Category Archives: Connecticut Whale


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, HOWLINGS

BRIDGEPORT, CT – The 2015-16 edition of the Hartford Wolf Pack gets its first viewing tonight at 7pm in Bridgeport at Wonderland of Ice.

As is the case with most first exhibition games, the Pack will feature a heavy dose of players most likely destined to play for their Double AA affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL).

Two players who could see time are RW Richard Nejezchleb, a 20 year Czech native who signed an AHL deal, and Michael Kantor, who has been plagued with concussion problems for over a year-and-a-half.

Nejezchleb whets the appetite of head coach Ken Gernander. “He is really a skill player. I liked him last year, but (after rehabbing an injury throughout all of last  years training camp) he chose to go back to juniors, which was his prerogative.” Continue reading



September 29th – October 5th, 2015

Big Names Sign NWHL Contracts, Skates & Plates With The New York Riveters, Upcoming Schedule and Season Ticket Information

BY: Jake Duhaime, NWHL, National Women’s Hockey League

New York, NY This week’s news and notes from the National Women’s Hockey League.

Several members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team signed NWHL contracts last week including captain Meghan Duggan (Buffalo), Megan Bozek (Buffalo), Kacey Bellamy (Boston), Brianna Decker (Boston), Hilary Knight (Boston), Gigi Marvin (Boston) and Kelli Stack (Connecticut).

“It was really a no brainer to join (the NWHL). With the vision that (Commissioner) Dani (Rylan) has, I’m excited for the future of this league. I think this shows great growth in women’s hockey. I think if you ask players who played 10, 15 years ago they’d agree that this is a step in the right direction.” – Meghan Duggan

“I am hoping to bring a winning mentality to the Whale this season. I take pride in working hard on and off the ice and I will set a good example for our team and bring out the best in my teammates. I am looking forward to playing with and against such talented women from all over the world. – Kelli Stack

“It’s an honor to sign with the Boston Pride. I love living in the city of Boston and I know a lot of the other girls on the team and we gel really well. I think that we have a lot of skill on this team that is going to get us through a great first season. – Brianna Decker

“I’m excited to be a part of the NWHL and the future of this league. To think back about how far women’s hockey has come in the past 20 years, it’s special to think about if I have a daughter one day and the opportunities this league will bring her. This is an amazing opportunity to play with some of the best female hockey players. I’m excited to be in Boston and play with some of my best friends in a city I love.” – Kacey Bellamy

Full season packages start at $150 ($125 in Buffalo) and include the following perks.

– 10 percent off all NWHL merchandise
– 10 percent off NWHL Live: Cross Ice Pass
– Priority Isobel Cup Playoff and All-Star Game tickets
– Exclusive Season Ticket Holder events
– Free preseason games

All season ticket packages can be purchased at

The National Women’s Hockey League Foundation hosts its first Skates & Plates fundraiser on Thursday, October 1 at Manhattan Penthouse (80 Fifth Avenue) in New York City. This VIP dinner and cocktail reception, MC’ed by 1998 Olympic gold medalist AJ Mleczko Griswold features current NWHL players, U.S. Olympian and NWHL Players Association Director Erika Lawler, Patrick Burke from the National Hockey League and other special guests to be announced.

The event runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

For tickets, please visit Media who wish to cover the event should reach out to Jenny Scrivens at

The NWHL Foundation is a charitable and educational 501-(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides long-range financial support for the NWHL and promotes the growth of women’s hockey.

Tickets for single preseason games are available for purchase at All tickets are just $5.

Note: Season ticket holders receive free entrance with proof of season package purchase.

Saturday, October 3
Minnesota Whitecaps at CT Whale, Chelsea Piers Connecticut, 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 4
Minnesota Whitecaps at New York Riveters, Chelsea Piers New York, 12:00 p.m.
Boston Pride at East Coast Wizards U18 Boys, Edge Sports Center, 3 p.m.

Friday, October 9
Buffalo Beauts at Mercyhurst University, Mercyhurst Ice Center, 7 p.m.

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy: Hilary Knight On Signing With The Boston Pride – HEREl

New York Times: Carrying The Puck And A Fight For Recognition In The National Women’s Hockey League – HERE

Thought Catalog: The NWHL Finally Offers Women A (Paid) Hockey League Of Their Own – HERE

Politico New York: Five Questions About The Sports Business With Dani Rylan, HERE

The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. The inaugural season begins October 11, 2015 and playoffs conclude in March 2016 when the first NWHL championship team raises the Isobel Cup.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The six-month long trek for American Hockey League teams to reach the Calder Cup playoffs has officially begun.

