Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Rangers trades impact team

Comets player Will Lockwood, top, defends a teammate during practice on Thursday, Feb 4, 2021 at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Nyuti P 020521 Comets Practice 9

As we begin March slate, the Hartford Wolf Pack has twenty games remaining on the docket. The club continues their solid performances of late and enter the week on a season high four-game winning streak. February’s action ended with the team going 6-4 as the group marches on in their push for the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Hartford’s success started in December, which was a turning point for the club after struggling significantly in the first two months of the season. The offense is churning and producing consistently. Defensively, the young core has been putting together a strong number of quality games. Meanwhile the goaltending remains steady as it has all season with superb performances by veteran Louis Domingue and rookie Dylan Garand.

Looking ahead in the upcoming weeks, the final stretch of the season will be an exciting finish. Hartford is battling for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and only a couple of points separate multiple clubs. As Hartford enters the stretch, this is the right time to heat up, which will bode well for the club’s postseason aspirations.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

wolf pack season preview
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Pajuniemi Secures Hat Trick in Strong Win

After being held off the scoresheet for four games, the 23 year-old prospect had a strong outing against the Springfield Thunderbirds last Wednesday. Pajuniemi secured his first hat trick in North America during Hartford’s 5-1 win.

The forward continues to develop in his second season with the organization with a strong efforts. Pajuniemi is now in the top six and continues to be strong in all aspects of the game to maintain his spot.

Offensively, he’s never been afraid to shoot and has a nifty shot. He’s also able to help set up plays and establish sequences throughout each contest. Defensively, Pajuniemi keeps it simple and has been effective against opponents.

Through 48 games, the prospect has secured 14 goals and eight assists for 22 points. Pajuniemi is four points away from tying his last season’s production at 26. He is also three shots away from tying his number of shots on net.

Also of note, Hartford had back to back games where a player on the roster had a hat trick. That is impressive! The streak was broken last Saturday. Jonny Brodzinski recorded two goals in the contest and fell short.

Captain Brodzinski and Louis Domingue lead vs Syracuse

For the first time since December 21st, 2016, Hartford secured a regulation win against the Syracuse Crunch. The Wolf Pack struggled against the Crunch for multiple seasons in their two game season series. Brodzinski had an active night on the scoresheet, tallying two goals and helped the group extend their winning streak. Louis Domingue held the fort down with another excellent outing in net.

For Brodzinski, the veteran converted a power play goal in addition to securing the game wining goal with a short-handed tally. Syracuse peppered shots on Domingue, who played well and kept cool when the Crunch pressured him and the defense.

The win is another signature one for the club as this was a well-rounded effort. From goaltending to offense, Hartford chugged along and are able to secure two points from multiple situations which is encouraging to see.

Louis Domingue picked up his 13th win of the season as he stopped 37 of 38 shots.

Wolf Pack Trade Acquisitions

Announced in the Vitali Kravtsov trade by the New York Rangers on February 25th, the organization received forward Will Lockwood from the Vancouver Canucks. The newly acquired prospect was assigned to Hartford and will debut with the club in Friday’s game.

The 24 year-old plays right wing and has spent most of this season (and last) in the American Hockey League. Lockwood is a good addition to Hartford’s roster as he provides an offensive pop and adds further dynamic to the lineup.

Keep in mind that C.J. Smith and Patrick Khodorenko are likely to be out for the season from their injuries. The forward will have an opportunity to prove himself further with Hartford as his contract is up at the conclusion of the season.

In addition, the forward brings speed and a well-rounded game, especially on defense. He can also be physical when needed. It will be exciting to see how he performs with the organization.

Austin Rueschoff Dealt to Nashville

Announced by the Rangers on February 28th, forward Austin Rueschoff was traded to the Nashville Predators organization. In return, New York will receive future considerations.

The 25 year-old prospect participated in three seasons with Hartford. Throughout this season, Rueschoff was often bumped out of the lineup as the club had multiple extra forwards. Of the 52 games played, Rueschoff participated in 31 outings, collecting two goals and nine assists for 11 points.

