Tag Archives: Bruce Landon

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

Facing pucks flying at him at more than 100 mph never seemed so easy, so mundane, so inconsequential to Connecticut Whale goalie Dov Grumet-Morris.

Not when you’re helping bury one of your best friends and former Harvard teammates after he committed suicide at 28.

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FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

Bruce Landon has known Howard Baldwin for nearly four decades.

When Landon wasn’t tending goal for Baldwin’s New England Whalers for parts of their first five seasons in the World Hockey Association, he was playing mostly in Springfield, where he has spent the last 30 years working to build and then keep hockey alive.

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THE WOLF AND THE HAWK

Bruce HeadshotBy Bruce Berlet

One is “Mr. Wolf Pack.”

The other is “Hawk” – thought whether it’s for his ample nose or being a fan of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks is open to debate.

But there’s no debating the influence that Ken Gernander and Bob Crawford have had on the Hartford Wolf Pack, whose 13-plus-year history ends at the XL Center on Saturday night when they appropriately host their closest rival, the Springfield Falcons, whose owners include general manager Bruce Landon, a goalie for parts of the first five seasons of the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers.

The Wolf Pack officially will be re-branded the Connecticut Whale on Nov. 27 when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. But between Saturday and the 27th, the Wolf Pack will be traveling to five road games, capped by a visit to the Arena at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport one day before they change their name, logo and jerseys.

It might seem a bit bittersweet for Gernander and Crawford, but they’ve always been two guys who try to accentuate the positive, even in the most trying of times.

That certainly includes the feelings that they have for each other after spending countless hours together on buses, the occasional airplane flight and in hotels and restaurants throughout the United States and Canada.

“I’ve been around Kenny so long that I almost don’t know if I fully appreciate him like I should,” said Crawford, 44, who has missed only three games in 13-plus seasons while doubling as the team’s Director of Public Relations. “He’s just the consummate professional. I had a chance to watch him go about his business as a player, an assistant coach and a coach, and in all those roles, he has always been so dedicated to doing things the right way. Leading by example is kind of a cliché in sports, but I think he’s really one guy who models the right kind of way of going about things and the right kind of way of behavior rather than talks about it.”

“He always expects more out of himself than he does of anybody else, and as somebody who works with him, you want to match that and want to support him in that. I would think that if I’m a player that he’d a guy who would be great to play for just because you know he’s always going to give his best and always going to be pointed in the right direction. All you’d have to do is do what he tells you to do and you’re pretty well assured of success. He takes (bad times) out on himself and isn’t the kind of guy who’s going to say it’s just the wrong combination of players or that the players aren’t pulling their end. He’s going to watch more tape, worry more and think more and put his nose further to the grindstone.”

“I’m sure that certainly wears on him after awhile. When you’re a player, you only have to worry about getting one guy ready to play. When you’re a coach, you’ve got to worry about 20 guys, and that’s a heck of a responsibility if you’ve got a few guys who just aren’t ready to go or thinks of everything that you’re trying to do.”

While Gernander has been visible to fans on the ice and behind the bench, Crawford often goes about his business out of sight, especially on the catwalk at the XL Center. But Gernander has appreciated the support that Crawford has offered, especially in the rare down times such as the Wolf Pack (4-9-2-1) have experienced early in their 14th season, including a franchise-record, nine-game winless streak (0-7-2-0).

“Bob is just a nice guy and one of those hockey personalities who has been around forever,” Gernander said. “He’s been with other teams and is one of the guys who’s almost part of the American Hockey League scene right now. I don’t think you could find anybody who has a bad thing to say about Bob. He’s well respected by everybody he works with. He’s very professional, very prepared and very knowledgeable and obviously really enjoys what he is doing.”

“I don’t talk strategies with Bob, but he’s been a friend of mine for 16 years and has been very supportive. He’d do anything you ask him to, just a real good team guy. Before any of us had kids, he and wife Martha and me and my wife Kerby would go out for wings and different things. Not that we aren’t friends now, but in Binghamton, we lived in the same apartment and in the same stage of our life. We still go out quite often.”

