Thunderbirds top Wolfpack 4-2 in Danbury

by Casey Bryant

The Springfield Thunderbirds bested the Hartford Wolfpack in front of a packed house in Danbury, taking home a 4-2 victory in a pre-season tilt.

Fans got an early taste of pro hockey in Danbury Arena, as an estimated 1,000 fans packed Patriot Rink to catch AHL hockey up close. The Wolfpack jumped out to an early lead, as Ryan Gropp capped off a 2-on-1 rush less than two minutes into play. 22-year-old defenseman Jake Massie would even up the score for Springfield before period's end, despite near-constant offensive pressure by Hartford.

Defenseman Jake Taylor would strike for the Pack on a shorthanded zone entry, but penalty trouble would come back to bite Hartford as the Thunderbirds answered with a powerplay goal two minutes later. Jonathan Ang would catch substitute goaltender Francois Brassard out of position with a goal late in the third to give Springfield a lead they would not relinquish.

The Thunderbirds capped their victory with an empty-net goal with seven seconds remaining in regulation time. Hartford held the shot-on-goal advantage throughout the game, outshooting their opponent 34-21.

Despite the Connecticut "home" team being on the wrong side of a 4-2 score, fans were still content to have an excuse to rep their favorite hockey teams a bit early. Patrons donned their new Hat Tricks jerseys, as well as sweaters from the New York Rangers (Hartford's NHL affiliate), Florida Panthers (Springfield's), Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings; even the defunct pro teams that once called Danbury Arena home were accounted for, such as the Whalers, Titans and Trashers.

Hartford will continue to prep for the start of the AHL season, as the Pack host the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 5 at the XL Center.

With the start of the regular season around the corner, Danbury Arena will see heightened action in the weeks to come. The Danbury Colonials NA3HL junior team holds their home opener Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Connecticut's NWHL team, the Whale, opens their season Saturday, Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m. The Hat Tricks drop the puck on their inaugural season Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

Fans can purchase season and individual ticket packages for all three Danbury teams by visiting or by calling 203-794-1704.

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