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 Hartford Wolf Pack

Louis Domingue Scores As Wolf Pack Clinch Calder Cup Playoff Berth With 5-3 Win Over Thunderbirds

April 12, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Hartford Wolf Pack News Release


HARTFORD, CT - Louis Domingue sent 8,090 fans into a frenzy on Friday night, cementing a Calder Cup Playoff berth with his first career goal into an empty net. The goal punctuated Hartford's 5-3 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds, a victory that clinched the team a playoff berth for the second straight season.

Blake Hillman's third goal of the season 18:18 into the middle stanza served as the game-winner on this night. Brett Berard fed Hillman at the point, who wired a low shot through a couple of bodies to make it 4-1 Wolf Pack at the time. The goal was Hillman's first since January 27th.

The Wolf Pack pushed the pace in the early going, controlling the flow. Hartford started a three-on-two counter-attack following a turnover by the Thunderbirds, leading to the night's first goal. Riley Nash capped off a passing play with Nic Petan and Alex Belzile, firing home a rebound past Colten Ellis to take a 1-0 lead at 3:55.

The goal was Nash's first since March 20th and his eleventh of the season.

The T-Birds' pesky forecheck created a turnover just inside the left-wing circle, leading to an equalizing tally. Mathias Laferriere fished out a puck and fired it by Domingue short side to make it a 1-1 game at 17:27.

Belzile restored the lead with his second point of the night early in the second period. He used his speed to get a step on a T-Birds defender, before using the defender as a screen and firing a short side shot by Ellis to take a 2-1 lead at 6:41. The goal was Belzile's 19th of the season and his second point of the night (1 g, 1 a).

Under four minutes later, Jake Leschyshyn caught a piece of Nikolas Brouillard's point shot to make it 3-1 Wolf Pack at 10:30. Brouillard's assist was his 30th of the season, while Leschyshyn's goal was his seventh of the year.

Hillman's tally in the dying minutes of period two was Hartford's third unanswered goal and the eventual game-winner. The goal gives Hillman a career-high 13 points.

The Thunderbirds pushed hard in the third period, eventually getting the game to 4-3 on two goals in 81 seconds. Mikhail Abramov made it 4-2 at 6:34 of the third period, roofing his 14th goal of the season by Domingue on a breakaway after Ryan Suzuki's stretch pass sneaked by the Hartford defense.

At 7:55, Adam Gaudette potted his league-leading 41st goal of the season to make it a one-goal affair. Gaudette took a backhand pass from Joseph Duszak and beat Domingue from in-tight.

The Wolf Pack's penalty kill stood strong midway through the period, as the club completed a perfect three-for-three night when Mac Hollowell was whistled for interference at 10:17.

The Thunderbirds pushed hard to tie the game late, but an unlikely hero would apply the dagger for the Wolf Pack.

Gaudette fired a puck on Domingue from far out, giving him time to take a stab at the empty net. Domingue sailed the puck over the heads of multiple Thunderbirds defenders, putting home just the second goalie goal in franchise history in dramatic fashion and punching the Pack's ticket to the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Wolf Pack host the Charlotte Checkers this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in the eighth and final matchup in the season series. Tickets are available at www.hartfordwolfpack.com.


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