Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Barons

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

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SPOTLIGHT: ALEXANDRE GIROUX

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

For the past two summers, former Hartford Wolf Pack high-scoring wing Alexandre Giroux had Europe on his mind.

The personable Giroux had established himself as a premier AHL player without getting a full-time shot at the NHL, so he thought it might be time to head overseas.

But when the start of free agency rolled around on July 1, 2010, Giroux had second thoughts. Sure he had scored more than 300 goals in the AHL, including 60 and 50 in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons as the Hershey Bears won back-to-back Calder Cup titles, but he had played less than two dozen games at the highest level and the itch remained to be there.

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AND YOUR STARTING GREENVILLE LINE-UP IS…

GREENVILLE, SC The Greenville Road Warriors announced today their opening roster for the 2011-12 season. The team also announced its captain and two alternate captains.

The Road Warriors open the 2011-12 season with nine skaters returning from the club that won the South Division and Eastern Conference regular season titles in 2010-11. They are joined by 11 new faces, six of whom are rookies at the professional level.
Greenville’s season-opening roster is:

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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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HELMER NAMED HUNT MEMORIAL WINNER

AHL LogoSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that defenseman Bryan Helmer of the Oklahoma City Barons has been named the 2010-11 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

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