Wolf Pack Weekly: Big win against Utica Comets should build momentum

Hartford completed their two game road trip in Upstate New York last weekend. The club recorded two of four points to maintain their playoff position in the Atlantic Division. Despite the recent losses, the Wolf Pack are fairing well with a depleted roster.

Hartford is 2-3 far since the NHL brought back taxi squads. While Hartford is missing seven of nine top point producers, the coaching staff is attempting to find the right balance in order to maintain consistency.

The Wolf Pack are slated to play three games this week. Let’s get down to the latest happenings from the Rangers American Hockey League Affiliate.

Wolf Pack Weekly: Impressive in New York

While the Rangers have multiple players out resulting from Covid-19 protocol, opportunity arose for Tim Gettinger, Morgan Barron, and Jonny Brodzinski to play as the big club’s fourth line together. The trio is familiar with each other having played on a line for Hartford this season.

The group performed well for the Rangers. Covering the Wolf Pack, this was delightful for me to see. Hartford is able to produce reliable players that can step up and fill in voids for the Rangers.

Having a strong AHL roster is essential, especially in these times of uncertainty. You will never know when the organizational depth will be tested. A strong farm club helps build up the prospects of tomorrow if they are mentored by quality players. A winning culture with development is always the right plan. The Rangers have found this success in recent years.

Wolf Pack Defeat League Leading Utica Comets

After a rough outing last Friday against the Rochester Americans (5-2 loss), the Wolf Pack bounced back to defeat the Comets by a final of 2-1. Anthony Bitetto returned after being out since November 26th. In his second game back, the veteran defenseman registered a goal.

Alex Whelan recorded Hartford’s second goal (game winner). Adam Huska stood tall and had a spectacular performance against the talented Comets roster. Huska faced 22 shots, stopping 21 to earn his third win of the season. Despite a losing record, Huska continues to be reliable for the Wolf Pack, especially in this stretch where the roster is depleted.

The group was physical and spirited throughout. The defense rose to the occasion and they set their eyes for a bounce back after their struggles in recent weeks.

Wolf Pack Transactions

Rangers prospect watch Braden Schneider
Braden Schneider (Photo: Kelly Shea/Hartford Wolf Pack)

Here are the latest transaction updates:

To Hartford

  • Liam Pecararo signed on 1/7 through a PTO.
  • Tarmo Reunanen returned on 1/11
  • Nils Lundkvist assigned on 1/11
  • Tyler Wall assigned on 1/11
  • Signed forward Jacob Hayhurst to PTO 1/12

To New York

  • Lauri Pajuniemi and Anthony Greco recalled to the taxi squad on 1/8
  • Braden Schneider recalled 1/11
  • Kris Knoblauch named temporary head coach due to Gerard Gallant on COVID list
  • Justin Richards recalled 1/12

Released

  • Pierre-Cedric Labrie released from his PTO.

Wolf Pack Lose Grit

At the conclusion of Pierre-Cedric Labrie’s professional tryout, Hartford elected to release the veteran forward and did not opt to sign him. Through 21 games, Labrie recorded two goals and six assists for eight points. The enforcer recorded 23 penalty minutes as well.

While the veteran played in the bottom six role (specifically fourth), the forward brought in grit and was not afraid to drop the gloves. He was a good addition and did his part for the group.

Wolf Pack Lines

Each game features tweaks for the club on a nightly basis. Here is a look at the lines from the previous outing.

Ronning – Fritz – Luchuk
Rueschoff – Richards – Khordorenko
Khordorenko – Pecararo – Elmer
DiGiacinto – O’Leary – Whalen

Guittari – Bitetto
Schneider – Robertson
Berzolla – Taylor

Huska

I expect addition changes to the lineup for Hartford’s next game which is on Wednesday. Furthermore, Hartford’s bench will look different until Knoblauch returns from New York.

Pack One Timers

  • Ty Ronning has points in back to back games (one goal, one assist). The forward has points in the last five of seven games.
  • Matthew Robertson has points in the last three of five games (three assists).
  • Mike O’Leary has points in the last two of three games (one goal, two assists).

Potential Postponement

According to Mark Divver, the Providence Bruins are having Covid-19 issues. The report surfaced on Monday afternoon. Tentatively, the next scheduled game for the Bruins is on Friday against Hartford.

If there is another postponement on Hartford’s schedule, the AHL will find a new makeup date for both clubs. On the plus, the league announced the extension of the season by a week to play postponed games. Currently the Wolf Pack have no games in the last new final week of the season.

If Friday’s game is postponed, we will hear about that by Thursday afternoon. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Games

Entering Wednesday, Hartford compiled a record of 15-9-2-2 for 34 points (.607). That ranks the club third in the Atlantic Division, fifth in the Eastern Conference, and 10th in the league.

Wednesday, January 12th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida / Seattle) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the second of six meetings in the season series. Hartford dropped the first game by a score of 3-2 on October 30th.
  • Entering Wednesday, Charlotte is 15-12-2 for 32 points (.552). That ranks the club fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Checkers are 7-3 in their last ten outings.
  • Panthers prospect Logan Hutsko leads the Checkers in points (20). The forward recorded seven goals and 13 assists in 29 games. Cole Schwindt is second in points (19).
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, January 14th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7:05pm, Dunkin’ Donuts Center

  • This is the fifth of ten meetings in the season series between the clubs. The series is tied at two as Hartford is 2-1-1 against the Bruins.
  • Entering Wednesday, Providence is 13-9-3-1 for 30 points (.577). That ranks the club fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are 6-4 in their last ten outings.
  • Veteran Steven Fogarty leads the Bruins in points (19) on the active roster. Fogarty recorded ten goals and ten assists in 16 games. Jesper Froden is behind Fogarty by one point while Cameron Hughes is behind by two points.
  • Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, January 15th vs Laval Rocket (Montreal) at 7:30pm, XL Center

  • This is the first of two meetings in the season series. Hartford will visit Laval on March 18th. Both clubs previously met in the 2019-2020 season.
  • Entering Wednesday, Laval is 12-10-2 for 26 points (.542). That ranks the club fourth in the North Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Rocket are 5-4-1 in their last ten outings. The Rocket have won two straight as well.
  • The Rocket are missing their top three point producers and their top four of five. Vetern Kevin Roy leads the Rocket in points with 13 on the active roster. The forward notched six goals and seven assists in 21 games. Jean-Sébastien Dea is second among the active roster with 12 points.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

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