Wolf Pack Weekly: Call them the Comeback Kids

Latest on the Wolf Pack.

By Ricky Milliner
Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack (Photo: Kelly Shea/Wolf Pack)

Hartford had another excellent weekend after sweeping the Springfield Thunderbirds and Providence Bruins. The Wolf Pack collected all four possible points and have points in 10 of 13 games this season.

Much like their parent club in the NHL, the Pack continue to find ways to win games. From a strong offensive showing to a defensive affair, they can win different types of games.

Everyone on the roster is contributing. As the season progresses, this team shows a strong promise for a great season of development and winning.

Wolf Pack Weekly: Things get tougher

The month of November features tougher opponents and so far the group has answered. The Wolf Pack will play three games this week beginning on Wednesday night at home against their in-state rival the Bridgeport Islanders.

Standings

Entering the week, Hartford is ranked second in the Atlantic Division with a record of 9-3-1 for 19 points. As the league is based on points percentage, that translate to .731. The Wolf Pack are one point behind the division leader, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

In the Eastern Conference, Hartford is ranked third. Out of the entire league, the club is ranked fifth entering the week.

Young Defensive Core Shows Promise, Confidence

Through 13 games played, Hartford’s defensive core has given up 30 goals. That is the sixth fewest in the AHL. Considering the lone veteran on the blue line is Anthony Bitetto, this is impressive and a confidence booster to the prospects. Keep in mind that Bitetto was a healthy scratch for a few games this season, which resulted in six up-and-coming defensemen playing as a unit with less mentoring.

The goaltending tandem of Keith Kinkaid and Adam Huska has helped the core as well with both players playing spectacular in each game.

Libor Hajek’s Two Games

The 23 year old defenseman played in both games last weekend with Hartford. Hajek was paired with Zac Jones for the top defensive paring. Hajek struggled in both contests, but it was expected considering he has not played a game in a month.

Hajek was actively involved in both games. He assisted in the game winning goal in Saturday’s game against Providence. Anthony Greco notched the OT goal, with the primary assist given to Morgan Barron.

Lauri Pajuniemi Heats Up

Lauri Pajuniemi
Lauri Pajuniemi (Photo: Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The promising Rangers prospect is beginning to find his game and produce on the scoresheet. Entering the week, Pajuniemi has an active point streak standing at four games.

In that span, the prospect recorded two goals and two assists. The forward is playing on a line with Barron and Ronning. The line is beginning to be dependable as each player brings a dynamic to the table. The 22 year old has a great shot, especially his wrist-shot.

Hartford’s Offense Clicking

Through 13 games, Hartford has scored 42 times. That ranks them fifth highest in the league. As the offensive core continues to develop, goals have been coming at a better pace.

Hartford’s Comeback Against Second Best Team in AHL

Entering the game last Friday, Hartford was facing one of the toughest opponents in the league, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Despite going down 2-0 in the first frame, the group performed well. Keith Kinkaid was spectacular and Greg McKegg had a solid game for his first look in Hartford (+3). The Wolf Pack eventually won the game 6-4 in a dominance fashion.

It began early in the 2nd period as Zach Giuttari put Hartford on the board 1:51 into the frame. Zac Jones tied the game at 3:20 with his first professional goal of his career. At 6:06, Hartford gained a lead with a goal by Cristiano DiGiacinto. The fourth goal was registered at 15:10 with Morgan Barron himself, a short-handed goal that was unassisted. The Wolf Pack managed to outshoot Springfield 13-6 in the second and capitalized on four opportunities.

The third period was closer as the Thunderbirds pulled into a one goal game, then the Wolf Pack answered late to secure the victory. This was the best game of the season by far and the performance from the group was spectacular.

Wolf Pack Transaction Wire

  • Greg McKegg was assigned to New York on the 13th and returned to Hartford on the 15th. The following day, the forward found himself back in New York as Sammy Blais suffered a season ending injury. McKegg played in one game with Hartford this season.

One Timers

  • Captain Jonny Brodzinski recorded a two point performance in Friday’s game against Springfield (two assists) and recorded a goal against Providence on Saturday. The forward leads the club in total points (14) and is tied for seventh in the league for points. Through 13 games, the forward recorded four goals and ten assists.
  • Morgan Barron had a three point weekend. The forward recorded two goals in Friday’s game and one assist in Saturday’s.
  • Tanner Fritz’s point streak ended at five games. In that span, the veteran recorded three goals and four assists for seven points.
  • Zac Jones has points in the last six of eight games. The defenseman recorded his first goal on Friday and notched five assists in the span.
  • Cristiano DiGiacinto has points in the last three of five games. The forward recorded three goals in that span.

Upcoming Games

Wednesday, November 17th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the fifth of ten meetings in the season series. Hartford lead the season series 3-1. The Wolf Pack’s first loss was the previous meeting on November 7th as the Islander grabbed a 3-2 win with scoring the go ahead goal late in the third.
  • The Islanders come in losing two straight (0-1-1) games. Bridgeport is ranked seventh in the Atlantic Division with a record of 5-6-1-2 for 13 points (.464). The Islanders are 5-4-1 in their last ten outings. In the last five games, they dropped the last three of five. Bridgeport’s away record is 1-4-1-2.
  • Forward Otto Koivula leads the Islanders in points (12). Veteran Chris Terry and prospect Arnaud Durandeau are tied for second with 11 points. However, Terry leads the group with goals (six).
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, November 19th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7:05pm, Dunkin’ Donuts Center

  • This is the third of ten meetings in the season series. Hartford leads the series 2-0. In the previous outing, Hartford secured a 4-3 win in overtime on November 13th. The next meeting will be on December 3rd in Providence.
  • The Bruins enter the weekend on a two game point streak (1-0-1). Providence is ranked fifth in the Atlantic Division with a record of 5-4-2-1 for 13 points (.542). The Bruins are 4-4-2 in their last ten outings. The Bruins have dropped their last two of three as well.
  • Prospect Oskar Steen leads Providence in points (ten). Veteran Steven Fogarty and Jesper Froden are tied for second in points with nine.
  • Game Coverage – Mark Divver. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, November 20th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7:30pm, XL Center

  • This is the first of six meetings between the clubs. The previous meeting was in the 2019-2020 season despite both clubs electing to play last season. The second meeting will be in Hershey on January 22nd.
  • The Bears enter the weekend dropping their previous game. In the previous five contest, Hershey is 2-3. Looking in the last ten, the Bears are 4-3-2-1. Hershey enters the weekend third in the Atlantic Division with a record of 6-4-2-1 for 15 points (.577).
  • Veteran Mike Sgarbossa and prospect Joe Snively are tied for the lead in points in the group (ten). Garrett Pilon has 11 points on the season and was recalled to the Capitals. Center Mike Vecchione lead the club in assists with seven.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.