Category Archives: Connecticut Whale


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.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The NHL Entry Draft produced a few surprises and there were some interesting trades some of which involved ex-Hartford Wolf Pack/CT Whale players.

The New York Rangers traded their speedy former CT Whale Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Emerson Etem. While they got some size (6’1 212) in Etem, to this point in his young career, at best, he’s been an in-between player. To this point, in Anaheim, Etem’s played 45 games and put up 5g-5a-10pts. With the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, Etem potted 13 goals, had 8 assists for 21 points in 22 games. Etem was a first round pick, 29th overall by Anaheim in 2010. Etem played his years in junior at Medicine Hat (WHL).

Hagelin’s pending free agency next season, and with the Rangers already being so close to the NHL salary cap, and with so many other free agents to sign, it’s clear that was a decisive factor in the trade which the Ducks clearly got the better end of.

Etem’s one connection with Hartford comes when he contracted the mumps three days after Norfolk played Hartford in November. That appearance eventually sidelined Joey Crabb and even head coach Ken Gernander when the two had issues with it as well.

Then, as expected, ex-Pack/CT Whale goalie Cam Talbot was sent dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks on Saturday. The Rangers received the 57th, 79th and 184th from the Oilers. With a very cap friendly cap contract and like Hagelin, Talbot was heading for UFA status next year and his contract per CBA rules couldn’t even be extended until January, so it was the best move for all concerned.

Talbot played at the University Alabama-Huntsville, went undrafted and then rose from obscurity. Talbot became a fixture in Hartford when he surpassed Chad Johnson as te team’s number one netminder. It’s hard to forget that memorable moment when Talbot received Jim Schoenfeld’s approval with a big slap on the back prior to the playoffs in 2011 and then delivered sweeping the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and then made a strong effort against the eventual Calder Cup champs that year Norfolk in a six game series.

This season with Henrik Lundqvist injury he stepped in over a two month period playing every game, but two in leading the Rangers to the Presidents Trophy with the best NHL regular season record, but didn’t start one game in the postseason.

The last Rangers deal affected Hartford directly. The Blueshirts went out and got a new backup for Henrik Lundqvist in Antii Raanta, who split last season with the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks (14 GP 7-4-1 1.89 GAA) and AHL Rockford (11 GP 8-1-1 2.39 GAA) and was listed as the team’s third goalie.

The Rangers traded winger Ryan Haggerty, a Stamford, CT native, who just turned 22 after just one pro season after being signed out of RPI last spring. Haggerty had 15 goals and 32 points in 76 games with the Wolf Pack.

Haggerty started off OK, had a soft middle of the season, and after a chat with Gernander on producing more A and B games rather than C games, Haggerty picked up his skating pace and got some scoring. Then, like several other players, he hit a major scoring slump at the end of the season and went into the playoffs. Haggerty went through 12 games without a goal before getting off the schneid with a goal in Game 4 of the Hershey series.


NHL-AHL free agency starts Wednesday and the Rangers have many roster decisions to make that will be announced.

One that Howlings can announce exclusively is that center Chad Nehring has been re-signed to a one-year AHL deal. The recently turned 28-year-old was a pivotal fourth line center who filled in on occasion on the first and second unit in part due to his strong faceoff skills. Nehring, who bounced around the ECHL for four years, along with Shawn O’Donnell, was a pesky thorn in the side of the Wolf Pack’s foes.

According to sources, Nehring was sought after by several other teams for an AHL deal, most noticeably the Hershey Bears, whom he burned with one of the best individual plays in the postseason in Game 5 in which he set up Chris Mueller’s game-winning OT goal. Nehring made a spectacular individual effort spanning from his own end of the ice to behind the Hershey net.

O’Donnell, who just turned 27 at the end of the playoffs, should re-sign with the Pack, but he could get an AHL deal elsewhere.

Several players have contracts that are up. Dylan McIlrath 22, coming to the end of his NHL three year entry level deal is expected to be qualified and may sign a new deal with the Rangers. It would be a wise move he was an important player in his third year with the Wolf Pack. Dylan McIlrath, 22, came to the end of his NHL three year entry level deal and according to several of the Rangers beat writers was among eight of the nine players offered qualifying offers.

