Connecticut Whale     VERSUS     Bridgeport    

It was not a good night for the battle between the New York organizations if you’re sitting on the Rangers side of that turf war as both the parent and top affiliate clubs lost to their biggest in-state rivals. The Rangers lost 4-2 as John Tavares torched the Blueshirts with a hat-trick and ex-Wolf Pack P.A. Parenteau added a trio of assists. in Hartford, it’s becoming a bad habit as the team could not hold onto two leads, a two goal lead in the first and a single goal lead in the third and lost in their third consecutive shootout at the team’s home opener in front of 8,832 Saturday night.

Rookie Carl Hagelin was simply brilliant in earning first star status for the night with two third period goals, the second a heads up steal and breakaway that he buried past Kevin Poulin (1-1-0, 41 saves).

“I was on the left side and saw them make a play to the left so I cut across and saw the guy make kind of a blind pass and was able to intercept it and just tip it forward,” Said the co-captain of the University of Michigan team that went to the NCAA title game. “The defenseman (Matt Donovan) probably slashed me five times, so I just tried to get the shot off. It was a great feeling when it went in, but it was tough with the loss.”

The loss was the third time in the last four games that the Whale have wasted two goal leads.

But the Whale lost more than that as after the game, the team’s best player to this point in the early season, Kris Newbury, was recalled by the New York Rangers. In his place “The Norwegian Hobbit,” Mats Zuccarello returns to Hartford. Zuccarello has been playing on the fourth line in New York and that isn’t giving the offensive minded Zuccarello enough playing time. He is a top two line forward while Newbury has shown the grit and the offensive prowess and is better suited for the 4th line role in New York.

Interestingly enough, Newbury’s first game will be Tuesday night in Vancouver when the Rangers face former Wolf-Pack and Whale forward Dale Weise. Weise, who was slotted for the Rangers fourth line was sent down to the Whale only to be plucked off waivers by the Canucks. Weise and Newbury are close friends with Weise staying with the Whale leading scorer in his Connecticut home prior to Rangers training camp. The two will likely be on matched up lines against each other Tuesday night. Weise is excited about the first meeting against the team that drafted him in the fourth round, (#111 overall) in the 2008 NHL entry draft. “Whatever time I do get on the ice, I’m going to go all out. I just want to show them they made a mistake in not keeping me.” When told he was going to face his friend Newbury,  Weise laughed and said, “It’s going to be fun.”

Also recalled Sunday morning by the Rangers was defenseman Brendan Bell. This can’t be good news for Michael Sauer. The almost chronically injured defenseman, who had such a strong rookie season has been dealing with a bad right shoulder.

Meanwhile back in Hartford, the Whale jumped out to a very early lead for the second time in four games this season when Newbury picked up a rebound of a Andre Deveaux shot in front of Poulin and slammed it right through the five hole on the games second shot. Jared Nightingale was given the secondary assist.

The first period ended with the Whale solidly in control with the 1-0 lead and a 12-4 lead in shots.

As the second period opened, Chad Johnson (1-0-2, 23 saves), starting his third straight, was forced to make a good save on Casey Cizikas who had won a down low battle for the puck against John Mitchell and skated in alone from the left corner at 1:21.

But the offensive thrust by the home team continued and it paid off for a second time when Deveaux switched roles with Newbury and he followed up on his centerman’s shot after Poulin failed to cover the loose puck and roofed it over the sprawled out netminder for the 2-0 lead at 3:55. Hagelin with the secondary helper on the tally.

But, as has been the case thus far in this early part of the season, the Whale took their collective foot off the gas and got sloppy.

At 8:59 Wade Redden fell down on a clearing attempt and the puck was recovered by the Sound Tigers’ David Ullstrom along the right wing boards. Hagelin attempted to rub him out at the half-boards but couldn’t do so and Ullstrom came in alone and beat Johnson over the blocker and into the far left corner of the net from the right circle to make it 2-1.

But as was the case both with the parent team and their minor league affiliate, lack of discipline and a parade to the penalty box turned the tide of the game.

Mitchell was issued an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty form referee Jean Hebert at 14:12 and 1;13 later Nightingale joined him with a High-Sticking infraction creating a Bridgeport two-man advantage for 47 seconds. 23 seconds later…the puck was behind Johnson in the net.

Redden battled with Justin DiBenedetto in front of Johnson and that created a screen. Ty Wishart fired a shot on net from just inside the blueline  and DiBenedetto got a stick on it and redirected it past Johnson, who never saw it. Ullstrom got the secondary helper on the power-play goal that tied the game at two each.

Bridgeport took their only lead of the night less than three minutes later when Tomas Marcinko swept behind the net from the left side to the right and from a bad angle fired the puck at the net. The puck hit Bell who was in front to Johnson’s left and deflected into the net for Marcinko’s second goal of the season at 18:26.

The Whale led 34-16 in shots as the second frame concluded.

The third frame began with the Whale killing off the remaining 26 seconds of Newbury’s hooking call and as they did to start the game they scored in the first minute.

Newbury held the puck below the right side goal line and waited as Cizikas, who was stationed in front of Poulin’s left decided to come challenge the Whale’s first line center. Hagelin made his way to the front of the net and one-time Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman Dylan Reese turned his back to Hagelin. Newbury spotted that and put a perfect pass right on Hagelin’s stick and the rookie banged it in past Poulin to knot the score at three at 52 seconds.

Hagelin then added the breakaway goal to give the Whale their second lead of the contest at 7:12. But it didn’t last long.

