Tag Archives: Gerry McDonald

FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Colin McDonald didn’t hide his feelings – and didn’t want to, either.

After scoring an AHL-leading 42 goals with the Oklahoma City Barons last season, the Wethersfield native felt slighted when the Edmonton Oilers made an offer he could easily refuse. Then McDonald got one from the Pittsburgh Penguins that wasn’t as lucrative as some of his other offers but certainly made him feel wanted.

“I did everything the Oilers ever asked of me and just wish they showed more interest in me,” McDonald said before being part of the Green’s 6-2 victory over the Red in the scrimmage wrap-up to the sixth annual Pete Asadourian Pro Hockey Camp at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell on Friday night. “Because I’m bitter about Edmonton not signing me last summer, part of me just wants to make it with a different team. I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t give me more than just an AHL deal, and I kind of want to stick it to ’em and make it with a different team.”

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

BY: Bruce Berlet

It’s hardly been an OFF-season for Connecticut Whale/New York Rangers center Kris Newbury.

First, Newbury’s wife, Amanda, gave birth to the couple’s third child, Jorja, on May 7.

“The little one is growing like a weed,” proud papa said with a wide smile.

Newbury also was involved in plenty of off-ice activities, mostly baseball, with 8-year-old son Jake and 6-year-old daughter Jaidyn. And when not busy with the kids, Newbury was working out 2-to-3 hours four days a week with former Whale strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Goodman at Future Fitness Sport Specific Training at Champions Skating Center, the Whale’s practice facility when they’re not at the XL Center in Hartford.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

By Bruce Berlet

Former Hartford Wolf Pack wing Nigel Dawes was part of a Winnipeg native daily double for the Hamilton Bulldogs that was a large part of AHL history on Monday night.

Dawes notched his team-leading ninth goal of the playoffs at 6:24 of the third period to tie it, then Dustin Boyd scored only six seconds into the third overtime, ending the longest Game 7 in  the AHL’s 75-year history as the Bulldogs beat the visiting Manitoba Moose 2-1 in the decisive game of the North Division finals. Continue reading

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

When Jeremy Williams finally realized his goal of playing in the NHL five years ago, he had Toronto Maple Leafs captain, 2006 Olympic gold medalist and future Hall of Famer Mats Sundin sitting beside him in the locker room.

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CRAWFORD AND KOTSOPOULOUS TO PLAY

BOB CRAWFORD AND CHRIS KOTSOPOULOS ADDED TO PLAYER ROSTER FOR WHALERS VS. BRUINS LEGENDS GAME AT OUTDOOR HARVEST-PROPERTIES.COM “WHALE BOWL” FEBRUARY 19

Legends Game Precedes Outdoor AHL Battle between the CT Whale and Providence Bruins at Rentschler Field

Whale Bowl

Hartford, CT –  Whalers Sports and Entertainment announced today that Bob Crawford and Chris Kotsopoulos will join the group of featured players for the Hartford Whalers legends vs. Boston Bruins legends game February 19, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

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A NEW ERA BEGINS

Connecticut Whale VERSUS  Bridgeport

HARTFORD, Conn. – What a difference a day makes? Well that and an XL Center filled with 13,089 fans.

A better than expected, pardon the pun, “packed” house and a very exciting victory over an interstate opponent, started off Howard Baldwin’s dream for a new era in Hartford hockey history off on a good foot. Continue reading

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

By Bruce Berlet

HARTFORD, Conn. – Howard Baldwin peered down from the XL Center’s directors suite at an arena three-quarters full and broke into a wide smile.

“It’s a big night and a big step, but just one of many to come,” said Baldwin, the chairman and CEO of Whalers Sports and Entertainment. “It’s like a chapter, a big chapter of a journey that will continue.”

Baldwin, the former owner and managing general partner of the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers and National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers, has spent 10 months working toward trying to revitalize the local hockey marker in hopes of bringing the NHL back to Hartford.

It has been anything but an easy road, but when the Connecticut Whale, the rebranded name of the former Hartford Wolf Pack, skated onto the ice for the first time to the revived strains of “Brass Bonanza” and cheers of 13,089, a major hurdle has been cleared.

“It sure has been a road with a lot of speed bumps,” Baldwin said as the Whale made their debut against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. “But I guess we’re being tested to show that we really want it. I don’t know how you could possibly take over a team under more difficult circumstances, and that’s what makes this so much more rewarding.

“If you look at the nights where we’ve had a good date, like on Saturday night, we’ve done very well. We just have to get through this season, build up to the 7-to-10,000 (fans) on a more consistent basis, and then next season we’re do a lot more, believe it, because we’ll have time to lay down a base.”

Baldwin & Co. had hoped to take over the business operations of the Wolf Pack in the summer, but extended negotiations with Northland, AEG and Madison Square Garden prevented WS&E from assuming control until 21/2 weeks before the Wolf Pack began their 14th season on Oct. 8.