The Wolf Pack have strong depth in addition to the newly acquired Lockwood and recently assigned Jake Leschyshyn. At the moment, Hartford has 17 forwards on the roster. Of the 17, two are out long-term. On defense, they have eight defenseman.

Additionally, Ryan Carpenter has been returned to the Wolf Pack and late yesterday they added defenseman Adam Clendening. Andy Welinski was dealt to the Blackhawks in the Patrick Kane trade.

Wolf Pack News and Notes

Standings Update

Entering the week, Hartford is 23-20-3-6 for 55 points. That ranks the club 6th in the Atlantic Division, 10th in the Eastern Conference, and 19th in the AHL. The Wolf Pack are 6-4 in the last ten outings and is on a four game winning streak. Hartford is holding onto the final playoff spot in the division.

The Bridgeport Islanders are one point behind Hartford entering the week. Bridgeport is 23-21-7-1 for 54 points and in seventh. The Islanders are on a two game skid and are 5-4-1 in the last ten outings.

The playoff primer is expected to be released soon.

One Timers

  • Turner Elson has points in the last two of three outings (one goal, two assists).
  • Will Cuylle is on a three game point streak (three goals, two assists). The prospect has points in the last five of six games (four goals, three assists).
  • Ryan Carpenter has points in the last three of five games (two goals, four assists).
  • Tim Gettinger recorded an assist in two straight games.
  • Ty Emberson is on a three game point streak (three assists).

Upcoming Games

Hartford has a three-in-three weekend coming up. March features critical games against rivals. Hartford will face Springfield five games, followed by Bridgeport with four meetings. March will be a make or break it month for the club.

Friday, March 3rd vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the seventh of 12 games in the season series. Hartford is 2-3-0-1 against Springfield. The eighth meeting will be on March 8th in Springfield.
  • Entering the week, Springfield is 26-20-2-4 for 58 points. That ranks the group fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds are 6-3-1 in their last ten outings. However, the group lost their last three of five games.
  • Forward Matthew Highmore leads the Thunderbirds in points with 48. Through 49 games, the experienced forward secured 13 goals and 35 assists. He is ranked 16th in the AHL for points. Veteran Martin Frk is second on the team for points with 46. Through 47 games, Frk has 20 goals and 26 assists. Frk is 19th in the AHL for points.
  • Listen โ€“ Mixlr. Watch โ€“ AHLTV.

Saturday, March 4th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena

  • This is the eighth of 12 games in the season series. Hartford is 2-5 against Bridgeport. The ninth meeting will be held on March 15th in Hartford.
  • Entering the week, Bridgeport is 23-21-7-1 for 54 points. That ranks the group seventh in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are 5-4-1 in their last ten outings. However, in the last five games, Bridgeport is 3-2.
  • Veteran Chris Terry leads the Islanders in points with 50. Through 47 games, Terry has 17 goals and 33 assists. Andy Andreoff is second for points with 42. Through 49 games, the forward has 21 goals and 21 assists.
  • Listen โ€“ Mixlr. Watch โ€“ AHLTV.

Sunday, March 5th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 3pm, XL Center

  • This is the eighth and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 3-1-1-2 against the Checkers.
  • Entering the week, Charlotte is 30-18-3-2 for 65 points. That ranks the group third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Checkers are 6-3-1 in the last ten games. However in the last five games, Charlotte is 2-3.
  • Experienced forward Riley Nash leads the Checkers in points with 42. Through 48 games, Nash secured 18 goals and 24 assists. Panthers prospect Aleski Heponiemi is second in points with 34. Through 45 games, the forward has nine goals and 25 assists.
  • Listen โ€“ Mixlr. Watch โ€“ AHLTV.

Ricky Milliner is a Hartford Wolf Pack season ticket holder. While growing up, he discovered hockey by attending a... More about Ricky Milliner

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