Gernander and Crawford have traveled tens of thousands of miles together working with three general managers, five head coaches, six assistant coaches and two trainers. They weren’t asked to pick their favorites in those categories, but each did select his five most memorable moments in Wolf Pack history.

Gernander’s Picks

1. The Calder Cup experience in the winning season of 1999-2000: “It’s the only championship that I’ve had since peewee hockey. Just to be able to say you were a champion, that you were better than anyone else, is really special. There’s so much that goes with it. You have to have some lucky breaks, but where everybody has to be on the same page and part of an environment where there isn’t a weak link or a chink. To have everybody be that committed and to have everybody pull together like that becomes so special. It’s not just like a NCAA tournament where there’s one big game or one big upset. The Providence series (in the Eastern Conference finals) was like a lifetime. But that’s what so special about hockey playoffs. Every playoff holds a certain mystique where you can have huge upsets and Cinderella stories, but the essence of hockey is the grind. You can upset somebody in Game 1, and then you have to beat them three more times.”

2. Terry Virtue scores at 7:32 of overtime for a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals on May 21 in the Civic Center, the puck ricocheting off the skate of former Wolf Pack forward Peter Ferraro and past John Grahame to put the team in the Calder Cup finals for the first time and set off the biggest home celebration in franchise history: “That pretty much capped off a pretty big comeback on our part. I don’t think too many people had us penciled in to win that series after we got down 3-1. It sounds a little ludicrous, but the Rochester series (in the Calder Cup finals) was almost anti-climactic. It really didn’t have the same feeling and sensation of that Game 7: coming back, overtime, at home.”

3. A 3-2 victory in Game 5 of the conference finals against Providence: “We were down 3-1 in the series and trailed 2-0 with less than a minute to go in the second period when Derek (Armstrong) scored when he deflected in Drew Bannister’s shot after I won a faceoff. Then we tied it on my goal on a redirect from Jason Dawe at 6:47 of the third period and won on Dawe’s goal at 9:15. That, to me, was kind of the essence of everything.”

4. Raising the championship banner before the 2000-01 home opener on Oct. 7: “When you start a season, your goal is to win a championship, and I think some of those significant moments along the way supersede just a regular-season game or a milestone that’s just a date on the calendar as opposed to something that led to something special in terms of a championship. When they raised some (retired) numbers and I got to meet Gordie Howe was pretty special, but they’re not on the same level as key, pivotal moments in the process of winning a championship.”

5. Raising the Wolf Pack banner before the home opener with 12,943 people at the Civic Center for a 2-2 tie with the Portland Pirates on Oct. 4, 1997, less than six months after the Hartford Whalers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in their final game on April 13 and then headed to North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes: “We were the same franchise as a Rangers affiliate, but we had a new Wolf Pack logo in a new environment in new city (from Binghamton, N.Y.). It was the novelty of it all, how we were received and all the new optimism and excitement about being in a new market. It was pretty nice building in a pretty nice market, so there were all kinds of positives in being part of a new franchise.”

Crawford has missed three Wolf Pack games – one when his uncle died, one because of a staph infection and a third because of 9/11. It was nearly four after his sister, Sara, meticulously planned her wedding so he could attend in February 2002. She even waited until the AHL schedule was released before picking a date. But when the date of the Super Bowl was moved because of 9/11, the Manitoba Moose moved their game against the Wolf Pack to a day earlier, the Saturday of Sara’s wedding.

“I couldn’t bail out on her,” Crawford said.

Crawford has broadcast more than 1,100 games since arriving in September 1997, and here is his top five Wolf Pack moments:

1. Virtue’s series-clinching goal against Providence: “It was the culmination of such a great comeback in the series, arch rival, series-winning goal in overtime. It’s the one I always keep flashing back to as the most goose bump-inducing moment. We were dead in the water in that series: Down 3-1 in the series, down 3-1 in Game 5 with time running out in the second period and down 2-1 in the third period of Game 7. It was a real resurrection, and for it to end like that was the most amazing moment for me, my greatest career moment.”

