WOLF PACK USE DOMINANT SECOND PERIOD TO KNOCK OFF THUNDERBIRDS 5-3Nov 26, 2021
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack found themselves trailing 2-0 at the first intermission for the second time in as many tries against the Springfield Thunderbirds. For the second time in as many tries, the Wolf Pack scored four unanswered goals in the second period to take a lead they would not lose in an impressive 5-3 victory at the XL Center.
Ty Ronning fed defenseman Anthony Bitetto at the blueline just seconds into a powerplay late in the second period. Bitetto, playing his first game since November 7th, fired a shot into traffic that Thunderbirds’ netminder Joel Hofer never saw. The goal, scored at 17:17, was Hartford’s second powerplay goal of the night and capped a four goal second period, putting Hartford up 4-2.
The Thunderbirds came out strong on this night, using their special teams units to create an early advantage. Nathan Todd scored his fifth goal of the season at 12:44 on the powerplay, converting a Logan Brown feed to break the ice. Just under two minutes later, at 14:25, the Thunderbirds struck again, this time shorthanded.
Tommy Cross fed a pass to Nathan Walker, who came in on a two-on-one with Mackenzie MacEachern. MacEachern converted the pass, ripping home his third of the season to make it a 2-0 game.
Hartford needed just 34 seconds to get on the board in the middle stanza, completely flipping this game on its head. Zac Jones weaved his way into the Springfield end, dancing around a defenseman and getting into prime scoring position. Jones fired a backhand shot that beat Hofer, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The Wolf Pack evened the game 2-2 just 3:16 later, this time with the powerplay checking in. Jones fired a shot that Hofer denied, but the rebound slid through the netminder and sat in the blue paint. Jonny Brodzinski crashed the net and found the rebound, stuffing it home for his team-leading seventh goal of the season at 4:50.
The Wolf Pack would take their first lead of the night at 11:37, as Lauri Pajuniemi scored yet another clutch goal. Pajuniemi collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and gained the offensive zone along the near wall. He attacked the slot area, looking to pass, but found himself in position to fire a backhand shot towards goal. Pajuniemi’s shot beat Hofer, giving him his sixth goal of the season and the Wolf Pack a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Bitetto’s powerplay goal at 17:17, just seven seconds into advantage, gave Hartford some much needed insurance, and stood as the winner.
Tim Gettinger extended the lead to 5-2 just 79 seconds into the third period, deflecting a Tarmo Reunanen shot on the powerplay for the Wolf Pack’s third skater advantage goal of the night.
Springfield cut the lead to 5-3 at 16:15, scoring their second powerplay goal of the evening on a six-on-four advantage. Nathan Walker found a loose puck in the crease after it pinballed off Sam Anas’ shin. Waker’s sixth of the season gave the Thunderbirds life, but ultimately wasn’t enough.
The Wolf Pack and Thunderbirds continue their three-game miniseries tomorrow at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Puck drop is set for 2:05 pm. The Pack is back at the XL Center on Wednesday, December 1st, to conclude their set with the Thunderbirds. Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm, and 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.