Tag Archives: Brendan Bell

I’D BE SITTING IN THE BACK OF THE BUS

Connecticut-Whale_thumb1      VERSUS      Portland

Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander does not handle losing well and it is almost a certainty that he was beside himself on Monday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center after his Whale amassed a three goal lead over the Portland Pirates through the first 36:12 only to give it all back over the final 24:48 before eventually succumbing to the home team 5-4 in overtime on Nathan Oystrick’s second goal of the game.

Over the first period and a half, the Whale built a 3-0 lead on two goals by from Kelsey Tessier and the fourth goal in as many games from the AHL’s Reebok Player of the Week, Kris Newbury.

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WHALE GIVE FALCONS CHEMISTRY LESSON

Connecticut Whale      VERSUS      Springfield Falcons

Both I-91 rivals are a mix of veteran and young talent, but after scoring four unanswered goals over the last two periods, the Connecticut Whale  showed how they have managed to hold onto first palace in the Northeast Division while the Springfield Falcons struggle to remain out of the division basement with a chemistry-led and convincing 5-2 win over in front of 5,448 at the XL Center on the last game of 2011.

Despite having strong talent like goaltender Manny Legace, AHL All-Star Martin St. Pierre, veteran Adam Mair, left winger Matt Calvert, ex-Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers and future AHL Hall-of-Famer Alexandre Giroux and young talent like Cam Atkinson and Tomas Kubalik the Falcons just seem adrift on the ice as they have lost all five games against the Whale this season.

For the Whale, Francois Bouchard, the game’s First Star, had a break-out game pacing the Whale with three assists. Kris Newbury extended his points scoring streak to seven games with two goals and Pavel Valentenko, quickly moving up the depth chart, had a goal and a helper, including what proved to be the game-winner for the Whale.

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WHALE DROWN CHASING SHARKS

 VERSUS 

In the baseball film, “Bull Durham” the Manager of the baseball team that Kevin Costner plays for is upset after a loss and tells his players his view of the game this way:

“This is a simple game. Ya throw the ball; Ya hit the ball; Ya catch the ball.”

Well, hockey is not nearly as simple a game as baseball, but if asked it’s not too far of a stretch of the imagination to say that Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander would probably say that in order to win in hockey there are also three things to win: Skate hard for sixty minutes, score timely goals and stay out of the penalty box. Continue reading

WHALE: “I AIN’T ‘FRAID OF NO GHOSTS”

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb1[2]      VERSUS     Adirondack

It wasn’t pretty that’s for sure, but the Connecticut Whale, behind a Pavel Valentenko missile from the high slot with 17 seconds left in regulation beat the Adirondack Phantoms 2-1 at the XL Center before 2,389 Wednesday night.

The play that won the game for the Whale was the same one that Assistant Coach J.J. Daigneault ran successfully twice last season. The first time with Valentenko and the next time with current New York Ranger Stu Bickel.

“Originally I had Blake Parlett out there but then called him back and sent Valentenko out,” Daigneault said.

Obviously it worked.

It wouldn’t have worked though if Kris Newbury, back wearing the Assistant Captain’s A on his sweater with veteran defenseman Wade Redden out indefinitely with a leg injury, hadn’t won the face-off Kris Newbury with Tyler Brown as cleanly as he did.

Newbury sent the puck through his legs and back to Brendan Bell stationed behind the Whale’s top center and to his left. Bell received the puck just outside the left-wing face-off circle and quickly moved the puck over to Valentenko who stationed himself at the top of the high slot.  Valentenko unleashed an absolute nuclear missile that bore it’s way straight through Adirondack Phantoms’ goalie Jason Bacashihua (4-3-1 , 24 saves) with just 16.2 seconds left.

“(Faceoffs) are an important part of my game, and something I take a lot of pride in,” Newbury said. “Every time I’m in there, I try to win it and get it back (to the defense). With (Valentenko) shooting the puck, you have a good chance to win the game.”

Valentenko, who’d missed the net badly to the left in a similar situation earlier in the game. However that missed shot went straight to newcomer Jeff Prough and fired it right past Bacashihua for both his first AHL goal and point of his young career. It was a power play goal that gave the Whale, at the time, a 2-1 lead.

In this opportunity though, Valentenko made no qualms about it to anyone that if he got the puck he was going to score by, much as Babe Ruth reportedly called is  shot, Valentenko did and it worked out… nicely.

But in terms of the overall game, this was one of those grind it out, 1990’s New Jersey Devils kind of games. The Phantoms were playing the same 1-3-1 defensive trap that caused such a stir when Tampa Bay played Philadelphia several weeks ago. It’s the very thing that at the NHL level they’re trying to get away from. That kind of a defense strips all the passion and all the joy from a hockey game. When that defense is employed, the game becomes just dump and chase and fall back to go get it. All the fluidity that makes hockey such a magnificent sport to watch suddenly disappears and all that’s left is, well…dull.

