Thunderbirds will miss the postseason after losing in the season finale to the Wolf Pack

SPRINGFIELD – Multi-point performances from Brennan Othmann and Mac Hollowell lifted the Hartford Wolf Pack (34-27-7-3) to a 6-4 victory, ending the Springfield Thunderbirds (30-37-3-2) season and shut down the MassMutual center’s power banks for the summer.

Additionally, Saturday marked the Thunderbirds’ 14th straight and 20th sellout of the season.

“This year has been extreme, to say the least,” Thunderbirds interim coach Dan Tkaczuk said. “We had coaching changes, player personnel changes and injuries, but as a collective group you have to look at it in different ways. We didn’t make the play-offs and there are a lot of reasons for that.”

Tkaczuk also noted that some key factors could have contributed to the T-Birds missing the postseason.

“The bottom line is that a lot of guys probably have to look back on their seasons and probably wish they had been better with them,” Tkaczuk said. “On the other hand, some had good results, but overall the inconsistencies started to show”

He also took a moment to highlight the progress of this team’s youth intake.

“We’ve had some young players break through and fill big minutes in St. Louis. Bolduc, Dean and Kessel played the minutes they did, which bodes well for the development process.”

The match started with Springfield taking the lead, but their joy was short-lived as Hartford quickly retaliated, resulting in a 2-2 tie after the first period.

Mikhail Abramov directed the attacking traffic near the penalty area as he located Matihas Laferriere, who strode into the attacking zone. Laffy then raced past a defender before returning a stick-side wrister from the bottom of the right red dot circle, allowing the T-Birds to take the 1-0 lead at the 1:45 mark and remain in the opening frame.

When it looked like the Thunderbirds would take the lead 1-0, Brennan Othmann responded.

He ran down the left sideboards into the slot before sending a quick wrister that sailed past Zhrenko’s vision and landed on the top board, tying the match 1-1 with 12:48 left on the clock. Victor Mancini recorded his first professional point of his career with the helper.

The T-Birds did not back down, as Matt Kessel took the lead near the closing portion of the opening stanza.

Once the game switched to the Hartford zone, everything started moving for Springfield. The puck trickled to the bottom of the point and Kessel quickly recovered it before putting it back in the net, putting his team up 2-1 at 5:56.

All signs pointed to the Thunderbirds maintaining the upper hand until Mateji Pekar led a brutal attack through the neutral zone. He spotted Jaroslav Chmelar, who covered a defender and fired a forehand that went under the crossbar, tying the match at 2-2 with just 2:33 left on the clock.

For a while, the second period felt all Hartord, until Jakub Vrana heard his name called.

Calle Rosen launched a pass to Jakub Vrana, who quickly approached the Wolf Pack’s door. With a quick jab, he rammed the puck home, putting the T-Birds up 3-2 with 4:59 left in the middle frame.

By the closing minutes of the second period, all signs pointed to Springfield shaking off the rust and capitalizing on the momentum they now possessed with Brennan Othmann being sent to the box to board at 2:40, but to no avail as the T-Birds struggled to connect on the man advantage.

Saturday’s match was a rollercoaster of emotions; when it looked like the Thunderbirds were in control, Hartford seized an opportunity.

Deep in the offensive zone, Brennan Othmann made a quick pass to Mac Hollowell, who cleverly decoyed Zhrenko out of his net to tie the game at 3-3 with just 28.7 seconds left in the second period.

Within the first minute of the third period, Springfield had a prime opportunity when they found themselves on the power play; Zach Dean made the best of it.

Laferriere was trapped near the right sideboards until he made a quick pass to Zach Dean, who skated into the slot, before firing the stick-side wrister that put his team up 4-3 with 16 seconds left in the power play, with the game clock. left in season at 5:10 p.m.

The Wolf Pack never wavered in the final stop in the I-91 rivalry in 2024. Sahil Panwar tapped in Blake Hillman’s one-timer to tie the score again at 4-4 at 10:02.

Hartford was just getting started, but Springfield fell asleep at the wheel and gave up two goals in a span of two minutes and six seconds.

First, Brennan Othmann stepped into the slot and cleared Zhrenko’s glove side, allowing the road team to take their first official lead of the evening, 5-4, at 7:56.

Ultimately, Adam Sýkora closed the door and ended the T-Birds season as the Wolf Pack escaped Springfield with a 6-4 win. Hartford now heads into the Calder Cup playoffs.