Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Dylan Garand picks up first pro win, team improving

The Hartford Wolf Pack closed out October with two wins after struggling in the first two weekends of the season as prospect Dylan Garand picked up his first win.

Hartford snapped their 0-2-1-1 streak last weekend by defeating the Hershey Bears 4-2, followed by a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against the Charlotte Checkers. The club showed significant improvements on defense while the offense began to roll despite missing Julien Gauthier, who is with the New York Rangers

Hartford performed well in both outings, which is a good sign entering November. The club was ready to play, from goaltending on out not a single player missed a beat.

Entering this weekend, Hartford is 2-2-1-1 for six points. That ranks the group seventh in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Keep in mind that a few points separate Hartford from the rest of the teams in the division.

Hartford Wolf Pack: Dylan Garand 1st win

Bobby Trivigno Returns

The 23 year-old forward returned to Hartford’s lineup last Friday against Hershey. He played with a chip on his shoulder and was noticeable in all aspects of the game. Trivigno recorded one goal and one assist for two points in Hartford’s first win of the season. He prospect played alongside Gustav Rydahl and Turner Elson in the matcha and that line was buzzing throughout the game.

Trivigno assisted on the first goal of the game from Rydahl. The sequence was superb as the group was aggressive on the play and moved the puck well.

In the third, the talented prospect registered his first goal of the season with a beautiful backhand, fending off the Bears defenseman. In addition, he was aggressive while Hershey was in Hartford’s zone as they were pushed out and he transitioned the group from defense to offense.

After being held out of the lineup for two games, Trivigno made a case on why he should remain in the lineup the rest of the way. He was given the opportunity and made the most of it. Trivigno was held off the scoresheet Saturday but had strong opportunities for Hartford and helped push the offense in a close game.

Veteran Louis Domingue Secure First Win of Season

Third time’s the charm for Domingue. After being held from the win column in his first two tries (0-0-1-1), the veteran found himself with a W in Friday’s game against Hershey.

While the stats may indicate not a great start to the season, the goaltender played exceptionally well. Hartford’s defensive struggles was bailed out by Domingue and Garand often. Domingue was close to his first win of the season in his other two starts (OT and SO losses). With better support by Hartford’s defensive group, Domingue locked down the crease against Hershey and only two goals were given up. The veteran stopped 19 of 21 shots in the game.

Louis Domingue improves to 1-0-1-1 with a 2.92 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

Dylan Garand gets first pro win!

how to watch new york rangers dylan garand
Dylan Garand takes part in the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022. Credit: © Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Checkers was tight between the clubs. The 20 year old earned his first professional win in his third attempt as well.

Prior to the game, Garand was 0-2 and adjusting to the professional ranks. In his two losses, the prospect showed impressive ability and kept cool in all situations. To his credit, this first win was not easy, especially against a tough Checkers club. The goaltender faced two 5 on 3’s in the contest, and had to withstand a big third period push that included 4 penalties against. Hartford maintained a one goal lead throughout the contest, up until Charlotte tied the game twice, both in the third as he faced 16 shots. His heroics gave the Pack a chance to redeem themselves and they did with an OT winner just 47 seconds in as Garand stopped 24 of 26 shots in the game.

Dylan Garand improves to 1-2 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Defensive Improvements

As I discussed in last week’s edition of Wolf Pack Weekly, one concern was the struggles from the blueline. The transitioning was not stellar, which led to multiple mistakes. Fast forward to this weekend, as they worked on those deficiencies and played well as a unit.

In both outings, the defense was excellent on their reads and limited odd man rushes. They were aggressive too with their game and really cut off passing lanes.

Overall the penalty kill was excellent, especially against the Checkers. Hartford blocked shots and were strong clearing the puck. The penalty kill units have been busy and performing well, which is a confidence booster for the defense.

The forward group also contributed to the improvements with defense. Everyone was committed to help out the goaltenders. A week’s worth of practices and addressing struggles paid off for Hartford. This was a great turnaround and you have to give credit to the coaching staff.

Jonny Brodzinski Heats Up

Hartford’s captain secured his first two goals of the season this past weekend as he scored one in each game. The veteran has points in four straight and was held off the scoresheet only once through six games. Brodzinski leads the club in points with six (2G – 4A).

The forward continues to show good offensive production in addition to his leadership. The extension continues to pay dividends for the organization.

Goals From the Weekend

Check out Hartford’s goals from this weekend.

