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April 19, 2023

Wolf Pack clinches AHL playoff berth for first time since 2015; home game set for Friday night

Contributed The Hartford Wolf Pack during a comeback victory against the Springfield Thunderbirds on March 24.

In a playoff match billed as an “Interstate 91 rivalry,” the Hartford Wolf Pack hockey team will face the Springfield (Massachusetts) Thunderbirds in a best-of-three series that begins tonight.

The Wolf Pack, seeing the highest home-game attendance this season since 2006, clinched a spot in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs after a late-season push that led to an eight-game winning streak.

The Wolf Pack made the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Average attendance at the XL Center was 4,647 this season, propelled by energy from several young prospects and a veteran goalie. After a lackluster start to the season, the team ended with a 35-26 record, placing fifth in the Atlantic Division with 81 points, including four overtime losses and seven shootout losses.

The team’s regular season finale at the XL Center attracted a crowd of 6,226. The Wolf Pack saw 16 home games this season with attendance of more than 5,000.

Last week, four of the Wolf Pack’s top players were called up to the New York Rangers: forwards Jonny Brodzinski and Jake Leschyshyn, defenseman Libor Hájek and goaltender Louis Domingue.

The Rangers, which are also in the playoffs, beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 in their first game Tuesday night.

The Wolf Pack’s first playoff game starts at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. 

The real excitement for Hartford fans will be on Friday, when the Wolf Pack plays at the XL Center. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and tickets are available at

“We’ve got a CT River Valley playoff face-off coming up,” Mayor Luke Bronin tweeted Tuesday, as he challenged Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno to a bet, wagering “good stuff” from Hartford Flavor Co. and Hartford’s Modern Pastry Shop.

The third game of the series, if necessary, will be in Springfield on Saturday night.

The Wolf Pack’s record against the Thunderbirds this season is 3-7-0-2. The Thunderbirds broke the Wolf Pack’s eight-game winning streak on Saturday, delivering a 1-0 loss in the final game of the regular season.

The Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the Rangers, began playing in Hartford in 1997 after the Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes. 

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