Category Archives: Hartford Wolf Pack

DESPERATE PIRATES FILET WHALE

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb_      VERSUS      Portland

Bruce-Berlet_thumb1BY: Bruce Berlet

The Portland Pirates, involved in a wild, multi-team chase for the final Eastern Conference playoff spots, parlayed goals from four different players and 29 saves from Peter Mannino into a 4-1 victory Friday over the Whale at the XL Center.

“If there was a loose-puck race, more times than not, they came up with it,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander said. “I thought we had some poor decisions where we turned pucks over and paid the price. A couple of times we go to check, they move the puck and we don’t maintain our defensive position and allow them to get the rebound.”

The victory moved the Pirates (30-28-3-4) into a tie for 10th place with Worcester and Albany with 67 points, one behind Syracuse and Springfield, which each won Friday night and share the eighth and final playoff berth. Meanwhile, the Whale (33-22-5-5) saw their lead in the Northeast Division sliced to three points over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who lost 3-2 in a shootout at Springfield. The Whale had been 14-5-1-0 in their previous 20 games and were an AHL-best 19-6-2-4 at home, including the three wins over the Pirates.

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SPOTLIGHT: TOMMY GRANT

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

Large green letters on a bed sheet at the XL Center on Sunday read: Tommy 10 Terrific.

Terrific, indeed.

For most of the season, Tommy Grant, who wears No. 10, has been part of the Connecticut Whale’s “energy line” with another second-year pro, center Kelsey Tessier, and rookie wing Scott Tanski. Whenever the Whale needed a lift, coach Ken Gernander didn’t hesitate to send out the gritty, inexperienced trio, as they’re all mature beyond their years.

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HOWARD BALDWIN SPEAKS OUT ABOUT WHALE

WhalersThe Jeff Jacobs column that recently appeared in the Hartford Courant was an accurate representation of the significant financial and business challenges that Whalers Sports & Entertainment faces in operating the Connecticut Whale under the current XL Center lease terms.  Some clarification needs to be added on our part, however, in terms of characterizing the working relationship between WSE and the AEG management of the XL Center.

One thing that we did not do sufficiently in the course of our conversation with Jeff Jacobs was to emphasize that, while the financial terms of the XL Center lease agreement have been a significant burden to our business, the AEG staff have been excellent operational partners to work with.  Everyone responsible for assisting us in putting on the Whale games has been consistently responsive to our day-to-day needs and has given a top-notch effort in helping us to ensure that our games remain the best in local sports entertainment, and that the fan experience at Whale home games is unmatched.

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REDEMPTION

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb_      VERSUS     Portland

(I feel like I need to apologize to the readers of Howlings. I haven’t written my normal stories for the games on Friday and last night. This is as some of you may or may not know, started as a hobby for me but has progressed to the point where it has become a non-paying — and actually I pay quite a bit of money for all of it — part-time job. Well the job that does pay me, my employment agency Crossroads Consulting, has had an explosion of business the past three days and frankly it was difficult to find the time to even get to the games at all. I am also having incredible computer problems that are messing up both “jobs” so I haven’t had the time to dedicate to this as I should. So for that I apologize. We’ll get it right again this coming week…once again, I apologize.)

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

After being shut out by the Springfield Falcons at home for the first time in 15 seasons on Saturday night, Connecticut Whale coach Ken Gernander almost completely shuffled his deck Sunday afternoon.

Gernander changed all four lines, two of the three defensive pairings and started Cam Talbot in goal for the first time in 11 games since Feb. 19.

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THE ROAD AHEAD

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb_      VERSUS    Springfield Falcons

The Connecticut Whale currently sit in the third position in the AHL standings. How they’re doing that is a testament to the character of this team, because based upon the way they played at the XL Center Saturday night in a 3-0 loss to the Springfield Falcons, a team fighting just to make it into the post-season, you’d have thought it was the other way around.

“We didn’t give much, I thought and that’s disappointing.  We never really got anything going,” team captain Wade Redden said in his post game assessment. “We had a couple power plays in the first (period) that we didn’t do anything on, didn’t get a spark.

“You guard against (emotional let downs)…it just seemed like we were flat. We had a big win (Friday) night, we just weren’t making plays. We were just a little slower to pucks than them. They just played harder than us…We just put this behind us and get ready for tomorrow.”

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WHEN YOU’RE HOT, YOU’RE HOT

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb_      VERSUS     Bridgeport

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

Despite numerous injuries and call-ups, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers had proven to be a bugaboo for the Connecticut Whale.

The Sound Tigers were 5-1-1-1 in the first eight meetings with their intrastate rival, though the Whale had lost twice in overtime and once in a shootout.

But for the second straight Friday night, the Whale prevailed thanks to another stellar performance by goalie Chad Johnson, who had 38 saves in a 3-2 victory after two quick visits to the New York Rangers this week as a backup to Martin Biron filling in for the ailing Henrik Lundqvist.

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SPOTLIGHT: BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN THE ICE

Bruce BerletBy: Bruce Berlet

Connecticut’s two AHL entries have reached a share of first place in the Northeast Division from quite different directions, yet neither is anywhere near clinching a playoff berth, something both coaches and former Hartford Wolf Pack teammates have espoused on numerous occasions.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers hold a tie-breaker lead over the Connecticut Whale, making their ninth of 10 meetings in the GEICO Connecticut Cup on Friday night at the XL Center that much more significant. The Sound Tigers (32-20-3-5) were in the division cellar after a 2-10-0-1 slide from Thanksgiving to the end of 2011, but a stunning 20-2-0-2 run vaulted them into first place before they lost three straight last weekend for the first time this season, the first two via shootouts, starting against the Whale.

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PENGUINS PUT THEIR HOPE IN CROSBY AT MSG

New York RangersNY RANGERS vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Thursday, Mar. 15, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square GardenNew York, NY
Rangers: 44-18-7 (95 pts.)
Penguins: 42-21-5 (89 pts.)

* All information through NHL games on Mar. 13

TONIGHT’S GAME:

  • The Rangers will face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.; TV: MSG Network; Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio), in an Atlantic Division match-up. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank second in the league overall, with a record of 44-18-7 (95 pts.). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden for their sixth consecutive home win, and are now 15-6-3 in their last 24 games. The Penguins enter the contest with a 42-21-5 (89 pts.) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last nine games. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, Mar. 17, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in the fourth game of their seven-game homestand.

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SPOTLIGHT: BICKEL STU – A RANGER SPECIALTY

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

When it comes to feel-good stories in the NHL this season, you’d be hard-pressed to find one better than New York Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel, who began the season playing on Asylum Street in Hartford.

Though Bickel will never be confused with elusive Hall of Famers Bobby Orr or Cheshire-bred Brian Leetch, he has proven to be one of the NHL’s all-time steals since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 23, 2010 for disgruntled Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman Nigel Williams.

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SPOTLIGHT: COMINGS AND GOINGS

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

It’s official.

Sid “The Kid” Crosby will be returning AGAIN in the world’s biggest media center.

Crosby, who has been battling the effects of post-concussion syndrome for more than 14 months, will be back in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup Thursday night when they visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers, whom they’re frantically pursuing for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference titles.

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