If there’s one thing that you learn from being around Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander is that he is NOT one to make excuses. Gernander sees opportunities for role players to have their chance to step up and rise to the occasion.
After the New York Rangers recalled forward Andre Deveaux from the Connecticut Whale, opportunities were created for other players to get more ice time. When Deveaux was suspended for a hit to the head of Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night and the ineffective play of Eric Christensen, that created opportunity for forwards John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin and they were recalled Thursday night.
Combine the Hagelin, Mitchell recalls with Kris Newbury’s four-game suspension for his illegal hit to the head of the Bridgeport Sound Tiger’s Justin DiBenedetto in last Friday’s 3-2 overtime victory by the Whale and you create even more opportunities for players to step up.
That’s how Ken Gernander sees the game he’s coached so well the past five years.
Unfortunately for Gernander, none of his players stepped up at all and the Connecticut Whale got trounced by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday night 6-2 (and it wasn’t that close) in front of 5,864 in attendance at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Considering how personally defeats affect the winningest coach in Hartford Wolf Pack / Connecticut Whale history, Gernander was candid about accepting the reality that losing his top three offensive players, and perhaps his top three players overall, had an affect on the outcome of this game.
“It has an effect, but on the other side of the equation, that’s not necessarily the cause of a turnover or a penalty or a failure to finish hits,” He said, adding, “If it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game and we have trouble generating offense and things of that nature, maybe we could look elsewhere. But some of the mistakes, turnovers and penalties doesn’t have anything to do with chemistry or call-ups or anything like that. That’s incumbent upon each person to take care of that business. There are a lot of things that have to be better for tomorrow night.”
“Not much else to say. We’ll just shuffle a little bit. We’ll get it done.”
After a good start pressing the Sound Tigers in their own end, the Whale earned a power play that fell completely flat generating no shots on Sound Tigers starter Kevin Poulin (20-saves, 5-5-0). They rebounded from that adventure by turning the tables on their hosts by allowing no shots on Whale starter Cam Talbot (19-saves, 6-3-0) and killed off a Tim Erixon tripping call.
What may well have been the game’s turning point came shortly thereafter.
The Whale had begun to control the tempo when Bridgeport’s Calvin de Haan took a hooking call at 12:29. On the ensuing power play, a turnover by the Whale coming into the Sound Tigers’ zone caused a two-on-one odd-man rush back the other way. Jeremy Colliton carried the puck back against Erixon along the right wing side with Tim Wallace on the left. Colliton slid the puck past the outreached Erixon and Wallace blasted a shot from the left circle past Talbot shorthanded at 14:06.
It was almost like the wind just came out of the team’s collective sails after that as generating any sort of offensive pressure and their focus left for the afternoon.
At 6:19 of the second frame, the Sound Tigers doubled up their lead when de Haan fired a shot from the left point that got through a screen and past Talbot’s blocker.
The second frame ended with the Sound Tigers up three when Colliton took the puck from a Whale defender behind the net came out to the front untouched, turned and zipped the puck over Talbot’s glove side shoulder.
Since signing with the Whale, Aaron Voros has been a frequent visitor to the Whale sin bin. He took three minors in this game and served a fourth later for Tommy Grant. When he took what was his third of the game, a holding call, just 1:21 into the third period and that was followed up 27 seconds later by Jordan Owens for interference, the Sound Tigers were gifted 1:33 of five-on-three power play time and they took advantage.
It only took 24 seconds for Casey Cizikas to find a rebound of a Colliton shot from the left side all alone on the right side of the crease for the easy stuff in to make it 4-0.
The Whale did answer back when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, who’s been outstanding in his rookie season with the Whale. It took a moment for Jean Hebert to rule on an apparent goal by Audy-Marchessault at 4:10. But the veteran referee made the right call as Audy-Marchessault stuffed in a rebound of a Tommy Grant shot just between the post and Poulin’s right pad tying him for the team lead in goals with seven with Mitchell and Hagelin.
After two fights, the first between Bridgeport’s Tony Romano and the Whale’s Scott Tanski at 6:14 and the follow up just 45 seconds later when Grant and Brett Gallant dueled after Grant charged into the Tiger’s left winger.
Wallace made it 5-1 when he took a Scott Howes feed off a Whale defensive zone turnover resulted in a mini-breakaway where he beat Talbot with a fake and a backhander over the netminder’s blocker at 9:26.
Talbot’s night ended 2:13 later after another turnover in the defensive zone to Howes, who got his second point in his second game with the Sound Tigers after being signed to replace the injured DiBenedetto, when his shot flew over the Talbot’s pad and into the back of the net for the 6-1 lead.
