Pack’s Wild Weekend: Coaching Changes, Injury Struggles, and a Roaring Comeback on the Ice

New York Rangers AHL farm team Hartford Wolf Pack logo (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
New York Rangers AHL farm team Hartford Wolf Pack logo (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Dive into the thrilling week of the Hartford Wolf Pack: coaching changes, injury battles, and an impressive comeback on the ice. 

The weekend was a wild ride for the Hartford Wolf Pack, including a move that will either make or break this season. The injury bug is still buzzing around as Ben Harpur, Jake Leschysyn, and Mac Hollowell are still out.

Yet the most significant news was Kris Knoblauch finally netting an NHL job. On Sunday, he was announced as the replacement for Jay Woodcroft in Edmonton and Dave Manson, with Paul Coffey accompanying him as his assistant. Thus far, Knoblauch is 2-0 as he looks to rescue the Oilers from their slow start.

Knoblauch was in the running for the Rangers’ head coaching vacancy before they went with Peter Laviolette. Losing him hurts, but no hard feelings – the guy’s well-respected in the hockey world. Stick taps to the Blueshirts organization for allowing him to pursue an NHL opportunity.

Sure, it’s bittersweet for the Wolf Pack. Knoblauch did them proud during his tenure, going 119-90-18-14, leaving the team in a good spot. Now, it’s Steve Smith’s job as interim head coach, joined by the familiar face of Jamie Tardif as the assistant.

A mid-season coaching change can be a game-changer, but it’s the right move for the Wolf Pack. Smith and Tardif can build on what Knoblauch left behind.

As they gear up for the new week, it’s a bit of a measuring stick for Hartford. Thanks to a deep roster and strong leadership, they’ve responded well so far.

From Coaching Shake-ups to Scoring Feats: A Rollercoaster Week for the Hartford Wolf Pack:

Before you dive into despair, the 8-3-2 Pack snagged five out of eight points over the week, keeping them in a solid spot in the Atlantic Division.

Friday’s 3-0 win against the Bridgeport Islanders was a solid start, playing with 11 forwards and five defensemen due to injuries. Jake Leschyshyn and Mac Hollowell took some hits, leaving them a bit battered. However, Dylan Garand came to the rescue with a 37-save shutout.

Then came the Providence Bruins doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday – a rough patch. Saturday’s home game at the XL Center ended in a 2-0 shutout loss in Knoblauch’s final game. Yet the fans brought the energy with 6,349 strong. Sunday’s Providence game went overtime, resulting in a 3-2 loss.

However, the Wolf Pack bounced back on Wednesday, routing the Springfield Thunderbirds (St Louis Blues affiliate) 5-1 at the XL Center. The scoring extravaganza started early when Alex Belzile notched his 4th goal of the season. Brodzinski pulled off some magic behind the net, setting up a sweet one-timer for Belzile.

Brett Berard’s hard work drew a penalty, giving Hartford an early powerplay opportunity. Then, captain Johnny Brodzinski capitalized with his 8th goal of the season, courtesy of a slick rebound play from Belzile.

Belzile wasn’t done, striking five minutes later, making it three goals in as many games against the Thunderbirds.

Then, the big moment came. Adam Sýkora, in his debut, buried his first career AHL goal, capping off a stellar first period. Turner Elson pulled in two Thunderbirds before setting up Sýkora for a beauty. Riley Nash got in on the action with a slick secondary assist.

Springfield managed to break the shutout, but Louie Domingue came up big with a clutch save on a breakaway as part of a 23-save night.

Answering back was Adam Edström, who joined the goal parade, netting his fourth of the season. Connor Mackey’s shot was blocked, but he didn’t give up – the second attempt got tipped in by Edström. Mackey and Nikolas Brouillard got the assists, notching two points in the game.

So, Pack fans, grab your jerseys and prepare for more action. We’ve got some tweaks to make, but the season’s young, and the Pack’s got grit. Onwards and upwards!