Hartford, CT - The Hartford Wolf Pack and goaltender Brandon Halverson came within 1:33 of a shutout against the Springfield Thunderbirds Friday night at the XL Center, and then held on for a 3-2 win.
Halverson finished with 19 saves, and Vinni Lettieri’s empty-net goal with 2:58 left in the third ended up being the game-winner. Sean Day and Ty Ronning also scored for the Wolf Pack. Chris Wideman and Dryden Hunt had the Springfield goals, both with goaltender Chris Driedger pulled for an extra attacker.
“I loved our compete, our work ethic, and I thought we did an excellent job generating shots and creating second-chance opportunities,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “The speed that we played at, the execution coming out of our d-zone coverage, gave us chances to play in the offensive zone.”
The Wolf Pack got into penalty trouble early in the first period, as Matt Finn took a tripping penalty at the 1:48 mark and Ryan Lindgren was called for delay of game at 2:15, handing Springfield’s league-leading power play a 5-on-3 man advantage of 1:33.
Not only did Hartford kill the penalties off, though, they scored the game’s first goal only 13 seconds after Lindgren got out of the penalty box. After Steven Fogarty started a rush, Lettieri dropped the puck off to Sean Day on the right-wing side, and he fired a shot past the stick side of Driedger.
Ronning then doubled the Hartford lead with a goal 58 seconds into the second period, in his first game of action since returning to the Wolf Pack from Maine of the ECHL.
John Gilmour prevented the Thunderbirds’ Anthony Greco from getting the puck deep in the Wolf Pack zone, and sent a quick breakaway pass to Ronning. He deked Driedger before putting a forehand shot into the top corner over Driedger’s catching glove.
The Wolf Pack outshot Springfield 13-6 in the third, but faced a late power play after new addition Darren Raddysh was called for hooking at the 15-minute mark. As that penalty was expiring, and with Driedger pulled, Lettieri blocked a Paul Thompson shot and hit the empty net from inside his own blue line, along the right boards.
That looked like icing on the cake, but it turned out to be a key goal. The Thunderbirds got Driedger to the bench again, and Wideman ended Halverson’s shutout bid with a shot from the top of the left circle at 18:27.
Then, with Driedger pulled again, Hunt cut it to a one-goal margin with 54.1 seconds left. His shot from just below the right point flew past the stick side of Halverson, who was unintentionally screened by Lindgren.
The Thunderbirds were able to get Driedger off again, and just missed getting the equalizer as time expired. A last-ditch bid by Wideman from the right side went off the inside of the goal post to Halverson’s left.
“Obviously when the opposition pulls the goalie, they’re going to get some opportunities,” McCambridge said. “We thought we did a good job keeping everything to the outside, but we were providing the net-front traffic. Our goaltender has pads for a reason, we’ve got to let him make those saves and not get in his vision. But that bounce at the end, off the post, those are bounces that you obviously like to go in your favor. There have been games this season that those haven’t went our way, so we’ll take that.”
With the win, the Wolf Pack have at least a point in four straight games (2-0-2-0) and five of their last six (3-1-2-0)
The Wolf Pack are back at the XL Center on Saturday night, hosting the Providence Bruins at 7:00 PM. That is “Hartford Hockey Heritage Night”, featuring a Brady Skjei bobblehead giveaway to the first 2,000 fans, presented by Xfinity.
Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Springfield Thunderbirds 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Friday, February 22, 2019 - XL Center
Springfield 0 0 2 - 2
Hartford 1 1 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Hartford, Day 2 (Lettieri, Fogarty), 4:28. Penalties-Finn Hfd (tripping), 1:48; Lindgren Hfd (delay of game), 2:15; Meskanen Hfd (delay of game), 17:28.