There are a multitude of ways to lose in any sporting event, and the Connecticut Whale have certainly explored many of them this season, but Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center in front of 5,003 was in no small part due to some of the most bizarre officiating certainly of the season and possibly longer than that.
Veteran referee Terry Koharski and Jon McIsaac were dreadful with even linesman Rich Paltry and Jim Briggs having had their moments as well in making calls, and missing calls that were patently obvious.
With the Whale already trailing 1-0 on former captain Dane Byers rebound stuff in past Chad Johnson (29 saves, 16-11-5) at 12:15 of the first frame, defenseman Sam Klasssen cleared the puck out of the Whale zone. The puck was picked up just inside the Falcon zone by Brent Regner with Casey Wellman in his face. Meanwhile in the neutral zone, coming across the middle, Maxsim Mayorov interfered with Whale forward Tommy Grant sending him sprawling to the ice. The pick sprung the Falcons’ veteran centerman Martin St. Pierre free off the Regner outlet pass. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was late getting back into the play as he had to leap over the sliding Grant slowing him down enough to create a lane in the slot. With Grant down and Audy-Marchessault delayed in getting back, it created a three-on-two (Klassen and Wade Redden back) odd-man rush for Springfield. In the right circle St. Pierre make a strong pass to Mayorov, who’d continued in the play after deleting Grant, all alone in the left circle. Klassen tried to come over to defend, but Mayorov was able to redirect the pass into the net past a sliding Johnson.
Kris Newbury came over to argue with Koharski who was in front of the play behind the Whale net and could see the whole thing. But to no avail.
But the questionable calls went against the Whale all night.
Just 6:04 into the game, Jordan Owens had a clear breakaway that ex-Whale Ryan Garlock tripped him from behind on and should have been a penalty shot, but instead Koharski called a tripping penalty which the Whale were unable to convert on their power play.
It wasn’t like the Whale didn’t have chances to score, because they certainly did.
Early in the second period, at 2:22, Matt Calvert forwarded a puck in the Falcon’s end up to Mayorov. But Scott Tanski poked it away to Grant creating a 2-on-none break-in with Kelsey Tessier to Grant’s left. Grant fired a shot that was sopped by Paul Dainton (30 saves, 8-4-0) with his pads. The rebound came right out to Tessier who fired the puck back on net, but Dainton responded by getting the blocker out there and deflecting it behind the net and effectively ending the Whale threat.
Just after that stop, the entire Rangers organization had to hold their collective breaths when prospect defenseman Tim Erixon, mentioned as a possible key component in the Blueshirts efforts to obtain Columbus captain Rick Nash, appeared to be injured.
Garlock dumped the puck into the Whale zone from the right side blueline and went into the Whale zone to chase it down. Erixon went behind the goal line midway between the cage and the corner. As the son of former Ranger Jan Erixon turns to send the puck back up along the wall, Garlock hits him hard but cleanly with his shoulder into the Whale defenseman’s right shoulder and drove him into the boards. Erixon hit kind of awkwardly and fell to the ice, losing his stick. Erixon had the wherewithal, hence the reason that he’s so highly regarded, to get behind Johnson in the Whale net as the play moved there. After Ryan Bourque, himself the son of a legendary NHL Hall-of-Famer, couldn’t get the puck out and it came back into the right corner. Erixon, without his stick as a result of Garlock’s hit, went in and battled going to his knees to get it. He then made a hand pass to Jordan Owens, who gave it to Bourque again as Erixon headed to the bench. The Whale defenseman did not return in the game.
After the game, Head Coach Ken Gernander described Erixon’s condition as, “He was a little dinged up, but it’s nothing serious.” The Whale later described the injury as a “neck strain” and that Erixon was, “day-to-day.” It’s not an injury that would curtail a possible trade by the Blue Jackets if they still wanted to pull it off.
When asked his view on possibly being traded, Erixon repeated a couple of times that, “I want to be a New York Ranger. I want to be in the Rangers organization.”
The Whale also had a strong scoring chance with 5:31 left in regulation when Tanski made a nice feed from behind the Falcons net to Newbury in the left circle charging towards the net, but the Whale centerman’s shot clanged hard off the post.
Neither team was able to break through in a much more physical third period. After missing a blatant too many men on the ice penalty by the Falcons and other missed calls, the Whale roster frustration began to spill over into their play.
