Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Zac Jones, Dylan Garand, and Will Cuylle impress

ZAC JONES rangers hartford wolf pack
Zac Jones (Photo: Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The Hartford Wolf Pack concluded 2022 with a home game shootout loss against the Springfield Thunderbirds on December 31st by a 2-1 margin.

Hartford wrapped up the final week of December with a 1-1-0-1 record, securing three of six points. The two losses against Springfield were tough as Hartford trailed Springfield by a couple of points entering the week. The gap is now five points between the clubs. This allows the Thunderbirds to move into the final playoff spot (sixth in the Atlantic Division) while the Lehigh Valley Phantoms dropped to seventh place. The Phantoms are ahead of Hartford by three points.

January is a pivotal month for Hartford as the club continues to have a big mountain to climb if they want a to earn a playoff berth. The Wolf Pack were 6-6-0-1 in the month of December. Once again, they came close to success but fell short to having a winning record for the month.

The Wolf Pack will begin the first week and a half of 2023 on the road playing four games before returning home to host the Providence Bruins on Saturday, January 14th.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

Dylan Grand Hartford Wolf Pack
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Dylan Garand gets a chance as #1

Garand, 20, played in three straight games after Hartford lost Louis Domingue (paternity leave) for two games. He played well in his three outings, handling the pressure of competing in back to back nights. While defense was inconsistent at times, Garand came up big on several occasions.

This season, Garand is 4-7-2 with a 3.31 goals against average and a .889 save percentage. He has two shutouts as well.

While his stats indicates he’s struggling, the goaltender is doing well in development. I expect his progress to continue and learn from the mentoring of Domingue. This is a good goaltending tandem.

Ryan Carpenter nets hat trick!

In Hartford’s lone win last week, the club dominated Bridgeport by a score of 7-3. The group played well, especially veteran Ryan Carpenter. As a result, the 31 year-old forward is being given more ice time and playing in different situations. From the power play to the penalty kill or a defensive draw in overtime, he’s being leaned upon.

No doubt, Carpenter has given Hartford life, especially on offense. Through 10 games, the forward secured eight goals and two assists.

Entering the week, Carpenter is tied for the most goals on Hartford’s roster at eight with Will Cuylle. The veteran continues to be a strong asset in the lineup for the Wolf Pack. Check out his third goal below.

Zac Jones with a strong week

Another good addition for Hartford since joining the club is Zac Jones. Despite being assigned to Hartford, his attitude on the ice is great as he competes hard and his noticeable.

The end result is Jones playing a high number of minutes. The defenseman also saved a goal in last Saturday’s game against Springfield. This was an unbelievable play.

While recording one assist last week, Jones has helped Hartford’s defensive core. He has given opponents difficulties, especially when they are pressuring in the Pack’s end. The defenseman also quarterbacks the power play, which has struggled. However, the club was able to produce one goal on it last week.

Jones has given the power play unit opportunities to sustain offensive pressure with his smarts and awareness. While stats may indicate a cold power play, Jones is attempting to spark the unit.

Will Cuylle continues to produce

The 20 year-old prospect continues to take strides in his development with Hartford. The rookie enters the week on a three game point streak (one goal, two assists). In addition to his offensive contributions, the forward attempted to spark the group with his fight last Wednesday. Cuylle continues to show good growth in his game.

Karl Henriksson gets first pro goal

The 21 year-old secured his first goal in the AHL last Tuesday in Bridgeport. The prospect had a good week as he contributed one assist as well. Henriksson’s rookie year featured adjustments and overall growth. While he is not on the scoresheet nightly, the forward is quietly progressing. Henriksson is utilizing his speed in a depth position and keeps his game simple by doing the small things on ice with purpose.

Wolf Pack Trade Alert

Last Saturday evening, Wolf Pack General Manager Ryan Martin announced the club’s first trade of the season.

Hartford acquired forward Benjamin Tardif from the Colorado Eagles in exchange for defenseman Luke Martin.

The 22 year-old forward split the 2022-23 season between the Eagles and their ECHL affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies. Tardif played in 7 games with Utah, securing two goals and seven assists. In his tenure with the Eagles, the prospect produced one goal and three assists in 15 games.

The trade generated additional depth for the forward group. I expect him to debut this week with Hartford.

Prior to the trade, Luke Martin signed with Hartford over the off-season though an AHL deal. He spent the season with the Jacksonville Icemen in the ECHL, securing eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points. Considering the depth in the organization, the right move was made. Martin will have further opportunity in the Avalanche organization.

Wolf Pack Notes

One Timers

  • Turner Elson had a three game point streak snap in the previous game. On his streak, the forward produced one goal and three assists. He has points in the last eight of 12 games (four goals, five assists)
  • Lauri Pajuniemi has points in the last two of three games (one goal, two assists).
  • Austin Rueschhoff had a three game point streak snap in the previous game. On his streak, the forward collected one goal and four assists. The prospect has points in the last six of nine games (two goals, seven assists).

Injury Updates

  • Alex Whelan returned to the lineup on December 31st. He was out with an undisclosed injury. His previous game was on December 4th.
  • Tim Gettinger is nearing a return from his injury. He is projected to play in January.

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Hartford will begin their four game road-trip on Friday. The Wolf Pack are road heavy in the month of January (seven games). They will be playing at home for five games.

Friday, January 6th vs Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils) at 7pm, Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium

  • This is the first of two meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford split the series (1-1). Utica will visit Hartford on February 3rd.
  • Entering the week, Utica is 14-9-4-1 for 33 points. That ranks the group third in the North Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Comets are on a seven game point streak (6-0-1) and won their last four of five outings (4-0-1). They are 7-2-1 in the last ten outings as well.
  • Devils prospect Graeme Clarke leads Utica in points with 25. Through 28 games, the forward secured 10 goals and 15 assists. Experienced forward Nolan Stevens is second in points with 20. Through 25 games, Stevens secured nine goals and 11 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, January 7th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 6:05pm, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

  • This is the third of six meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-0-0-1 thus far in the series. Hartford won the previous game on November 11th by a score of 3-1.
  • Entering the week, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 14-9-2-3 for 33 points. That ranks the group fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 1-5 in the last five outings and 4-4-1-1 in the last ten games.
  • Penguins prospect Valtteri Puustinen leads the group in points with 24. Through 29 games, the forward has 12 goals and 12 assists. Veteran Alexander Nylander is second in points with 23. Through 28 games, the forward collected 11 goals and 12 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – 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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