But that is what it is and for the Whale, the problem with a game like that is that when there’s zero room in the neutral zone, players can’t make errant or big risk passes. At 4:07 Parlett did just that and it cost the Whale. Parlett’s pass was picked off by Garrett Roe at the right point and he quickly moved it to Brown who found a wide open Mike Testwuide who slipped it into the left side of the net past Chad Johnson (10-4-3, 27 saves).

Andre Deveaux tied the game in the second period when the 6’4, 232 pounder came out from off the right wing boards with Andy Thomas hanging on him like a cheap suit. Deveaux made a nifty backhander from the right circle that beat Bacashihua over the stick side shoulder.

Tye McGinn tied the game at two at 10:52 of the second frame when he came straight up the slot, took a pass from Cullen Eddy and fired it past a defenseless Johnson.

The Whale are now off for the next several days and will reconvene on Monday at Webster Bank Arena for another GEICO Cup battle with their franchise and in-state rival with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

(To listen to all the post-game reaction as well as full details on this contest, you’ll find them after the jump) Continue reading

WHALE QUIET SOUND TIGERS

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb1      VERSUS     Bridgeport

There certainly was not going to be much not to like for Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander not to like after his team crushed the injury and call-up depleted Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6-3 at the XL Center in front of a small but vocal crowd of 2,745 Friday night.

“(It was) a pretty solid team game where everybody chipped in and did their part.” Gernander said. “We spread (the scoring0 out pretty well…I’m pretty happy with the special teams.”

SPOTLIGHT: KEVIN DINEEN

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Former Hartford Whalers star right wing and captain Kevin Dineen is certainly in the running for NHL Coach of the Year, after what he has done with the Florida Panthers in his first season behind an NHL bench.

Well, Dineen earned more kudos from his upstart team on Saturday, when he decided to have his South Division-leading Panthers practice outdoors in Central Park as a treat after earning three of four points with a shutout win in Boston on Thursday night and overtime loss in Buffalo on Friday night, before facing the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

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SPOTLIGHT: BRENDAN BELL

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

After Tim Erixon had another strong game for the Connecticut Whale last week, including a personal North American pro best of three assists, veteran defenseman Brendan Bell offered kudos about how the Swedish rookie blueliner handled his reassignment from the parent New York Rangers.

“With young players, you’re here to learn, and it takes some time because (the AHL) isn’t an easy league to play in,” said Bell, who played one game with the Rangers after being signed as a free agent in the offseason and before being sent down a second time Oct. 25. “But you hone your craft and you bide your time, and the thing about Tim that’s been good is that he hasn’t been frustrated, he hasn’t pouted, he hasn’t done any of that stuff since he’s been here (Oct. 29). He’s just trying to learn and get better, and he’ll probably get there (the NHL) quicker because of that.”

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WHALE COMEBACK IN 3RD, SINK PIRATES IN OT

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb      VERSUS     Portland

Say what you want about this 2011-2012 edition of the Connecticut Whale, but when you watch them you certainly get your money’s worth.

On a night when the team handed out, “Never Throw In The Towel” rally towels to the 3,482 at the XL Center, the New York Rangers top affiliate rallied for the second consecutive game scoring two goals in the third period to tie and then won in overtime. The Whale beat the visiting Portland Pirates Wednesday night by the same 3-2 score they beat the Providence Bruins with Sunday afternoon with both game winners coming off of tremendous shots from Brendan Bell.

This team is certainly not boring, that’s for sure. Continue reading

SPOTLIGHT: MOVEMBER

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Brendan Bell’s wife might not be enamored with his latest bit of facial hair, but he’s the early leader for best moustache on the Connecticut Whale during the always worthwhile Movember cause.

During Movember – the month formerly known as November – people worldwide sprout moustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. It started in Australia in 2003 and then spread to South Africa and Europe, reaching American shores five years ago. In 2010 alone, more than 64,500 Mo brothers and sisters got on board in the United States, raising $7.5 million.

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WHALE FIND A WAY

Connecticut-Whale_thumb      VERSUS      Providence

Maybe having a lead entering the third period is a bad thing for this year’s edition of the Connecticut Whale. They’ve had a lead at some point in each of the previous sixteen games coming into the Dunkin Donuts Center Sunday afternoon for a battle with the Providence Bruins. The Whale have squandered those leads to the tune of seven losses. However in this contest, the Whale never led; well not until John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin scored in the shootout capping an improbable comeback from a two-goal, third period deficit to give the Whale the 3-2 win.

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