2. Beating Rochester 4-1 in Game 6 of the 2000 Calder Cup finals on June 4 in Rochester to win the series 4-2 and give Hartford its only professional hockey title: “I almost remember this less than the Virtue goal because of the circumstances of the Virtue goal. But it certainly was fun to go into Rochester’s own barn, see the guys skate the Cup around the ice and then the ride home.”

3. The first home game: “From my perspective, it amounted to a NHL atmosphere. I remember walking onto the catwalk that night thinking, ‘Man, this is something else compared to what I was used to going around to other smaller buildings and smaller markets.’ It was a real festive atmosphere with the opening ceremonies.”

4. Gernander’s goal at 7:49 of triple overtime that gave the Wolf Pack a 4-3 victory over the Worcester IceCats and a four-game sweep of the 2004 second-round series on May 4 in the longest game in franchise history – 100 minutes, 49 seconds: “It was one of those games where it looked like nobody was ever going to score, and Kenny came down the wing and blew one off of Curtis Sanford’s glove and into the net. It looked like it was going to do all night, but he blew one off the glove and suddenly the series was over.”

5. Dan Cloutier’s 52 saves in a 4-1 victory in Game 6 of the second round against Worcester on May 12, 1998, which was part of a 12-year run in the playoffs: “It was a do-or-die game in Worcester, and we got outshot by a ton (53-29). That tied the series, and we ended up winning Game 7 at home (8-2) the next night. That was a weird series. Cloutier played the first two games, and we won them both pretty easily (5-2 and 5-1). Then he was too hurt to play because of a bad groin injury, so Robb Stauber went in and we lost three in a row (6-3, 7-1 and 4-1). So Game 6 is in Worcester, and it’s an elimination game for us and Cloutier gets back out there. He absolutely stood on his head.”

It’s not surprising that Gernander and Crawford would become linked in hockey, which had such a profound influence on them growing up in two quite different locales – Coleraine, Minn., population, 1,100, and Chicago, pop., 2.8 million.

Gernander was born in Coleraine, where he played football and baseball. He played senior baseball until he was 30 but began to think about being a pro when he got drafted by Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round in 1987.

“I always wanted to go to the next level and continue playing,” Gernander said. “I always was striving to get better because then there’s always a possibility of furthering yourself. I was pretty excited to get drafted because I wasn’t a shoo-in to be drafted. I was just happy that someone thought there was something in me.”

Gernander, 41, played four years at the University of Minnesota and then 14 pro seasons, the last 11 in the Rangers organization mostly with their AHL affiliates in Binghamton (1994-97) and Hartford (1997-2005). His most trying moments came after the first two games of the Wolf Pack’s first playoff series with St. John’s. He felt fatigued as the teams split the two games but just thought it was because it was the end of the season and the playoffs.

“I had chest pains at times and all kinds of diagnosis from (teammates) Todd Hall and Chris Winnes,” Gernander recalled. “I coughed up a blood clot in our room at one point, and we dismissed that as sinuses. But there were a couple of things that led me to believe something wasn’t right.”

After he and the Wolf Pack returned to Hartford, he began to feel worse, so he went to the hospital at 4 a.m. for some tests that didn’t show anything. The pain then began to subside, so Gernander went home and then to practice, where former trainer Tim Macre said, “You look awful. You’re all gray. We’ve got to get you in the hospital and looked at.”

Gernander returned to the hospital for several more tests from Dr. David Grise that showed Gernander had a pulmonary emboylism, a blood clot in his lung.

“I think it could very easily have been missed,” Gernander said. “But I think given the history that the two of us had, he did some tests that probably wouldn’t have showed that was anything wrong except for the fact that he knew I was a pro athlete and that my levels should have been a lot higher for someone who had that kind of conditioning. So he kept probing until he ordered a final test that showed I had something life-threatening.”

The Wolf Pack were eliminated when they lost the next three games at home, though Gernander, showing his captaincy aplomb, got out of sick bay and went behind the bench for Game 5, which turned out to be the series finale.

