Be thankful that they don’t award style points in hockey, because if they did, Wednesday night’s 6-4 road victory by the Connecticut Whale over the Adirondack Phantoms would have sent them home empty-handed. The Connecticut Whale swept both ends of their home-and-home with the Adirondack Phantoms, but it wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure.
“We got our two points,” Whale coach Ken Gernander said to reporters afterwards. “But we weren’t as disciplined as we should be and can’t take that many penalties (four minors) in the third period,” He then added that, “These were some penalties we didn’t need to take and some calls you don’t always agree with, but if you’re in the offensive zone and playing sound and on the right side of your checks, then more times than not, you’re not going to take penalties. If not, you tend to play loosey-goosey.”
After a pretty lifeless first period where neither team did much of anything and the shots were eight aside, the Whale came out for the second period a much more determined group. The Whale put four of their eight shoots on goal in the second period past Adirondack starter Brian Stewart (22 saves, 0-5-0). Meanwhile across the ice, Whale starting netminder Cam Talbot (16 saves, 5-2-1) only allowed one of six shots the Phantoms put on goal to slip by him.
A bench minor (Too Many Men) put the Whale on a power play and 1:04 into it, Erik Gustafsson was called for Holding giving the visitors a 56 second two-man advantage.
Kennedy got his first of two helpers when the rebound of his shot found Newbury parked all alone in front of the net. The veteran center lifted the puck over Stewart for his 4th of the season and extended his scoring streak to seven games (3g, 11a).
Stewart made a magnificent save coming from out of nowhere to stone Brodie Dupont who had a wide open net to shoot into at 6:35.
Adirondack then got themselves in a pickle again as Denis Hamel took the Phantoms third penalty of the period for Tripping at 12:20.
The Whale, who would go 3-for-6 on the man advantage on the night, cashed in a second time when Weise set up Redden’s blast from the right point that got through traffic hit Stewart and wound up in the twine for Redden’s third of the season.
It was 2-0…but not for long.
On the ensuing faceoff the puck wound up back in the Phantom end. Kennedy stripped Danny Syvret and fired it into the net past Stewart and the Whale had their fastest two goals of the season, just 11 seconds apart.
Syvret got one back for the home team when his one-timer from the top of the right circle eluded Talbot’s glove to put the Phantoms on the scoreboard.
With less than a minute remaining on the clock, Evgeny Grachev eluded defenders and rushed the puck up ice. After he crossed the right wing side of the blue line, he dished to Justin Soryal. The Whale’s toughest player had an open lane to shoot, but instead found Tessier and used his hands well putting a skilled pass right where it needed to be in front of Tessier who one timed the puck right by a defenseless Stewart with just 42.7 left in the period.
The Whale entered the third period up 4-1. When leading after two periods, the Whale entered the game 7-0-0-1.
But despite the large deficit, the Phantoms didn’t give up and came out of the locker for the final period motivated and ready to play.
“They came at us hard in our building (Sunday, a game the Whale won ugly as well, 4-3),” Gernander said. “They came at us hard in the third period here. I don’t think their record (4-23-2-0) is indicative of the kind of team they have. They’re going to create chances and opportunities on their own, but you have to make them earn all of them. We can’t give them advantages as far as manpower.”
Within the first couple of minutes of the final frame, Chad Kolarik had a couple of chances to expand the margin for the Whale, but Stewart rose to the challenge. Moments later, Jyri Niemi’s scoring chance was denied when his hard shot clanged off the pipe just missing from in close.
After Soryal and Matt Clackson went toe-to-toe at 3:48, the fight lifted the home team’s play and they put another tally on the scoresheet.
Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in the Whale zone to J.P. Testwuide who fed a wide open Hamel. The Phantom left-winger fired a low hard shot from the left circle that beat Talbot to the far right side for his eighth of the season. At 4:01, it was just a two-goal lead.
Earlier this season, a score like that would have deflated this team and suddenly they’d be in trouble. That hasn’t been the case since the rebranding on Nov. 27th. Since then, the team has raised it game and overcome setbacks and they did here as well.
The Whale responded quickly as Weise got in front of the net and a nifty set up pass from Kennedy and a nice finish from Weise made it a three goal margin again exactly one minute after Hamel’s goal in what would prove to be the game winner.
After the Whale got themselves in trouble by taking consecutive penalties to Jared Nightingale for roughing and then Weise for tripping put them down two-men for 1:48, the Phantoms made them pay.
Gustafsson finished on a shot from the right wing circle to cut the deficit to two again at 8:32 and then with 3:15 remaining, it was a rebound of a Gustafsson shot that Ben Holmstrom found and finished on to cut the game to a one goal margin.
The Phantoms pulled their goaltender and Newbury fed Zuccarello who rushed up the left wing side and fired into the empty net that sealed the game for the Whale with 25.8 left in the game.
FUNNY WHAT A LITTLE CONTROVERSY WILL DO:
Tim Kennedy has been in Whale news all week as the team’s assistant captain, depending upon who you ask, either did or did not ask for a trade.
But entering the game against the Phantoms, one place Kennedy has been VERY quiet about has been on the score sheet.