For the Hartford Wolf Pack, their nineteenth training camp began on Sunday with the first on ice test coming Thursday in Bridgeport when the team travels to Wonderland of Ice to challenge the Sound Tigers.

The following Sunday at 3:00pm will be their last test, also against Bridgeport. In between they have one road game in Lehigh Valley on Saturday in Allen, PA the longest trip for a preseason away game in franchise history.

36 players will begin camp on the roster with the Wolf Pack. The 36 consisting of 20 forwards, 11 defensemen, and five goaltenders. The group is an eclectic bunch from seemingly every strata there is of hockey.

Those trying to impress Head Coach Ken Gernander and the New York Rangers brass are:

Goal (5): Cedrick Desjardins (Injured), Jeff Malcolm, Josh Robinson (Alba Valon Hungary – AEHL / Missouri – ECHL), Magnus Hellberg (Milwaukee – AHL) Mackenzie Skapski (injured), Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, CT / Sacred Heart University – AHA)

Defense (11): Calle Andersson (EV Zug / HC Lugano Switzerland – LNA), Brett Bellemore (Carolina – NHL), Kodie Curran (University Calgary – CWUAA), Justin DaSilva (Ohio State University – Big 10 / Greenville – ECHL), Troy Donnay (Erie – OHL), Tyler Elbrecht (Toledo – ECHL), Sean Escobedo (Greenville – ECHL/ Hartford – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – AHL), Tommy Hughes, Sam Noreau, Davis Vandane (University of Calgary – CWUAA) and Petr Zamorsky (Espoo Finland – FEL / Orebro HK Sweden – SHL)

Forwards (20): Domenic Alberga (Ryerson – OUAA / Greenville – ECHL), Tyler Brown, Jack Combs (Cincinnati / Stockton / Allen – ECHL),(Neftekhimik Russia – VHL) IF Bjorkloven Sweden – Allsvenskan), Luke Curadi (Cheshire, CT / RPI – ECACHL), Scott Fleming (Fife Scotland – EIHL), Marek Hrivik, Michael Kantor, Alex Krushelnyski (Utah – ECHL / Norfolk – AHL), Chris McCarthy, Brad McGowan (R.I.T. – AHA), Stefano Momesso (Concordia University – OUAA / Elmira – ECHL), Chad Nehring, Richard Nejezchleb (Brandon / Tri-City – WHL), Josh Nicholls, Shawn O’Donnell, Travis Oleksuk (Worcester – AHL), Paul Rodrigues (Greenville – ECHL / Pensacola – SPHL), Michael St. Croix, Adam Tambellini (Calgary – WHL), Nick Tarnasky.

*Players with no teams were with Hartford and Greenville last season.

There are lots of interesting storylines for this 2015-2016 edition of the Wolf Pack. They are a shadow of the team they were in the late spring. That group, which reached the conference finals, have seen 12 players depart in the off- season for various different posts in the AHL and Europe.

You never know what you’re going to get (in terms of players),” Gernander said. “Who’s to say? The guys who were with us last year went into camp and showed themselves well. They acquitted themselves very well that’s what I tend to look at,”

Gernander enters his eighth season as head coach.

The biggest question mark as the season surrounds the health of the two goalies projected to guard the net in Hartford, Cedrick Desjardins, who tore his ACL the day after Christmas against Springfield and Mackenzie Skapski, who had off -season surgery on his labrum in his right hip for an injury suffered April 5th.

Neither player is near ready to be cleared to play.

They’re both skating, but neither is cleared to participate with the group yet. They can’t take shots at all and with the both of them, they would have to show that they can play and take shots without a risk that could set them back. We’re not going to rush them back and were just going to keep following them along their rehab until they’re fully ready to play.”

Gernander was unwilling to say exactly how close the two are to being ready.

I’m not going to put any numbers on it. When they’re at 100%, I’ll let you know,” Gernander said. “It’s really a moving target. One day the guy comes in and he feels great, the next day he comes in not with maybe a little setback. So I’m not going to put a number on it. When each of them gets to 100% we’ll address it.” 

So it looks like Jeff Malcolm, entering his third season in the Rangers’ organization, will likely be starting the season along with newcomer Magnus Hellberg, who was signed from the Milwaukee Admirals. 

Malcolm is a known commodity and could be assumed to be the number one in net to start the year.