“The way it’s done now, you start selling in February for next season,” Baldwin said. “You lay your season ticket base down and your plan base down, and then the schedule comes out in August and you lay out your promotions and group sales for the first half of the season. We missed all of that this year.

“And I can guarantee we’ll have a better schedule next year. People have to have some compassion. It’s one thing to have 25 percent of the schedule in the first five weeks, but then a game on Super Bowl Sunday? Come on. But I just want to get the opening done, get these two games under our belt (the Whale hosts Adirondack on Sunday at 5 p.m.), and then we’ll attack a few other issues.

“The biggest thing is getting as many fannies in the seats as we can and lay a base for next year, when we will have had a full year the way normal teams are run. Then I think we’ll do what we’re doing tonight on a fairly regular basis.”

Among those on hand for the Whale’s grand opening was Baldwin’s 93-year-old mother, Rosie, who was in from Maine and watched from the executive suite. And six former Whalers – Garry Swain, Doug Roberts, Yvon Couriveau, Norm Barnes, Gerry McDonald and captain Russ Anderson – spent more than an hour signing autographs in the XL Center atrium that had thousands of fans in a serpentine line 90 minutes before the opening faceoff. Then the six participated in the ceremonial first puck drop.

Anderson, 55, has remained in the area since retiring from the Whalers in 1985. He took two years off and then sold cars for Richard Chevrolet in Cheshire for 20 years and is now semi-retired, working part-time for Longmeadow Motors Cars in Enfield.

Anderson attended some Wolf Pack games but couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the birth of the Whale.

“I think this is really fantastic,” Anderson said. “To see all these fans, you can just tell the excitement is back. It’s just like when I was playing here and you’d walk in and see all the people.”

Anderson missed the Whalers Fan Fest in August because of a previous engagement and won’t be able to play with the Whalers alumni team in Hockey Fest 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 11-23 because of pending hip surgery.

But Anderson stayed in Connecticut because of how he was treated in his short stint with the Whalers, who were in Hartford from 1979 until they left for North Carolina in 1997.

“I was only here a year-and-a-half, but the atmosphere was great,” Anderson said. “And I love this town, which is half the reason why I moved back (to Southington). They have great fans and great support for the team.”

Swain began working for WS&E in corporate sales two weeks ago and is trying to drum up as much interest and support for the team as possible.

“I’ve been going everywhere, and the response has been terrific,” Swain said between autographs. “It’s great to see so many people here. It’s like the old days. There was so much community interest, and that’s what we’re trying to get back. The (players) will be going into the community even more than they have been.

“We’re trying to do all we can to get it back where it was when the Whalers were here. Who knows, maybe in three or four years, we’re be back in the NHL.”

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

Bruce HeadshotBy Bruce Berlet

HARTFORD, Conn. – The first Connecticut Whale game Saturday night will have a bit of a Hartford Whalers feel.

Former Whalers players Garry Swain, Norm Barnes, Yvon Corriveau, Gerry McDonald, and captain Russ Anderson will be signing autographs in the XL Center atrium from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and then participate in pregame ceremonies that include dropping the ceremonial first puck before the Whale make their debut against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. And Tony Harrington, who sang the national anthem for years before Whalers games, will do the honors Saturday night after the Whale players are introduced in the first of three new uniforms they will wear the rest of the season.

Because Whalers Sports and Entertainment took control of the franchise so late, Reebok, which is contracted to do all AHL uniforms, was unable to produce the jersey in time for the rebranding. So Reebok subcontracted the production to SP Apparel. The two other jerseys, primarily white and blue tops, will be produced by Reebok and should be available in the next few weeks.

“I love the jersey,” said Whalers Sports and Entertainment chairman and CEO Howard Baldwin, who helped design it. “Look, it’s our colors (blue and green). And it’s sort of a new look because it’s a new era. We’ll always tinker with it, I’m not going to kid you. We’ll have a second and a third jersey, but what you see will be with us for a long time.”

The Whale actually will make its first public appearance Friday night when the Festival of Light opens at Constitution Plaza in Hartford. Starting at 5 p.m., Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, cast members of the Hartford Stage Company’s “A Christmas Carol,” and Sonar, the Wolf Pack’s mascot, will lead a procession to Bushnell Park, passing through State House Square on the way to visitors seeing a giant Christmas tree and sipping free hot chocolate.

During the march, they will be joined by Whale mascot Pucky and Santa, who will be riding a Zamboni ice-grooming machine. The public is invited to walk with the group or cheer them along the route, which includes Asylum and Trumbull streets.