Converted center Marek Hrivik becomes an RFA (restricted free agency) and at the end of the year said he wanted to return. Hrivik is one of the in between guys and performed well even while having several long scoring droughts and should earn a new Wolf Pack deal.

Danny Kristo, who was an RFA a year ago based on his old contract with Montreal, but signed to a one year deal last summer, will be a UFA (unrestricted free agent) because he just turned 25 two weeks ago was a second round pick and has played no NHL games by age 25.

He could be re-signed because the Rangers’ Russian prospect, forward Pavel Buchnevich, 20, has indicated he intends stay in Russia to play with Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL next season. He had a good Russian junior playoff with the Almaz Cherepovets (MHL) posting 20 points in 11 games.

Kristo may well sign with the Philadelphia Flyers where his old North Dakota coach, Dave Hakstol, is the Flyers new head coach.

Defenseman Mat Bodie, 25, signed a one year deal after winning the NCAA title with Union College (ECACHL) and played with a heart of lion, but he is the same boat as Kristo except was undrafted by age 25 and has no NHL games. Clearly, Bodie needs to gain upper body strength to keep playing at the AHL level. He was exploited several times in both the Hershey and Manchester series against those team’s bigger forwards.

There are several veterans the team will re-sign with several likely to find employment elsewhere in the AHL or Europe.

Ryan Potulny 30, to nobody’s surprise has already signed with Lahti (Finland-FEL) and very surprisingly RW Carl Klingberg 24, acquired from Winnipeg opted to return to Europe and signed with Torpedo Novgorod (Russia-KHL).

Goalie Yann Danis could be re-signed because of the injury and subsequent postseason surgery to the right hip of Mackenzie Skapski that will sideline him until at least October. Cederic Desjardins, who has one more year on his deal, is coming off ACL surgery on his right knee. That will be a factor. Danis, being 33, could head to Europe to wind up his career. Only time will tell.

Crabb, at age 32 and from Anchorage, AK, will likely either wind up on the AHL Pacific Division or Europe. Mike Kostka, 29 is likely to be in the same position.

The Bourque brothers remain a question marks because of the Rangers cap and contract status. Chris, 29, who will be entering his 12th pro season, commands a healthy six-figure deal while Ryan, 24, has played all four pro years in Hartford, shown great leadership and work ethics could become a fourth line NHL energy guy. Both will likely be re-signed by the Rangers.

Nick Tarnasky 30, could head back to Europe or maybe the Quebec LNAH league as the speed of the game has passed him by.


All of them are 18 years old (except one) and are a year or two from making the Wolf Pack roster.

Ryan Gropp, a 6’2 185 lb. LW was the 41st selection 2nd round had a good season with Seattle (WHL) 67-30-28-58-44

Robin Kovacs, of Skelleftea AIK (Sweden-Allsvenskan) a LW/RW was the first of the Oiler picks for Talbot 62nd overall 3rd round 52-17-11-28-63. Considered a major agitator, the last Swedish agitator was named Andreas Jamtin. He lasted all of five games in Hartford.

Kovacs was named to the Swedish National U-20 team on Monday that will play in Lake Placid in August in a tournament and could be eligible for their World Junior Championship team in December/January.

Sergei Zborovsky, a defenseman at 6’3, 200 lbs. is the tallest player selected from Regina (WHL) and was coached by ex-Wolf Pack head coach John Paddock 71-3-16-19-70.

Aleksi Saarela, C/LW 5’10 195 lbs the smallest player they drafted from Assat Pori (Finland-FEL) 89TH overall 3rd round  51-6-6-12-18.

Brad Morrison, C 113th overall 4th round Prince George (WHL) 67-23-26-49-30

Daniel Bernhardt, is the oldest at 19 a LW/RW was 119th overall 4th round (Djurgarden J-20) 44-26-35-61-22

Adam Huska, G 184th overall 7th round Team Slovakia U-18 team 25 GP and a 3.60 GAA and Green Bay (USHL) 5 GP 0-3-1 4.65 GAA. Huska played five games for Slovakia at the World Junior Championships with a 3.01 GAA.