“I made it back for moral support,” Gernander said.

Gernander was captain the last 10 years, eight in Hartford, and is the Wolf Pack’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals (14), plus-minus (plus-93), games played (599) and playoff games played (78). He also ranks second all-time in goals (160), assists (187) points (347), power-play goals (50) and game-winning goals (30) but was rarely called up to the Rangers, playing in only 27 NHL games, 15 in the playoffs, and finishing with two goals and three assists.

After retiring as a player after the 2004-05 season, Gernander was an assistant coach under Jim Schoenfeld for three years and is in his fourth season as head coach. He retired as the AHL’s all-time leader in career playoff games played (123) and is the all-time leading scorer among American-born players with 624 points in 973 games. He has the most coaching victories in franchise history (136), having passed AHL Hall of Fame member John Paddock’s 130 at the end of last season.

Gernander now lives in New Britain with Kerby and their three children – McKenna, 11, Micah, 9, and Miranda, 5. McKenna and Micah play hockey, and Micha and Crawford’s son, Billy, play on the same team on odd-numbered years.

Crawford lived in Chicago through high school and then attended Harvard, where he appropriately earned a degree in linguistics in 1988 while broadcasting Crimson men’s hockey games on student radio station WHRB-FM. During that time, Harvard won the 1989 national championship, beating reigning Hobey Baker Award winner Stauber and the University of Minnesota 4-3 in the title game.

Crawford broadcast games that included players such as captain Lane McDonald, the son of NHL players Lowell McDonald whose rights were acquired by the Hartford Whalers in a trade with the Calgary Flames after he took a year off to play on 1988 U.S. Olympic team and then returned and won the 1989 Hobey Baker Award as college’s top player as a senior despite playing his entire career through chronic migraines that eventually impaired his vision and forced him to retire while trying out for the Olympic team in 1992, which was 13 years before he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame; future Wolf Pack and Rangers center Ted Donato, who worked part-time in the equipment room to help pay his tuition, played on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team and was Crimson coach from 2004 to 2009; Allen Bourbeau, Peter Ciavaglia, C.J. Young and goalies Allain Roy and Chuckie Hughes.

Just months after graduating, Crawford, who always was around radio because his father was in the business, said he “lucked into” a job with the Adirondack Red Wings after sending demo tapes to every minor-league team that he could find.

“Their guy, John Kelly, was leaving to back up Marv Albert on the Rangers’ MSG Radio broadcasts,” Crawford said. “But Marv could only make about 25 broadcasts a year because he had so many other commitments, so Kelly left to join the Rangers. He’s now with the St. Louis Blues.”

Crawford was with the Red Wings for six years, including Calder Cup championship seasons in 1989 and 1992, the latter when the visiting team won every game in the finals, with the finale being in St. John’s, Newfoundland. That title was the springboard for Red Wings coach Barry Melrose to become coach of the Los Angeles Kings when Wayne Gretzky was in town and eventually a hockey analyst for ESPN.

Crawford worked for the Providence Bruins in 1994-95 before moving on to the Binghamton Rangers for two years and then on to Hartford, where he’s now in his 23rd AHL season.

Crawford lives in New Britain with Martha and two hockey-playing sons – Mac, 12, and Billy, 10.

“They both play for the other Bob Crawford’s Connecticut Whalers organization,” Crawford said, referring to the former Whalers and Rangers right wing who owns three area rinks and is president and chief operating officer of Whalers Sports and Entertainment. “He’s the more celebrated Bob Crawford.”

Maybe in NHL and state/national/international amateur hockey circles, but not with the Wolf Pack – or the future Connecticut Whale.

Gernander and Crawford will always hold a special place in Wolf Pack history – and rightfully so.

And special events for the Wolf Pack’s XL Center finale include a WCCC indoor “Rock Party” with music, a beer garden and more from 5:30 to 7 p.m., a free commemorative poster for the first 3,000 fans, a $2 off coupon to a Connecticut Whale game for donating a non-perishable canned food item, a Bud Light XBox regional final, a Wolf Pack merchandise sale in the XL Center atrium and the announcement of the All-Wolf Pack Team.

