Springfield, MA - The Springfield Thunderbirds jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead over the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the MassMutual Center, on the way to a 5-1 win.
The loss was the second straight for the Wolf Pack after a 3-0-3 streak, and dropped the Wolf Pack to 0-3-0 in Springfield.
Chris Driedger stopped 36 of 37 Wolf Pack shots, and Gabriel Fontaine foiled his shutout bid with 6:53 remaining.
“We weren’t very good tonight, obviously,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “We were chasing the game right from the start. Little spurts in the second were decent, but not enough to have success.”
The Wolf Pack had a tough start to the game, giving up two goals in a span of 1:49 in the first six minutes, and then another late in the period.
Harry Zolnierczyk opened the scoring for Springfield at the 4:11 mark, after the Thunderbirds won an offensive zone draw. Thomas Schemitsch sent the puck towards the net from the right point, and Zolnierczyk re-directed it past Wolf Pack starting goaltender Brandon Halverson.
The Thunderbirds made it 2-0 at 6:00 on the game’s first power play, with new Wolf Pack addition Josh Wesley in the penalty box for interference. Anthony Greco put the puck on net from the right-wing side and Halverson made the save, but Jean-Sebastien Dea, headed hard towards the goal, bumped the rebound in.
The lead grew to 3-0 with 4:09 left in the period, on a goal by Jacob MacDonald. Vincent Praplan passed the puck cross-ice from the left-wing side, and Matt Mangene wristed it towards the net from the right point. MacDonald got his stick on it, on his forehand, in the slot and re-directed it over Halverson’s catching glove.
The Wolf Pack outshot their hosts 15-8 in the second period, but the Thunderbirds scored the only goal of the session, stretching their lead to 4-0 at 15:59. Schemitsch fed the puck to Juho Lammikko, who spun at his own blue line before moving into the Wolf Pack zone down left wing. Lammikko played the puck toward the slot, and it hit Hartford defenseman Sean Day’s leg in front of the net and deflected past a stunned Halverson.
Cliff Pu widened the Springfield advantage to 5-0, and ended Halverson’s night, at 8:49 of the third period. After Day knocked the puck away from Praplan in the Wolf Pack zone, Pu was able to find it below the goal line on the right side. He sent it into the goal crease, and it went off of Halverson’s left skate and in.
Chris Nell came in to relieve Halverson at that point, and stopped all seven shots he faced the rest of the way. Fontaine got the Wolf Pack on the board at 13:07, with his eighth goal of the year and second in as many games. He won a faceoff in the circle to Driedger’s left and headed to the front of the net, before recovering the puck and snapping a shot in on the glove side.
The Wolf Pack are back on home ice on Saturday night, hosting the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 7:30 PM game. That is “Military Appreciation Night”, presented by the U.S. Army, with all fans who show military ID at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center receiving a $5 discount on their game ticket. Also, the first 2,000 fans will take home free Wolf Pack socks, courtesy of NBC Connecticut.
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.
Hartford Wolf Pack 1 at Springfield Thunderbirds 5
Friday, March 1, 2019 - MassMutual Center