T-Birds Battle Past Wolf Pack, 6-3Feb 3, 2024
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (21-19-3-2) went on two separate runs of three straight goals to defeat the Hartford Wolf Pack (23-13-5-0) by a final score of 6-3 on Saturday night inside the XL Center.
While the scuffling Springfield power play would not get the credit for the game's opening goal, they were responsible for the offensive possession that led to it. Jakub Vrana found his way to a soft space at the top of the right circle, where Hugh McGing located him for a one-time blast past Dylan Garand's glove at 9:05. Vrana's seventh goal of the season made it 1-0, and the T-Birds offense was far from finished.
Just 1:54 after Vrana's tally, a misplay of the puck in neutral ice sprung Ryan Suzuki on a clean breakaway. Suzuki perfectly picked the lower corner over Garand's blocker, making it 2-0 at 10:59.
Then it was Vrana's turn to join the breakaway game, as he, too, beat Garand on the stick side off a stretch pass from Mikhail Abramov, making it 3-0 at 13:59.
Brennan Othmann took it upon himself to give his team a spark, as the Wolf Pack rookie dropped the mitts with ex-Hartford blueliner Wyatt Kalynuk at 16:40 of the first. Kalynuk, unfortunately, received a game misconduct for removing his elbow pads prior to the fight. Just 24 seconds later, the scrap paid dividends for the Pack as Alex Belzile crashed the paint and cashed in with a backhand poke through Malcolm Subban to make it a 3-1 score after 20 minutes. Subban was flawless in turning aside 14 of 15 Wolf Pack shots in the first.
As the second began, it became evident that Othmann's fight lit a spark in the Hartford bench. Just 55 seconds into period two, Ryder Korczak found a loose puck in a four-man scrum outside the blue paint and found Brandon Scanlin for a one-time shot through Subban to make it a 3-2 game.
Then at 2:46, Korczak was in the middle of things again, driving a puck to the net, where towering Matt Rempe rammed home the rebound, getting Hartford back to even in not even six minutes of game action.
Springfield utilized its timeout and was able to stabilize defensively. With just under seven minutes left in the period, rookie Zach Dean came up with his signature play of the season. The rookie centerman beautifully toe-dragged the puck from the left circle to walk around a defender before elevating a backhand shot over Garand's glove at 13:47, giving Springfield the lead back at 4-3 on his first goal in 13 games.
Springfield's well-disciplined night carried through all 60 minutes, as the T-Birds did not allow Hartford's fourth-ranked power play any chances all evening. At 7:54 of the third period, captain Matthew Peca added to the lead again with a wrist shot that ricocheted off Garand high into the air and bounced over the goal line to make it 5-3.
The insurance goal proved to be more than enough, as the Wolf Pack could not find a way to get one through Subban and the defensive front of the T-Birds. Will Bitten added his 10th of the season into an empty net at 18:08 with McGing tallying a third assist on the game's final goal.
The T-Birds get the All-Star break to get rest before their next contest on Saturday, Feb. 10 for Ice-O-Topes Night at the MassMutual Center against the Hershey Bears. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.
Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds hockey action throughout the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.