IT AIN’T OVER TILL THE FAT LADY SINGS…

Hartford Wolf Pack puck VERSUS Springfield Falcons

There’s an old cliché every sports fan knows…“it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” For the Hartford Wolf Pack, while they aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, after Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to the last place Springfield Falcons at the XL Center, if you listen carefully you can hear her warming up in the wings.

Since we’re on the subject of clichés, it was “déjà vu all over again.” This game became a microcosm of all that has plagued the Hartford Wolf Pack this entire 2009 – 2010 season; whether it was playing from behind, inopportune turnovers, erratic and inconsistent play between the pipes, an ineffective power play and a lack of any kind of timely scoring.

“You hit the nail right on the head,” the always candid Wolf Pack right wing Dale Weise said when presented that theory. We tied it up 2-2 in the second and then they score and make it 3-2 on the next shift. That’s one of the biggest times in the game where we have to bear down: the last minute (of a period) and shifts after goals. We just didn’t do that, and that’s exactly the way it’s been all year.”

Matt Zaba started between the pipes for the home team and had a rough first period. Zaba allowed two goals on just seven shots and was relieved at the end of the first period.

“We were outshooting them for a large portion of the period,” Head Coach Ken Gernander said in his post game press conference. “We controlled play and we were down 2-0 so we needed to make a change.”

At 10:02 Springfield did what the majority of teams have done to Hartford all season long. They scored first.

Colton Fretter brought the puck into the Pack zone and fired a shot from the left circle. The puck rebounded off Zaba (5 saves) and slid out tot he crease. Liam Reddox beat Ryan Garlock to the puck and the Falcon left winger attempted to pass the puck back to Rob Hisey. The puck went through Garlock’s legs and hit the left skate of Jared Nightingale who stood between Hisey and Zaba and went into the far corner of the net.

Nightingale nearly redeemed himself with 2:47 left when he spotted Pack captain Dane Byers getting ahead of ex-Pack defenseman, and current Springfield assistant captain, Jake Taylor, in close to the net and put the puck right on the left winger’s stick.

Springfield netminder Bryan Pitton (33 saves, 2-2-0) held his ground and stopped Byers in front. Taylor tackling his former teammate certainly helped negate Byers getting much on his shot. Even bigger than that was referee Mark Lemelin not making a call on a blatantly obvious penalty.

The lack of a call became even bigger when with just 22.4 ticks of the clock remaining in the period, another ex-Pack, Dean Arsene blasted a shot from the left point hit Zaba’s pad and went into the net. It appeared on the replay that Zaba never saw the shot as there was lots of traffic in front of him.

So despite outshooting Springfield 17-7, the Pack entered the second trailing by two goals.

Chad Johnson (10 saves, 16-16-2) came into the game in relief to start the second period.

The Pack turned up the pressure to start the second period. Colin McDonald bloodied the lip of Anders Eriksson just 47 seconds into the period and gave the Pack four minutes of power play time on a high sticking call.

For most of the power play the few shots that the power play units did generate all missed the net. That was until there were only 7 seconds left in the four minute advantage. The American League’s third leading scorer, Corey Locke took a pass along the right wing half boards from recent Charlotte call-up Julien Brouillette. Locke put a move on Matt Nickerson and created space for himself in the slot. The Toronto native fired a hard rising shot that beat Pitton high to the glove side for his team leading 29th of the season cutting the Springfield lead in half.

1:17 later, at 5:51, the Pack knotted the score when Derek Couture’s backhander beat Pitton after following up on the rebound of his own shot. Garlock got the assist.

But Johnson could not keep his opponents off the scoreboard.

After starting off very hot and getting time in New York with the Rangers where he went 1-2-1, Johnson has struggled. The rookie netminder from Calgary, who the Rangers acquired from Pittsburgh for a fifth round draft pick before the season, set a team record losing seven consecutive starts before finally ending the streak by beating these same Falcons on March 12th, looked shaky again and gave up a goal just 21 seconds later.

