BY: Bob Crawford, Voice of the Connecticut Whale
Connecticut (19-15-2-4, 44 pts.) did maintain first place in the Northeast Division despite the loss, remaining two points ahead of the Albany Devils, who lost 5-4 at home to the Norfolk Admirals.
Four different Pirates scored in the victory for Portland, Andy Miele had two assists, and Justin Pogge Pogge (7-5-3) made 22 saves. Erik Christensen and Scott Tanski scored the Whale goals, and Kris Newbury assisted on both.
The Whale appeared to get a break only 1:51 into the first period when Alexandre Bolduc, playing his first game of the season after missing Portland’s first 39 games due to injury, got a four-minute butt-ending penalty. Not only did Connecticut not score on the long man-advantage, but they gave up a freak shorthanded goal at 5:23.
Whale starting goaltender Chad Johnson Johnson (10-8-4, 10 saves) came out to play a clear by Mathieu Brodeur, and Jordan Szwarz pressured Johnson. Johnson beat Szwarz to the puck, but as Johnson turned to his backhand to try to put the puck behind the net, he accidentally shot it in. The goal was credited to Brodeur, his first in the AHL.
Portland upped its lead to 2-0 only 3:45 later at 9:08, as Pirate leading scorer Brock Trotter scored his 12th of the season. Johnson stopped Matt Watkins’ shot from the right-wing side, but Trotter was unchecked in front of the goal and was able to backhand the rebound in.
The Pirates chased Johnson from the game at 8:59 of the second period, after Ryan Duncan put home a goal from the right-wing side that appeared to deflect off a Whale defenseman’s stick. The shot turned into an off-speed knuckler that found its way past Johnson, his third goal-against on 13 shots. Cam Talbot (9-9-0, 10 saves) entered the game at that point for Connecticut, and he prevented any further damage in the second.
Portland would get it to 4-0, though, on a power play at 8:05 of the third frame. With Kelsey Tessier off for tripping, Michael Stone found Tyler Eckford with a pass at the right-wing faceoff dot, and Eckford’s one-timed blast went off of Talbot’s left shoulder and in.
After that the Whale got back in the game with a pair of goals in a span of 2:23. At 11:59, Christensen tallied his first point in a Whale uniform, in the third game of his conditioning loan from the parent New York Rangers, when he came out of the penalty box to create a four-on-four situation and received a breakaway pass from Newbury. Christensen ruined Pogge’s shutout bid with a shot to the stick side.
Then, at 14:22, Tanski scored the second goal of his rookie season, driving the middle and burying a centering pass from the left-wing side by Jonathan Audy-Marchessault.
Pogge would allow nothing further after that, though, and the Whale fell to 0-8-1 in their last nine road games.
Wednesday’s game concluded a schedule stretch in which the Whale played six out of seven games on the road. Connecticut now starts a five-game homestand, which matches the longest on this year’s schedule, this Friday night, January 20. The Atlantic Division-leading St. John’s IceCaps provide the opposition that night, and faceoff is 7:00 PM. Tickets to that game, and all Whale home games, are available at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.
This Saturday night, January 21, features a doubleheader of hockey action at the XL Center. At 3:00 PM, the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the top league in women’s pro hockey, take on Team Alberta in a CWHL regular-season contest. Then, at 7:00, the Whale face off against the Norfolk Admirals. A ticket to the Whale game is also good for admission to the CWHL contest. Also on Saturday night, 3,000 fans receive a Wade Redden bobblehead, courtesy of Click It or Ticket.
For the Portland perspective, visit Portland Press for Paul Betit’s story.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* We were unable to take part in this contest due to a previous civic commitment that could not be rescheduled. We will be at the XL Center Friday and Saturday night.
* AVERY WATCH – No shots, a minus-2. Only player on the Whale with a minus-2.
* Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Kris Newbury continue on their torrid scoring pace.
* Mats Zuccarello missed another game. It would certainly appear that he has reinjured his ankle.
Audy-Marchessault – Newbury – Thuresson
Bourque – Christensen – Bouchard
Voros – Avery – Tessier
Grant – Owens – Tanski
Erixon – Nightingale
Bell – Klassen
Valentenko – Parlett
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Wade Redden – Lower Body – Indefinite
Andre Deveaux – Suspension –Third of Three Game Suspension
Mats Zuccarello – Lower Body Injury – Day-to-Day
Chris McKelvie – Healthy Scratch
1. POR – J. Pogge
2. POR – R. Duncan
3. POR – M. Brodeur
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Jarrod Ragusin (54)
Terry Koharski (10)
Landon Bathe (80)
Joe Andrews (32)
Things are unraveling of late for the Connecticut Whale. It now befalls Ken Gernander and his coaching staff to figure out what it is that will right the ship and he has about 24 hours to do it in. The Whale return to action to start a five-game homestand on Friday night against St, Johns. That one won’t be easy. Bob Crawford goes on the air with the pre-game show on at 6:50. The game can be heard 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 Portland Pirates 4 – Status: Final
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 – Cumberland County Civic Center
Connecticut 0 0 2 – 2
Portland 2 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Portland, Brodeur 1 5:23 (SH). 2, Portland, Trotter 12 (Watkins, Miele), 9:08. Penalties-Bolduc Por (double minor – butt-ending (attempt)), 1:51; Nightingale Ct (high-sticking), 12:29.
2nd Period-3, Portland, Duncan 9 (Bolduc, Oystrick), 8:59. Penalties-Erixon Ct (high-sticking), 1:02; Werek Por (hooking), 4:25; Newbury Ct (interference), 4:53; Christensen Ct (hooking), 11:25; MacLean Por (goaltender interference), 12:32; Bell Ct (hooking), 20:00.
3rd Period-4, Portland, Eckford 4 (Stone, Miele), 8:05 (PP). 5, Connecticut, Christensen 1 (Newbury), 11:59. 6, Connecticut, Tanski 2 (Audy-Marchessault, Newbury), 14:22. Penalties-Tessier Ct (tripping), 7:28; Duncan Por (double minor – high-sticking), 8:49; Christensen Ct (tripping), 9:50; served by Grant Ct (bench minor – too many men), 10:43; Bolduc Por (boarding), 18:03.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 4-11-9-24. Portland 8-8-8-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 6; Portland 1 / 7.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 10-8-4 (13 shots-10 saves); Talbot 9-9-0 (11 shots-10 saves). Portland, Pogge 7-5-3 (24 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Ragusin (54), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Landon Bathe (80), Joe Andrews (32).