You need two goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards,” a jovial and snarky Germander said. “He has been here before. We are comfortable with him from both a player’s point of view and a character’s point of view. He’s not going to come in here and rankle feathers. He’s going to do the work hard. In his tenure here, he has always shown improvement and he continued to trend up. There is an opportunity and he is certainly an option.”

Clearly, speed up front is what comes from some of the new additions such as Brian Gibbons, Luke Adam and rookie Richard Nejezchleb.

We didn’t get a memo in the off-season to get slower,” Gernander said with a smile. “That’s the way the game is going, you know? That’s the direction things are moving in and those of the type of players we brought in.”

The blue line will feature the Ranger’s top draft pick in Brady Skjei (pronounced, “Shay”) who played at the end of the regular season and into the post-season after having left the University of Minnesota early.

(If you) watch him in several of the games (with the Rangers), he’s showing lots of promise. I don’t think a little seasoning in the American (Hockey) League will hurt him one bit. It’s a competitive league; lots of things to learn and at this point, it’s the best place for his development.”

No decision has been made yet on which side Skjei will patrol for the Wolf Pack.

It’s too early to say. We still have to determine our personnel. There are things that still need to be shaken out,” Gernander said. Certainly he was referring to the Rangers still having eight defensemen in New York as part of their 25 man roster. They will still need to cut two bodies by weeks end and deal with their contract load which stands at 49. Under the CBA, a team is only permitted a total of 50 and with a maximum of 23 players on the NHL roster.

Two European defenders are clearly going to get a strong look over the three preseason game schedule. They will be Swedish rearguard, Calle Andersson and Czech right handed shot, Petr Zamorsky.

We’re going to have to see how that plays out. The onus will be on them to become more complete or well-rounded players and to see how that offensive prowess translates at this level. That’s why we have preseason, to see what their level of power-play prowess would be. Certainly we want to see how they handle five-on-five play.”

Andersson’s father Peter played with the Rangers for 39 games from 1992-1994.


NHL cuts are coming each day. Those with a Connecticut connection include:

Bakersfield – Matt Ford (Wolf Pack)

Charlotte – TJ Hensick (Wolf Pack)

Iowa – Joe Finley (Sound Tigers)

Lake Erie – Brett Gallant (Sound Tigers), Mike Paoliotta (Westport / Avon Old Farms), Jamie Sifers (Stratford) and Peter Quenneville (Quinnipiac).

Lehigh Valley – Jason LaBarbera (Wolf Pack) and Logan Pyatt (CT Whale).

Rockford – Brandon Mashinter (Wolf Pack) and Ryan Haggerty (Wolf Pack).

Stockton – Bryce van Brabant (Quinnipiac), Ken Agostino (Yale University), Blair Riley (Sound Tigers), Jon Gillies (Salisbury Prep) and Kent Simpson (Sound Tigers).

Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay after the Islanders were reassigning him on Sunday.

Jordan Sims, the son of ex-Hartford Whaler and New Haven Nighthawk Al Sims, signs with Evansville (ECHL).

Former Wolf Pack Jared Nightingale was released by Detroit and was sent to Toledo (ECHL).

Justin Courtnall, who split last year Bridgeport and Syracuse, signs with Allen (ECHL).

Former Wolf Pack defenseman from their first season, Ryan Risidore, is the new radio color commentator for Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) on CHML (900) the station can be heard loud and clear at night in CT.

One more AHL’er heading to Europe is Will Acton who played most of the year with Utica and a few in Oklahoma City, has signed with Schwenniger (Germany-DEL).

In Pack camp are several sons of ex-NHL’ers. Alex Kruselnyski is the son of former Ranger Mike Kruselnyski and Stefano Momesso is the son of former Canadiens player, Sergio Momesso who is now the radio color commentator on Canadiens radio broadcasts. Those broadcasts are on TSN 690AM and can also be heard in Connecticut at night.


CaptureBY: Mitch Beck, Howlings

When I first started attending Hartford Wolf Pack hockey games in 2001 one of the first people to greet me was an older gentleman, Robert (Bob) Wood and his wife Sandy. Tow of the sweetest people you would ever hope to meet.

Bob asked me if I would help them with their Booster Club newsletter. I was already the Editor in Chief of the New York Rangers fan club newsletter so why not.

NOBODY was more supportive of the amount of energy I put into making that thing work than Bob was. I would tell you that one of the main reasons I became as passionate about the team as I became was because of the friendship and support that I received from Bob and Sandy.

The Booster Club announced on their facebook page today that Bob passed away today.

