. Smith would then open the scoring for Hartford just 51 seconds into the middle frame. A bouncing puck that Matt Kiersted couldn’t settle bounced right to Smith, who walked between the hash marks and sniped home his fourth goal of the season.
Despite the opening goal, the Checkers would rip momentum away and score four times in a span of 10:40. Anton Levtchi tied the game 1-1 with his fourth goal of the season 3:00 into the period. With the game at four-on-four, Chris Tierney fed Levtchi in the offensive zone. The rookie forward deked out Garand with a backhand move and deposited the puck for the first of a flurry of Charlotte goals.
Mayhew gave the Checkers their first lead of the night at 7:20, batting a rebound out of the air on the powerplay to make it 2-1. Riley Bezeau then potted his first career AHL goal at 12:06, as a Max Gildon shot took a weird bounce off the wall and popped right to the rookie forward.
Finally, Zach Uens finished the flurry with his first career goal, collecting the puck off a Wolf Pack turnover and beating Garand on his glove side.
Despite a 4-1 deficit, the Wolf Pack would not relent. Tim Gettinger pounced on a rebound and stuffed home his fifth goal of the season at 16:40 to bring Hartford back within two. 1:35 later, Ben Harpur would make it a 4-3 game when he blasted home his first goal of the season from a bad angle at 18:15.
The Wolf Pack took the momentum into the third period, with Bobby Trivigno scoring the tying goal 4:14 into the frame. Alex Whelan sent a pass toward the goal that Trivigno was able to deflect home for his second goal of the season. Whelan himself would get in on the action at 6:43, firing home his first goal of the year after darting down the far wall in the Charlotte zone.
Just like the Wolf Pack earlier in the game, the Checkers responded to a four-goal outburst. Santtu Kinnunen’s point shot missed the net and bounced off the wall right to Anthony Bitetto, who quickly tapped the puck into the slot for Zac Dalpe. Dalpe’s quick release beat Garand at 10:44, evening the game 5-5 and forcing overtime.
The Checkers got a powerplay in OT thanks to a too many skaters infraction, but Garand slammed the door shut with four saves in the extra session. At the other end, both Gettinger and Jonny Brodzinski hit the goalpost in the first 30 seconds of OT.
In the shootout, the Wolf Pack were unsuccessful on their four tries, while Mayhew scored to push the Checkers to victory.
The Pack will return to the XL Center on Wednesday, November 16th, for a rematch with the Charlotte Checkers. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. 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.