May 17, 2023

HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack returned to the XL Center on Wednesday night looking to stay alive in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. However, the clock struck midnight on the Wolf Pack’s Cinderella run, as three unanswered goals led the Hershey Bears to a 3-1 decision and eliminated the Wolf Pack from the playoffs.

Lucas Johansen potted the eventual game-winner 4:22 into the final stanza. A four-on-four sequence began after Beck Malenstyn and Will Cuylle were called for hooking penalties at 3:51 and 4:07, respectively. Mike Vecchione corralled the puck behind the Hartford net and snapped a pass to Johansen powering into the slot. Johansen blasted the puck over the glove of Louis Domingue to give the Bears their first lead of the game and eventually send Hershey to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Wolf Pack opened the scoring late in the opening period. Ryan Carpenter collected the puck behind the Hershey net and attempted a wraparound that Hunter Shepard denied. The puck popped right back to Carpenter, who snuck a pass through the blue paint to Turner Elson streaking towards the goal. Elson unleashed a shot over a diving Shepard to give the Wolf Pack the game’s first lead. It was the second time Elson has found the twine in the playoffs.

Hershey answered back just over the 15-minute mark of the second period. A delayed penalty was called against Hartford, and Vecchione collected the puck before the Pack could touch it up. Vecchione snapped a pass to Vincent Iorio, who sped into the offensive zone and ripped a shot that found the back of the Hartford net to even the contest at one. The goal was Iorio’s first career playoff marker.

Hershey had an opportunity to take the lead when Sam Anas was awarded a penalty shot at 3:28 of the final stanza. However, Domingue made an excellent glove save to keep the score even and keep Hartford’s hopes alive.

Johansen scored his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal at 4:22 of the third period, however, putting the Bears ahead for good in the deciding game of this series.

Garrett Pilon tacked on an insurance marker at 7:25 of the third frame, burying the rebound from a Connor McMichael shot to put the Bears up by two.

The Wolf Pack pushed for an answer late in the third period, with Domingue lifted in favor of the extra skater. However, Shepard held strong, preventing the Wolf Pack from working their way back into the tilt and sending the Bears to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Make sure to follow the Wolf Pack on all their social media pages for information on the 2023-24 season. The Wolf Pack thank you for all of your support throughout the 2022-23 campaign and we hope to see you in the fall!

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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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