The Whale (31-24-2-6, 70 pts.) finished an important three-game stretch with playoff implications with a perfect 3-0-0-0 record last week, posting two wins over Springfield and one over Worcester. The Whale started their week with a last-second, 3-2, come-from-behind victory over the Falcons at home on Wednesday, before knocking off Springfield again Saturday, 2-1 in overtime in Springfield. Coming into Sunday’s contest with Worcester tied for third place in the Atlantic Division, the Whale made a statement in beating the Sharks, 7-2. Brodie Dupont had four assists in the tilt, which put Connecticut a season-high seven games over the .500-mark.
The Whale enters another stretch of crucial games this week, as they visit the league-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Tuesday night (7:05 PM faceoff), before returning home to host another East Division foe in the Hershey Bears Friday night at the XL Center (7:00 PM faceoff), on Guida’s Family Value Night. Connecticut will end the weekend with a home-and-home series with the Sharks, facing their Atlantic Division rivals Saturday in Hartford (7:00 PM faceoff) and Sunday in Worcester (3:00 PM faceoff).
Tuesday, March 8 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza), 7:05 PM
· Tuesday’s contest will be the second and final meeting of the regular season between the Whale and the Penguins. The Whale took the first meeting with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton back in January, winning 6-3 at the XL Center.
· Chad Kolarik netted two goals and two assists for the Whale in that first meeting with the Penguins, while Steve Wagner scored once and added an assist for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
· The Penguins own the best record in the AHL, at 45-17-0-0, and 90 points in the standings, seven more than the next closest team, while allowing the fewest goals in the league (141).
· Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has posted the best record at home of all AHL teams, with a mark of 24-8-0-0 this season.
· Goaltender Brad Thiessen currently leads the league in goals-against average (1.87) and wins (27), and is tied for the league lead in shutouts (six). Thiessen has also notched five wins in the shootout this season, with no losses.
· With Dustin Jeffrey on recall to Pittsburgh, Brett Sterling leads the Penguins’ team in scoring, having gathered 41 points this season (20-21-41).
Friday, March 11 vs. Hershey at the XL Center, 7:00 PM
· Being a Friday night, this is a “Guida’s Family Value Night”. Family Value packages start as low as $48 and include three tickets, three hot dogs or pizza slices, three sodas and a Whale souvenir. Guida’s Family Value Night packs are available at the XL Center ticket office and on-line at www.CTwhale.com.
· The Bears edged the Whale in their only previous meeting this season, defeating Connecticut 4-3 in Hershey back on Nov. 21.
· Mathieu Perreault scored twice for Hershey in that game, and former Wolf Pack defenseman Brian Fahey also tallied two points on the night (1-1-2).
· Goaltender Braden Holtby, currently on recall with the parent Washington Capitals, leads the AHL in save percentage (.930) and ranks third in goals-against average (1.98).
· The Bears own the fifth-best road record in the AHL, maintaining a record of 19-10-1-1 in visiting buildings this season.
· Hershey fell in their last action, dropping a 4-1 home decision to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday. Veteran Boyd Kane scored the only goal of the contest for the Bears.
· Bears goaltender Nolan Schaefer had appeared in 30 games for the Providence Bruins this season before his acquisition by Washington on March 4.
Saturday, March 12 vs. Worcester at the XL Center, 7:00 PM
· This night will feature a jersey auction, as fans can bid on the Whale’s game jerseys to benefit March of Dimes. Bids will be accepted at a special display.
· The Sharks were defeated by the Whale at home Sunday afternoon, 7-2, in an important Atlantic Division contest. Brodie Dupont recorded a career-high four assists in the game for the Whale.
· Brandon Mashinter and Cory Quirk accounted for the Sharks’ two tallies on Sunday.
· Saturday’s game will be the seventh of the season between Connecticut and Worcester, with the Whale having beaten the Sharks four out of six times (4-1-0-1).
· Jonathan Cheechoo leads the Sharks in scoring with 47 points (18-29-47) and has gathered six points in action against the Whale (2-4-6).
· Worcester has dropped three of its last four games (1-2-1-0) to fall to fourth place in the Atlantic Division, and will wrap-up a four-game homestand with a Wednesday tilt versus Hershey.
· This game will be aired live on WTIC NewsTalk 1080, the 50,000-watt AM powerhouse. WTIC NewsTalk 1080’s Scott Gray will join Bob Crawford and Mark Bailey on the broadcast team. The action can also be heard live on WTIC’s 96.5 HD 2 and on-line at www.wtic.com.
Sunday, March 13 at Worcester (DCU Center), 3:00 PM
· The Sharks hold the league’s ninth-best home record, with a mark of 19-10-2-4 on home ice so far this season.
· Worcester has not posted two consecutive wins since winning five straight from Jan. 28 – Feb. 11.
· This weekend’s home-and-home set between the Whale and the Sharks will be the last two meetings of the regular season between the Atlantic Division opponents.
· Worcester will host the Hershey Bears Wednesday night at the DCU Center before heading north to face the Atlantic Division-leading Manchester Monarchs on Friday night.
John Mitchell – loaned to the Whale by the NY Rangers February 28.
Francis Lemieux – signed by the Whale to a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement February 28.
Alexandre Imbeault – signed by the Whale to a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement February 28, and released March 3.
Derek Couture – signed by the Whale to a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement March 1.
Dov Grumet-Morris – released by the Whale from a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement, and signed to an AHL contract, March 2.
Chad Johnson – recalled from the Whale by the NY Rangers March 2.
Cameron Talbot – reassigned to the Whale by the NY Rangers March 2.
Kris Newbury – returned to the Whale by the New York Rangers March 3.
Individual tickets for Whale home games are on sale now at the XL Center ticket office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may also be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.CTwhale.com. Tickets start at $7 each at the XL Center ticket office on game day.
Season tickets for the 2011-12 Whale season are available now, with a special early bird discount. Call (860) 728-3366 for information on that, as well as all Whale ticket packages, group sales and VIP packages.
The merchandise stands at the XL Center are carrying a full selection of Whale items, including hats, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, pucks, mini-sticks and even plush toy whales. Whale merchandise is also available at the Whale Pro Shop, which is located at 45 Pratt St. in downtown Hartford and is open 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Saturday, and two hours before every home game. Fans preferring to shop on the web can check out the Whale selection on-line at www.ctwhaleshop.com.
Once again this season, the Whale are partnering with WTIC Radio to air Whale hockey action. All of the Whale’s regular-season and playoff games will air on 96.5 WTIC-FM’s HD 2 channel and will be streamed on-line at www.wtic.com. Select games will be carried live on the 50,000-watt AM powerhouse, WTIC NewsTalk 1080.
The AHL’s Connecticut Whale is operated by Whalers Sports and Entertainment, a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm founded by Howard Baldwin. The team is the top player-development affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers.
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