Starting Saturday night, there also will be a new game program entitled BlueLines, and celebrities, scouts and members of the media will give their perspectives on the team during the pregame show on the Jumbotron, replacing “Coaches Corner” with Gernander and assistants J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller. The coaches will continue to give their thoughts on the pregame radio show with announcer Bob Crawford and occasionally participate in the Jumbotron discussions.

The end of what Gov. M. Jodi Rell proclaimed “Connecticut Whale Week” is part of the “Catch the Wave” campaign. The night is presented by Xfinity, and the first 3,000 fans will receive a green Whale T-shirt. As part of the Whale segment of the season, ticket packages are available from $638 ($242 savings) for blue seats to $290 ($110 savings) for kids (any seat except blue) and yellow seats. The offer includes 29 regular-season games, one voucher for Whalers Hockey Fest 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 11-23 and 20 vouchers for games at the XL Center. For more information, call 860-728-3366 or visit www.ctwhale.com.

Individual game tickets are also on sale at the XL Center ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations and can be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.ctwhale.com. Tickets start at $7 at the XL Center ticket office on game day. For information on Whale ticket packages, group sales or VIP packages, call 860-728-3366.

Baldwin said he would like to see the first Whale game sell out but set a target of 10,507, the capacity of the original Hartford Civic Center before the roof collapsed on Jan. 18, 1978. Anything approximating that would be a major improvement on the Wolf Pack’s average crowd of 3,466, which ranks 25th in the 30-team AHL.

Baldwin said fans “will feel like they’re stepping back in time and hear some music that is familiar,” referring to the return of the Whalers’ legendary theme song, “Brass Bonanza.”

“What we want to focus on is the presentation of the product,” Baldwin said. “It’s our team, and we want the people to focus on winning and losing. When the team isn’t doing well, go ahead and get mad at us. And if it’s doing well, I hope the fans will be happy.

“No excuses, but we’re getting into this late. A lot of things that we want to get done will get done over the next five-six months as opposed to this quickly. But I don’t think you’ll be displeased. You’ll be happy.”

WOLF PACK/WHALE LEADS GEICO CONNECTICUT CUP

The Wolf Pack/Whale has won two of the first three games in this year’s 10-game GEICO Connecticut Cup series, including a split in Bridgeport, where they won 2-1 on Oct. 6 and lost 4-1 on Nov. 7. The teams’ third meeting at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Friday night will be historic, so the Sound Tigers are inviting fans to purchase a “Farewell Pack” of four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for $79. For more information, call 203-334-4625 or visit www.soundtigers.com.

The Sound Tigers (8-11-1-0) have a new coach, Pat Bingham, since their last meeting with the Wolf Pack/Whale. Bingham replaced Jack Capuano on Nov. 15 when Capuano was promoted to coach of the New York Islanders after Scott Gordon was let go and became an assistant to general manager Garth Snow.

The Sound Tigers are 2-2-1-0 under Bingham after a 2-1 loss to the Providence Bruins on Wednesday night on Jamie Arniel’s goal at 3:06 of overtime. That came after a 3-0 victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Portland Pirates on Sunday as rookie goalie Kevin Poulin made 29 saves for his first pro shutout. Poulin also had 28 saves in the Sound Tigers’ only victory over the Wolf Pack/Whale this season, 4-1 in Bridgeport on Nov. 6. He is 5-2-1 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

The Sound Tigers were bolstered Wednesday when the Islanders loaned forward Josh Bailey to their AHL affiliate. Bailey, 21, the Islanders’ first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2008, and NHL veteran Jon Sim assisted on the Sound Tigers’ only goal by Jon Landry on a power play. Bailey had three goals and three assists in 18 games with the Islanders, running his career totals to 26 goals and 40 assists in 159 games.

“Demoting Bailey is a wakeup call to the rest of the team,” former Islanders center Butch Goring said Wednesday night while a TV analyst as the Islanders lost 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jakub Voracek’s goal at 2:31 of overtime, extending their losing streak to 14 games (0-11-2-1) since a 3-2 overtime victory over Tampa Bay on Oct. 21. “He’s a good, young part of the Islanders, and he’s not the only one who could have been sent down.”

The Islanders have struggled so badly that defenseman James Wisniewski leads the team in scoring with two goals and 11 assists in 19 games but is minus-17, worst in the NHL. Matt Moulson and John Tavares lead the Islanders in goals with eight, while former Wolf Pack right wing P.A. Parenteau has four goals, seven assists and is minus-6 in 20 games. Former Wolf Pack and Rangers defenseman Mike Mottau, in his first season with the Islanders, has three assists and is minus-12, tied for third worst in the NHL, in 20 games. Mottau is out 4-to-6 weeks with a right eye injury sustained when struck with a shot in an overtime loss at Atlanta on Sunday. He stayed in an Atlanta-area hospital for two days because of hyphema, which is blood in the eye.

Snow said he hopes Bailey regains his confidence with the Sound Tigers.