Charles Linglet followed up a shot that a wide open Jordan Eberle fired right past Johnson.

Eberle was a hero for the Canadian National team in the World Junior Championship held earlier this year. In just two games played since his juniors’ season ended at Regina of the Western Hockey League, Eberle has five points (2g, 3a). The Pack had no answer for him all game long.

Eberle would assist on what would prove to be the game winner by another ex-Pack in this game. Chad Wiseman, a teammate of Gernander’s, scored a goal that should never have gotten past Johnson but did. Johnson was squared up to Wiseman on the right wing circle, but just plain missed the wrist shot form the veteran winger.

It wasn’t like the Pack didn’t have their chances to score goals.

Much like it has all season, the Pack power play let them down with a one-for-seven performance. Lemelin gave the Wolf Pack four power play opportunities in the third period and the Pack came up empty on all of them.

“What more can you ask for?” Weise said. “We just got to capitalize. Our power play has been hot at times and it’s really been really cold at times. We needed to score and we didn’t. What else can you say?”

“We had some good chances on the power play,” Gernander said. “Maybe we could have used a little more screening than tipping, we had some good deflections that just missed” He said. “There were some good chances generated. We did have one power play goal tonight.”

That’s been pretty symptomatic of the Pack’s entire season as well. Blown opportunities off ineffective man advantages.

The Pack made it interesting…much as they’ve done all year…When Brodie Dupont took a sweet cross ice feed from Garlock and redirected it past Pitton for his 16th of the year

One last great opportunity was afforded the Pack with less than a minute to go to get the equalizer, but Locke could not handle a solid cross ice pass from P.A. Parenteau and flubbed his shot which gave Pitton time to cover it.

“Shots were pretty good in our favor (36-19), and we controlled play for large portions of the game,” Gernander said. “I don’t know which portion of the game we were clearly outplayed.” said the clearly exasperated Pack head Coach.

Weise tipped his hat to the Springfield netminder. “I thought we had enough chances to win, but I thought their goalie played great. Just on me alone, I thought he made three saves on which I should have scored. There were a couple breakdowns that led to goals, and they aren’t really the goalie’s fault a couple of mistakes led to the goals. We gave them opportunities.”

With Wilkes-Barre defeating Rochester 5-4, that leaves the Wolf Pack ten points out of a playoff berth with just 11 games to play for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

It’s sure looking like the team streak of twelve consecutive playoff appearances is going to come to an end.

When it’s all done, the Tune that the Fat Lady sings will probably be off of the Led Zeppelin album, “The Song Remains the Same” because it’s been the same things over and over all season long.

Bruce Berlet’s story can be read at Hartfordwolfpack.com. Dan Hickling was in the XL Center and he takes you inside the winner’s locker room at MassLive.com.

Bob Crawford has a nice profile of the Pack’s P.A. Parenteau at TheAHL.com.

GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET

STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA STK P 10 PIM
1. Sharks 68 42 21 2 3 89 236 206 1-0-0-0 6-4-0-0 1096
2. Pirates 70 38 22 6 4 86 214 192 2-0-1-1 4-4-1-1 1261
3. Monarchs 69 35 25 3 6 79 180 174 1-0-0-1 3-5-1-1 1040
4. Devils 70 35 26 4 5 79 205 195 1-0-0-0 4-4-0-2 1279
5. Sound Tigers 70 33 27 4 6 76 175 195 6-0-1-0 6-3-1-0 1569
6. Bruins 71 33 34 3 1 70 189 199 0-1-0-0 3-6-0-1 1081
7. WOLF PACK 69 28 30 6 5 67 190 215 0-2-0-0 2-4-3-1 1373
8. Falcons 71 24 34 10 3 61 183 258 3-0-1-0 6-3-1-0 1490

LAST PLAYOFF SPOT STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS
1. Penguins 70 36 29 2 3 77
2. Sound Tigers 70 33 27 4 6 76
3. Bruins 71 33 34 3 1 70
4. WOLF PACK 69 28 30 6 5 67