The Rangers have no first round selection next year (to Arizona in the Keith Yandle trade) none the previous two years. The last was Brady Skjei (Shay) 2012 who was signed out the University of Minnesota and played with the Wolf Pack at the end of the season and in the playoffs.


Luke Stevens, a Yale University (ECACHL) commit 2016-17 son of ex-Ranger Kevin playing at a Noble & Greenough Prep school in Massachusetts was taken by Carolina 126th overall in the 5th round.

Adam Musil, nephew of former Whaler and Ranger Bobby Holik was selected by St. Louis 4th round 95th overall from Red Deer (WHL). His older brother David split this season with Bakersfield (ECHL) and Oklahoma City (AHL). Father Frantiske (Frank) is a former NHL player who is an amateur scout with Edmonton.

Callum Booth, former Salisbury Prep goalie was taken by Carolina 4th round 93rd overall from Quebec (QMJHL).

The highest drafted son of a ex-Wolf Pack player now belongs to Jake DeBrusk the left winger from Swift Current (WHL) by Boston 14th overall, Jake is the son of ex-Pack and Ranger Louie DeBrusk now a TV color commentator on Edmonton Oiler broadcasts.

Chris Wilkie, son of ex-Pack David Wilkie was taken by Florida 6th round 162nd overall from Tri-City (USHL). He is a University North Dakota Fighting Sioux (NCHC) commit for next year.

The other highest draftee son of ex-Wolf Pack (and ex-Sound Tiger) was also by Boston last year taking Ryan Donato son of Ted in the 2nd round 56th overall.

The Islanders drafted the first Chinese born player in Andong Song (72nd overall 6th round) a defenseman and forward.

Song was born in Beijing his parents moved to Canada and played bantam hockey in the GTA (greater Toronto area). He played prep school hockey in South Jersey at the prestigious Lawrenceville school the last three years. Song  played and was captain on the Chinese U-18 team at the IIHF Division 2B level.

He will do a PG year at Phillips Andover Prep in Massachusetts this year before playing either junior hockey or collegiate hockey next year.

The first part of his first name is An which means peace in Chinese and dong means born in the East. Chinese first names are hybrids in part because of the different dialects such as Mandarin and Cantonese reflecting the many changes in Chinese history.

Last year the first Australian was taken in Nathan Walker by Washington.


Former Sound Tiger rookie defenseman Griffin Reinhart who played 59 games last year going 7-15-22 and had 64 PM and a minus 13 is a former #1 and 4th overall pick was traded to Edmonton for the 1st and 2nd round picks of Edmonton Saturday.

Sound Tiger head coach Brent Thompson was high on his development over the year, but I still think he needs seasoning should start next year in Bakersfield (AHL).

Former Wolf Pack goalie Chris Holt who split last season between Italy (SV Ritten/Renon) and the Czech Republic (HC Orli Znojmo) has a new hockey home next season with the Braehead Clan just outside of Glasgow, Scotland in the England based Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL).

Ryan Glenn, former Wolf Pack defenseman goes from Karpat Oulu (Finland-FEL) to HC Sparta Prague (Czech Republic-CEL).

Nigel Dawes has re-signed with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan-KHL) wonder if they threw in some Burger King coupons !!?

Marcello Ranallo, a UCONN (AHA) hockey grad re-signed with SG Cortina (Italy LIHG A-League).

Dallas Eakins who played for the Beast of New Haven was named the head coach for the maiden season of the AHL San Diego Gulls top affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks.

Former Beast of New Haven forward David Nemirovsky who has dual citizenship (Canada-Russia) has formally retired and will be the Sport Director for HC Vladivostok Admirals (Russia-KHL). The tri-lingual Nemirovsky will handle negotiations with North American and European based players for the team.

