Springfield, MA, October 14, 2017 – Filip Chytil had the game-winning goal and two assists, for his first North American pro points, Saturday night at the MassMutual Center, as the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds by a score of 4-3.
The game was the Wolf Pack’s first road outing of the season, after the club went 2-1-0-0 in three straight home games to begin the year.
Chytil, 18, the youngest player to suit up in the AHL since October of 1974, was playing in his second game since being assigned to the Wolf Pack by the parent New York Rangers on Tuesday.
“We made some adjustments there, moving him on a different line (with Vinni Lettieri and Cole Schneider),” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said of Chytil, “and I felt there was a little more chemistry there, they were able to read off each other. When you watch him, after he did get that goal, just even more confidence in his game started to really shine through. Real top-end player, for a real young guy. Still some learning to go there, but I liked his game tonight.”
The game was tied 1-1 after two periods, but the Wolf Pack would erupt for three goals in the first 9:41 of the third.
Boo Nieves scored his second goal of the year, and second in as many games, just 11 seconds into the third. With the Wolf Pack on a power play that carried over from the second period, Scott Kosmachuk rushed up the middle in the Springfield end and fired a shot that was stopped by Thunderbird goaltender Harri Sateri (34 saves). Nieves drove to the net, though, and backhanded the rebound in.
Hartford made it a 3-1 lead at 6:49, on a shot from the right point by John Gilmour. Chytil won a faceoff back to Gilmour and screened Sateri, and Gilmour’s wrist shot found its way through for his first goal of the season.
Chytil then scored his first North American pro goal less than three minutes later, at 9:41. Lettieri set Schneider up in front for a close-in shot, and this time it was Chytil who jumped on the rebound.
It was 4-1 Wolf Pack at that point, but that goal would turn out to be the winner, as the Thunderbirds would come back with a pair of scores in the final 3:47 of the game.
Reece Scarlett cut the lead to 4-2 at 16:13, after the Wolf Pack failed to get the puck out of their zone near the blue line. Juho Lammikko passed off the boards to Scarlett, who moved down the left side and snapped a shot past Hartford netminder Chris Nell (33 saves).
Springfield got to within one goal with 15.7 seconds left, with Sateri on the bench for an extra attacker and Lettieri in the penalty box for slashing. A shot by Curtis Valk deflected to Lammikko at the right side of the goal mouth, and Lammikko flicked it in.
The Thunderbirds were unable to threaten again, though, and the Wolf Pack secured a third straight win.
Springfield outshot the Wolf Pack 15-11 in the first period, but the Wolf Pack came out of it leading 1-0.
The Thunderbirds had good early pressure, helped by a pair of power plays, and Ryan Horvat put a shot off of the crossbar behind Nell at the 11-minute mark, but the Wolf Pack would finish a rush at 15:05 to open the scoring.
It was Lettieri getting his first pro goal to put Hartford in front, speeding down the left side and putting a backhand shot over the right shoulder of Sateri and just under the crossbar.
The Thunderbirds then got the only goal of the second period, the first of the year for Jayce Hawryluk at 7:50. After a Wolf Pack power play expired, Springfield hemmed the Wolf Pack in their own zone, and Denis Malgin maintained puck possession until he found Hawryluk at the middle of the blue line. Hawryluk uncorked a hard slap shot that got by Nell on the glove side.