“We’re looking for Josh to go to Bridgeport and play 20-plus minutes a game in different situations,” Snow said. “We’ve had a lot of success in the past with players coming through Bridgeport and gaining the confidence and experience to come to the Islanders and be a difference maker. It’s a young, very competitive team in Bridgeport, and it’s an opportunity for Josh to play in a lot of different situations rather than maybe not get certain types of minutes (with the Islanders).” … The Wolf Pack/Whale has acquired AHL-contracted forward Oren Eizenman from the Syracuse Crunch for future considerations. The 6-foot, 190-pound fourth-year pro had been on loan from the Crunch to the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, where he had five goals and 12 assists and was plus-10 in 12 games. Eizenman, 25, was scoreless in three games with the Crunch. He has two goals and seven assists in 49 career AHL games with five teams. … Former Quinnipiac University standout Brandon Wong, who didn’t have a point in six games with the Wolf Pack/Whale before being sent to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors on Nov. 9, had a goal and an assist in a 5-4 victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday night. Wong has two goals and seven assists in eight games with Greenville.

PACIORETTY HAS BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER

Hamilton Bulldogs forward Max Pacioretty, who played at New Canaan High and Taft School-Watertown, had a 22nd birthday to remember on Saturday.

The Montreal Canadiens’ first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2007 had three goals and scored in a shootout, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs lost 4-3 to the rival Toronto Marlies.

“It was a good feeling to finally score some goals and even more special that it came on my birthday,” Pacioretty said. “It might have been the first hat trick of my life.”

Pacioretty nearly duplicated the feat Wednesday night when he scored twice in a 3-2 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms, giving him six goals and one assist in his last three games. He has 10 goals and 13 assists in 19 games this season after getting six goals and 19 assists in 86 games with the Canadiens since signing a three-year contract in 2008. … The Portland Pirates, coached by former Whalers captain Kevin Dineen, are 9-0-1-0 at home, matching a 17-year-old franchise record for longest points streak at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The 1993-94 Pirates began the season with nine wins and a tie and ended the campaign winning the Calder Cup title. The Pirates are 4-4-0-0 on road and have a one-point lead over the Monarchs in the Atlantic Division. They host Springfield on Friday night looking to break their record. … The Chicago Wolves didn’t score more than two goals in a game during a seven-game losing streak and then posted back-to-back 5-2 victories over Houston and Lake Erie last weekend. Then they scored six times in a 6-3 victory over Lake Erie on Tuesday night as former Wolf Pack wing Nigel Dawes had two goals and an assist. … After going 2-5-1-1 in October, the Providence Bruins are 7-1-1-0 in November and have earned a point in each of their last seven road games (6-0-1-0). … Hershey, which had only four regulation losses at home last season (34-4-0-2), has already surpassed that number this season (5-5-0-0) after a 3-2 loss to Worcester on Wednesday night despite outshooting the Sharks 43-21.

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

Bruce HeadshotBy Bruce Berlet

Before thanking Howard Baldwin for bringing the Whale back to Hartford and proclaiming this “Connecticut Whale Week” in the state, Gov. M. Jodi Rell had a special request: “Where’s Pucky?”

Pucky?

Who’s Pucky?

Oh, he’s the mascot of the new Connecticut Whale, who debut on the ice Saturday night at 7pm at the XL Center against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

When Pucky appeared through a doorway in the front of Rell’s office, the governor broke into a wide smile.

“I’ve entertained a lot of folks in this office over the years – dignitaries, Olympians, contestants for different shows – but I’ve never had a whale in here before,” Rell said during a 20-minute ceremony in her Capitol office Tuesday afternoon. “But the Whale is back, and as some would say, we could end that statement with a hallelujah. The fan base and loyalty to the (AHL’s Hartford) Wolf Pack has been terrific and meant a lot, but to think of all the people who have believed through the years, led by Howard, it’s wonderful to have the Whale back.

“It’s good news for the state, it’s good news for Hartford, but I think the best news is for the fans, who have been there all along. I certainly appreciate that and their efforts. I think they’ll be there in full force and be a part of making this very special.”

Because it was “such a momentous occasion,” the outgoing governor read what she believed would be one of her last proclamations declaring Nov. 21-27 as “Connecticut Whale Week.” It will culminate with the Wolf Pack officially being re-branded Saturday night with the start of the “Catch the Wave” campaign to try to revitalize the sport in the region and hopefully bring the NHL back to Hartford.

Baldwin, the former owner and managing general partner of the New England and Hartford Whalers who is now chairman and CEO of Whalers Sports and Entertainment, thanked Rell for her continued support of hockey and the Wolf Pack, who began when she was lieutenant governor and spearheaded an effort to keep the Whalers in Hartford before they left for North Carolina in 1997.

