Wolf Pack Weekly: Hartford looks remain in first place as taxi squads near end

Hartford Wolf Pack
Hartford Wolf Pack Ronning in action (Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The New York Rangers AHL affiliate completed another competitive weekend as they forge ahead in the second half of the season.

Good news for the Wolf Pack is taxi squads are coming to an end and they should have a more complete lineup the rest of the way.

Last weekend featured Hartford winning two of three games, collecting four of six points to maintain first place in the Atlantic Division. The Wolf Pack have won their last five of seven games on the docket and have played well despite the roster challenges.

The battle for first will be tough as Springfield, Hershey, and Providence are in proximity to challenge Hartford in the standings.

Wolf Pack Weekly: Taxi Squads coming to an end

The taxi squad option for the NHL will end this weekend during the All-Star Break. I expect Hartford, along with many teams across the American Hockey League, will return to their normal rosters.

While the taxi squads were implemented, Hartford always received boosts from Jonny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger, Zac Jones, and the others when they returned to the Wolf Pack for a game or two before going back up. They will be plugged into the lineup and be ready to go for the second half of the season.

The Pack’s roster was a shadow of itself for a good portion of games in January. Yet the group managed to stay afloat despite those difficulties. The club compiled a record of 7-6-1 throughout the taxi squad span.

Experience for Depth Players

While Hartford was depleted, opportunities were given to depth players in the organization. Battling adversity now will give the club an edge in the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

Austin Rueschhoff had strong games when Hartford’s lineup was depleted. The prospect was given more opportunities and made the most of it. The 24 year-old found an offensive spark and was buzzing on a nightly basis. He was consistently on the scoresheet and his efforts were rewarded.

Cristiano DiGiacinto brings a physical presence to the lineup along with grit. The forward had more opportunities in recent weeks, which resulted in good defensive and offensive presence.

Justin Richards had further jump in his game despite a quiet first half. The Rangers prospect utilized his opportunities to get on the scoresheet while further enhancing his offensive skill set. He also was able to work on more face-off opportunities and can provide a solid two-way game. His strides as of late will further boost the club as the season progresses.

Keith Kinkaid Keeps Rolling

The veteran continues to play fantastic for the Wolf Pack. Entering the week, Kinkaid compiled a record of 14-2-2 for a 2.55 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. The goaltender recorded one shutout as well.

Comparing Kinkaid to the rest of the AHL, he is ranked 13th for the lowest goals against average (2.55), 12th highest in save percentage (.913), third for wins (14), and 13th for minutes played (1084:08). In the shootout, Kinkaid is 11th highest for his saving percentage in the shootout (.833).

The veteran is giving the Wolf Pack an edge in net when he plays. He has done everything that you could ask for. Kinkaid is able to make great saves and is determined to help Hartford win. Here’s to more wins for the big guy!

Wolf Pack One Timers

hartford wolf pack
Tarmo Reunanen and Hunter Skinner (Photo: Kelly Shea / Wolf Pack)
  • Aaron Luchuk recorded a two point night (one goal, one assist) against Providence last Friday to help propel the Wolf Pack to win in the game. The forward is in Hartford through a Professional Tryout (PTO). Luchuk is the lone player that is in Hartford through a PTO.
  • Alex Whelan has points in the last three of six games. The rookie recorded one goal and two assists in that span.
  • Anthony Greco had his five game point streak snap last Saturday against Lehigh Valley. The veteran is second in points with nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 31 games. Greco is reliable for offense for the club.
  • Jonny Brodzinski has points in six straight games. In that span, Brodzinski recorded three multi-point games. Hartford’s captain has goals in six straight games and recorded four assists as well. Brodzinski leads the team in points with 28. He notched 13 goals and 15 assists in 26 games.
  • Tanner Fritz has points in the last seven of ten games (two goals ,six assists).
  • Mike O’Leary recorded a goal in back to back games last Wednesday and Friday.
  • Jeff Taylor recorded his first goal of the season on Friday and registered the shootout game winning goal.
  • James Sanchez and Tanner Fritz recorded a shootout goal on Friday as well.

Transactions

  • Defenseman Zach Berzolla recalled from Jacksonville on January 28th.
  • Forwards James Sanchez and Jake Elmer assigned to Jacksonville on February 1st.
  • Goaltender Tyler Wall reassigned to Jacksonville on February 1st.

Transactions are as of January 28th with the exclusion of taxi squad related call ups

Off Ice: XL Center General Manager Ben Weiss Interviewed by Hartford Business Journal

Check out this article written by Greg Bordonaro as Ben Weiss discusses ownership change of the venue, sports betting in the facility, potential renovation, and COVID-19 impact on the Wolf Pack business aspect.

Upcoming Games

The Wolf Pack completed 37 games with 35 games remaining on the docket. Hartford will go on the road for two games followed by a three game home-stand.

Wednesday, February 2nd vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7pm, Giant Center

  • This is the fourth of six meetings between the clubs. Hartford lead the series 2-1. After the first meeting on November 7th (7-3 win), the clubs played back to back games against each other in Hershey on January 22nd and 23rd. Hartford split the weekend as the club dropped a 5-0 decision on the first night, then won on the second night by a score of 3-2. After Wednesday, the series return to Hartford on March 5th and 26th.
  • Entering the week, Hershey compiled a record of 21-13-3-2 for 47 points (.603). That ranks the group third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Bears are 5-3-1-1 in their last ten outings. However, Hershey has won their last three of five games.
  • Washington Prospects Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Garrett Pilon co-lead the Bears in offense with 28 points each on the active roster. Both forwards recorded 13 goals and 15 assists. Jonsson-Fjallby recorded that in 31 games while Pilon recorded it in 34 games. Hershey’s leading scorer Joe Snively is out of the lineup as he is with the Capitals.
  • Listen – Fox Sports 1460 Harrisburg. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, February 4th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the eighth of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford lead the series 4-3 and have won the last two meetings against the Thunderbirds. The ninth meeting will be in Hartford on the 11th while the 10th meeting will be on the 25th in Springfield.
  • Entering the week, Springfield compiled a record of 21-13-4-1 for 47 points (.603). That ranks the group second in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds are 3-5-2 in their last ten outings. However, Springfield enters the week winning two straight after losing three straight.
  • Matthew Peca leads the Thunderbirds in points with 33. The veteran recorded 14 goals and 19 assists in 33 games. Nathan Walker and Sam Anas are tied for second in points with 30 apiece.
  • Listen – News Radio 560 WHYN. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, February 5th vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 5pm, XL Center

  • This is the fifth of six meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-2-0-1 thus far against Lehigh Valley. The final meeting of the season will take place on March 12th at the PPL Center.
  • Entering the week, Lehigh Valley compiled a record of 14-14-6-2 for 36 points (.500). That ranks the group sixth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Phantoms are 5-3-2 in their last ten games. However, the Phantoms won two straight and their last three of five.
  • Cal O’Reilly leads the roster in points with 26. Through 35 games, the forward collected eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points. Defenseman Adam Clendening is second in points with 24 in 34 games.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.