  • First up is Andy Welinski’s game winning goal in overtime. This is his first goal of the season. The offensive minded defenseman has a dynamic skill set to help boost Hartford’s offensive game.
  • Lauri Pajuniemi recorded his third goal of the season with a deflection from Ben Harpur’s shot.
  • Tim Gettinger secured his first goal of the season on Friday night.

Wolf Pack News and Notes

One Timers

  • Turner Elson recorded two assists on Friday’s game. The veteran is second on the team in points with five (one goal, four assists).
  • Andy Welinski has fours points in the last three of five games. He recorded three assists and one goal in that span. He had a two point game on Saturday against Charlotte (one goal, one assist).
  • Lauri Pajuniemi recorded two goals in the last two of three games.

Injury Updates

Hartford was down two forwards in the third period in Friday’s game.

  • Gustav Rydahl did not return in Friday’s game. He did not play on Saturday. More updates to come when available.
  • Patrick Khodorenko left in Friday’s game as well. He was hurt after a check along the boards.
  • Matthew Robertson did not play in both games. He is day to day.

Transactions

  • Ben Harpur released from his Professional Tryout (PTO) on October 28th. He was assigned to Hartford by New York on the same day after he cleared waivers. The defenseman is now on a two way deal for one year.
  • Alex Whelan was recalled from Jacksonville ECHL on October 29th.

Building Updates

Long Term Plan

The arena operator, Oak View Group (OVG) is currently in discussions with the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) regarding a partnership to transform the XL Center. As the long road continues to modernize the dated building, there is optimism that the building could be renovated in the near future.

As part of the potential partnership between OVG and CRDA, OVG would contribute funding to the renovation plan that was backed by the CRDA. Originally the CRDA had a $250M renovation plan that would overhaul the XL Center from top to bottom. However, that price tag was expensive for the state of Connecticut to commit to, which resulted in a new strategy from the CRDA.

The plan is for a $100 to modernize the lower level of the facility. Amenities would include additional bathrooms, event level club and suites, loge boxes, and other premium seating options throughout the lower level of the arena. Additional upgrades would be under the hood, staging, and concourse enhancements. The upper level would remain untouched. The only addition to the upper level would be a moveable wall to expand or reduce capacity of the XL Center.

OVG is interested in partnering with the CRDA as they believe the XL Center can become a “premium concert venue”. The focus of seating is approximately 11,500 to 13,500, depending on the final configuration for renovations and focus on concert seating.

The next steps in the process would be an agreement of a partnership. The partnership would allow OVG to run the facility for a lengthy period of time in addition to a framework of splitting revenue, expenses, etc…

For additional information, check out this article from the Hartford Business Journal.

Sports Betting Lounge Update

Construction of the Sports Betting Lounge began in the summer of 2022. The original completion date was September. Unfortunately, as a result of delays from shipping and manufacturing of items, the opening is pushed back to Spring 2023. The CRDA completed two agreements to have sports betting in place at the XL Center. The first one is through the Connecticut Lottery (operations) and the other is through the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (revenue funding structure from profits).

For additional information, check out this article from the Hartford Business Journal.

Additional renderings of the lounge can be viewed on the CRDA’s website.

Hartford Wolf Pack Schedule

Hartford will be playing 11 games in November. They will be on the road for the next three of four games. The split has Hartford playing five games at home and six on the road.

Friday, November 4th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the first of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford lost the season series last year with a record of 5-6-1. The second meeting between the clubs will be in Hartford on November 9th.
  • Entering the weekend, Springfield is 4-3-0-1 for nine points. That ranks the group fifth in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds are on a point streak of five games, going 4-0-0-1.
  • Experienced forward Nathan Todd leads the Thunderbirds in points with nine. Through eight games, Todd collected seven goals and two assists. Nikita Alexandrov, Matthew Highmore, and Martin Frk are tied for second in points with eight.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, November 5th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena

  • This is the second of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford dropped the first game of the season series on October 23rd by a score of 5-2. The third meeting between the clubs will remain in Bridgeport, on November 23rd. Hartford will host the fourth meeting on December 23rd.
  • Entering the weekend, Bridgeport is 6-1-1 for 13 points. That ranks the group second in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Islanders are on a point streak of 6-0-1, notching 13 of 14 points.
  • Forward Andy Andreoff and Ruslan Iskhakov lead the Islanders in points with 11 each. Andreoff has five goals and six assists while Iskhakov recorded four goals and seven assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.