“This is a big day and another step,” Baldwin said. “I appreciate all that the governor has done for hockey in the state. We feel there is great leadership here, and we hope we can provide leadership to bring hockey back and make this the premier market that it once was.”

Baldwin presented Rell with a replica of the team’s new blue-and-green jersey with RELL on the back. It was later borrowed from her so the Whale could add Rell’s favorite number, 24. Baldwin also presented Rell with several bags of groceries, which were among the first donations to the Governor’s Care and Share Program for FoodShare in which food is collected for the less fortunate for the holidays.

Then the talk returned to the re-branding of the Wolf Pack, who will play their 1,177th and final game Friday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers. The Wolf Pack have a 571-346-66-49-29 regular-season record and were 57-58 in 22 playoff series, winning their only Calder Cup title in 2000.

Saturday night will usher in the Connecticut Whale era, then, in a touch of irony, John Paddock, the man who coached the Wolf Pack to the only professional title in Hartford’s 35-year hockey history with Wolf Pack/Whale coach Ken Gernander as his captain, will be behind the Adirondack Phantoms’ bench Sunday at 5 p.m. for the second game in Whale history.

The Whale actually will make their first public appearance Friday night when the Festival of Light opens at Constitution Plaza in Hartford. Starting at 5 p.m., Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, cast members of the Hartford Stage Company’s “A Christmas Carol,” and Sonar, the Wolf Pack’s mascot, will lead a procession to Bushnell Park, passing through State House Square on the way to visitors seeing a giant Christmas tree and sipping free hot chocolate.

During the march, they will be joined by Pucky and Santa, who will be riding a Zamboni ice-grooming machine. The public is invited to walk with the group or cheer them along the route, which includes Asylum and Trumbull streets.

Saturday night, former Whalers players Garry Swain, Norm Barnes, Yvon Corriveau, Gerry McDonald and captain Russ Anderson will be signing autographs in the XL Center atrium from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and then participate in pregame ceremonies that include dropping the ceremonial first puck. Tony Harrington, who sang the national anthem for years before Whalers games, will do the honors Saturday night after the Whale players are introduced in their new uniforms.

There also will be a new game program entitled BlueLines, and celebrities, scouts and members of the media will give their perspectives on the team during the pregame show on the Jumbotron, replacing “Coaches Corner” with Gernander and assistants J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller. The coaches will continue to give their thoughts on the pregame radio show with announcer Bob Crawford and occasionally participate in the Jumbotron discussions.

The night is presented by Xfinity, and the first 3,000 fans will receive a green Whale T-shirt. As part of the Whale segment of the season, ticket packages are available from $638 ($242 savings) for blue seats to $290 ($110 savings) for kids (any seat except blue) and yellow seats. The offer includes 29 regular-season games, one voucher for Whalers Hockey Fest 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 11-23 and 20 vouchers for games at the XL Center. For more information, call 860-728-3366 or visit www.ctwhale.com.

Individual game tickets are also on sale at the XL Center ticket office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets also can be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.ctwhale.com. Tickets start at $7 at the XL Center ticket office on game day. For information on Whale ticket packages, group sales or VIP packages, call 860-728-3366.

Baldwin said he would like to see the first Whale game sell out, but he set a target to beat of 10,507, which was the capacity of the original Hartford Civic Center before the roof collapsed on Jan. 18, 1978. Anything approximating that would be a vast improvement over the Wolf Pack’s average crowd of 3,466, which ranks 25th in the 30-team AHL.

“I’m feeling very optimistic that you’re going to see a nice five-figure crowd,” Baldwin said. “We certainly should do 10,595 and more on Saturday night.”

Baldwin said fans “will feel like they’re stepping back in time and hear some music that is familiar,” referring to the return of the Whalers’ legendary theme song, “Brass Bonanza.”

“What we want to focus on is the presentation of the product,” Baldwin said. “It’s our team, and we want the people to focus on winning and losing. When the team isn’t doing well, go ahead and get mad at us. And if it’s doing well, I hope the fans will be happy.

“No excuses, but we’re getting into this late. A lot of things that we want to get done will get done over the next five-six months as opposed to this quickly. But I don’t think you’ll be displeased. You’ll be happy.”

The Wolf Pack/Whale (6-11-2-2) has struggled most of their 14th season because of a lack of scoring and too many bad penalties. They won the first two games of a season-high, five-game road trip Friday night in Springfield and Saturday night in Binghamton before losing their 10th one-goal game Sunday in Hershey. They have won two of the first three games in this year’s 10-game GEICO Connecticut Cup series, including a split in Bridgeport, as they won 2-1 on Oct. 6 and lost 4-1 on Nov. 7.

The Sound Tigers (8-11-0-0) have a new coach, Pat Bingham, since their last meeting with the Wolf Pack/Whale. Bingham replaced Jack Capuano on Nov. 15, when Capuano was promoted to coach of the New York Islanders after Scott Gordon was let go and became an assistant to general manager Garth Snow.

