WOLF PACK WIN WILD AFFAIR 4-3 IN SHOOTOUT OVER BEARSMar 26, 2022
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack built a 3-0 lead on the Hershey Bears Saturday night at the XL Center in Hartford, but the Bears stormed back to tie the game and eventually force a shootout. In the skills competition, however, the Wolf Pack got three big saves from Keith Kinkaid and a goal from Ty Ronning to take a 4-3 decision in a crucial Atlantic Division tilt.
Ty Ronning took the ice in the top half of the third round with the shootout still looking for its first goal. Ronning cut into the attacking zone, slowing down before eventually going to his backhand and lifting the puck over Pheonix Copley to make it 1-0. Lucas Johansen was given the chance to counter, but Kinkaid slammed the door shut for a huge victory for the Wolf Pack.
For the third time on this homestand, the Wolf Pack drew first blood. On their first powerplay of the night, the Pack went to work as the top unit applied pressure. Anthony Greco fired a shot towards goal that was set to whistle wide, but Nick Merkley had other ideas. Merkley redirected the puck past Copley for his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack 12:54 into contest.
After not being able to build on their lead in the previous two games, Hartford found the insurance goal less than two minutes later. Jarred Tinordi’s shot went wide and bounced off the wall to the side of the net. Alex Whelan went to work, digging away for the loose change. The puck finally popped loose in the crease, where Cristiano DiGiacinto located it. DiGiacinto quickly went to his backhand and stuffed home his fifth goal of the season at 14:28.
Hartford kept their foot on the gas early in the second period as they went to their second powerplay of the night. Zac Jones sent a pass to Greco in the far faceoff circle, where the veteran forward had plenty of space. Greco worked his way into the slot, where he snapped his 15th goal of the season over the shoulder of Copley to make it 3-0 Hartford.
From that point on, however, the Bears took things over. Hershey outshot Hartford 21-4 in the middle stanza and scored twice on the powerplay to tighten things up. Hershey got their chances on the powerplay as Hartford got into trouble in the final seven minutes of the frame. Matt Lorito was whistled for a double-minor for high-sticking as he clipped the face of Cody Franson.
The Bears went to work, scoring at 14:40 as Garrett Pilon jammed home a rebound off a Bobby Nardella shot. The goal by Pilon was his 16th of the season, and Hershey’s fourth powerplay tally against the Wolf Pack this season.
Thanks to the double-minor, the Bears stayed on the skater advantage. Greco took a tripping call at 15:01, giving the Bears a lengthy five-on-three. Alex Alexeyev stepped into a one-time shot from the point, but his stick exploded. Luckily for the Bears, the puck went right to Mason Morelli, who made a move in close on Kinkaid before stuffing home his eighth tally of the season at 16:26.
In the third period, Hershey would score another goal close to the net. This time, Kinkaid denied a shot from Aliaksei Protas, but couldn’t corral the rebound. It came to Brett Leason at the side of the net, who sent a pass to Mike Vecchione in front. Vecchione deposited his 13th of the season at 8:57 to erase the 3-0 deficit and eventually force overtime.
In overtime, the Bears had numerous chances, including a breakaway by Pilon in the final seconds. Kinkaid stopped all four bids from the Bears, forcing the shootout.
In the shootout, Kinkaid denied all three Hershey shooters, while Ronning scored the only goal to give Hartford a 4-3 decision. The Wolf Pack are now 6-2 in the shootout this season.
The Pack will conclude their four-game homestand on Monday night when they host the Utica Comets. Hartford will then hit the road on Wednesday night when they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before returning home next Friday night when they host the Belleville Senators at 7:00 p.m. Join us that night for $2 beers and $1 hot dogs presented by our friends at Nomads Entertainment.
Tickets are available at www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
# # #
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.