SCHEDULE:

Sunday will see Bridgeport hosting Springfield. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has the night off. It’s the Pack’s game-in-hand

In other Atlantic division action, Portland and Manchester will be playing at the Androscoggin Bank Coliseum. Worcester and Lowell meet up at the Tsongas Arena. Across the AHL it’s Abbotsford visiting Toronto. Binghamton travels to the Times Union Center to take on Albany. The Moose and Grand Rapids lock horns in Manitoba. Chicago and San Antonio mix it up at the Allstate Arena. Peoria and Texas do battle while Houston and Milwaukee tango at the Toyota and Hershey is likely to steamroll Adirondack at the Giant Center.

SCOREBOARD:

Saturday night was a big blow for the New York Rangers top developmental team. About the only good result was that Providence lost to Worcester 2-1 at the DCU Center. Other than that just about all the pieces went awry for the Boys in the red, white and blue. Bridgeport lost to Manchester, but they picked up a point by bringing the game into OT. Worst of all, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won their game as five different Penguins scored and overcame two goals by ex-Pack Jeff Taffe and beat Rochester 5-4.

In other AHL action, in he Atlantic Division it was Lowell in overtime knocking off Portland. Michael Swift had two goals for the winners. Chris Holt’s scoring streak stopped at one game, but he only surrendered a single tally and Jonathan Cheechoo’s shorthanded goal was the difference as Binghamton won 2-1 over Albany. Holt improved his stats to a record of 15-14-1 with a 2.94GAA and a .906%.

In other games Toronto won in a shootout over Hamilton 4-3. Norfolk tripled up Adirondack 3-1. Lake Erie got two markers, including the game winner, from captain Brian Willsie and knocked off Abbotsford 3-2. Hershey continues to be the best team in the AHL and got two goals from Andrew Gordon and trounced Syracuse 6-2. Chicago doubled up on San Antonio 6-3. Kevin Doell had two goals for the President’s hometown team. Texas shutout Rockford 2-0. Brent Krahn had his fourth shutout of the season and ran his record to 14-2 with a microscopic GAA of 1.62 and an insane .950 save percentage. Ex-Pack Hugh Jessiman had his 19th goal of the season, a career high, and with his 19 helpers has 38 points on the season as his Milwaukee Admirals beat the Houston Aeros (try saying those two names together ten times fast).

In the ECHL, of concern to Charlotte fans, Gwinnett beat Trenton 6-4. And Florida knocked off South Carolina 5-3. Charlotte has three games in hand on South Carolina. They’re tied in wins and trail by five points. If the Checkers can continue to play the way they’ve been playing, it is not inconceivable that they could win the East Division. The Checkers have seven games left on their schedule. Five of them are at home. They play two series with Florida; a pair in Charlotte next week and then finish the season in Florida. They have a pair with Reading and a solo game against Gwinnett. The Checkers have won seven in a row. If they can string a few more together…and the way the team has been playing that’s a possibility, they could be playing for the division crown the first weekend in April.

NOTES:

* If you have yet to sign up for our new service to our readers on Twitter, you’re really missing out on the most extensive coverage of the Wolf Pack and Checkers you’ll find anywhere. In addition to keeping you posted here on all major news stories, visit www.twitter.com/howlingstoday for in-game coverage of both Wolf Pack and Checkers games. Please “Follow” us on Twitter.

* The Hartford Wolf Pack have never been two games below .500 this late in the season in their 13 year history.

* In games where the Pack outshoot their opponents, they are 18-13-2-3. When they’re outshot, the Pack are 10-17-4-2

* Games decided by one goal has the Pack at 12-10-6-5

* Here’s more good news. In games trailing after one period they are 4-17-2-3 and after two they are 2-26-1-2

* Locke leads the AHL with 18 power play goals.

* Jake Taylor, who was plagued each year of his time with the Wolf Pack with serious injuries that prohibited him from playing a full season, told Howlings at the Pack’s last game in Springfield that he was hopeful that this would be his first year without serious injury. Well, that changed for the new father of a new baby when he was hit by a shot in the third period and then hospitalized after the game with either a concussion or fracture in his face. Exact details were not released.

