HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack special teams went to work and took advantage of the Springfield Thunderbirds en route to a 5-3 victory on Sunday evening.
The Wolf Pack dominated the first period as the Thunderbirds were only able to get three shots on goal compared to their 17 shots on Thunderbirds goaltender Evan Cowley.
Vinni Lettieri got the Wolf Pack on the board with a shot from the right side of the ice a little over five minutes into the opening period to make it 1-0. Peter Holland and Anthony DeAngelo were credited with the assists. The Wolf Pack extended their lead with 2:47 remaining in the first period when John Gilmour took a shot as Cowley made the save but could not stop the rebound as Dawson Leedahl put it home for his first American Hockey League goal to make it 2-0. Lettieri was credited with the secondary assist.
The tempo of the game picked up early in the second period when Wolf Pack defenseman Brandon Crawley delivered a hit to Thunderbirds center Curtis Valk. Thunderbirds right winger Alexandre Grenier decided to stick up for his teammate and drop the gloves with Crawley. Officials deemed it was a clean hit, but Crawley was assessed five minutes for fighting; while Grenier was given five for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct, plus two minutes for instigating the fight.
At the 3:54 mark of the second, the Wolf Pack scored their second power-play goal of the game when Scott Kosmachuk scored his fifth of the year to make it 3-0. John Gilmour and Ryan Gropp were credited with the assists.
Tempers flared again seconds after the Wolf Pack goal when Thunderbirds left winger Tony Turgeon delivered a hit to Wolf Pack defenseman Ryan Graves. Both players dropped the gloves and received fighting majors.
The Thunderbirds got on the board as Tim Erixon took a shot from the left side and Henrik Haapala redirected it past Wolf Pack goaltender Marek Mazanec to make it 3-1. Blaine Byron was credited with the secondary assist. They would cut the lead down to one when Bobby Farnham setup Juho Lammikko and Lammikko took a shot that went of the glove of Mazanec to make it 3-2. Ludwig Bystrom was credited with the secondary assist.
After another Hartford goal made it 4-2, Anthony Greco cut the lead back down to one as he put one past Mazanec to make it 4-3 for his team-leading ninth of the season. Juho Lammikko, and Thomas Schemitsch were credited with the assists.
But the Springfield special teams would prove to be less-than-exceptional on this night.
“Special teams obviously weren’t very good tonight. We had a 5-on-3 at the end of the second and we give up a shorty (shorthanded goal) and now its a two-goal game,” Thunderbirds head coach Geordie Kinnear said.
Steven Fogarty extended the lead for the Wolf Pack in the final minute of the second period as he intercepted a pass and skated down the right side was able to put it past Cowley to make it 4-2.
Lettieri finished the scoring for the Wolf Pack with his second of the game when he went on a two-on-zero rush with Joe Whitney was able to put it past Cowley to make it 5-3 in the final minutes of regulation.
The Thunderbirds will travel to Wilkes-Barre to take on the Penguins on Wednesday before playing a pair of home games at the MassMutual Center on Friday against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and on Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack.