Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Will Cuylle an offensive force and Zac Jones bolsters defense

As we approach the holiday break, the Hartford Wolf Pack are beginning to find their grove after a lengthy stretch where they came up short for wins or points.

The Wolf Pack snapped their five game losing streak on December 7th against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Last week was a productive one for Hartford as the club secured four of six points to keep pace for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Their busy slate will continue this week as the club will be on a three game road trip facing opponents from the Central Division. At the conclusion of the trip, Hartford’s schedule will be heavily within their division along with a couple of games against opponents from the North Division.

The Wolf Pack are 1-2 thus far against teams from the Western Conference. In fact, Hartford was shutout last Friday against Milwaukee (2-0) and the next night, posted a shutout against the Grand Rapids Griffins (4-0).

Entering the week, Hartford is ranked eighth (last) in the Atlantic Division. They are ranked 15th (last) in the Eastern Conference as well. From a league perspective, the club is ranked 28th. Hartford is 7-10-1-4 for 19 points in 22 games.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

Will Cuylle developing scoring touch

The talented Rangers prospect had a good couple of outings in the last two weeks of the season. While he’s not recording points on a nightly basis, Cuylle is utilizing his assets well throughout contests.

This season, he has six goals and 10 points in 22 games.

In moments where the offense struggles, Cuylle is the right person to have in your lineup as he’s willing to get shots on net and looks to generate additional opportunities with rebounds. It also helps that Cuylle is getting consistent minutes every game.

Another good aspect in his game is physical as he never backs down. Hartford’s been in some gritty contests with plenty of scrums after the whistle and Cuylle is not afraid to get into the action. The prospect has a well rounded game that will become greater as the season progresses.

Take a look at his goal against the Phantoms on December 7th. He has high potential and this play shows it in one clip.

Zac Jones Boosts Hartford’s Defense

Hartford wolf pack zac jones
Zac Jones and Nils Lundkvist (Photo: Kelly Shea, Hartford Wolf Pack)

The 22 year old prospect has bolstered the defense since being assigned to Hartford by New York on December 3rd. Through five games, he has one assist with an even rating.

On the ice, Jones has a great work ethic and has brought his A game. Partnered with veteran Andy Welinski, The duo has elevated Hartford’s offensive game while also being aggressive breaking up plays and causing turnovers.

In addition to Jone’s defensive contributions, Hartford is utilizing the prospect once again on the power play. In fact, he’s essentially quarterbacking from the blue line to create high danger chances. His passes on the power play along with his strong shot has given the struggling power play new life.

He has done all the right things in Hartford already. As he’s done previously, Jones hasn’t let the demotion from the big club impact his attitude and play on the ice.

Rangers Swap Forwards

The Wolf Pack lost their captain once again as Jonny Brodzinski earned a call up to New York on December 4th. Hartford did get a replacement when the Rangers sent down Ryan Carpenter on December 9th.

Brodzinski was one of the best forwards in Hartford prior to his recall. The veteran was able to produce good chances and also had speed which is now benefiting New York. He was known to provide good mentorship in the locker room along with steady play in all three zones. Through 17 games, he had 9 points.

Ryan Carpenter is a veteran as well with different experiences. The 31 year old forward has spent majority of his career in the National Hockey League. The last time he was in the American Hockey League was in the 2016-17 season with the San Jose Barracuda. In his time with them, Carpenter recorded 14 goals and 25 assists for 39 points in 54 games. Carpenter will bring offensive help to the Wolf Pack roster. He also brings in experience which is a plus to Hartford’s young roster.

The veteran is still adjusting to Hartford and has played in two games registering no points.

Dylan Garand Earns Second Shutout

The Rangers goaltender secured his second win of the season in fashion last Saturday against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Garand stopped 21 shots to earn a shutout win for Hartford, the night after the club was shutout against Milwaukee.

The rookie had a strong game and kept the Griffins from scoring when they pressured Hartford. The game itself was one of the best of the season for the team.

Dylan Garand improves to 2-5-2 with a 3.00 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. Again, development is not all about stats.

Wolf Pack News and Notes

Transactions

Additional transactions occurred over the last two weeks:

  • Defenseman Ben Harpur assigned to New York on December 3rd.
  • Brandon Cutler signed a Professional Tryout (PTO) on December 3rd.
  • Zach Jordan called up from Jacksonville (ECHL) on December 13th.

Injury Updates

Per Howlings, Rangers prospect Patrick Khordorenko will be out for the remainder of the season. Howlings reported the forward will have shoulder surgery. Khordorenko skated in four games this season and his last outing was on October 28th. The forward will be a restricted free agent this summer.

In addition, Tim Gettinger will be out for a month (approximately) with an upper body injury. The experienced forward blocked two shots on November 25th against Hershey and left the game, favoring his wrist.

Gustav Rydahl and Lauri Pajuniemi returned from minor injuries (day to day).

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Hartford will be on the road for three games before returning home for two games prior to holiday break.

Wednesday, December 14th vs Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville) at 8pm, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

  • This is the last meeting in the season series. Hartford was shutout by Milwaukee last Friday (2-0).
  • Entering the week, the Admirals are 15-7-0-1 for 31 points. That ranks the club first in the Central Division and third in the Western Conference. The Admirals are coming off from a loss in Springfield last Saturday as they were shutout by a score of 2-0. Milwaukee is 6-3-0-1 in their last ten outings.
  • Experienced forward Tommy Novak leads the Admirals in points with 22. Through 23 games, the center recorded 10 goals and 12 assists. He recorded one goal against Hartford last Friday. Forwards Markus Nurmi and Luke Evangelista are tied for second in points with 17 apiece. Nurmi has eight goals and nine assists in 23 games while Evangelista has four goals and 13 assists in 23 games.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, December 16th vs Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit) at 7pm, Van Andel Arena

  • This is the last meeting in the season series. Hartford won the first game last Saturday by shutting out the Griffins by a score of 4-0.
  • Entering the week, the Griffins are 10-12-1 for 21 points. That ranks the club sixth in the Central Division and 13th in the Western Conference. The Griffins are 4-6 in their last ten outings.
  • Experienced forward Taro Hirose leads the Griffins in points with 23. Through 23 games, the forward has six goals and 17 assists. Joel L’Esperance is second on the roster with 17 points. Through 23 games, the forward collected 10 goals and seven assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, December 17th vs Rockford IceHogs (Chicago) at 8pm, BMO Center

  • This is the last meeting in the season series. Hartford dropped the first game on December 3rd by a score of 3-2.
  • Entering the week, the IceHogs are 12-7-1-2 for 27 points. That ranks the club third in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference. The Ice Hogs enter the week dropping their last two games to the Iowa Wild. Rockford is 3-5 in their last five outings and are 6-2-1-1 in the last ten.
  • Experienced forward Brett Seney leads the IceHog in points with 28. Through 22 games, the center has 11 goals and 17 assists. He is ranked fourth in the AHL for points. Forwards Lukas Reichel and David Gust are tied for second in points with 24 apiece. Reichel has 11 goals and 13 assists while Gust has 10 goals and 14 assists. Reichel is 13th in the AHL for points and Gust is in 14th.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.
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