Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Gustav Rydahl shines with hat trick

Gustav Rydahl
Gustav Rydahl celebrates win with Dylan Garand (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

For Hartford Wolf Pack fans, the three in three weekend featured a few high and some lows. After dropping the first game against Bridgeport by a score of 6-3, the club managed to salvage the weekend with two exciting comeback wins on Saturday against Providence (3-2 in overtime) and Sunday against Lehigh Valley (6-4). Hartford collected four of six possible points and remain in the Atlantic Division’s playoff race.

As we enter the final week of February, Hartford has two games remaining on docket. In addition, the club has two games remaining until the 2023 National Hockey League trade deadline. Hartford will play the night after the trade deadline passes on March 3 in a match against Springfield.

Depending on moves made by the Rangers, the roster could be altered for that game. More roster moves likely as the American Hockey League trade deadline approaches in mid-March.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

Hartford Wolf Pack
Hartford Wolf Pack celebrate a goal (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

Schedule Outlook for Hartford

Twenty two games remain on the schedule for Hartford. The playoff push continues and despite recent three game losing streak, the club righted the ship in last weekend’s action. While the group is out of a playoff spot, we have to remain optimistic. One point separates the Wolf Pack from the final playoff spot. In fact, the Pack showed resiliency in the last two games.

Hartford was down by two goals in each contest and they managed to fight back. That is encouraging, especially where the group is at now compared to the first half of the season. Those would have been losses but they’ve become a more confident and resilient team.

Even in Friday’s loss to Bridgeport the Wolf Pack attempted to claw their way back in the third. At one point, it was 4-3 Islanders with five minutes remaining before a late penalty resulted in critical tally to put the game out of the Pack’s reach.

While it was a tough game to lose, Hartford still controls their own fate. They will be playing Bridgeport, Springfield, and other divisional opponents for a good number of games in March and April. All the Wolf Pack have to do is win out. It will be a tough and tall order, but if they can find their spark and go on a point or win streak, that will bode well.

Ready or not, it’s showtime.

Entering the week, Hartford is once again above .500 on the season. The club’s record stands at 21-20-3-6 for 51 points. That ranks the group seventh in the Atlantic Division, 10th in the Eastern Conference, and 20th in the AHL. The Wolf Pack are 5-5 in their last ten outings.

Taking a look at the 22 games remaining, Hartford has 10 home and 12 away games. Hartford is in the midst of a five game road-trip and will be road heavy for the next seven of eight games over the next couple of weeks. Once complete, the Wolf Pack will have a favorable home schedule in mid to late March, featuring six of eight at the XL Center.

In April, the Wolf Pack will have three home and three away games. The record for home and away is nearly identical. While seasons past had Hartford playing well at home while struggling on the road, this season is well more rounded. At the XL Center, Hartford is 11-0-0-5 and 10-10-3-1 away from it.

Stay tuned for the AHL’s Playoff Primer as that will become available soon. The primer will be updated daily to show the magic number for teams to clinch a 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs spot.

Standings Outlook

Two points behind the Wolf Pack are the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Penguins are eighth (last) in the Atlantic Division with a record of 21-21-2-5 for 49 points. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has two wins in their last ten outings (2-6-0-2). Despite the struggles, Hartford has to keep an eye on the Penguins as they are in the playoff race and within striking distance.

In the final playoff spot in the division, the Bridgeport Islanders are holding onto the spot one point ahead of Hartford. Bridgeport is 22-19-7-1 for 52 points. The Islanders are on a three game winning streak and are 5-4-1 in their last ten outings. Hartford is 2-5 against Bridgeport, which is not ideal for the current situation the Wolf Pack are in. Keep in mind that the season series is 12 games. There is still time for the club to win the season series, but they have little margin of error.

In fifth place with little cushion, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are 25-20-3-2 for 55 points in the standings. Hartford is four points behind the Phantoms. Lehigh Valley is finding ways to stay afloat and maintain in playoff positioning in the division. However, indications has shown that the Phantoms are struggling slightly more than usual. They are 5-5 in the last ten outings. They have lost their last three of five games as well.

