Wolf Pack Weekly: Hartford offense clicking as team rolls

Get up to speed the on Pack

By Ricky Milliner
morgan barron
Barron on the draw (Photo: Kelly Shea/Wolf Pack)

The Wolf Pack put another good week in the books as the club notched five out of six points.

Hartford’s point streak has extended to five games (4-0-1), a new season high. Through 16 games, the group managed to collect points in 13 of them. This is not an easy task in the American Hockey League, considering the abundance of quality teams and playing in two or three in a row.

This upcoming weekend will feature two significant games as the Wolf Pack begin a three game series against the talented Springfield Thunderbirds.

Wolf Pack Watch: Hartford rolling

Standings Update

Entering the week, Hartford compiled a record of 11-3-2 for 24 points (.750 point percentage). That ranks the club second in the Atlantic Division. The group is ranked third in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the American Hockey League.

Hartford is four points behind the first place Springfield Thunderbirds in the division. The Wolf Pack will have an opportunity to take first in the division as they face Springfield for three straight games (two at home, one away).

Libor Hajek Conditioning Stint Ends

hajek
Hajek (Wolf Pack)

The 23 year old defenseman completed his five game stint with Hartford. Hajek managed to record two assists, including an assist on the game winning goal against the Providence Bruins on November 13th. He also recorded six penalty minutes and was a +3.

Hajek showed rust and struggles early on, then had a few good games throughout the stint. However, in his finale last Saturday against the Hershey Bears, Hajek struggled immensely. He had a few hiccups on the top pair defenseman (with Zac Jones).

He was out of position and was not able to bounce back until the late stages of the game when Hartford surged as a group. The young defenseman was inconsistent. Anthony Bitetto sat out in his place.

Enforcer Pierre-Cedric Labrie Provides More Than Grit

The 35 year old enforcer continues to play well in his time with Hartford. Despite being on the Wolf Pack’s fourth line, Labrie has shown a lot to his game this season. The forward brings the grit and toughness to the lineup with Kris Knoblauch and the coaching staff utilizing the veteran effectively.

Through 15 games, Labrie recorded two goals and six assists for eight points. The forward had his best game of the season last Saturday against Hershey. He collected one goal and two assists in the contest. Knoblauch rewarded him with more ice time and Labrie took that in stride. The late signing prior to the season has paid off for the group.

Labrie enters the week tied for eighth in total points on the roster (with Lauri Pajuniemi).

Prospect Lauri Pajuniemi Continues Growth

The rookie continues to gain confidence as the season progresses in Hartford. In the month of November, Pajuniemi collected six points in eight games thus far. The forward had a four game point streak (two goals, two assists) end last week. However, he had two amazing goals this past Saturday against Hershey. Both goals were scored back to back in 64 seconds.

The 22 year old enter the week tied for 17th among rookies in the forwards group for points. He is tied for eighth in goals in the same class as well (five goals). The prospect continues to elevate his game and is utilizing his minutes well on ice (playing within the top two lines). He was paired with Ronning and Barron last week.

While Rangers fans believe he should get a shot in New York, the prospect must continue to develop playing in top line minutes. He still needs to develop making Barron the most likely call up of the two.

Wolf Pack Updates

Patrick Khodorenko Returns From Injury

Khodorenko returned to the lineup last Friday after missing three games as a result of an injury from November 6th. The forward recorded his first goal of the season last Saturday against Hershey.

Tim Gettinger Misses Two Games

Gettinger is out day to day and is expected to return to the lineup soon. The experienced forward missed two of three games last weekend. Despite out of the lineup, Hartford continued to perform well without the forward. The roster has a good mix of forwards to fill in voids.

Saturday’s Wild Ride

The Wolf Pack built themselves a 2-0 lead through the first twenty minutes of play against the Hershey Bears. The first frame had abundance of physicality from both sides. The Wolf Pack converted opportunities on Hershey’s mistakes.

The second frame was rough as Hershey scored three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead after two periods of play. Hartford’s defensive core was struggling, giving Hershey plenty of chances on Kinkaid.

In the final 20 minutes, the Wolf Pack came out possessed, firing on all cylinders and completely dominated the Bears. Hartford scored five unanswered goals which included three in the first five minutes.

The group set the tone early and rallied from a second period that was rough. The Wolf Pack have ability to bounce back from shaky periods and it was on full display Saturday night. The group played as if they were a well experienced roster, which speaks volume for a roster full of youth. It was a fantastic sign. The Wolf Pack managed to win the game by the score of 7-3. View the scoresheet here.

One Timers

  • Jonny Brodzinski continues his production. The captain is tied for fourth (three way tie) in the league for total points (17). The veteran recorded two goals in the previous outing against Hershey. Brodzinski was held without a point in three of 16 games. He leads the team in points with six goals and 11 assists.
  • Zac Jones continues his production as well. The defenseman is tied for 18th in the league among rookies in points (eight). Jones has points in the last eight of 11 games.
  • Tanner Fritz has points in the last eight of nine games. The veteran tallied four goals and seven assists for 11 points. Fritz is ranked third on the team for points (12).
  • Ty Ronning has points in three straight and in the last four of five. On his current streak, Ronning produced one goal and three assists thus far.
  • Pierre-Cedric Labrie has points in two of three games. In that span the veteran recorded one goal and three assists.
  • Keith Kinkaid is sixth in the league for minutes played (610:38). The veteran goalie has a record of 8-1-1 with a 2.55 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.
  • Adam Huska has the second lowest goals against average in the league (1.81). Huska is 2-2-1 with a .938 save percentage.
  • Hartford is 7-1 at the XL Center thus far. The away record is 4-2-2.

Upcoming Games

Friday, November 26th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the third of 12 meetings in the season series. The series is tied at one as the Wolf Pack won the previous match by the score of 6-4 on November 12th.
  • Springfield enters the week with a record of 13-2-2 for 28 points (.824 point percentage). The Thunderbirds won five straight and are 8-2 in their last ten outings.
  • Matthew Peca Leads the Thunderbirds in points (15). The experienced forward recorded nine goals and six assists in 17 games. Peca is ranked 12th in the league for points. Logan Brown and Nathan Walker are tied for second in points with 15.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, November 27th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 2:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the fourth of 12 meetings in the season series.
  • Springfield is 8-1-1 at home thus far in the season.
  • The fifth meeting of the season series return to Hartford on Wednesday, December 1st.
  • Listen – News Radio 560 WHYN. Watch – AHLTV.

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