The usually under control, Mats Zuccarello got caught up into it as well and at 6:42 was given a ten minute misconduct, the first of his AHL career.
“When you’re out there in the moment,” a contrite Zuccarello said. “I couldn’t control myself and I have to do better than that. When I actually got that penalty I didn’t say anything at all and I don’t know why I got it.”
That’s just the way the night went with the officiating.
Gernander was frustrated a bit by the way the calls went. “I wasn’t sure from the timing of the calls. What exactly…I’m not sure what some of the calls were actually.”
But Gernander, who is never one to make excuses, felt the issues were n his own locker-room. “We had a couple good opportunities,” He said. “(We) couldn’t bury any of them, it could have been a different game. That being said, [Springfield] did a pretty good job protecting the front of the net. Dainton came out, challenged and we didn’t get any second and third opportunities on him…There were times when we worked hard, we played hard but we lacked that certain sense of desperation.”
“We had a tough night tonight,” Zuccarello said. “It was one of those nights where nothing happened. I guess we just have to forget about this. They had a goalie that was hot. We had a lot of shots, but at the same time it wasn’t great. We played a bad game and that’s’ how it is.”
Our good pal Jason Remillard was on hand for The Springfield Republican and filed this story at Masslive.com.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* With the win over the CTWhale, this makes only the third game all season the Falcons have won at home on a Saturday.
* Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque took in the game to see his son.
* Veteran Manny Legace took warm-ups despite an injury forcing the Falcons to scramble and they signed University of Vermont alum Mike Spillane to a PTO as an emergency backup to Dainton.
Zuccarello – Newbury – Deveaux
Audy-Marchessault – Wellman – Bourque
Grant – Tessier – Tanski
Owens – McKelvie
Valentenko – Bell
Erixon – Nightingale
Redden – Klassen
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
SCRATCHES: Francois Bouchard – Broken Wrist – Indefinite
Wade Redden – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
Andreas Thuresson – Undisclosed – Day-to-Day
Sean Avery – Healthy Scratch
1. SPR – P. Dainton
2. SPR – M. Mayorov
3. SPR – M. Calvert
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Terry Koharski (10)
Jon McIsaac (39)
Rich Patry (52)
Jim Briggs (83)
Remember that classic comedy line, “You’re going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to get something by me?” Well, that chance comes Tuesday in Hartford when the CTWhale have an 11am game against the Worcester Sharks. Bob Crawford is on with the pre-game on at 10:50am. You can hear it 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 0 at Springfield Falcons 2 – Status: Final
Saturday, February 25, 2012 – MassMutual Center
Connecticut 0 0 0 – 0
Springfield 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Springfield, Byers 14 (Mayorov, Regner), 12:15. Penalties-Garlock Spr (tripping), 6:04; Erixon Ct (hooking), 10:14; Erixon Ct (high-sticking), 14:28; Kubalik Spr (holding), 16:23.
2nd Period-2, Springfield, Mayorov 6 (St. Pierre, Regner), 5:10. Penalties-Wellman Ct (high-sticking), 6:37; Bell Ct (hooking), 8:01; Nightingale Ct (roughing, fighting), 8:01; Byers Spr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:01; Calvert Spr (fighting), 8:01; Cullity Spr (hooking), 11:57; Cullity Spr (slashing), 19:30.
3rd Period– No Scoring.Penalties-Newbury Ct (goaltender interference), 3:11; served by MacLeod Spr (bench minor – too many men), 4:18; Deveaux Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 5:45; Zuccarello Ct (misconduct – abuse of officials), 6:22; Byers Spr (tripping), 10:59; Deveaux Ct (roughing, roughing, misconduct – abuse of officials, game misconduct – continuing altercation), 19:22; Newbury Ct (roughing), 19:22; Amadio Spr (roughing, misconduct – continuing altercation, game misconduct – continuing altercation), 19:22; Dainton Spr (roughing), 19:22.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 5-13-12-30. Springfield 9-16-6-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 6; Springfield 0 / 7.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 16-11-5 (31 shots-29 saves). Springfield, Dainton 8-4-0 (30 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10), Jon McIsaac (39).
Linesmen-Rich Patry (52), Jim Briggs (83).