I usually don’t get emotional about the ending of life. I’ve come to accept that it is a natural part of the order of life and eventually it gets us all. But reading about the passing of such a fine man led me to shed a tear and to have a heavy heart.

CaptureI didn’t really get to tell Bob how much he inspired me. He took ENDLESS amounts of grief from Hartford Whaler fans when the team changed its name and identity for a period of time to the Connecticut Whale. Bob handled it with such class and dignity, in the face of some pretty harsh abuse, that I truly don’t know how he did it.

His lovely wife Sandy now will be left to watch their grandson grow up.

I’d write more, but Bob was a humble man and I feel like it’s more attention than he would have wanted.

Rest in Peace Bob Wood… You were a true mensch and a constant inspiration to those around you.

Here is the information on Bob Woods’ Services.

Wake: Sunday, 8/16/15 4pm – 7pm at Alderson Funeral Home, 615 South Main Street, Rt. 10, Cheshire, CT

Funeral: Monday, 8/17/15 10am at Alderson , leaving at 11am to go to Holy Trinity Church, 200 Summer Street, Plantsville, CT

The obituary should be in tomorrow’s Record-Journal and Republican-American newspapers.

If you need any further information feel free to call April Rogers at 860-202-5359.

Special thanks to Chris Rutsch and Jennifer Ryan for the pictures…




BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, July 10, 2015 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Marek Hrivik.

Hrivik, 23, skated in 72 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points, along with a plus-eight rating and 12 penalty minutes. He established AHL career-highs in assists, points, and plus/minus rating in 2014-15. Hrivik ranked fourth on Hartford in plus/minus rating this past season. He tallied a point in 12 of 15 games from Dec. 31 at Portland to Feb. 7 at Bridgeport, registering 14 points (six goals, eight assists) over the span. During the stretch, he established AHL career-highs with a four-game assist streak from Dec. 31 at Portland to Jan. 9 vs. Syracuse and a four-game goal streak from Jan. 24 at Syracuse to Feb. 4 at Syracuse.

The 6-2, 200-pounder skated also registered three goals and six assists for nine points, along with six penalty minutes in 15 playoff games with Hartford this past season. He established AHL playoff career-highs in games played and assists, and tied his playoff career-high in points. Hrivik ranked third on Hartford in assists, tied for fourth in points, and tied for fifth in goals in the playoffs. He registered his first career AHL hat trick (regular season or playoffs) and recorded nine shots on goal to help Hartford advance to the Eastern Conference Final on May 15 vs. Hershey.

In 194 career AHL games over parts of four seasons, all with the Whale/Wolf Pack, Hrivik has registered 33 goals and 54 assists for 87 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 44 penalty minutes. Hrivik made his AHL debut on Mar. 31, 2012 vs. Adirondack after he completed his third and final season of junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In addition to the AHL career-highs he set this past season, Hrivik established AHL career-highs in games played (74) and goals (13) in 2013-14. He has also skated in 24 career AHL playoff games, registering eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points, along with 16 penalty minutes.

The Cadca, Slovakia native has represented his country in several international tournaments. Most recently, Hrivik skated in six games with Slovakia in the 2014 IIHF World Championship. He also tallied two goals in six contests while representing Slovakia in the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Hrivik was originally signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent on May 30, 2012.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Last week’s wild free agency cavalcade/bazaar brought serious changes to the team whose home address is on Asylum Street.

When the 2015-2016 season begins, the roster of the Hartford Wolf Pack will be distinctly different than when it last hit the ice in the fall.

The heart and soul of the Eastern Conference finalists were altered with nine of it’s pieces leaving for many new ports across North America and Europe.

Last week saw last season’s First Team All-Star, Chris Bourque, sign with and return to the Hershey Bears with a two-year deal paying $350K per year. Meanwhile, the Game 5 OT Hero in the Providence Bruins series, Chris Mueller, became the first player signed by the Anaheim Ducks to play for the San Diego Gulls. Mueller signed to play in the new AHL Pacific Division for $250K .

Goaltender, Yann Danis, who was a rock in the net during the Pack’s extended playoff run stays in North America after signing for $150K* with the New Jersey Devils after Scott Clemmensen retired to become the parent club’s new goalie coach. For Danis it will now be just a three-hour drive from his Quebec home to Albany rather than a plane ride across the ocean to Europe.

