If you were looking to make the argument against having two referees on the ice at the same time, or maybe just having these two particular referees period, this would be the game that you’d point to as exhibit number one. However despite the atrocious job from referee’s Jaime Koharski and Jameel Chaudry did in this one, the Connecticut Whale managed to overcome two Wilkes-Barre Scranton leads in the first period and came from behind to beat the Penguins 5-2 in front of 5,742 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Tuesday night.
The Whale were carried by outstanding three-point performances from veteran Wade Redden, who had his second consecutive multi-point effort (1g, 2a) Centerman Kris Newbury (2g, 1a) and right winger Dale Weise (3a) each had a two-point nights from newcomer John Mitchell (1g, 1a) to lead the way to victory over the best team in the American League.
But this game was unfortunately marred by the referees who became a HUGE factor in the outcome throwing out 14 power play opportunities in the game. It became a battle of power plays and penalty kills and that’s not how hockey was meant to be played.
T0 put it all in perspective, including the Whale-Penguin game, there were six total AHL games on the schedule Tuesday night. All totaled, between the other ten teams playing there was only one other 5-on-3 scenario the entire night and that was for a TOTAL of THREE seconds. Of the six games, five of them had two referees, yet in this game there were two referees and a total of FIVE 5-on-3 scenarios (three for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and two for the Whale) for a combined total of 5:57. You can indict the two ref system, but as stated there were no other massive penalty filled games. The only other option is to look at he referees in this game and question their rationale, which in this case can’t be good.
By the way, even with all of the calls that were made, and many were so slight and insignificant that they became comical, there were some serious infractions that went without a call.
If there were one thing that Coach Ken Gernander was probably pretty happy about in the bus on the ride back, it had to be the fight that his team showed in this contest. They dug themselves an early hole when Pavel Valentenko went to the penalty box for knocking down Geoff Walker in front of the net at 1:29 of the first. Kris Newbury on the PK ended up taking a hooking call 43 seconds later giving the first 5-on-3 to the home team. 24 seconds in, it cost them.
Ex-Wolf-Pack captain, Andrew Hutchinson fed Tim Wallace in the left circle. Wallace skated a bit, turned and fired a shot from the faceoff dot that somehow found a hole between Whale starter Cam Talbot (29 saves, 10-3-2), his blocker and the goal post. The goal was Wallace’s 17th of the year.
But the Whale fought back.
Just over five minutes later, at 7:53, newcomer John Mitchell rushed the puck up left wing and completely faked ex-Wolf-Pack defenseman Corey Potter completely out of his skates and then stickhandled through David Marshall and Steve Wagner and using Kelsey Tessier as a decoy on the rush, Mitchell fired a high shot that scorched Penguins starter Brad Thiessen (8 saves, 27-7-0).
However, the Penguins don’t lead the league in practically everything by being shut down when they are challenged.
At 9:31, Hutchinson again proved what a strong offensive talent he is when his cross ice, tape-to-tape pass from the right point to Chris Collins down low on the left side led to an easy goal. Collins got behind Stu Bickel and when he got the puck had a 4X6 target to shoot at and the left winger buried it for his 12th of the season.
But the Whale fought back…again.
1:12 later, Dale Weise sent a hard shot on goal from the right wing side. The puck hit Thiessen and fell out to the slot where a streaking Kris Newbury got to it first and knocked it into the back of the net for his first of two for the game.
As the first period was coming to a close, Wallace took a very foolish slashing call with just five seconds left putting the Penguins shorthanded. So despite being outshot 20-7 in the first period, the Whale went to the locker room deadlocked at two a side and would start the second frame on the power-play.
Just 17 seconds into the period, Joe Vitale took a reckless tripping call on Mitchell giving the Whale a 1:39 5-on-3 power play.
With just a single second left on the two man advantage, Redden took a Weise feed from the left side to the high slot. The veteran defenseman saw both Brodie Dupont and Brian Strait battling for position in front of Theissen and unloaded a low, hard shot that the Penguin netminder never saw and wound up slipping through the five-hole giving the Whale a lead they would never surrender.
The goal ended the night for one of the American League’s best netminders and brought in John Curry (16 saves, 18-11-0). Theissen has lost just seven games all season and lost the first game against the Whale and was pulled in both games the two met time this season. In the first contest between the two teams back on Jan. 16th at the XL Center, Theissen allowed four goals on 10 shots in the first period before being relieved by Curry. The Whale won that game 6-3 backed by a 27 save performance from Talbot.
The Whale extended their lead to 4-2 when Tessier ended a 28-game scoreless streak with his 7th of the season. Mitchell brought the puck across the blueline and drew both defenders to him. Mitchell made a perfect pass through both defenders to the advancing Tessier. When the rookie forward took the puck he came in alone and crushed a wrister into the top of the net that sent the water bottle flying off the top of the Penguins’ cage. The goal came at 1:24 of the third period.
