WOLF PACK’S POINT STREAK SNAPPED AS CHECKERS SCORE FIVE IN THIRD TO STUN HARTFORD 6-3Mar 5, 2023
HARTFORD, CT – A raucous crowd of 7,808 fans welcomed the Wolf Pack back to the XL Center for a matinee matchup with the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday. The Wolf Pack took a 3-1 lead into the third period, but a five-goal onslaught from Charlotte snapped the Wolf Pack’s six-game point streak and delivered a 6-3 decision for the Checkers.
Matt Kiersted potted the eventual game-winner about halfway through the final stanza. Kiersted, stationed beyond the right-wing circle, took a feed from Riley Nash and blasted a one-timer past the blocker of Louis Domingue. The goal gave the Checkers their first lead of the game.
Jonny Brodzinski welcomed the Hartford faithful back to the XL Center, breaking the ice early in the first period. Will Cuylle won a battle for the puck at center ice, and tipped it forward to Brodzinski. The Wolf Pack captain snagged the puck out of the air, skated to the right-wing circle, and snapped a shot past J.F. Berube to give the Wolf Pack the game’s first lead at 6:21.
The goal was Brodzinski’s 30th point of the campaign, the fifth member of the Wolf Pack to hit that mark. Brodzinski has recorded eight points in his last five games, tallying five goals and three assists in that span. Additionally, the assist was Cuylle’s team-leading 32nd point of his rookie campaign.
The Checkers answered back late in the opening stanza. Lucas Carlsson powered into the slot, took a pass from Dominic Franco, and unleashed a shot towards the Hartford net. Riley Bezeau, positioned next to the goal, tipped the puck past Domingue and into the net, evening the score with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
Lauri Pajuniemi reinstated the Wolf Pack lead early in the middle stanza. Tim Gettinger skated towards the Charlotte net and fired a shot that Berube blocked. The puck popped straight up and fell right in front of Berube, allowing Pajuniemi to bury the rebound through the five-hole and put the Pack back in the lead just 2:25 in.
Tanner Fritz earned the extra helper on Pajuniemi’s tally, his team-leading 27th assist of the campaign. The assist was Fritz’s 32nd point of the season, drawing him even with Cuylle for the team lead.
Anton Blidh, skating in his first game as a member of the Wolf Pack, pushed the lead to two late in the middle stanza. Bobby Trivigno forced a turnover behind the Charlotte net and quickly fired a centering pass for Blidh. Blidh corralled the puck and snapped a shot past the blocker of Berube to pad the Pack’s lead. The goal was Blidh’s first as a member of the Wolf Pack, and his seventh of the season at 18:55.
Down two goals after forty minutes, the Checkers would answer back to the tune of five goals in the final period. Charlotte drew within one just 32 seconds into the stanza, as Gerry Mayhew deflected a Carlsson shot into the Hartford net. The Checkers would tie it up a minute and a half later, as Bezeau potted his second goal of the game, sneaking a shot from the left-wing circle past Domingue.
Kiersted scored the third goal of the period at 9:19, putting the game out of reach for good.
Oliver Chau scored his first AHL goal just eleven seconds after Kiersted’s dagger to push the lead to two. At that point, Domingue was lifted for Dylan Garand. Domingue made 19 saves on 24 shots.
Riley Nash capped the scoring with an empty net goal at 17:50.
The Wolf Pack hit the road for a midweek matchup with the Springfield Thunderbirds this Wednesday. The puck drop is set for 7:05 pm. The Pack return to the XL Center on Wednesday, March 15th, hosting the Bridgeport Islanders for the latest installment in the ‘Battle of Connecticut’. The puck drop is set for 7:00 pm. To get tickets, visit 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.