At 9:33 the Sound Tigers got the equalizer when Brett Gallant redirected a Wishart shot past Johnson, who was screened on this goal as well. Marcinko added an assist for his second point of the night.

The Whale had a power play with just 2:17 remaining when Aaron Ness was whistled for Interference giving the Whale a chance in regulation to pull out the game and they nearly did. Mitchell had two really strong scoring chances with under 30 seconds to go, but Poulin rose up and stoned them both.

With 37 seconds left in extended play, Tyler McNeely was called for tripping. Head Coach Ken Gernander sent out veterans Newbury, Deveaux, Andreas Thuresson and Bell, but they didn’t even get off a shot before sending the game to the skills competition.

For the Whale, Mitchell and Bell scored easily with Mitchell going to his “shake and fake” move and the easy tuck in and Bell going 5 hole. But Johnson gave up goals to Sean Backman over the blocker and McNeely over the left pad to equalize it. Newbury hit the post and was one-upped by Thuresson who hit the crossbar on their attempts. Johnson stopped Ullstrom (5-hole) and Ness with the pad sending it to the final shooters for both squads.

Hagelin skated up the ice and saw daylight and went for the 5-hole, but Poulin closed it before the puck could get through. It was up to Johnson to stop Marcinko, and he got a piece of it, but the shot snuck through the 5-hole giving the Sound Tigers the game.

Afterwards, Gernander was not a happy camper as he has, “seen enough” of the lack of discipline and the penalty parade to the sin bin.

“We’re going to have to try some new methods to get our point across,” He said. “I thought discipline was a huge issue tonight. There’s a lot of things that discipline encompasses, but the one that seems to rear its ugly head the most frequently with our team is penalties. But sometimes it starts before the penalty is taken with shift length and frustration and being able to control yourself and some of the decisions you make because of the consequences.”

Benching a player when the team has no healthy extra forwards, Sean Avery is still rehabbing his ailing shoulder and Ryan Bourque is also not healthy, but it’s still “definitely a consideration, but there are other methods that we have to try first,” adding, “the point has to be made, and I guarantee it will this week.”

The Whale next take to the ice on next Friday against the Manchester Monarchs at the XL Center.

Bruce Berlet has his story at For the Bridgeport point of view our good friend Mike Fornabaio  with the coverage at the CTPost.





(Standings via


Ken Gernander speaks after the Home Opener





* This is the 15th season of AHL hockey in Hartford.

* Newbury has had a hand in ever goal scored this season by the Whale except for one.

* Whale won their first shootout with Johnson in net against Wilkes-Barre on Sunday and then lost in one with him in net in Albany Friday night.

* Johnson did not have a good outing Saturday. It hasn’t been said who will be in net next Friday night, but don’t be surprised if Cam Talbot gets another shot. Talbot has not played since opening night.


Hagelin – Newbury – Deveaux
Grant – Mitchell – Thuresson
McKelvie – Owens – Marchessault
Niemi – Tessier – Tanski

Redden – Nightingale 
Bell – Parlett
Kundratek – Bickel


(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)


Sean Avery – Shoulder – Day-to-Day
Ryan Bourque – Undisclosed Illness – Day-to-Day
Pavel Valentenko – Groin – Day-to-Day
Lee Baldwin – Quad – Indefinite


1. CT – C. Hagelin
2. CT – K. Newbury
3. BRI – K. Poulin


Jean Hebert (43)

Paul Simeon (66)
Kevin Redding (16)


The Whale are back on the ice next Friday at 7pm as they take on the Manchester Monarchs for the first time this season at the XL Center. Bob Crawford will have the broadcast with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 on

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5 (SO) at Connecticut Whale 4 – Status: Final SO
Saturday, October 15, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Bridgeport 0 3 1 0 – 5
Connecticut 1 1 2 0 – 4

1st Period-1, Connecticut, Newbury 4 (Deveaux, Nightingale), 0:28. Penalties-Mitchell Ct (hooking), 9:27; Cizikas Bri (roughing), 12:24.

2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Deveaux 2 (Newbury, Hagelin), 3:59. 3, Bridgeport, Ullstrom 1 (Reese, Colliton), 8:59. 4, Bridgeport, DiBenedetto 5 (Wishart, Ullstrom), 15:48 (PP). 5, Bridgeport, Marcinko 2 (Langkow), 18:26. Penalties-Donovan Bri (tripping), 4:39; Bell Ct (slashing), 9:08; Cizikas Bri (interference), 9:17; de Haan Bri (holding the stick), 11:43; Mitchell Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:12; Nightingale Ct (high-sticking), 15:25; Newbury Ct (roughing), 18:34.

3rd Period-6, Connecticut, Hagelin 2 (Newbury, Nightingale), 0:52. 7, Connecticut, Hagelin 3   7:12 (SH). 8, Bridgeport, Gallant 1 (Wishart, Marcinko), 9:33. Penalties-served by Deveaux Ct (bench minor – too many men), 6:09; Ness Bri (interference), 17:43.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-McNeely Bri (tripping), 4:23.

Shootout – Bridgeport 3 (Backman G, McNeely G, Ullstrom NG, Ness NG, Marcinko G), Connecticut 2 (Mitchell G, Bell G, Newbury NG, Thuresson NG, Hagelin NG).

Shots on Goal-Bridgeport 4-12-10-1-1-28. Connecticut 12-22-9-2-0-45.
Power Play Opportunities-Bridgeport 1 / 6; Connecticut 0 / 6.
Goalies-Bridgeport, Poulin 1-1-0 (45 shots-41 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 1-0-2 (27 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (43).
Linesmen-Paul Simeon (66), Kevin Redding (16).


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