Springfield Thunderbirds 5, Hartford Wolf Pack 4 (OT)
Springfield, MA, March 2, 2018 – The Hartford Wolf Pack battled back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits against the Springfield Thunderbirds Friday night at the MassMutual Center, only to lose 5-4 in overtime.
Curtis Valk’s second goal of the game 29 seconds into overtime gave the Thunderbirds the win, after the Wolf Pack had scored three times in the third period, outshooting Springfield 19-1 in the frame. Vinni Lettieri scored twice in the third for Hartford, and Lias Andersson and Adam Tambellini had a goal and an assist apiece in the game. Dan DeSalvo had two assists.
Chase Balisy and Bobby Farnham had a goal and an assist each for the Thunderbirds, and Dryden Hunt had three assists.
“We did a real good job in the second and third periods of winning puck battles, using our speed through the neutral zone and in the offensive areas of the ice, that we wanted to make sure that we were sharp in,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a tough hill to climb when you’re down 3-0 in the first period.”
The Thunderbirds led 4-1 after the second period, despite having been outshot 23-16, but the Wolf Pack began their comeback with a goal by Tambellini only 19 seconds into the third. Andersson moved down left wing in the Springfield end and sent a sharp-angle shot towards the net, on which Thunderbird goaltender Harri Sateri made the save. De Salvo poked the rebound off of Springfield defenseman Josh Brown and the puck caromed to the front of the goal, and Tambellini was able to jam it into the cage.
Lettieri then cut the Springfield lead to one at 10:17, with a shot from the right-wing side that hit Sateri’s catching glove and went behind him into the net.
The Wolf Pack kept the pressure on after that, and Lettieri struck again with 3:25 left, increasing his team-leading goal total to 16 and sending the game to overtime. Vince Pedrie’s shot from the right point was stopped by Sateri’s pads, but Lettieri jumped on the rebound in front of the net and put it home.
Springfield would recover, however, and get the winner on the first shift of OT. Ludwig Bystrom fed a long pass from his own zone to Valk on right wing, and he was able to get to the middle in the Wolf Pack zone, before letting go a shot that beat Wolf Pack netminder Charles Williams through the legs.
The Thunderbirds had a big first period, chasing Wolf Pack starter Chris Nell from the net with three goals on ten shots.
Farnham opened the scoring at 10:51, deflecting a shot from the left point by Balisy past Nell, after Bystrom had moved down into the corner to pressure.
Alexandre Grenier upped the lead to 2-0 only 24 seconds later, at 11:15. After Hunt and Valk combined to work the puck deep in the Wolf Pack zone, Grenier jumped on it to Nell’s left and backhanded it past the Wolf Pack goaltender and into the net.
Valk ended Nell’s night with 3:20 remaining in the period, scoring from between the hash marks over Nell’s catching glove, after Hunt passed the puck from the right side.
That brought in Williams, making his AHL debut after joining the Wolf Pack on Thursday from the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL.
The Wolf Pack then got an early goal in the second period to get on the scoreboard, with Andersson scoring his fifth in 16 games on the season just 15 seconds in. He and Tambellini exchanged the puck in the right-wing corner and Tambellini was knocked to his knees, but was still able to hand the puck back off to Andersson. He moved toward the slot and snapped a shot past Sateri low on the glove side.
The Thunderbirds got that goal back with 48 seconds left in the period, though, on a goal by Balisy. A shot from the right point by Mark Fayne went wide, and the carom off the end boards came to Farnham to Williams’ left. Farnham worked the puck across to Balisy on the other side, and he poked it into the net.
With the point for the overtime loss, the Wolf Pack (26-25-5-3, 60 pts.) moved to within five points of the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Wolf Pack are right back in action Saturday, hosting the Providence Bruins in a 3:00 PM game at the XL Center. That is the Wolf Pack’s “Military Appreciation Day”, as the first 2,000 fans receive Wolf Pack “Dog Tags”, presented by Go Graphix, and the Wolf Pack wear special military-themed jerseys. Those jerseys will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefitting military-related charities.
Tickets for all Wolf Pack 2017-18 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 2017-18 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.
Hartford Wolf Pack 4 at Springfield Thunderbirds 5 (OT)
Friday, March 2, 2018 – MassMutual Center
Hartford 0 1 3 0 – 4
Springfield 3 1 0 1 – 5
1st Period-1, Springfield, Farnham 9 (Balisy, Bystrom), 10:51. 2, Springfield, Grenier 15 (Hunt, Valk), 11:15. 3, Springfield, Valk 14 (Hunt, Schemitsch), 16:40. Penalties-Valk Spr (tripping), 5:33; DeSalvo Hfd (tripping), 6:58.
2nd Period-4, Hartford, Andersson 5 (Tambellini, DeSalvo), 0:15. 5, Springfield, Balisy 12 (Farnham, Fayne), 19:12. Penalties-J. Brown Spr (slashing), 2:45; Farnham Spr (high-sticking), 12:21; Kosmachuk Hfd (slashing), 14:33.
3rd Period-6, Hartford, Tambellini 12 (DeSalvo, Andersson), 0:19. 7, Hartford, Lettieri 15 (Beleskey, Nieves), 10:17. 8, Hartford, Lettieri 16 (Pedrie, Bigras), 16:35. Penalties-Sproul Hfd (delay of game), 5:40.
OT Period-9, Springfield, Valk 15 (Bystrom, Hunt), 0:29. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Hartford 12-11-19-0-42. Springfield 10-6-1-1-18.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 / 3; Springfield 0 / 3.
Goalies-Hartford, Nell 7-6-0 (10 shots-7 saves); Williams 0-0-1 (8 shots-6 saves). Springfield, Sateri 9-6-0 (42 shots-38 saves).
Referees-Evgenii Romasko (39), Andrew Wilk (57).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Kyle Richetelle (47).