New York Rangers prospects looking good for Wolf Pack in camp

The Hartford Wolf Pack completed their preseason home-and-home series against in-state rivals Bridgeport Islanders (AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders) on Friday night with a game at Koeppel Community Sports Center on Trinity College campus. 

Interestingly, the usual blue paint in front of the net was replaced by yellow for the home of Trinity College Bantams. Benches were on opposing sides of the ice, with both penalty boxes on the home side. 

Despite clearing waivers on Friday, and being assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, captain Jonny Brodzinski did not play. New York Rangers Director of Player Development, Jed Ortmeyer as well as Assistant Director of Player Development, Tanner Glass were on hand to observe the night’s contest.

Several diehard Wolf Pack fans and season ticket holders were in the crowd, notably “COWBILL” with cowbell in hand. 

Hartford Wolf Pack in preseason action

With Olof Lindbom and Dylan Garand having split the crease on Thursday, Louis Domingue started in net and played the full 60 minutes Friday night, with Parker Gahagen serving as the backup.

Tanner Fritz centered the starting forward line flanked by Will Cuyle and Turner Elson, with veteran Andy Welinski and Tim Theocharidis beginning the game on the blue line. 

After a few minutes of back and forth action, Hartford had their first shot on goal from Turner Elson with 16:38 on the clock. Forward Matt Rempe beat out an icing call with 14:04 remaining. His overall play stood out, and he had a strong game in a bottom six role.

Head coach Kris Knoblauch elected to spread out his giants on different lines to balance out the lineup. Matt Rempe (6′ 8″) skating with Karl Henriksson and Cristiano Digiancinto. Tim Gettinger (6′ 6″) was paired with Gustav Rydahl, and Lauri Pajuniemi. Austin Rueschhoff (6′ 7″) featured on a line along with Bobby Trivigno, and Ryder Korzczak. 

Will Cuyle recovered a couple of loose pucks to pin Bridgeport in their defensive zone, ultimately leading to the first penalty call of the night against the Islanders with 12:04 left in the period.

Lauri Pajuniemi was out as the fourth forward for Hartford on their first power play unit, along with starters Tanner Fritz, Will Cuyle, Turner Elson, and Andy Welinski on defense. After regaining the puck in the defensive zone, Will Cuyle carried the puck up ice, and the Wolf Pack would open the scoring with a powerplay goal. Turner Elson was stationed on the far side of the goal crease, and tapped home a feed from Pajuniemi after receiving a cross-ice pass from Tanner Fritz with 10:51 on the clock. 

Bridgeport would respond in the final minute of the period when a Ryan MacKinnon shot from the point found its way through traffic and past Louis Domingue. Will Cuyle was caught flat footed on the play, not pressuring the defenseman in that situation. When he returned to the bench, Head Coach Kris Knoblauch spoke to him at length. The first period ended with teams tied 1-1. 

Will Cuylle and Bobby Trivigno impressive for Pack

New York Rangers prospects
Bobby Trivigno and Will Cuylle at warmups October 7, 2022 (Photo: Alan Selavka)

Cuyle was back out to start the second period with linemates Fritz and Elson. On the first shift, he made a strong power move to the front of the net, but his shot was stopped. He did not register a point in this contest but was pretty solid throughout.

Defenseman Ty Embeson had a big hit during the second minute of play. This led to some verbal jabbing between the two teams, and ultimately stood as the “Hit of the Game” in my opinion.  

Louis Domingue was under siege in the early part of the middle frame. Momentum shifted back into Hartford’s favor following a defensive zone draw from the first line. Will Cuyle bobbled the puck on the wall during the initial breakout attempt, though was able to break out on a second attempt seconds later. Hartford took the lead with 13:52 remaining after a Tim Gettinger redirection off a Brandon Scanlin shot. 

Cory Schneider came in after the midpoint of the period. Matt Rempe continued his physical play, but was assessed the first penalty against the Wolf Pack with 9:12 to go. Hartford’s penalty kill consisted of Fritz and Elson with Matthew Robertson and Ty Emberson. The second unit featured Gustav Rydahl and Tim Gettinger with Andy Welinski and Tim Theocharidis. 

Bobby Trivigno jammed home a rebound to extend the lead for Hartford with 5:53 remaining. Bridgeport was charged with a few other infractions during the second period. Hartford’s second powerplay unit consisted of Rydahl, Rueschhoff, and Gettinger up front. With the first unit on, Will Cuyle was screening the goalie above the crease while also setting things up behind the net. Lauri Pajuniemi was stationed at the top of the left circle, looking to be set up for one-timers from his teammates. The second period finished 3-1 Hartford with 27 seconds of powerplay time carrying over. 

Tanner Fritz was unable to convert on a 2 v 1 setup from Will Cuyle to start the third. Karl Henriksson gave Hartford a 4-1 lead after defenseman Tim Theocharidis carried the puck deep into the zone and found him with a pass at the side of the net. Louis Domingue came up big to preserve the Wolf Pack lead, stopping a penalty shot awarded to Bridgeport’s Jimmy Lambert. 

In the final few minutes, tensions boiled over, and multiple players from both teams were ejected after being given misconduct penalties. Hartford came away with the man advantage, and it was nice to see Matt Rempe being rewarded late with some powerplay time after his strong game. He also served as a deterrent against further physicality from Bridgeport.   

Tanner Fritz finished the scoring on the night to give the Wolf Pack a 5-1 win and sweep of the preseason series against the Islanders.

Bobby Trivigno was named the game’s first star. Louis Domingue and Turner Elson were the other stars respectively.

Hartford opens the 2022-2023 season on Friday, October 14th when they visit the Charlotte Checkers. The club hosts its home opener on Saturday, October 22nd at the XL Center against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. 

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