BY: Brittany Burke
Cam Talbot (1-1-0, 23 saves) earned the team’s first shutout of the season as the Whale blanked the Monarchs with a complete 60-minute effort around him.
“He let us know obviously that we had to work on our full sixty,” said the team’s Assistant Captain John Mitchell, who’s three point effort (1g, 2a) on the newly formed top line with Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin, earned him second star of the game status. “We had come out early; we had first good periods and slowly faltered throughout the course of those previous games, so we wanted to make sure that we kept our foot on the gas the whole way and it worked out for us.”
The spark was initiated early with an unassisted goal in the first period coming from Andreas Thuresson. But as has been the case for the entire Rangers organization to this early point in the season, the rest of the period was plagued with avoidable penalties.
Richard Clune interfered in the crease with Talbot which raised the ire of defenseman Stu Bickel and the two dropped their gloves for a battle in the Whale end. Bickel received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in addition to his fighting major while Clune’s fighting major was matched with the goaltender interference minor.
The Whale ended the period holding the one goal advantage and a 12-7 lead in shots, but as the second period started the home team really took off.
The second set of twenty minutes was nothing shy of explosive for the NHL Rangers affiliate. With Kris Newbury on recall with with the Rangers, Zuccarello was sent down to for some much needed ice time, in the team’s second home game. “The Norwegian Hobbit” had two goals and a helper as he made himself quite comfortable with Mitchell and Hagelin (0g, 1a) who combined for a seven point night (3g, 4a),
“Brad has good speed and Mitch is a good passer and centerman, so we’re a good fit so we had a good day today but it’s a new game tomorrow,” Zuccarello said.
Mitchell and Blake Parlett setup Zuccarello 42 seconds into the second period for the team’s first power play goal of the game and tallied again just minutes later for a second goal when Andre Deveaux connected off a feed from Wade Redden and Parlett.
“I wasn’t here last week but I heard about it and we just wanted to make sure to kill this game as soon as possible and we did that and we played pretty good,” said Zuccarello.
While both teams found themselves with the man-advantage opportunities the Whale took advantage of their five twice while the Monarchs goose-egged on their four. The Whale also outshot the Monarchs in the game 33-23.
Manchester’s starting netminder Martin Jones (3-3-0, 22 saves) surrendered all five Whale tallies and was relieved in the third frame by Jeff Zatkoff who stopped all six shots he faced.
“I thought our power play looked really good tonight,” said head coach Ken Gernander said after the game. “You know there’s points in time in the game when you need big plays or something to sway momentum because [Manchester] brought some pressure at times, and when you get some guys to step up and come up with the big goal I think that’s important.”
With the three-point deficit, the Monarchs were still unable to bury the puck and soon found themselves down by four with fewer than six minutes to play before intermission. Mitchell set up Zuccarello for a second time, and 2:41 later Zuccarello returned the favor with a setup for Mitchell on the fifth and final goal of the game.
Holding leads have been a struggle for the Whale thus far this season, but Friday night’s home blanking against the Monarchs showed otherwise. With the five-point cushion, the defense stepped up and fought off the Manchester offense.
“A lot of offense stems off the back-check and the neutral zone turnovers, so we had good neutral zone fore-checks, even offensive zone fore-checks to the point where [Manchester’s] D really had no option but to punt it off the glass,” Mitchell said.
Friday’s home win was the first for the Whale after last week’s shootout loss against the Sound Tigers in the opener, but the team’s weekend doesn’t end with the Monarchs. It’s back to the road Saturday in Springfield before returning home on Sunday for the back-end of the home and home matchup with their I-91 rivals.
Brian Ring substituting for Bruce Berlet has his view of the proceedings here on Howlings. For the Manchester perspective, no newspapers represented the club, so you’ll only catch their perspective at ManchesterMonarchs.com.
(Standings via theahl.com)
* We were unable to attend Friday’s game at the XL Center as I was celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary with my lovely wife Pam.
* Zuccarello and Mitchell were on the ice for 4 of the Whale’s 5 goals. Redden was on the ice for three of them.
* This game broke a streak of three consecutive shootouts for the Whale who were 1-2 in the skills portion of the game.
* Sean Avery did not play as was being speculated he might. It’s yet to be determined if his shoulder is healthy enough for Saturday night’s game against Springfield.
Hagelin – Mitchell – Zuccarello
Grant – Tessier – Thuresson
Niemi – Marchessault – Deveaux
McKelvie – Owens – Tanski
Parlett – Baldwin
Redden – Nightingale
Bickel – Kundratek
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Sean Avery – Shoulder – Day-to-Day
Ryan Bourque – Undisclosed Illness – Day-to-Day
Pavel Valentenko – Groin – Day-to-Day
Brendan Bell and Kris Newbury are on recall with the Rangers
1. CT – M. Zuccarello
2. CT – J. Mitchell
3. CT – C. Talbot
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jon McIsaac (39)
Paul Simeon (66)
Glen Cooke (6)
The three-in-three weekend for The Whale goes to game two and the start of a home-and-home with Springfield on Saturday as the Rangers top affiliate travels up 1-91 to the MassMutual Center for a contest starting at 7pm. Bob Crawford will have the broadcast with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 on WCCC.com.
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.
Manchester Monarchs 0 at Connecticut Whale 5 – Status: Final
Friday, October 21, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Manchester 0 0 0 – 0
Connecticut 1 4 0 – 5
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Thuresson 1 8:37. Penalties-Grant Ct (hooking), 1:44; Niemi Ct (slashing), 9:48; Bickel Ct (cross-checking), 10:05; Cliche Mch (holding), 12:21; Clune Mch (goaltender interference), 15:31; Bickel Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:31; Clune Mch (fighting), 17:43; Bickel Ct (fighting), 17:43; Deslauriers Mch (boarding), 19:14.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Zuccarello 1 (Mitchell, Parlett), 0:42 (PP). 3, Connecticut, Deveaux 3 (Redden, Parlett), 7:28 (PP). 4, Connecticut, Zuccarello 2 (Mitchell, Hagelin), 14:04. 5, Connecticut, Mitchell 1 (Zuccarello), 16:45. Penalties-Kaunisto Mch (diving), 6:52; Legein Mch (roughing), 14:55; Grant Ct (roughing), 14:55.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Deveaux Ct (tripping), 5:16; Muzzin Mch (interference), 6:10; Vey Mch (tripping), 13:10.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 7-8-8-23. Connecticut 12-15-6-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 0 / 4; Connecticut 2 / 5.
Goalies-Manchester, Jones 3-3-0 (27 shots-22 saves); Zatkoff 0-1-0 (6 shots-6 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 1-1-0 (23 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Jon McIsaac (39).
Linesmen-Paul Simeon (66), Glen Cooke (6).