WOLF PACK SUFFER FIRST DEFEAT OF THE SEASON, FALL TO VISITING THUNDERBIRDS 5-2Oct 27, 2023
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack welcomed the Springfield Thunderbirds to the XL Center in the latest installment of the “I-91 Rivalry” on Friday night. The Thunderbirds used three special teams goals to score a 5-2 victory in round two of the rivalry. The loss snapped the Wolf Pack’s four-game winning streak.
Adam Gaudette recorded his second goal of the night to make it 3-0 at 10:17 of the second period. A shot from Zach Bolduc clipped Nathan Walker in front of the net, falling right to the veteran forward. He quickly slid a pass to Gaudette, who buried his league-leading seventh goal of the season on a five-on-three powerplay. The goal would stand as the game-winning tally, Gaudette’s second of the season.
The opening several minutes saw a strong start for the home side, as the Wolf Pack fired the first six shots of the game. Springfield, meanwhile, was unable to register a shot until eight minutes in. Bobby Trivigno would be sent to the box for hooking to give the Thunderbirds their first powerplay opportunity of the night just 8:04 into the contest.
With eight seconds remaining on the man advantage, Gaudette would fire a shot above the right shoulder of Louis Domingue to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead. Gaudette took a pass from Matthew Peca in the slot and made no mistake on the opportunity.
Both teams came out swinging in the second period, with early chances by Jake Leschyshyn and Matt Rempe being denied by Thunderbirds goaltender Vadim Zherenko.
Zherenko’s save on Rempe would lead to a key moment in the contest. Seconds after the save, the Wolf Pack were caught in transition as Mikhail Abramov sped up the ice. Abramov came down on a two-on-one and ripped a shot off the post and by Domingue for a 2-0 lead.
Gaudette then ballooned the lead to 3-0 at 10:17 of the second, putting the Wolf Pack in a hole that was simply too big on this night.
With 15:19 elapsed in period two, the Wolf Pack would get another powerplay chance as Bolduc received a cross-checking minor. The Wolf Pack had a plethora of looks, but Zherenko stood tall until the final seconds.
As the penalty expired, the Wolf Pack got one back to make it 3-1 courtesy of Alex Belzile. He tipped Connor Mackey’s shot from the left-wing circle by Zherenko for his third goal of the season.
In the final seconds of the middle stanza, Ryder Korczak drew his second penalty of the game as he was kneed by Leo Loof. That gave the Wolf Pack a powerplay to open the third period, but again Zherenko stood tall.
The Thunderbirds’ penalty kill would notch their first shorthanded goal of the season 7:53 into the third period, extending it to a 4-1 game. Domingue cleared the puck to the blue line on the powerplay, but Peca intercepted the bid and sent a shot towards the goal. The puck came to Walker, who tapped home his third goal of the season.
Anton Blidh made it 4-2 with his first goal of the season at 14:27 to give the Wolf Pack some brief life, but an empty netter from Mackenzie MacEachern would seal the 5-2 victory for Springfield.
The Wolf Pack hit the road for their next five contests, a season-long road trip. The trip starts tomorrow night when the Wolf Pack visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The puck drop is set for 6:05 p.m., with ‘Wolf Pack Pregame’ starting live at 5:50 p.m. on AHLTV and Mixlr.
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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.