WHALE WEEKLY: January 23 – 29, 2012

Bob CrawfordBY: Bob Crawford, Voice of the Connecticut Whale

The Whale endured another tough week in the opening month of 2012, suffering a defeat to begin the week’s action Wednesday in Portland, 4-2, before beginning a five-game homestand on Friday night in Hartford. Connecticut managed to salvage two points on the weekend, losing in overtime to St. John’s, 2-1, on Friday, before falling to the Norfolk Admirals, 5-4 in a shootout, on Saturday. Despite gathering just a pair of points in the standings, the Whale managed to maintain their hold on first place in the Northeast Division, two points ahead of the Adirondack Phantoms. Scott Tanski scored three times for the Whale this past weekend, while Erik Christensen added a pair of goals and an assist in the week’s action.

Howard Baldwin Statement:

Whale chairman and CEO Howard Baldwin issued the following statement in response to Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s announcement last week of the creation of a new Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA):

On behalf of Hartford Hockey and the Connecticut Whale, we were very pleased about the announcement Governor Malloy made last week. Our organization remains committed to being an active and supportive part of the process. We greatly appreciate the Governor’s leadership and his acknowledgement that downtown Hartford and the XL Center are vital for the State of Connecticut.

We remain committed to our goal of revitalizing Hartford into the vibrant and strong hockey market it once was. Our primary contribution to the marketplace will be to “grow” hockey in the city and state, and continue to have a strong community relations program that serves to maximize the positive impact of the sport. Working together is key—and we are solidly behind doing so.

This week:

The Whale continue their homestand with a pair of games at the XL Center this weekend, both facing off at 7:00 PM. The Whale will host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday night, before taking on their familiar foe the Springfield Falcons Saturday night.

Friday, January 27 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the XL Center, 7:00 PM

· This game begins “Trading Card Weekend” at the XL Center.  5,000 fans at this game will receive the Whale’s second set of player trading cards, sponsored by Webster Bank.  The featured players for this set are All-Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Cam Talbot, Ryan Bourque, Kelsey Tessier, Jordan Owens and, in a historical tribute, former Hartford Wolf Pack star Ryan Callahan, now captain of the parent New York Rangers.

· This is the second meeting on the year between the Whale and the Penguins, and the first of two on the season at the XL Center.

· Connecticut defeated the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre back on the second day of the season, 1-0 in a shootout, on October 9. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault recorded the shootout winner for the Whale.

· The Penguins have won six games in a row to surge into a first-place tie in the East Division with the Hershey Bears, both with 55 points, best in the Eastern Conference.

· Wethersfield, CT native Colin McDonald (11g-23a-34pts.), son of former Hartford Whaler defenseman Gerry McDonald, paces the Penguins in scoring coming into Friday’s action.  The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster also features the son of long-time Whaler defenseman, and former Hartford Wolf Pack assistant coach, Ulf Samuelsson, blueliner Philip Samuelsson (1-7-8 in 37 GP).

· The Penguins have not lost on the road since Dec. 3 at Syracuse, helping them to a 17-3-0-2 record away from the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

· Radio – CT Whale “Rockin’ Hockey”, live with Bob Crawford, Garry Swain and Mark Bailey, on “The Rock”, 106.9 WCCC-FM, and on-line at ctwhale.com.

Saturday, January 28 vs. Springfield Falcons at the XL Center, 7:00 PM

· This game will be seen live on WCCT-TV, with Bob Crawford and Rich Coppola calling the action.  This is the second of five “Whale TV” telecasts, presented by Webster Bank, to be aired during the season on WCCT.

· This second night of “Trading Card Weekend” features a giveaway of additional sets of the first group of Whale trading cards, sponsored by Webster Bank.  That array included cards of All-Star Mats Zuccarello, Wade Redden, Kris Newbury, Chad Johnson and Carl Hagelin.  Also, Zuccarello and fellow All-Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault will be signing autographs after the game in the XL Center atrium.

· This is the eighth meeting of the season between the Whale and their I-91 rivals the Falcons, and the fourth at XL Center.

· Connecticut has topped their northern neighbors five times this season, but the Falcons have won the last two meetings, downing the Whale 5-4 in a shootout Jan. 7 and 4-2 in Springfield on Jan. 8.