But the Whale dug themselves a considerable hole when first Bickel went to the box at 1:53 on a tripping call and then Dupont took a reckless elbowing call at 2:21 giving the Penguins their third 5-on-3 advantage of the game. However, Talbot and the penalty killers did a magnificent job killing it off and the team escaped any further damage.
With time running out, Dupont fed Weise on the left point and Weise made a nice feed to Newbury alone cruising up the slot right on the tape. Newbury then put his 12th on the ledger when he flung the puck into the empty net with just 19.1 left on the clock.
The Whale have are winners of four straight for the third time this season. The first was part of a six game win streak from Dec. 3rd to Dec. 17th and the more recent streak came between Dec. 26th and Jan. 1st when they beat Bridgeport (4-0), Portland twice (2-1 and 5-4) and Providence 6-2.
The Whale return home for a Friday night battle with the Hershey Bears after completing a run of playing 10 of 12 on the road. Over the span they went 8-3-0-1 with a 7-3-0-0 record on the road.
Bob Crawford pulled double duty for the Whale on both the broadcast and the story for the press. You’ll find it at CTWhale.com. From the Wilkes-Barre point of view there’s Tom Venesky at TimesLeader.com.
(Standings via theahl.com)
* The Whale/Wolf-Pack are a combined 13-6-1 all-time versus the Penguins.
* Since signing with the Whale four games ago, John Mitchell has contributed 3g, 2a, 5pts
* With his 2g, 1a night, Kris Newbury is tops on the Whale roster and has moved into 24th place in the AHL in scoring.
* In the third period Justin Soryal fought Jesse Boulerice to try and even up their score from their last fight that left Soryal injured. This one was more even but not much of a fight.
* Speaking of fights, Devin DiDiomete dropped the gloves for a tango with Walker two minutes after Soryal’s fight and then Blake Parlett, after landing a good punch, was flattened by a Zach Sill punch that landed right on the nose.
Dupont – Newbury – Weise
Grachev – Mitchell – Tessier
Soryal – Lemieux – Couture
Redden – Nightingale
Valentenko – Parlett
Baldwin – Bickel
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Chad Kolarik – Hamstring, 1-2 Weeks
Michael Del Zotto – Finger – 3-4 Weeks
Tomas Kundratek – Virus, Day-to-Day
Jyri Niemi – Separated Shoulder – Four – Six Weeks
Chris McKelvie – Foot Surgery, Season
Todd White – Concussion – Undetermined
Ryan Garlock – Leg injury – Day-to-Day
Jeremy Williams – Neck Injury – Day-to-Day
1. CT – W. Redden
2. CT – K. Newbury
3. WBS – A. Hutchinson
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jamie Koharski (84)
Graham Skilliter (40)
Jameel Chaudry (51)
Judson Ritter (34)
The Whale return home Friday night for a battle with the Hershey Bears. The puck drops at 7pm with Bob Crawford handling the play-by-play with the pregame a half an hour prior.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information for all home games, call (860) 548-2000.
Connecticut Whale 5 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2 – Status: Final
Tuesday, March 8, 2011 – Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
Connecticut 2 1 2 – 5
W-B/Scranton 2 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, W-B/Scranton, Wallace 17 (Hutchinson, Street), 2:36 (PP). 2, Connecticut, Mitchell 4 (Redden, Nightingale), 7:53. 3, W-B/Scranton, Collins 12 (Hutchinson, Lerg), 9:31. 4, Connecticut, Newbury 11 (Weise, Redden), 10:42. Penalties-Valentenko Ct (interference), 1:29; Newbury Ct (hooking), 2:12; Wallace Wbs (slashing), 19:55.
2nd Period-5, Connecticut, Redden 8 (Weise, Newbury), 1:54 (PP). Penalties-Vitale Wbs (tripping), 0:17; Strait Wbs (hooking), 4:28; Baldwin Ct (holding), 7:56; Parlett Ct (holding), 10:22; Potter Wbs (cross-checking), 13:05; Marshall Wbs (hooking), 15:11; Vitale Wbs (slashing), 16:00.
3rd Period-6, Connecticut, Tessier 7 (Mitchell, Parlett), 1:24. 7, Connecticut, Newbury 12 (Weise, Dupont), 19:40 (EN). Penalties-Bickel Ct (tripping), 1:53; Dupont Ct (elbowing), 2:21; Soryal Ct (fighting), 8:14; Boulerice Wbs (fighting), 8:14; Couture Ct (holding), 10:20; DiDiomete Ct (fighting), 10:20; Walker Wbs (fighting), 10:20; Redden Ct (hooking), 12:03; Parlett Ct (fighting), 17:30; Sill Wbs (fighting), 17:30.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 7-14-8-29. W-B/Scranton 20-5-6-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 6; W-B/Scranton 1 / 8.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 10-3-2 (31 shots-29 saves). W-B/Scranton, Thiessen 27-7-0 (11 shots-8 saves); Curry 18-11-0 (17 shots-16 saves).
Referees-Jamie Koharski (84), Graham Skilliter (40).
Linesmen-Jameel Chaudry (51), Judson Ritter (34).