Tag Archives: Pavel Valentenko

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: SCOTT TANSKI

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

When Scott Tanski roofed a shot under the crossbar to win his second practice-ending shootout in three days last week, he was mobbed by virtually all of his Connecticut Whale teammates, many of whom leaped into the plexi-glass to try to get at the personable curly-haired redhead.

“It might have been my new stick,” a smiling Tanski said of his latest skills competition victory. “I like to keep it light in practice, and I know the guys knew I hadn’t had a goal yet, so when I win the shootout, it’s pretty special. We’d won a few games, and I just go to practice and try to have fun and work on a lot of things, though a shootout isn’t my specialty. I’ll leave that to Newbs (Kris Newbury) and Zucc (Mats Zuccarello) because they have some pretty moves. I don’t think too much, just think, ‘Shoot the puck,’ and I was lucky to squeeze a few in there. It must be some confidence with that new stick.”

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SPOTLIGHT: NHL REALIGNMENT

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

The New York Rangers could be seeing even more of the arch-rival Islanders if a realignment plan approved by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday night is implemented.

At the BOG meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif., the board approved a plan that eliminates the current two-conference, six-division setup in favor of a configuration that features four conferences based primarily on geography. Two conferences will have eight teams, the other two will have seven teams.

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SPECIAL TEAMS LEAD TO SPECIAL WIN FOR WHALE OVER FALCONS

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb1      VERSUS     Springfield Falcons

In 1973, with the New York Mets mired in last place at the time, but still within striking distance in a very tight divisional race, the press asked, then Manager, Yogi Berra if the season was finished, he replied with the classic line, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

For the 2011-2012 Connecticut Whale, truer words have never been spoken.

Entering the third period trailing for the ninth time in twenty-two games, the Whale scored five, that’s right five, power play goals and came from behind in the third period for a win for the fifth time already this season and defeated the Springfield Falcons 6-3 in front of 3,523 at the MassMutual Center Saturday night.

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SPOTLIGHT: WHO’S PLAYING AND WHERE?

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Connecticut Whale defenseman Pavel Valentenko is sometimes self-conscious about his English.

But the personable Russian has certainly improved on the official language of the United States since arriving in Hartford two years ago. And he was right on in the clearest terms Tuesday night, when asked why the Whale has won five of six games to move into first place in the Northeast Division.

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SPOTLIGHT: WHALE HEART

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

The Connecticut Whale players had a rare day off from the rink Sunday, but applied their energy to an even more important endeavor than playing hockey.

Each player bowled two games during two shifts with 220 fans at their annual Bowl-A-Thon at AMF Silver Lanes in East Hartford, raising $15,000 for Special Olympics Connecticut while signing autographs, chatting with admirers and giving the customary needle to teammates for missed shots or gutter balls. Cash Kings, a Special Olympics Windsor team of athletes, raised the most money, $1,340, to help bring the event’s 10-year total to more than $240,000.

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ROUND ONE OF BATTLE OF THE BOURQUES GOES TO: RYAN AND THE WHALE

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb1      VERSUS     Hershey

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

The Bourque brothers, sons of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, did their different things Tuesday night while playing against each other for the first time.

With their parents and a dozen friends from Boxford, Mass., looking on at the XL Center, Chris Bourque scored the game’s first goal, his team-leading 11th for the Hershey Bears on a power play, and younger brother Ryan showed his speed and tenacity to provide some solid forechecking for the Connecticut Whale.

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WHALE REBOUND

Connecticut-Whale_thumb_thumb_thumb1[2]      VERSUS     Springfield Falcons

Say what you will about Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander, but the guy knows how to motivate a team and he knows how to win.

For the fourth time in the last five games, the fifth year Wolf Pack/Whale Head Coach did what it took to turn a lackluster two-period performance into a highly motivated, intensely focused “team.” Gernander minus three of his best players, led his “team” to, once again, come from behind in dramatic fashion.

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BRUCE BERLET REPORTS – AVERY, “I COULD PROBABLY PLAY”

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Sean Avery, wearing a yellow no-contact jersey, skated for the first time in nearly three weeks Wednesday morning in a 50-minute workout with the Connecticut Whale at the XL Center in Hartford.

Avery participated in the entire practice, including special teams drills in which he actually played a little defense on the penalty kill. It was his first ice time since he was injured in his third preseason game with the parent New York Rangers on Sept. 30 in Gothenburg, Sweden. His workout ended with a brief chat with Whale coach Ken Gernander and more treatment on the injury.

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BRUCE BERLET REPORTS – ZUKE ARRIVES

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

While the New York Rangers prepared to face off with the Stanley Cup runner-up Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, Mats Zuccarello was 3,000 miles away, tricky-dribbling pucks and cavorting with his new/old Connecticut Whale teammates at the XL Center in Hartford.

Though disappointed by a demotion two days earlier, Zuccarello was upbeat as he jabbed and jostled with other Whale players, especially goalie Chad Johnson and fellow forwards John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin. Zuccarello playfully fired pucks toward Johnson during momentary lulls in practice and chatted with and participated in a conditioning drill with Mitchell, Hagelin and defenseman Pavel Valentenko late in a 50-minute workout.

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