· Jonathan Audy-Marchessault has tallied an unbelievable 14 points against the Falcons in seven games played (5-9-14).  No other player in the season series has more than seven points.

· Former Hartford Wolf Pack forward Alexandre Giroux has notched six points for the Falcons against the Whale so far (1-5-6).

· The Falcons have dropped four straight decisions entering the week, and currently sit last in the Northeast Division with 39 points.

· Radio – CT Whale “Rockin’ Hockey”, live with Mark Bailey and Garry Swain, on “The Rock”, 106.9 WCCC-FM, and on-line at ctwhale.com.

Sunday, January 29 and Monday, January 30 – The 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ

Whale forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Mats Zuccarello have been selected to the Eastern Conference team for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic at historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.  The AHL’s annual All-Star showcase begins with the AHL All-Star Skills Competition this Sunday, January 29 at 3:00 PM, and continues with the AHL All-Star Game Monday, January 30 at 7:00 PM.

“Whale TV”:

· The following special “Whale TV” selections will be available this week to Comcast Xfinity on Demand customers throughout New England, in the “Get Local” folder of Comcast’s On Demand Service:

o Erik Christensen Interview (Whale Special Events folder) – see a chat with long-time NHLer Erik Christensen, who has chipped in two goals and an assist in the five games of his conditioning loan to the Whale from the parent New York Rangers.

o Game Highlights (Game of the Week folder) – both of the Whale’s games from this past weekend are featured, and both went down to the wire, with Friday’s contest against St. John’s going to overtime and Saturday’s back and forth battle with Norfolk needing a shootout to settle it.

· Every Tuesday night, CPTV Sports will air an edited re-broadcast of a Whale game from the previous week, on “Whale TV Replay”.

o This Tuesday night, January 24 at 7:00 PM, Whale TV Replay will feature a re-broadcast of this past Friday night’s tilt with the Atlantic Division-leading St. John’s IceCaps.

o At 8:30 PM, CPTV Sports will rebroadcast Saturday afternoon’s Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) contest at the XL Center between the Boston Blades and Team Alberta, the “International Women’s Hockey Challenge”, presented by Aetna.

· After this Saturday night’s game against Springfield, the next live Whale TV broadcast on WCCT-TV, Connecticut’s CW affiliate, presented by Webster Bank, is coming up Saturday, February 18, when the Whale host the Worcester Sharks at 7:00 PM.

Recent Transactions:

Kris Newbury – Returned to the Whale by the New York Rangers January 16.

Lee Baldwin – Reassigned by the NY Rangers from the Whale to Greenville (ECHL) January 17.

Randy McNaught – Signed to an AHL contract by the Whale January 23.

Whale Tales:

The Connecticut Whale and the CT Hockey Hall of Fame will partner to hold a CT Hockey Hall of Fame night at the Whale’s home game at the XL Center Saturday, March 10 vs. the Norfolk Admirals.  That night will mark the enshrinement of a new class of 2012 inductees into the CT Hockey Hall of Fame, which has adopted eight members from the storied Hartford Whalers Hall of Fame.  There will be an induction ceremony before the game, which faces off at 7:00 PM on March 10, and the new inductees will also be recognized on the ice during the first intermission.  Fans can take home a special souvenir of the March 10 night, as 5,000 Hall of Fame posters will be given away, courtesy of SuperCuts.  This will be the first class of inductees since 1990, and the 2012 class will be announced later this month.  Further details are available at cthockeyHOF.org.

College students can get discounted tickets to Whale weekday games with the Whale’s “Ditch the Dorms” deal.  For Monday through Friday home games, students who show a valid student ID at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center can get $2 off Upper Level tickets and $5 off Lower Level seats.

Save on your tickets, and get the best seats, with a ticket plan for the Whale’s 2011-12 AHL campaign, which are on sale now. For information on season seats, mini plans and great group discounts, visit ctwhale.com, or call the CT Whale ticket office at (860) 728-3366 to talk with an account executive today.

The AHL’s Connecticut Whale is operated by Whalers Sports and Entertainment, a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm founded by Howard Baldwin and Howard Baldwin, Jr.. The team is the top player-development affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers.

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