Looking upward in the standings, the Springfield Thunderbirds are in fourth with 56 points (25-18-2-4) and five points ahead of Hartford. Then a large jump occurs as the Charlotte Checkers are in third with 62 points. In second are the Hershey Bears at 69, followed by the Providence Bruins in the first with 70 points.

Wolf Pack Watch

Gustav Rydahl’s Best Game of Season

The 28 year-old forward recorded his best game of the season last Sunday after struggling for most of the year. Prior to the game, Rydahl was in and out of the lineup often, depending on the opponent. His last goal prior to the hat-trick was on December 22. While the experienced forward provides a good two-way game, the offense many expected was missing.

Rydahl’s game found a spark as he excelled throughout the contest. In fact, the forward secured the hat trick after the Phantom’s Garrett Wilson recorded his. Rydahl was noticeable all over the ice and generated numerous chances. He recorded a season-high six shots on net.

This is just what the doctor ordered for the forward. He needed a game that boosts his confidence by letting out his frustrations out on the ice with goals. As we approach the two games this week, I am expecting Rydahl to carry over momentum and become a late season consistent forward for the group.

Captain Leads by Example

Jonny Brodzinski snapped his two game point drought in Friday’s contest and led the group to two well earned victories over the weekend. The veteran played with an edge, and was physical. Brodzinski recorded two goals, with one of them being the game winning goal in Saturday’s win against Providence. He now has 100 career AHL goals.

Libor Hajek scores for Pack

The 25 year-old defenseman skated in each of the three games last weekend. Hajek is playing solid for Hartford, despite a few defensive hiccups, he was noticeable on the ice. In Friday’s game, Hajek recorded two assists and had five shots on net. In Sunday’s contest, he recorded the game winning goal (yes, you read that right!).

Bobby Trivigno With Good Weekend

In his rookie year and first full season in the AHL, Trivigno is progressing well. Trivigno has struggled offensively but carries a good work ethic and does generate offensive opportunities. While the competition is stiff to remain in the lineup, Trivigno’s appeared in 43 of the 50 games this season recording seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points.

This past weekend, he registered one goal and one assist on Saturday followed by two assists on Sunday.

Wolf Pack One Timers

  • Tanner Fritz is two assists away from tying his career season high of assists of 28. After Sunday’s contest of recording three assists, Fritz has 26 assists in 45 games with Hartford. I expect the veteran to break his career season high this season.
    • Fritz also leads the team in points with 30. Fritz also has four goals.
  • Turner Elson recorded one goal and on assist on Sunday.
  • Ryan Carpenter and Tim Gettinger each recorded one goal and one assist over the weekend.
  • Zac Jones recorded two assists over the weekend. Jones has points in the last 14 of 20 games. The prospect has five goals and 11 assists.
  • Zach Giuttari recorded two assists over the weekend.

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Wednesday, February 22nd vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the sixth of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-3-0-1 against the Thunderbirds. The seventh will be on March 3rd and the eighth meeting will be on March 8th. Both will be in Springfield.
  • The Thunderbirds are 8-1-1 in the last ten outings and are on a two game point streak (1-0-1). Springfield’s nine game winning streak was snapped last Friday.
  • Veteran Martin Frk leads the active roster in points with 44. Through 44 games, Frk has 19 goals and 25 assists. Will Bitten is second on the active roster for points with 30. Through 42 games, the forward has 14 goals and 16 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, February 25th vs Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay) at 7pm, Upstate Medical Arena at The Oncenter War Memorial

  • This is the second and final meeting in the season series. Hartford dropped the first meeting by a score of 7-3 on January 28th.
  • Entering the week, Syracuse is 23-18-4-3 for 53 points. That ranks the group second in the North Division and 7th in the Eastern Conference. The Crunch are on a two game winning streak and are 5-4-1 in the last ten outings.
  • Experienced forward Alex Barre-Boulet leads the Crunch in points with 61. Through 46 games, the forward has 16 goals and 45 assists. Defenseman Darren Raddysh is second for points with 49. Through 47 games, the veteran has 13 goals and 36 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

NHL News and Rumors

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