Conor Allen, a top pair defenseman for the Pack, migrated off to the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predator’s top farm team getting a $10K raise to $80K. Continue reading




Jeff Gorton named 11th General Manager in franchise history;

Jim Schoenfeld named Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager and General Manager of the Hartford Wolf Pack;

Glen Sather continues as team President

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, July 1, 2015 – New York Rangers President Glen Sather announced today that Jeff Gorton has been named the 11th General Manager in franchise history and Jim Schoenfeld has been named Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager and General Manager of the Hartford Wolf Pack. Sather will retain his role as President, a position which he has held since June 1, 2000.

“Jeff has been an integral part of our success since joining the Rangers, and he has earned the respect of colleagues throughout the hockey community,” Sather said. “He is well prepared for and extremely deserving of this opportunity.

“Jim has played a pivotal role in several areas during his tenure with the Rangers,” Sather said. “He is a valuable member of our staff and he will continue to benefit the organization at both the NHL and AHL levels.”

Gorton, 46, has been a member of the Rangers organization for the past eight seasons and served as the team’s Assistant General Manager over the last four seasons. He joined the Rangers in 2007 as a professional scout, and served three seasons as Assistant Director, Player Personnel before becoming the team’s Assistant General Manager.

During Gorton’s tenure with the Rangers, he has played a key role in the selection of current Blueshirts Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, and J.T. Miller in the NHL Entry Draft. Gorton was vital in the Rangers’ acquisitions of Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Keith Yandle through trades, as well as the signing of free agents Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello.

Prior to joining the Rangers, Gorton spent 15 seasons with the Boston Bruins organization, serving as the Bruins Assistant General Manager during the final seven years of his tenure. As Assistant General Manager, he was involved in contract negotiations, scouting operations and the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Providence.

Gorton served as Boston’s Interim General Manager from March 27 to July 8, 2006, directing the Bruins’ efforts at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and negotiating contracts and trades at the start of the 2006 free agency period. At the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Gorton was instrumental in landing Bruins’ star players Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask, as well as former Bruins’ stars Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic. He also acquired All-Star free agents Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.

Gorton originally joined the Bruins organization in their public relations department at the beginning of the 1992-93 season. He became the Bruins’ Director of Scouting Information in October 1994, where he created the scouting database which networks the club’s scouts via computer, and coordinated video on prospects in preparation of scouting assignments and the annual NHL Entry Draft. Gorton holds a degree in physical education from Bridgewater State College, and a Masters in sports management from Springfield College.

Schoenfeld, 62, served the past eight seasons as Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel of the Rangers. In that capacity, he played a vital role in all player transactions, and was also responsible for all hockey-related matters for the Wolf Pack.

Schoenfeld has served as General Manager of the Wolf Pack/Whale for the past 12 seasons and served as head coach of the team for two seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He assumed head coaching duties for the organization on July 13, 2005, when he became the fourth head coach in franchise history. Schoenfeld has been influential in developing the organization’s pool of prospects.

During Schoenfeld’s tenure in the organization, several Blueshirts developed under his guidance in Hartford before becoming key contributors in New York. In his two seasons as head coach of the Wolf Pack, Schoenfeld played a vital role in the progression of Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, and Brandon Dubinsky. Since Schoenfeld became the Wolf Pack General Manager, players such as McDonagh, Zuccarello, Miller, Fast, and Artem Anisimov made their professional debuts with the Wolf Pack/Whale in the AHL before being called up by the Rangers.

In 2014-15, the Rangers and Wolf Pack were the only NHL and AHL affiliates from the same organization to both reach the Conference Finals. It was the first time in franchise history that the Rangers and their AHL affiliate both reached the Eastern Conference Final in the same season.

Over his 12 seasons as General Manager of the Wolf Pack/Whale, the team has posted a 512-325-52-55 record in 944 games (.599 point percentage). Schoenfeld also registered a 95-53-5-7 record in 160 games during his two seasons as the head coach of the Wolf Pack (.631 point percentage). Since Schoenfeld became Hartford’s general manager, the club has reached the playoffs in nine of 12 seasons.

In addition to his front office roles with the Rangers, Schoenfeld also served as an assistant coach with the Blueshirts during the 2002-03 season. Schoenfeld compiled a 256-246-78 record (.509 point percentage) over 10 seasons as an NHL head coach with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Phoenix Coyotes, and he reached the playoffs in six of the 10 campaigns.

Schoenfeld skated in 719 career NHL games with the Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins from 1972-73 through 1984-85. A former captain of the Sabres, he registered 51 goals and 204 assists for 255 points, along with 1,132 penalty minutes in his NHL career. Originally selected by Buffalo in the first round, fifth overall, of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, Schoenfeld is a member of the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.