The Sound Tigers improved to 2-2-0-0 under Bingham with a 3-0 victory over Atlantic Division-leading Portland on Sunday as rookie goalie Kevin Poulin made 29 saves for his first pro shutout. Poulin also had 28 saves in the Sound Tigers’ only victory over the Wolf Pack/Whale this season, 4-1 in Bridgeport on Nov. 6. He is 5-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

Baldwin said tickets have picked up for the Whalers Hockey Fest 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 11-23, when 30 youth, high school, prep school, college and alumni games will be played, along with an AHL game between the Whale and Providence Bruins and a celebrity game between cast members of the Baldwin-produced “Mystery, Alaska” movie and players from the 1986 NHL All-Star Game that the Whalers hosted at the Civic Center.

“We’re really zoning in hard on the schedule and will be getting that out in more detail real soon,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said the difficulty for his group is they started in January thinking they were going to take over the business operations of the Wolf Pack, but that hit a snag because of the disruption between AEG and Northland. So Whalers Sports and Entertainment fervently put together a Whalers Fan Fest in August that drew 5,000 fans to Rentschler Field and the Whalers Hockey Fest.

“It was (wife) Karen and I sitting around wondering what we were going to do to show we weren’t going away,” Baldwin said. “The Winter Fest became an entity unto itself and then all of a sudden, we got the team, so we’re balancing two rather large entities.

“We wondered for a while if we’d get the team, but once we got into July, I knew we would, but it was a question of how quickly. We easily could have said we weren’t going to do it, that we were going to walk away from it, but if we did that than there would be no hockey here, and we want hockey here. So we just had to make the sacrifice, which was done. Now we need to see improvements (in attendance). There are still going to be days where it’s slow, but I think you’ll see attendance jump now.”

Kennedy and Goalies Don’t Mix

Wolf Pack center Tim Kennedy can’t seem to stay away from brush-ups with goalies.

Kennedy got into his third tussle with a netminder Saturday night after being called for boarding Binghamton defenseman Derek Smith behind the Senators net. As Kennedy skated away, he was pursued by goalie Barry Brust, who pulled a Ron Hextall and smacked Kennedy in the face with his hard blocker/glove, knocking him to the ice. Brust got a minor penalty for roughing, while Kennedy received a double minor for boarding and roughing, though it’s hard to understand how he got the second penalty when Brust did all the roughing.

“I was trying to draw a penalty because we had one,” Kennedy said Tuesday after practice at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell. “I didn’t expect him to hit me at all. He thought (the hit) was dirty, but it was a clean hit. He (Smith) knew I was going to hit him, so in order to not get hit, he turned at the last second because he didn’t want to take a hit. I can’t let up because I’m already going for the hit, and if I try to pull up on a dime, I’m going to hurt myself.

“(Brust) was screaming at me about the hit and then told me to shut the (bleep) up. I turned my head for a second, and he hit me. He didn’t hit me that hard, but I was just trying to draw a penalty because I didn’t want us to be down (a man). It didn’t work because we ended up being shorthanded, but it was a case where the goalie did more than he should. He should just worry about stopping the puck because we scored on the next shift. But things like this happen. There are no rules down here (the AHL). I guess you can do whatever you want.”

As expected, Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst supported his goalie’s retribution.

“It’s a shame that (Brust) had to, that he was the one who had to realize something needed to be done,” Kleinendorst told Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog. “But it doesn’t surprise me. I think he would have chased the guy down to the far blue line if he had to, but that’s a good thing.”

Brust had 40 saves, but Kennedy and the Wolf Pack/Whale got the last laugh when Jeremy Williams’ power-play goal at 1:03 of overtime gave the visitors a 3-2 victory. That came after Chad Kolarik had two goals and one assist against his former team in a 5-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons on Friday night and before the Hershey Bears scored four second-period goals and then held on for a 4-3 win over the Wolf Pack/Whale on Sunday.

Rangers Trade Nigel Williams to Anaheim for Stu Bickel

The Rangers traded disgruntled Wolf Pack defenseman Nigel Williams to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday for defenseman Stu Bickel.

Williams, 22, wasn’t interested in returning to the Wolf Pack this season but had to report or he would have been suspended. He asked to be traded and was finally obliged after being a healthy scratch the last seven games. Williams, acquired from Colorado for defenseman Brian Fahey on July 16, 2009, had one assist and two penalty minutes in 12 games and played wing at times in his last few appearances.

