Hartford Wolf Pack: Brennan Othmann and power play headline opening weekend
Opening weekend for the Hartford Wolf Pack was a huge success as the club swept their first two games in the 2023-24 season.
The first contest was close and competitive against the Providence Bruins, with a 3-2 shootout win. On the following night against Springfield, Hartford sealed a 3-1 victory against their closest rivals, the Thunderbirds.
Hartford was ready to play and looking to build on their nice postseason run from last year after winning two rounds. The team was sharp on both the offensive and defensive side. Meanwhile, goaltending by Louis Domingue and Dylan Garand left off right from where they were last season with each getting a win.
Of course, a lot of attention was on highly touted prospect Brennan Othmann, as the 20-year old led Hartford to their first victory of the season and had a statement weekend. Another positive was the power play, which factored into the successful weekend.
Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Welcome Brennan Othmann
Chosen as the 16th pick in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, Othmann wasted no time in making noise on the ice in his first two games in the AHL. The rookie recorded 2 goals and 1 assist through two games.
In the opening game against Providence, Othmann converted on two beautiful goals that helped Hartford secure a win against the Bruins. In fact, his second goal sent the match to overtime, as Hartford was in the late stages of the third. Both goals were on the power play with Othmann at the right place, at the right time. He finished the game with 7 shots on goal and generated plenty of chances.
The following outing, Othmann recorded one assist on the power play that eventually became the game winning goal. Overall. he was given consistent minutes and was impactful, especially up a man. As we approach the next two games, it will be exciting to see what else he can do.
From a development point of view, letting Othmann learn and dominate the AHL is the best for his game until he’s given the call to join New York. He’s building his confidence and looks comfortable at the professional level. There’s no doubt that his rookie season will be enjoyable to watch.
Improved Power Play Leads to Results
Last season featured an inconsistent and struggling power play for the club. Hartford finished the 2022-23 season ranked 28th in the AHL on the power play (at 16.3%). Over the summer, one of the main priorities was to improve Hartford’s power play units.
Additions like Brennan Othmann has been a key and having captain Jonny Brodzinski helps. It’s also good to see Bobby Trivigno getting a bigger role.
On the blue-line, Mac Hollowell had a great weekend, recording 2 assists. In preseason, Hollowell had great looks on the power play and is comfortable with the role of being reliable on the power play. Meanwhile, Ben Harpur was also solid on the backend.
Early returns show that these moves worked, as the club converted on three of 13 opportunities (2 for 6 against Providence, 1 for 7 against Springfield). The Pack power play is fast moving and controls the puck well.
Veteran Rule Complicate Roster Decisions
For the first time since 2014-15, Hartford has more veterans on the roster than they are able to dress.
Per the AHL rules, teams can dress up to five veterans. However, they could add a sixth veteran if one of them played between 260-320 games. Unfortunately, Hartford’s six veterans all have played more than 320 professional games.
Currently the Wolf Pack will have to make tough decisions on who is able to play. Anton Blidh sat in the first game, followed by Turner Elson sitting in the second game. Moving forward, there could be a rotation, depending on the opponent and style of play they would need.
Here are the veterans for Hartford this season:
- Jonny Brodzinski
- Anton Blidh
- Riley Nash
- Ben Harpur
- Turner Elson
- Alex Belzile
- Brodzinski and Othmann each recorded 2 goals and 1 assist over the weekend.
- Mac Hollowell recorded 2 assists.
- The penalty kill was 11 of 12
Wolf Pack Upcoming Games
Friday, October 20th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 7pm, XL Center
- This is the first of six meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford won the series with a record of 4-0-1-1. The second meeting will be held the following week in Wilkes-Barre.
- Entering the week, the Penguins are 1-1 as they split a weekend series against the Charlotte Checkers. The Penguins won the first game 4-2, followed by a 4-1 loss.
- Forward Vinnie Hinostroza recorded two points over the weekend (2 assists).
- Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.
Saturday, October 21st vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 7pm, XL Center
- This is the first of six meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford won the series with a record of 3-1.
- Entering the week, the Phantoms split opening weekend 1-1. They dropped the first game of the season by a score of 5-2 against Cleveland. Then in the second outing, the Phantoms recorded a 5-2 win against Belleville. Including the game on 10/21, Hartford will face the Phantoms the next three weeks. Games 2 and 3 will be at the PPL Center on 10/29 and 11/3.
- Forwards Cooper Marody and Tanner Laczynski each recorded three points over the weekend. Marody has two goals and one assist while Laczynski has one goal and two assists.
- Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.