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2023 Calder Cup Playoffs

Wolf Pack Upset Bruins, Advance to Division Final

Wolf Pack Upset Bruins, Advance to Division Final

HARTFORD, Ct. – The Hartford Wolf Pack are moving on after completing the upset of the Atlantic Division winning Providence Bruins in Game Four by a 4-0 final score. Their impressive run to this point saw them knock off the Bruins in an impressive defensive performance, breaking the ice under four minutes into the game, and holding on thanks to another great game by goaltender Dylan Garand. Garand made 32 saves to tally his second career Calder Cup Playoff shutout while Brandon Bussi made 28 saves in the loss. The Wolf Pack move on to face the Hershey Bears in the Atlantic Division Final, which will start Thursday, May 11 at Giant Center in Hershey.

The Wolf Pack got running fast in this game, a test for the team after dropping Game Three at XL Center on Wednesday. Turner Elson scored 3:40 into the game for his first goal of the postseason, and that ultimately stood up as the game-winner. Elson, a veteran of 541 regular season games in the American Hockey League, has far fewer games of playoff experience in his career but has five points in six games this postseason.

Hartford kept the momentum going by doubling their lead in the second period as Jake Leschyshyn chopped the rebound of a Tim Gettinger shot into the air and rainbowed by the sprawled Bussi for his first Calder Cup Playoff goal. His team rose to the task in the second period, doubling their shot output and tallying another goal as Ryan Carpenter buried a rebound of a Jonny Brodzinski shot. The play was created by a deceptively good stick lift by Anton Blidh to assist in getting the puck to Brodzinski to create the chance.

This series has been a physical one with plenty of vitriol, and with a suspension coming down from the AHL ahead of puck drop to Hartford’s Adam Clendening after he knocked out Providence forward Fabian Lysell with a hit on Wednesday. The two bitter rivals duked it out again in this game with plenty of nastiness to go around, which included a major penalty and a game misconduct for Will Lockwood after hitting Michael Callahan along the boards which required medical attention for the downed defender.

The Wolf Pack ran together to survive the five-minute penalty, along with some key saves by Garand, who has been exceptional in the postseason after some rough numbers in the regular season. After Louis Domingue was recalled to the New York Rangers, however, Garand has run with the opportunity even with Domingue available after the Rangers’ elimination. Hartford won this series when their defense was playing at its best, only losing when getting into a track meet with Providence. Outside of allowing six goals in Game Three, the Wolf Pack only surrendered a single goal in their three wins, hot on the heels of corralling the Springfield Thunderbirds’ offense in the play-in round.

Hartford capped off the game with an empty net goal for Leschyshyn to make it 4-0 and knock off the Eastern Conference’s top team with the win. It continues to be a baffling postseason for the Bruins’ organization only days after their affiliate in Boston was dealt a devastating loss in Game Seven. The trickle-down effect has been felt at the AHL level as Providence’s great season with championship aspirations fell flat against the upstart Hartford team that had success against them in the regular season.

The Wolf Pack will set their sights on the Sweetest Place on Earth as they travel to start their series against the Hershey Bears on May 11. The matchup should be an interesting one as the two teams haven’t faced each other since February 8, instead playing the majority of their six-game regular season series in calendar year 2022. The Bears took four of those six games, but it’s hard to say those games are a blueprint for the series considering how much has changed since then. The best-of-five series will determine which team represents the Atlantic in the Eastern Conference Final later this postseason.


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