HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack found themselves down 2-0 at the first intermission on Friday night in Springfield. The Wolf Pack were not deterred, however, and scored four unanswered goals in the second period to take a lead they would not lose at the MassMutual Center. When the dust settled, Hartford came away with a key 6-4 victory over the rival Thunderbirds.
Lauri Pajuniemi fed Ty Ronning in the slot late in the third period, teeing up Ronning for a one-timer that beat Springfield netminder Colten Ellis at 15:37. Ronning’s goal, his fourth of the season, put the Pack ahead 5-3 at the time and would stand as the winning marker.
The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early lead, converting on a turnover by the Wolf Pack in their own zone. Alexey Toropchenko collected the loose puck at the blueline after poking it away from Anthony Greco and danced into the Hartford zone. Toropchenko got to the top of the crease and snuck a forehand shot by Wolf Pack starter Keith Kinkaid to open the scoring just 22 seconds into the game.
Springfield extended the lead to 2-0 at the 16:06 mark of the period. Nolan Stevens took a Josh Wesley pass just inside of his own zone and danced all the way into the Wolf Pack end. Stevens fired a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Kinkaid for his second goal of the season.
The Wolf Pack did kill off all three Thunderbird powerplays in the first period, which would prove to be important as the game developed.
Hartford got to work in the second period, taking control of this hockey game with a furious stretch of offense. Zach Giuttari scored his first goal of the season to get the Wolf Pack on the board 1:51 into the middle frame. Giuttari fired a shot into traffic that Ellis never saw.
89 seconds later, the Wolf Pack powerplay struck to even the game 2-2. Zac Jones scored his first career professional goal at the 3:20 mark, displaying his offensive skill in the process. Jonny Brodzinski won the faceoff back to Jones along the near wall. Jones proceeded to walk the line, danced into the slot and curled to his forehand, snapping a bid by Ellis.
Just under three minutes later, Cristiano DiGiacinto gave the Wolf Pack their first lead of the night. Tanner Fritz won a race to a loose puck just inside the Thunderbirds zone. Fritz got in close, then dropped it to DiGiacinto, who buried his third goal of the season at 6:06.
Morgan Barron put an exclamation mark on the period at 15:10, scoring the club’s third shorthanded goal of the campaign. Barron stripped a Thunderbird of the puck, cut in on goal alone and beat Ellis top-shelf for his fourth goal of the season.
The Thunderbirds did cut the Hartford lead to one at 5:37 of the third period. Logan Brown charged the Wolf Pack goal and deflected a centering pass from Nathan Todd for his fifth goal of the season, but that was as close as the home side would get to retaking the lead.
Ronning extended the lead back to two at 15:37 before the sides traded goals in the final ten seconds of the game. Matthew Paca scored with six seconds remaining to cut it to a 5-4 spread before Barron scored into the empty net at 19:57 to cement Hartford’s victory.
The Wolf Pack return to action tomorrow when they conclude their two-game weekend with a visit to the Providence Bruins. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm.
The Pack is back at the XL Center on Wednesday, November 17th, when they host the Bridgeport Islanders. Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm. For tickets, please 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.