Bickel, 24, had three assists and 14 penalty minutes in six games with the Syracuse Crunch this season and played one game with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. Signed as a free agent by Anaheim on July 2, 2008, Bickel has two goals, six assists and 103 penalty minutes in 63 AHL game. A native of Chanhassen, Minn., Bickel played one season at the University of Minnesota, where he had one goal and five assists in 45 games, before turning pro. … Left wing Brodie Dupont skated with his teammates for the first time since he sustained a 16-stitch cut when the blade of a Manchester Monarchs’ player opened a gash above his left knee late in a 4-3 loss to the Monarchs last Wednesday.

“It’s feeling better, but we’re still waiting for the swelling to go down,” Dupont said. “We just want to make sure it’s pain-tolerable because turning causes some pain. Everything is questionable right now.”

Dupont was expected to be sidelined 7-to-10 days and hoped to play this weekend, but that’s up in the air.

Familiar Faces Abound

A lot of familiar faces faced off Sunday night in Hershey. Wolf Pack/Whale defenseman Wade Redden and Bears defenseman Lawrence Nycholat, who played for the Wolf Pack in parts of three seasons (2002-05), were teammates with the Ottawa Senators in 2006-08. Bears left wing Boyd Kane played most of his first four pro seasons with the Wolf Pack (1998-2002), and defenseman Brian Fahey played in Hartford in 2008-09. … Texas Stars goaltender Richard Bachman was named AHL Player of the Week after stopping 87 of 90 shots in three victories, capped by a 26-save performance in a 2-0 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. The Wolf Pack/Whale nominated right wing Jeremy Williams, who had three goals and two assists in four games, while other nominees included Brust, Nycholat, former Wolf Pack goalie Al Montoya (San Antonio), former New Canaan High and Taft School-Watertown standout wing Max Pacioretty (Hamilton) and goalie Kevin Poulin (Bridgeport). … The Greenville Road Warriors loaned goalie Dov Grumet-Morris, who appeared in two games with the Wolf Pack/Whale earlier this season, to the Portland Pirates. Grumet-Morris, 28, was 3-2-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in five games with the Road Warriors, who are affiliated with the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. He was 0-1-1 with a 1.32 GAA and .935 save percentage with the Wolf Pack. Now he has been reunited with the Pirates. In the 2006-07 season, he was 1-6-3 with a 3.03 GAA and .903 save percentage in 11 games with the Pirates and backstopped them to a playoff victory over the Wolf Pack. … Mired in a 0-for-22 slump on the power play, the Rochester Americans pulled off one of the quickest comebacks in AHL history when they scored three goals in 52 seconds with the man advantage in the last 7:20 for a 5-4 victory over the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday night. The Amerks, who had lost four in a row at home and seven of eight this season, took advantage of three Crunch penalties in 46 seconds to get two goals from Evgeny Dadonov and one from Mike Kostka. Chris Taylor assisted on all three goals after scoring the Amerks’ second goal and was nominated for player of the week.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Doyle via CTNow.com)

Wolf Pack/Whale Weekly, November 22-28

Connecticut Whale

Hartford Wolf Pack CT LotteryWOLF PACK/WHALE WEEKLY: November 22-28, 2010

The Wolf Pack (6-11-2-2, 16 pts.) split four road games this past week, as they passed the quarter-pole of their season.  A school-day morning outing in Manchester on Wednesday saw the Pack end up on the short end of a 4-3 score, but the club rebounded after that to post back-to-back wins Friday in Springfield (5-2) and Saturday at Binghamton (3-2 in overtime).  That Saturday victory was the Wolf Pack’s first overtime triumph in five tries, and their first win of the year in a game they trailed after two periods.  A third-period Pack comeback fell short in Hershey Sunday, as the two-time defending Calder Cup-champion Bears held off the Wolf Pack, 4-3.  Pack leading scorer Jeremy Williams (11-8-19 in 21 GP) bagged the overtime game-winner in Saturday’s game and totaled three goals and two assists for five points in the four games on the week.

This week:

The franchise plays its last of 1,177 games (playoff and regular-season) as the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night, a GEICO Connecticut Cup trip to Bridgeport to battle the Sound Tigers at 7:00 PM.  Then, this Saturday night, November 27, the team takes the ice for the first time as the Connecticut Whale, hosting the Sound Tigers at the XL Center in the second half of a home-and-home.  Faceoff is 7:00, and the night is presented by Xfinity, with the first 3,000 fans receiving a green Whale t-shirt.  The Whale is also on home ice Sunday, taking on Head Coach John Paddock and his Adirondack Phantoms in a 5:00 PM game.

Friday, November 26 at Bridgeport (Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard), 7:00 PM

· This is the franchise’s last game as the Hartford Wolf Pack.  Going into it, the all-time Wolf Pack record is 571(W)-346(L)-66(T)-49(OTL)-29(SOL) in 1,061 regular-season games (the club is 57-58 in 115 all-time playoff games).

· The Wolf Pack have won two of the first three games of this year’s GEICO Connecticut Cup series, and the two teams have split two games in Bridgeport, a 2-1 Pack victory October 16 and a 4-1 Sound Tiger triumph November 7.

