BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
Hartford, CT – The regular season roster took shape for the New York Rangers after they made their first series of roster cuts as the process of getting down to the mandated 23 players as required under the CBA agreement.
The Wolf Pack added both Marek Hrivik and Nicklas Jensen after they successfully cleared waivers. They will occupy two of their five veteran slots.
The third veteran to clear waivers was defenseman Chris Summers and his good friend, RW Chris Brown, will take the other two vets spots.
Joining the fold are defenseman Tommy Hughes, goaltender Mackenzie Skapski, and last year’s team captain, Mat Bodie who replaced Ryan Bourque after his trade to Hershey 36 hours after the deal.
On Friday, the Pack also received centerman, Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, who’s embarking on his first full pro season as well as goalie Magnus Hellberg.
After Wednesday’s 4-1 pre-season loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, head coach Ken Gernander had a post-game summit with GM Jim Schoenfeld. Gernander scurried from the locker room to the weight room to the team bus informing players where their next destinations were.
Heading to the ECHL and the Pack’s affiliate there, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, included UConn product, Trevor Gerling, who had a strong game and camp for the Wolf Pack. Joining Gerling are defenseman Troy Donnay, who technically was lent to Greenville, as was Donnay’s defensive partner in Wednesday’s game and who’s on an AHL deal, Spiro Goulakos.
The following players were sent to Greenville after being formerly released from their training camp contracts: Forwards, Brandon Alderson, Andrew Dommett, Allan McPherson, Angelo Miceli, Matt Plesa, Nick Plesa, Peter Plesa. On Friday, forward Tommy Thompson was released and sent to Greenville.
Speaking of the Plesa brothers, it is the first time the Pack has had three brothers in training camp. There have been two on several occasions. Immediately coming to mind, the Pack had two with Parenteau, Byers, and the Gernander twins. All three of the Plesa boys played with SK Lejon (Sweden Division I) last year.
Also sent to Greenville were defensemen, Desmond Bergin, Joe Houk, and Matt Prapavessis. Goaltender P.J. Musico was sent down south as well.
RW Mike Pereira, a West Haven native who played his public school hockey at ND-WH and prep school at Avon Old Farms, was released and will join the Reading Royals (ECHL) training camp where he played most of the last season. Pereira’s older brother Joe is an assistant coach at UConn.
Expect more changes during the weekend and Monday. There is also the possibility of NHL waiver wire deals.
The Pack roster heading into the weekend looks like this;
Goaltenders (2): Magnus Hellberg, Mackenzie Skapski
Defense (10): Calle Andersson, Mat Bodie, Justin DaSilva, John Gilmour, Ryan Graves, Tommy Hughes, Garrett Noonan, Michael Paliotta, Sean Sullivan, Chris Summers
Forwards (15): Chris Brown, Matt Carey, Adam Chapie, Reid Duke, Steven Fogarty, Ryan Gropp, Marek Hrivik, Nicklas Jensen, Michael Joly, Robin Kovacs, Philip McRae, Cristoval Nieves, Ahti Oksanen, Malte Stromwall, Adam Tambellini
BRIDGEPORT WINS PRE-SEASON OPENER
The Sound Tigers scored quickly in this game to cruise along to a 4-1 victory in what was essentially both team’s ECHL affiliate depth game at Koeppel Community Center rink at Trinity College.
The Sound Tigers offensive outburst began with Travis St. Denis and Kane Lafranchise scoring just 21 seconds apart, starting at the 14:58 mark. Ryan Obuchowski setup St. Denis up at 14:58. Lafranchise very quickly made it 2-0 at 15:19, taking a pass from ex-Pack, Andrew Rowe on the left wing side and snapping a shot past Malcolm, the Wolf Pack’s starting goaltender. Malcolm was seeing his first action since his regular ended prematurely last year with a freak injury in practice after a puck hit him in the throat area and required successful emergency surgery.
The Sound Tigers then took advantage of their first power play of the game, following Thompson heading to the sin bin for boarding at 16:05. Rowe, on a sharp-angle, got it past Malcolm from the right-wing side at 16:46, for a 3-0 Bridgeport advantage.“It wasn’t the start you ever want, in but I thought we recovered well and did play a lot better as the game progressed,” said head coach Ken Gernander.
“It wasn’t the start you ever want, but I thought we recovered well and did play a lot better as the game progressed,” Gernander said.
After being outshot 17-12 in the first period, the Wolf Pack had an 11-6 edge in that department in the second, but the Sound Tigers still managed to tally their fourth goal.
The Pack replaced Malcolm, who allowed three goals on 19 shots, with Halverson at 10:20 mark. Halverson surrendered Rowe’s second score of the game just 1:21 later. Rowe was positioned to Halverson’s left and was able to sneak the puck off of the rookie netminder’s (11 saves) left arm and just inside the goal post.
The Wolf Pack short-circuited Sound Tiger goaltender Eamon McAdam’s (30 saves) shutout bid just 31 seconds into the third period. Goulakos took a short snap shot from the left point, off of a pass from Donnay, but Gerling got the tip-in from in front to put turn the red light on for the Wolf Pack.
Gerling’s play in the game camp brought a smile to Gernander’s face.
“He has done very well and made a really nice play there getting himself in a good position to make the tip. He’s a good kid who is a good grinding two-way player and has done well here in a short amount of time.”
The game was a Connecticut college reunion and ex-Wolf Pack player get together.
The Wolf Pack had Malcolm (Yale) and Gerling (UConn) and the aforementioned Connecticut natives in Pereira and Mike Paliotta (Westport/Choate).