The one-time Buffalo Sabre had just one assist in his last 7 games and had four goals and 14 assists in 24 games since being sent to the AHL by the Rangers on October 13th.
“I think he was more of the dynamic player that we’re used to seeing,” Gernander told the press afterwards. “He was using his skating and had some jump and some hop.”
Maybe he had something to prove to someone?
“Just because I got three points doesn’t mean it was one of my best games,” Kennedy said. “I think I’ve played good at some times this year but the points just haven’t come. But I think it was a good strong game, our line (with Evgeny Grachev and Jeremy Williams) was going good and the power play got back on track. It was a sloppy third period, but I think if we clean that up, I think it was a good game overall.”
Larry Brooks reported on his twitter account that NY Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather had told him that there was “No way” the team was prepared to grant Kennedy an early exit from Hartford.
However, if Kennedy continues to play as he did in Adirondack Wednesday night, his stay could be greatly shortened as an asset to be moved for the benefit of the big club.
* Ex- Whale Corey Locke leads the AHL in points with 34 (11g, 23a). Kris Newbury is up to 10th with 30 points (4g, 26a). Jeremy Williams is 22nd (15g, 10a) and Mats Zuccarello is 36th with 23 (13g, 10a)
* Chad Johnson did not play tonight, but has snuck into the top 20 netminders with his 2.49GAA and .907%. He’s 8-10-3 on the year. In case you’re curious, Ex-Whale Al Montoya is 34th.
* The Whale are in a playoff spot right now sitting 4th in the Atlantic Division however, idle Bridgeport has two games in hand and tail by three points. Connecticut is just three behind Worcester, who visit Hartford Friday, but the Sharks also have two games in hand. The Whale sit just 4 points out of first but the Division leading Pirates have three games in Hand on the Whale.
* The Whale have not won five straight games since a seven game streak from February 20 – March 4th 2009.
* The Whale have moved the starting time of their Jan. 1 game against the Providence Bruins from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. so it doesn’t conflict with the University of Connecticut football team playing Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, which starts at 8:30.
Dupont – Newbury – Zuccarello
Kolarik – Tessier – Weise
Grachev – Kennedy – Williams
Soryal – Garlock – DiDiomete
McDonagh – Nightingale
Redden – Valentenko
Kundratek – Niemi
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Stu Bickel – Healthy Scratch
Oren Eizenman – Healthy Scratch
Lee Baldwin – Healthy Scratch
1. CT – T. Kennedy
2. ADK – E. Gustafsson
3. CT – K. Newbury
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Chris Brown (86)
David Banfield (44)
Steeve Lemay (64)
Jim Harper (59)
It will be a good almost 3-4 hour ride for the Whale back to Hartford from Glens Falls and they will need tomorrow to rest as they get back at it on Friday when The Worcester Sharks come calling at 7pm. The Whale have a rare Saturday night off before travelling to Syracuse for a 3pm tilt with the Crunch on Sunday. Bob Crawford and the pregame are always on the air a half hour before game time.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
Connecticut Whale 6 at Adirondack Phantoms 4 – Status: Final
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 – Glens Falls Civic Center
Connecticut 0 4 2 – 6
Adirondack 0 1 3 – 4
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Newbury Ct (slashing), 0:05; Jancevski Adk (hooking), 17:01.
2nd Period-1, Connecticut, Newbury 4 (Kennedy, Williams), 5:04 (PP). 2, Connecticut, Redden 3 (Newbury, Weise), 13:13 (PP). 3, Connecticut, Kennedy 4 13:24. 4, Adirondack, Syvret 5 (Holmstrom, Gustafsson), 14:35 (PP). 5, Connecticut, Tessier 4 (Grachev, Soryal), 19:17. Penalties-served by Bordson Adk (bench minor – too many men), 3:32; Gustafsson Adk (holding), 4:36; Niemi Ct (slashing), 8:07; DiDiomete Ct (fighting), 11:22; Rinaldo Adk (fighting), 11:22; Hamel Adk (tripping), 12:20; Tessier Ct (boarding), 14:27; Marshall Adk (cross-checking), 16:08.
3rd Period-6, Adirondack, Hamel 8 (Testwuide), 4:01. 7, Connecticut, Weise 6 (Kennedy), 5:01 (PP). 8, Adirondack, Gustafsson 4 (Syvret, Holmstrom), 8:32 (PP). 9, Adirondack, Holmstrom 6 (Gustafsson, Hamel), 16:45 (PP). 10, Connecticut, Zuccarello 13 (Newbury), 19:34 (EN). Penalties-Soryal Ct (fighting), 3:48; Clackson Adk (fighting), 3:48; Ryan Adk (hooking), 4:48; Nightingale Ct (roughing), 7:55; Weise Ct (tripping), 8:08; Williams Ct (tripping), 10:37; Kundratek Ct (delay of game), 15:50.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 8-8-12-28. Adirondack 8-6-6-20.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 3 / 6; Adirondack 3 / 7.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 5-2-1 (20 shots-16 saves). Adirondack, Stewart 0-5-0 (27 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86), David Banfield (44).
Linesmen-Steeve Lemay (64), Jim Harper (59).