Wolf Pack Complete Sweep of Springfield Thunderbird to Advance in Calder Cup Playoffs


Scott Morris, Staff Writer

On Saturday night, playoff hockey returned home to Hartford for the first time in 15 years, and all Wolf Pack fans in attendance were given several reasons to get loud. After the Wolf Pack destroyed the Springfield Thunderbirds 6-1 at home on Wednesday, April 19, they were looking to protect home ice and sweep the best-of-three series. The scoring started eight minutes into the opening period as Anton Blidh entered the offensive zone and fired a pass toward Lauri Pajuniemi in the slot. Pajuniemi found Fritz hustling toward the goal, and he wouldn’t miss as he fired a shot right past the glove of Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer. The eventual game-winning goal came less than 2 minutes later as Wyatt Kalyunk Tanner Fritz found him stepping up along the blue line. Once Kalyunk settled the puck, he powered a slapshot through everybody, including the goaltender, giving Hartford a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Ty Emberson also scored in the first period for the Wolf Pack to boost their lead to 3-0. The Thunderbirds were finally able to beat Dylan Garand with less than 30 seconds left in the first period.

The scoring for the Wolf Pack would continue as they would light the lamp five more times. As the Thunderbirds and Wolf Pack returned to the ice for the second period, Hartford had a commanding 3-1 lead that they wanted to see increase quickly. Luckily, Bobby Trivigno was on the same wavelength as his teammates as he scored the fourth goal of the night for the Wolf Pack. Next, Hartford went to work on the powerplay following a Thunderbirds penalty for tripping, giving the Pack their only powerplay for the night. Turner Elson was leading the powerplay unit up the ice and eventually found Trivigno in the slot, and he immediately fired a shot past Hofer to give the Pack their three-goal lead back. Following the Trivigno goal, Blake Hillman joined in on the fun, scoring 3 minutes later, increasing the Wolf Pack lead to 5-1. The third period was quiet until the Wolf Pack scored two empty-net goals, one by Anton Blidh and one by Tim Gettinger. When the scoreboard finally showed triple 0s, the Wolf Pack began celebrating with their fans, as they had just completed a 2-game sweep over the Thunderbirds, advancing them into the Divisional Semifinal round against the Providence Bruins.

The Atlantic Division Semifinal Round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Friday, April 28th, as Hartford travels to the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence for Game 1, with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The second round is also a best-of-five series; Hartford won’t return to the XL Center until game three on May 3rd for a 7 p.m. puck drop. For all 2023 Calder Cup Playoff news and information, check www.theahl.com, and for single-game tickets to game three at the XL Center, visit http://www.hartfordwolfpack.com/tickets/playoff-information.