Connecticut collegiate hockey alums for Bridgeport included Shaun Pauly (UConn), Travis St. Denis (Quinnipiac), Ryan Obuchowski (Yale), Eric Hartzell (Quinnipiac) and the Jones twins, Connor and Kellen (Quinnipiac). The Jones twins grandfather Terry played for the EHL New Haven Blades.
Bridgeport also had Kevin Morris (Salisbury Prep), the son of ex-Nighthawk Mark Morris. The senior Morris coached in the AHL and is currently back in the college ranks running the bench at St. Lawrence (ECACHL). Also on the Bridgeport bench were ex-Pack players defenseman’s Samuel Noreau and Nick Petrecki.
The Wolf Pack continue the pre-season in Springfield Saturday night against the brand new Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida affiliate) at the Mass Mutual Center at 7pm and conclude the pre-season in Cromwell Sunday afternoon at Champions Skating Center at 1pm.
UCONN OPENS COLLEGE HOCKEY SEASON AT XL CENTER
UConn’s third season of high-level Division I play as a member of Hockey East begins at home for the first time in a pair of non-conference games on Friday and Saturday against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers at the XL Center. Friday’s game is at 7:05 and Saturday in a college football game time is slated for 4:05pm (WTIC-AM 1080 with Husky hockey voice Rich Coppola) .
The Huskies return with their two top snipers in Max Letunov, now a property of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and Tage Thompson, a St. Louis Blues draftee. They will be seeking to get their season off to a strong start before the conference portion of their schedule commences.
The Chargers, from the WCHA conference, are no pushovers. They are 2-0 after sweeping nationally-ranked Ferris State last week 2-1 and 4-3.
The Huskies opened last season in Alabama against UA-H and Letunov recorded his first collegiate hat trick in his first game, a 5-2 win.
You may recall that UA-H’s top current alumni is ex-Pack and ex-New York Ranger goalie Cam Talbot, who’s now with the Edmonton Oilers.
UConn had one exhibition game last weekend in their only on campus appearance at the Freitas Arena, a 4-3 loss to Atlantic Canada conference defending champion, the St. Francis University X-Men. Kristoff Kontos, son of former New Haven Nighthawk and NY Ranger, Chris Kontos, scored twice in the win.
Thompson, Spencer Naas and freshmen Justin Howell (St. Paul, MN) scored the Huskies goals. Naas tied the game at one converting the loose biscuit as Johnny Austin’s point shot had been blocked in front.
St. Francis then scored three straight goals to take a 4-1 lead including two from Kontos and the game-winner from Michael Clarke.
UConn scored two in the third period off the sticks of Howell and Thompson to make it close. UConn tallied the two goals after killing off an early five-minute major incurred by freshmen Matt Newpower. Senior goalie Rob Nichols got the start in net, and Rangers’ draftee and freshmen, Adam Huska, worked the second period. Tanner Creel and Steve Thulin split the third-period goaltending for the Huskies.
ON THE MOVE
Wethersfield native Colin McDonald was sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Allentown) by the Flyers. His father Gerry played with the Whalers and the Nighthawks.
Sent to the Binghamton Senators were a pair of ex-Wolf Pack, Chad Nehring, and Mike Kostka.
New ex-Pack, Jayson Megna, was assigned to the Utica Comets and earlier in the week his brother Jaycob was assigned to the San Diego Gulls. Calle Andersson’s younger brother, Rasmus, was assigned to the Stockton Thunder where he joined another new ex-Pack, Luke Adam.
Ivan Nikolishin, son of a former Whaler, Andrei Nikolishin, is in the Rockford Ice Hog’s camp.
Ex-Pack pair Nick Tarnasky and Stu Bickel were sent to San Diego.
Ex-Sound Tigers that were assigned from to the AHL include Joe Whitney (San Antonio Rampage), Marc-Andre Cliché (Toronto Marlies), three to the Texas Stars, Brandon DeFazio, Dustin Stevenson, and Matt Mangene.
Former CT Whale, Shane McColgan, goes from St. Thomas University (AUAA) and was in camp with the Ontario Reign (AHL). Ex-Sound Tiger, Guy Lebouef, is in the Rochester Americans’ camp. Ex-Sound Tiger, Justin Florek, is in the Milwaukee Admiral’s camp along with ex-Pack, Shawn O’Donnell.
Brian Gibbons, who impressed nobody in his stay in Hartford, was assigned to Albany by the parent New Jersey Devils.
Former CT Whale and Wolf Pack, Kris Newbury, signed a deal with Reading (ECHL).
The Sound Tigers sent to their ECHL affiliate, the Missouri Mavericks, Shaun Pauly (UConn) and Noreau. Hartzell was sent to the Ft. Wayne Komets (ECHL) who he signed with in the off-season. His fellow goaltender with the legendary Komets franchise will be UConn (AHC) goalie, Garret Bartus.
Former Sound Tigers goalies were sent to the ECHL. Parker Milner was cut by the Hershey Bears and sent to the South Carolina Stingrays while C.J. Motte is heading to the Iowa to joining the Quad City Mallards.
Nathan Lutz, a former New Haven Knight, will play Canadian Senior League hockey with the Rosetown Red Wings in the Chinook Senior Hockey League (CSHL).
Ex-Pack, Thomas Pock, switches Austrian teams going from EC Klagenfurter to EC Graz.
Former Sound Tiger, Jake Newton, who had signed with Idaho (ECHL) got a European deal and will play with HK Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic-CEL).