* Bruce Landon spoke to reporters before the game and said that he has been in negotiations to bring another NHL affiliate to Springfield. He told reporters he expects to finalize a deal this coming week. Rumors are circulating that team is going to be the Columbus Blue Jackets as they will be leaving the Syracuse Crunch behind and move to the Pack’s I-91 rival city. That will leave Syracuse and Albany without affiliates for next season. Any rumors of the Wolf Pack moving somewhere else are pretty much 100% dead. Rumors also have the Sound Tigers moving on and possibly an ECHL team moving into Bridgeport.

LINES:

Dupont – Locke – Parenteau
Byers © – Newbury – Weise
Soryal – Crowder – Grachev
Brashear – Garlock – Couture

Eriksson – Sanguinetti
Brouillette – Potter
Heikkinen – Nightingale

Zaba
Johnson

(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)

SCRATCHES:

Andres Ambϋhl – Healthy Scratch
Nigel Williams – Undisclosed Injury – Day-to-Day
Steven Valiquette – Hand Injury – Season over
Michael Sauer – Shoulder – Season over
Mike Hoffman – Shoulder – Season over
Brent Henley – Knee – Season over

THREE STARS:

1. SPR – J. Eberle
2. SPR – C. Linglet
3. HFD – R. Garlock

ON ICE OFFICIALS:

Referee:
Mark Lemelin (84)

Linesmen:
Luke Galvin (2)
Brent Colby (7)

NEXT GAME:

While the Pack are not mathematically eliminated, for all intents and purposes they’re just playing out the string. Providence is the next opponent Sunday afternoon. Ironically both the Rangers and the Wolf Pack face elimination on the same day against the same franchise. Bob Crawford will have the Pre-Game show at 2:30 with the puck dropping at 3:00.

To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.

If you can attend the home games, they cost is as little as $10 a ticket, why not just go? For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.

Too far away or can’t make it? Listen live at WTIC.com or from your cell phone or computer visit www.twitter.com/howlingstoday for complete live in-game coverage.

SCORE-SHEET:

Springfield Falcons 4 At Hartford Wolf Pack 3 – Status: Final

Mar 20, 2010 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Springfield 2 2 0 – 4

Hartford 0 2 1 – 3

1st Period-1, Springfield, Reddox 17 (Fretter, Bendfeld), 10:02. 2, Springfield, Arsene 2 (Linglet, Eberle), 19:37. Penalties-Byers Hfd (high-sticking), 12:44.

2nd Period-3, Hartford, Locke 29 (Brouillette), 4:34 (pp). 4, Hartford, Couture 9 (Garlock, Soryal), 5:51. 5, Springfield, Eberle 2 (Linglet), 6:12. 6, Springfield, Wiseman 21 (Eberle, David), 12:42. Penalties-McDonald Spr (double minor – high-sticking), 0:47; Trukhno Spr (hooking), 6:38; Locke Hfd (interference), 8:06; Dupont Hfd (hooking), 14:07; Newbury Hfd (high-sticking), 16:38.

3rd Period-7, Hartford, Dupont 16 (Garlock, Eriksson), 15:53. Penalties-MacMurchy Spr (tripping), 4:15; Trukhno Spr (tripping), 8:37; served by Fretter Spr (bench minor – too many men), 12:55; Arsene Spr (slashing), 15:39; Newbury Hfd (slashing), 15:39; served by Fretter Spr (bench minor – too many men), 17:37; Eriksson Hfd (interference), 19:16.

Shots on Goal-Springfield 7-8-4-19. Hartford 17-9-10-36.

Power Play Opportunities-Springfield 0 of 5; Hartford 1 of 7.

Goalies-Springfield, Pitton 2-2-0 (36 shots-33 saves). Hartford, Zaba 6-11-2 (7 shots-5 saves); Johnson 16-16-2 (12 shots-10 saves).

A-4,694