By David F. Pendrys (Eyewitness account checked against official box score.)
(Editor’s note: Went as a fan, but will write this as down the middle as possible.)
Hartford, CT- With a playoff spot on the line, the Hartford Wolf Pack welcomed in the Springfield Falcons from just up I-91, and the result was a decisive win for the Pack. With Mackenzie Skapski unavailable, the Pack started Yann Danis in goal, while the Falcons put out Scott Munroe.
The Wolf Pack were on the attack early in the game barraging Munroe with shots. Close to 6 minutes in the Pack were threatening in the zone. Tyler Brown was maneuvering the puck and with skill evaded defenders to feed Danny Kristo in front of the net and the keeper was defeated. Also assisting on the 5:59 goal was Chris Mueller. Less than a minute later Chris Bourque shot from the far left side of Munroe at a really odd angle but in the puck went. Assists went to Joey Crabb and Tommy Hughes at 6:37. The Wolf Pack were not done though, and at 10:36 Dylan McIlrath got the puck near the blue line and smacked it. It knuckled around and deflected into the net. Marek Hrivik had the lone assist. Munroe was pulled and replaced by Joonas Korpisalo. This stabilized things for the rest of the period.
The second period went uneventfully for quite a while, however as it got later, Shawn O’Donnell found himself to Korpisalo’s right during a scrum at the front of the net, and he stuffed it by for the Wolf Pack’s fourth goal at 16:04 with assists from Chad Nehring and Oscar Lindberg. This was coupled with a Springfield penalty which gave the Wolf Pack another advantage and 45 seconds later at 16:49 Kristo scored from Korpisalo’s right as well. Assists went to Vaive and Bourque. This was the only power play goal of the game despite both teams accumulating tons of penalties. Springfield went 0 for 7 on the power play and Hartford only 1 for 5. The Wolf Pack took a total of 34 shots, Munroe faced 11 of them and saved 8, Korpisalo faced 23 and saved 21. Danis on the other hand faced 31 and saved all of them for the shut out. Despite the similar shot counts, the rhythm of the game was different for each team. The Wolf Pack were on the attack a lot, rattling off multiple chances or trying to set them up, Springfield’s chances were more sporadic, and while they were there it seemed unbalanced. Though as the game notes point out, the Wolf Pack basically scored four goals during two short periods of time.
With the win, and with Binghamton defeating Albany, the Wolf Pack secured a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.