· Bridgeport has a new head coach, Pat Bingham, since the last meeting between the Pack and Sound Tigers.  Bingham replaced Jack Capuano behind the Bridgeport bench last Monday, when Capuano was promoted to the head job with the parent New York Islanders.

· The Sound Tigers improved their record under Bingham to 2-2-0-0 Sunday, with a 3-0 shutout at home of first-place Portland.  Overall Bridgeport is 8-11-0-0 for 16 points, tied with the Wolf Pack for sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

· Rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin rang up his first career pro shutout in Sunday’s win over Portland, making 29 saves.  Poulin had 28 stops in the Sound Tigers’ only win over the Wolf Pack thus far this year, a 4-1 victory November 6 in Bridgeport, and carries a 5-2-0 record, 2.28 goals-against average and 92.8% save percentage through seven appearances.

· Radio – live with Bob Crawford in HD on WTIC’s 96.5 HD 2 and on-line at www.CTwhale.com and www.wtic.com.

Saturday, November 27 vs. Bridgeport at the XL Center, 7:00 PM

· The team will take the ice for the first time officially re-branded as the Connecticut Whale for this game, featuring brand-new jerseys and colors.

· The night is presented by Xfinity, and the first 3,000 fans through the doors will receive a green Whale t-shirt.

· There will be a group of Hartford/New England Whalers alumni signing autographs for fans in the XL Center atrium from 5:30-6:45.  Among the ex-Whalers committed to attend are: Russ Anderson, Norm Barnes, Yvon Corriveau, Gerry McDonald and Garry Swain.

· The only previous visit by the Sound Tigers to the XL Center this season saw the Wolf Pack break out for their biggest offensive output of the year, as they scored a 7-1 victory over Bridgeport November 7.

· Mats Zuccarello had his first North American pro multiple-goal game with a hat trick, and added an assist, for the Wolf Pack in that 7-1 win vs. the Sound Tigers November 7.

· Radio – live with Bob Crawford in HD on WTIC’s 96.5 HD 2 and on-line at www.CTwhale.com and www.wtic.com.

Sunday, November 28 vs. Adirondack at the XL Center, 5:00 PM

· The Phantoms, top affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, are led into battle by Head Coach John Paddock, who piloted the Wolf Pack to the Calder Cup in 2000 and is a member of the AHL Hall of Fame.  Paddock took over the Phantoms’ reins from Greg Gilbert November 8.

· Fans are encouraged to bring their skates to this game, as there will a postgame skate on the XL Center ice.

· This is the first of four games on the year between the Whale and Phantoms.  The Wolf Pack went 1-1-0-0 last season against Adirondack, in that franchise’s first season in Glens Falls, with a 3-2 road loss October 23 and a 3-2 shootout win at home March 26.

· The Phantoms trail the field in the East Division, standing eight points behind Syracuse and Albany with a record of 3-14-2-0 for 8 points.

· Adirondack’s parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers, Sunday traded forwards David Laliberte, who was second on the Phantoms’ club in points with 3-6-9 in 19 games, and Patrick Maroon, who was Adirondack’s co-leading goal-scorer with 5-3-8 in nine games, to Anaheim.  Coming to the Flyers’ organization in the deal were defenseman Danny Syvret, who had 1-1-2 in six NHL games with the Ducks and four assists in eight games with Syracuse, and rookie forward Rob Bordson, who has registered 1-2-3 in 15 game with Syracuse.

· Radio – live with Bob Crawford in HD on WTIC’s 96.5 HD 2 and on-line at www.CTwhale.com and www.wtic.com.

Recent Transactions:

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Pack Tracks:

Individual tickets for Whale home games are on sale now at the XL Center ticket office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may also be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.CTwhale.com.  Tickets start at $7 each at the XL Center ticket office on game day.

For information on Whale ticket packages, group sales and VIP packages, call (860) 728-3366

Once again this season, the Wolf Pack/Whale are partnering with WTIC Radio to air Wolf Pack/Whale hockey action.  All of the Wolf Pack/Whale’s regular-season and playoff games will air on 96.5 WTIC-FM’s HD 2 channel and will be streamed on-line at www.wtic.com. Select games will be carried live on the 50,000-watt AM powerhouse, WTIC NewsTalk 1080.

The AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale is operated by Whalers Sports and Entertainment, a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm founded by Howard Baldwin.  The team is the top player-development affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers.

Since 1972, the CT Lottery has generated more than $19.3 billion in sales and has transferred nearly $6.7 billion to the state’s General Fund.  Prizes have exceeded more than $11.1 billion.  Purchasers must be 18 years or older.  If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-346-6238.  For more information about the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, call (860) 713-2000, or visit the CT Lottery web site at ctlottery.org.

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