Chad Johnson (3-saves, 4-3-2) came in for mop-up duty at 11:39.
Kelsey Tessier, one of the most consistently hardest working Whale players, got his first of the season and gave Audy-Marchessault the team lead in points with 15 (7g, 8a) when his shot from the right circle handcuffed Poulin and flew right over the glove side shoulder with 6:13 left in regulation for the game’s final tally.
The Whale come right back Saturday night as they travel to Springfield to battle the Falcons, who were soundly beaten themselves 5-1 by the Adirondack Phantoms Friday night. Two teams that have a lot of bad blood between them and both coming off of bad losses should make for a rather spirited contest Saturday night; that is of course unless this is all simply carryover from too much tryptophan Thanksgiving night.
Mike Fornabaio has the coverage from inside the Sound Tigers locker room at the CTPost.
SOUNDS OF THE GAME:
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* Current New York Ranger and former Connecticut Whale, Andre Deveaux was suspended by the Brendan Shanahan, the Senior Vice-President of Player and Safety Operations for the NHL for three games for an elbow to the head of Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann.
* The Sound Tigers released one-time Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette from his PTO.
* The margin of defeat tied the largest of the season with the 8-4 drubbing by St. John’s on Nov. 12.
* Ex-Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers will not play in Saturday’s meeting with the Whale as he is also on a suspension for a shot to the head.
* As an editorial note here, has anyone else noted that the players in both the NHL and the AHL don’t seem to be getting the message that the leagues want to eliminate deliberate shots to the head? It seems like almost every night at leas one player or two from each league is earning a stay in the press box for headhunting. Our question is this…where is the NHLPA and AHLPA in all of this? Aren’t they charged with the responsibility of being concerned with, not only negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but protecting the well-being of their members?
Grant – Audy-Marchessault – Zuccarello
Bourque – Tessier – Bouchard
Voros – (Rotated) – Thuresson
McKelvie – Owens – Tanski
Valentenko – Bell
Erixon – Bickel
Redden – Parlett
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Jared Nightingale – Undisclosed Injury – Day-to-Day
Carl Hagelin – Recall, NY Rangers
John Mitchell – Recall, NY Rangers
Kris Newbury – Suspension – (2-games to go)
1. BRI – T. Wallace
2. BRI – J. Colliton
3. BRI – C. de Haan
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jean Hebert (43)
Luke Galvin (2)
Derek Wahl (46)
After a clunker, some players say getting right back on the ice is a good thing. The Whale will have that chance when they jump on the ice in Springfield to take on the Falcons at 7pm. Bob Crawford will be on the air with the broadcast from at the Mass Mutual Center starting with the pre-game show at 6:30pm 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.
Connecticut Whale 2 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6 – Status: Final
Friday, November 25, 2011 – Webster Bank Arena
Connecticut 0 0 2 – 2
Bridgeport 1 2 3 – 6
1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Wallace 7 (Colliton), 14:06 (SH). Penalties-Cizikas Bri (interference), 1:19; Erixon Ct (tripping), 5:18; de Haan Bri (hooking), 12:29; Audy-Marchessault Ct (cross-checking), 19:16.
2nd Period-2, Bridgeport, de Haan 2 (Marcinko), 6:19. 3, Bridgeport, Colliton 4 (Donovan), 17:42. Penalties-Voros Ct (slashing), 3:11; Cizikas Bri (slashing), 11:08; Voros Ct (goaltender interference), 13:10; served by Romano Bri (bench minor – too many men), 19:17.
3rd Period-4, Bridgeport, Cizikas 4 (Colliton, Wishart), 2:12 (PP). 5, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 7 (Grant, McKelvie), 4:10. 6, Bridgeport, Wallace 8 (Howes), 9:26. 7, Bridgeport, Howes 2 11:39. 8, Connecticut, Tessier 1 (Audy-Marchessault), 13:37 (PP). Penalties-Voros Ct (holding), 1:21; Owens Ct (interference), 1:48; Tanski Ct (fighting), 6:14; Romano Bri (fighting), 6:14; Grant Ct (charging, fighting), 6:59; Gallant Bri (fighting, misconduct – continuing altercation), 6:59; Cizikas Bri (slashing), 12:17; Riley Bri (interference), 17:42.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 8-6-8-22. Bridgeport 6-12-10-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 6; Bridgeport 1 / 7.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 6-3-0 (25 shots-19 saves); Johnson 4-3-2 (3 shots-3 saves). Bridgeport, Poulin 5-5-0 (22 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (43).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Derek Wahl (46).