Springfield, MA - The Hartford Wolf Pack outshot the Springfield Thunderbirds 32-23 Saturday night at the MassMutual Center, but could not beat goaltender Mike McKenna, who got his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 Thunderbird win.
Chase Balisy’s first-period power-play goal was the only offense the Thunderbirds would need, and Dryden Hunt scored an empty-net goal. Brandon Halverson made 21 saves in the Hartford net.
“Maybe you deserve a better fate on some nights, but that’s just the game of hockey,” Wolf Pack captain Mat Bodie said. “We couldn’t find that equalizer. I thought guys were putting a lot of pucks and traffic to the net, and bounces just weren’t going our way.”
The game-winner came on the game’s first power play, at 14:28 of the first, with Chris Summers in the penalty box for tripping.
Tommy Hughes blocked a shot from the top of the slot by Mackenzie Weegar, but couldn’t control the puck. Balisy grabbed it loose and fired it into the net from the left side of the slot.
Wolf Pack leading scorer Nicklas Jensen had a chance to tie the game with 22.7 seconds remaining in the period, when he was awarded a penalty shot after a Springfield defender covered the puck in the goal crease. McKenna, however, denied Jensen on the penalty shot, making the save with his left skate.
The Wolf Pack outshot the Thunderbirds 12-7 in the second period and 11-7 in the third, but could never solve McKenna, who is now 4-0-0 against them on the year, with a total of only six goals-against in those four games.
“He’s a good goalie, he’s been in the league a long time,” Bodie said of McKenna. “I thought we did things well enough to maybe beat him, but we just weren’t able to find the back of the net.”
With Halverson on the bench for an extra attacker and the Wolf Pack pressing for a tie, Hunt iced the game with 45.9 seconds left. He cleared the puck from inside his own blue line, off the glass on the left-wing side, and it went all the way down the ice and into the empty net.
The Wolf Pack are back in action Sunday, hosting the Binghamton Senators at the XL Center. That is a 5:00 start, and it’s another “Click It or Ticket Family Value Pack” game. The Family Value Pack includes two tickets, two sodas and two hot dogs, all for just $40. Also, at every Sunday Wolf Pack home game this season the first 2,000 fans will receive a “hockey bingo” card. The spaces on these cards contain possibilities that might happen in the game, and if they do, fans can fill in the spaces to win Wolf Pack bingo prizes.
Tickets for all remaining Wolf Pack 2016-17 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.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2016-17 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.