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Leivo’s Hat Trick Lifts Thunderbirds Past Wolf Pack

It was Josh Leivo’s first game wearing the Springfield Thunderbirds jersey on Friday night as his team played host to the Hartford Wolf Pack at MassMutual Center

Leivo’s Hat Trick Lifts Thunderbirds Past Wolf Pack

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – It was Josh Leivo‘s first game wearing the Springfield Thunderbirds jersey on Friday night as his team played host to the Hartford Wolf Pack at MassMutual Center. After a brief three-game stint in the NHL during the month of October, the forward was assigned to the Thunderbirds on October 29 and got his first game since defeating the T-Birds in the spring. His addition to the lineup proved to be pivotal on Friday as he registered a hat-trick in a 5-1 win. Joel Hofer earned the win with 34 saves, while Louis Domingue suffered the loss, making only 17 saves in the game.

It was a big game for Springfield’s offense, which took advantage of its chances; putting only 22 shots on net, compared to Hartford’s 35. The Thunderbirds opened a 2-0 lead as they did in three straight games in their previous set of games last weekend, with Matthew Kessel and Will Bitten scoring in succession to open the lead. For Bitten, it’s his third straight game with a goal and fifth in six games, while Kessel has chipped in three points in four games. Bitten’s goal stood up as the eventual game-winner and is his third shorthanded goal of the young season, weaving around the Hartford defense and beating Domingue.

The Leivo show ran through each of the three periods, as his first goal came less than a minute after Bitten’s tally to give Springfield a 3-0 lead after one period. He’d score his second goal of the game just 44 seconds into the second period, skating in and ripping a shot past Domingue’s glove to further extend the Thunderbirds’ lead to four. The assists were neatly filed for both goals by Matthew Highmore and Mathias Laferriere, who tallied multi-point games.

Hartford would break Hofer’s shutout bid midway through the third period with a goal from Turner Elson, his third of the season. The Thunderbirds would continue a dangerous trend of being outshot for the latter two periods of the game by a 23-12 margin, but sealed the deal with Leivo scoring on the empty net to send the hats flying in Springfield. Hofer would chip in with an assist on the goal to cap off a big night. He fired the puck down ice towards the empty net, but it got knocked down and right onto the tap of Leivo, who tapped it in for the goal.

The win ups Springfield’s point streak to six games, while Hartford suffers their third regulation loss of the season. The two teams will each be back in action on Saturday night when the Thunderbirds host the Providence Bruins in the latest showdown between the two teams. Hartford will look to get back in the win column when they visit the Bridgeport Islanders.

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