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Wolf Pack Visit Thunderbirds in ‘I-91 Rivalry’ Finals

Hartford Wolf Pack

April 20, 2024 – American Hockey League (AHL)
Hartford Wolf Pack News Report

SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Hartford Wolf Pack continues their final weekend of the regular season tonight in Western Massachusetts. The Wolf Pack visits the Springfield Thunderbirds for the final part of the 2023-24 chapter of the ‘I-91 Rivalry’.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM and coverage will be available on AHLTV and Mixlr.

Story of the band:

This is the tenth and final meeting between the Wolf Pack and Thunderbirds this season. It is the fifth and final meeting at the MassMutual Center.

Hartford can earn a share of the season series with a win tonight. Currently, the T-Birds hold a 5-4 lead after four straight wins from December 27 through March 29.

However, the Wolf Pack countered in the last meeting to clinch a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs on April 12 with a 5–3 win.

Riley Nash opened the scoring 3:55 into the game, grabbing a rebound for his 11th goal of the season. Mathias Laferriere countered at 17:27 for the T-Birds, converting a turnover from the left wing, sending the game into the midframe at 1-1.

Alex Belzile gave the Wolf Pack the lead for good at 6:41 of the second period, beating Colten Ellis with a long shot for his 19th score. Jake Leschyshyn tapped home a shot at 10:30 to make it 3-1 Wolf Pack, then Blake Hillman fired a shot through traffic at 6:18 to make it 4-1.

Hillman’s goal would be the eventual match winner.

Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette made things interesting with two goals in 81 seconds at 6:34 and 7:55 of the third period, but the Wolf Pack closed things out from there.

Louis Domingue, who made 24 saves to earn the win, hit an empty net at 7:37 to seal the deal. The goal was Domingue’s first career mark and the goaltender’s second goal in Wolf Pack history.

The Thunderbirds earned a 6-3 victory in the last meeting at the MassMutual Center on Feb. 23. They have won each of the last two meetings in their building, including a 3-1 victory on December 27.

The Wolf Pack’s last win at the MassMutual Center was a 4-2 decision on Nov. 24.

Wolf Pack Outlook:

The Wolf Pack won their third straight game last night, taking a 3-2 decision over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the XL Center.

Bryan Yoon buried the icebreaker 17:26 into the second period, collecting a rebound and breaking it off Joel Blomqvist’s glove. Nikolas Brouillard extended the lead just 43 seconds into the third period, taking a feed from Nic Petan and beating Blomqvist at the glove for his fifth goal of the season.

The Penguins countered with two goals in 39 seconds, tying the game at 8:37. Jack Rathbone made it a 2-1 game at 7:58, waiting for a sliding defender before beating Domingue for his ninth goal. Austin Rueschhoff then tied the game when he banked in a rebound for his 15th goal at 8:37.

Thanks to a pair of sharp penalties at 12:04 and 12:59, the peloton had a five-on-three for 65 seconds. Petan converted and scored his 15th at 13:22, putting Hartford ahead for good. Petan blasted in a one-timer through Blomqvist from the right-hand circle, set up by Brouillard.

Rookie Brett Berard leads the Wolf Pack in goals with 25 this season. Alex Belzile, who collected an assist last night, leads the club in points with 50 (19g, 31a), while Mac Hollowell leads the way in assists with 39.

Thunderbirds prospects:

The Thunderbirds were eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoff last night in Providence with a 4-2 loss.

Anton Malmstrom scored his first career AHL goal 8:45 into the game, making it 1-1 after Georgii Merkulov opened the scoring with 4:47 left. Jayson Megna restored the lead for the Bruins at 7:14, putting them up 2-1. through 20 minutes.

Ryan Suzuki scored his 14th goal of the season (6:10) in the second period, tying the game and keeping the Thunderbirds alive for the time being.

Riley Duran’s second career goal would prove to be the dagger as he scored the winning goal at 17:12 of the third period. Merkulov capped off the win with an empty net, his 28th, at 18:54.

Gaudette leads the Thunderbirds in goals with 44 and points with 71 (44 g, 27 a). Hugh McGing, meanwhile, leads the club with 31 assists.

Game information:

WATCH: AHLTV

Listen: Mixlr

Play-by-play voice of the Wolf Pack Alex Thomas will have “Wolf Pack Pregame” kicking off live at 6:50 PM on both AHLTV and Mixlr.

The Wolf Pack close out the 2023-2024 regular season tomorrow afternoon when they visit the Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05 PM and coverage will be available starting at 2:50 PM on AHLTV and Mixlr.

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