BY: Bob Crawford, Voice of the Connecticut Whale
The Whale finished out the first month of 2012 with a pair of home games at the XL Center, and despite two hard-working efforts, the squad could not get themselves into the win column as they endured a pair of narrow defeats. Connecticut hosted the Eastern Division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night, dropping a 3-2 overtime decision before resuming their I-91 rivalry with the Springfield Falcons on Saturday. The Whale drew a season-best 11,181 fans to the XL Center, the ninth-largest XL Center crowd in regular-season franchise history, but the home squad was defeated, 2-1. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault had a goal and an assist in the weekend’s action, and goaltenders Chad Johnson and Cam Talbot combined to stop 64 of 69 shots in the two games.
The Whale will enter February with a pair of post-All-Star Break games, hosting Northeast Division foes the Albany Devils on Friday (7:00 faceoff), before heading to Hershey to face the Bears on Saturday (7:00).
Whale forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Mats Zuccarello will take the ice for the Eastern Conference team in the 2012 AHL All-Star Game at historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The game faces off at 7:00 PM tonight and can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet New England.
Friday, February 3 vs. Albany Devils at XL Center, 7:00 PM
· This is the the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these two divisional opponents.
· Connecticut has won two of the first three meetings with the Devils this season, including the last, a 3-2 win over Albany at the XL Center back on Dec. 27.
· Kris Newbury has gathered five points against the Devils (1-4-5) to lead the Whale, while Joe Whitney leads the Devils with three points versus Connecticut (2-1-3).
· Albany defeated their New York capital-region rival, the Adirondack Phantoms, 3-0 on Saturday night to close within one point of the Whale, three back of the division-leading Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
· Goaltender Keith Kinkaid recorded his third shutout of the season on Saturday, making 30 saves against the Phantoms.
Saturday, February 4 at Hershey Bears (Giant Center), 7:00 PM
· This game marks the third of four meetings on the year between the Whale and Bears, and the first of two in Hershey. The teams have split the first two meetings, with the Whale winning on Nov. 29, 4-2, before dropping a 5-3 decision on Dec. 9.
· Mats Zuccarello has picked up three points for the Whale against the Bears (2-1-3), while league-leading scorer Keith Aucoin has notched five assists for the Bears in the season series.
· This will be the third professional battle between the Bourque brothers, Ryan and Chris. Hershey’s Chris has tallied four points against the Whale (2-2-4), while Ryan has earned one assist.
· Hershey snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday with a 3-2 win over Norfolk. Ryan Potulny scored twice and both Aucoin and Bourque had two assists in the contest.
· Aucoin had a 16-game point streak (5-24-29) snapped in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Admirals.
· Radio – CT Whale “Rockin’ Hockey”, live with Bob Crawford, on “The Rock”, 106.9 WCCC-FM, and on-line at www.ctwhale.com.
· The following special new “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 Anders Hedberg Feature (Whale Special Events folder) – Bob Crawford, the voice of the Whale, chats with the legendary Anders Hedberg, now a New York Rangers scout. One of the first Europeans to make his mark in North American pro hockey, the Swedish-born Hedberg starred in the World Hockey Association with the Winnipeg Jets, playing on an illustrious line with countryman Ulf Nilsson and superstar Bobby Hull, and later went on to great success in the NHL with the Rangers.
o Game Highlights (Game of the Week folder) – highlights of both of this past weekend’s home games are available, down-to-the-wire battles with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield.
· 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 31 at 7:00 PM, Whale TV Replay will feature a re-broadcast of this past Friday night’s overtime skirmish with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
· The third of five live Whale TV broadcasts 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.
Chad Johnson – Recalled from the Whale by the New York Rangers January 24, and returned later that same day.
Erik Christensen – Recalled from the Whale by the NY Rangers January 24
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. The new inductees are: Connecticut-bred Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, ex-Hartford Whalers 56-goal scorer Blaine Stoughton, former Whalers goaltender Mike Liut, former Whalers captain Pat Verbeek, Connecticut Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack franchise icon, long-time captain and current head coach Ken Gernander, three-time Olympic medalist for Team USA and all-time NCAA women’s leading scorer Julie Chu, and one of the founders of the New England Whalers, William E. Barnes. 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. There will also be a special meet-and-greet event on March 10, details of which will be announced soon. This will be the first class of inductees since 1990, and 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 www.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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