Feb 11, 2022

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack and Springfield Thunderbirds combined for five first period goals on Friday night at the XL Center in their Atlantic Division showdown. The Thunderbirds used a powerplay goal, shorthanded goal and five-on-five goal to jump out to a 3-2 lead they would not lose en route to a 4-2 victory.  

Hugh McGing gave Springfield the lead for good 13:48 into the opening period. Alexey Toropchenko forced a turnover along the near wall in the Wolf Pack zone, then skated down into the corner after a defender lost an edge. Toropchenko found McGing in the slot, where he snapped home his eleventh goal of the season by Keith Kinkaid.

Matthew Peca opened the scoring just 2:06 into the contest, scoring Springfield’s fourth shorthanded goal against the Wolf Pack this season. Tarmo Reunanen bobbled the puck at the blueline, where Peca collected it and darted in on a breakaway. Peca deposited his 15th goal of the season over the shoulder of Kinkaid, starting a frantic offensive period.

The Wolf Pack were able to even the tilt at 1-1 7:14 into the stanza. Tanner Fritz fired a shot that Patrick Khodorenko deflected in front of the Springfield goal. The redirect came right to Ty Ronning, who also got a piece of the puck before it bounced in behind Joel Hofer. The goal, Ronning’s tenth, ties a career-high in the AHL for the forward.

The seesaw continued 10:38 into the frame when James Neal scored on the powerplay. Neal took a feed from Peca in the slot and fired home his first goal as a member of the Thunderbirds. A veteran of over 500 NHL games, Neal was playing in his first game in the AHL since November 15th, 2008. The goal was also his first in the AHL since that same date.

Once again, the Wolf Pack were able to even the score. This time, Reunanen scored his second goal of the season on a pretty passing play. Tanner Fritz threaded a pass to Reunanen in the near faceoff circle. Reunanen collected the pass and wired a shot into an empty net as Hofer was diving across to try and make the save. The goal came 11:24 into the period.

Finally, Springfield wrestled away the lead for good on McGing’s goal at 13:48.

The second period saw no goal scoring, but the Wolf Pack came close late in the frame. Fritz beat Hofer with a clean shot over the glove, but the officials came together to discuss. The call was eventually changed to no goal, as Matthew Robertson’s pass to Fritz was deemed to be a hand-pass.

The Thunderbirds were able to put the game away early in the third period, scoring their second on the advantage at 4:49. Once again, it was Neal who rifled home the marker that solidified Springfield’s 4-2 victory.

The Wolf Pack continue a four-game homestand tomorrow night when they host the Rochester Americans. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. Tomorrow night is also ‘Olympics Night’ at the XL Center, where the first 1,500 fans will receive a Wolf Pack T-shirt courtesy of CTDot. The Wolf Pack will also be wearing USA themed jerseys that will be auctioned off via DASH starting tomorrow night.

Tickets are still 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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