Three former Springfield Falcons have signed deals with their new Columbus affiliate in Lake Erie (nee Cleveland) in AHL vet Ryan Craig, forward Troy Vogelhuber and rookie Seth Ambroz out of the University of Minnesota. They also signed Russian Oleg Yevenko all 6’7 230 lbs. of him who played at UMASS-Amhersrt (HE) last year and four games with Adirondack.

Old pal PA Parenteau has been brought by Montreal and will make a cool $2.7 million the next two years concluding his $12 million dollar deal he signed originally with Colorado. PA may get picked up by another NHL team, but at 32 wouldn’t be surprised he heads to Europe.

Better yet Mike Richards who played a part of the year in Manchester will be getting a check for about $1.4 million per year from the LA Kings till 2024-25. No typo you read that right.

Ex-Pack/CT Whale Tim Erixon signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sam Gagner, son of former Nighthawk Dave Gagner the Director of Player Personnel in Vancouver was traded from Arizona to Philadelphia for Niklas Grossman and Chris Pronger. Yes, the retired former Whaler Chris Pronger had his contract transferred to the Coyotes so they could get their NHL payroll UP TO the NHL spending floor !!

He retired for concussion related reasons and will now also be paid by the NHL (in its Discipline department) and the Coyotes. Only in the NHL !


The latest addition to the hockey playing community is—the Falkand Islands !!

No joke the tip comes from writer Steven Ellis of Hockey whose story also appears courtesy of;

Here is the official website;

No truth to the rumor the Arizona Coyotes are looking to relocate there or the NHL is accepting an expansion bid.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Lots of Player Movement this week and it starts at home with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

It comes as no so surprise that the first Wolf Pack player to exit from this year’s team is none other than, Ryan Potulny.

Potulny played in just 25 regular season games and was a healthy scratch a majority of the season because of the veteran rule. He became very helpful when Justin Vaive went down with a broken foot in the series against the Hershey Bears and stepped in admirably with Chad Nehring and Shawn O’Donnell to form a potent fourth line.

Potulny heads to the Finnish Elite League and the Pelicans Lahti team.

The team’s head coach is former AHL’er Petri Maitkainen and ex-AHL goalie Pasi Nurminen is the assistant coach and owner of the team.

Teammate Carl Klingberg leaves Hartford and heads to the Russian KHL with the Torpedo Novgorod. Klingberg came over from St. John’s after four years in the Winnipeg organization. He played 13 games with the Pack garnering ten points and formed an effective duo with fellow Swede, Oscar Lindberg. He developed an injury late in the regular season and again in the playoffs, but bounced back and was one of the keys to the series win over Hershey.

Former CT Whale defenseman, Blake Parlett, leaves the San Antonio Rampage and heads to Croatia to play in Zagreb for KHL Medvescak in the KHL.

Not a big surprise, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ other Swedish forward, Johan Sundstrom, heads back home to play with Frolunda HC next season. Now 21 AHL’ers have signed with European teams in the

As of the writing of this article, 21 AHL’ers have signed with European teams in this off-season.

The Yale Bulldogs lost a prized recruit in John Marino. Marino played with South Shore Kings (USPHL-Premier) under the tutelage of former New Haven Nighthawk, Scott Harlow.  Marino already has been drafted by two junior leagues in the Chicago Steel (USHL) and the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). He is projected to be drafted in Florida in two weeks somewhere in the first three rounds of the NHL Draft.

He switched his commitment and will now attend Harvard. The other side of the coin is the USHL Steel has a new head coach former Yale assistant coach John Muse.

Another CT player heading to play Junior A hockey in Western Canada.

Michael Falanga (East Haven), who played for the CT Wolf Pack, will play for the Alberta-based Brooks Bandits (AJHL) in the fall.

Former Nighthawk Paul Boutilier was named an assistant coach for Saint John (QMJHL).

In news from around the AHL, The Texas Stars announced a new jersey color scheme for next season to coordinate with their parent club the Dallas Stars and the new Victory Green design. You can see it in all its emerald glory HERE

Here is an update on our old friend Dane Byers who was injured and had shoulder surgery in since February and missed the Hartford-Hershey series.

The soap opera-like situation surrounding the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League and hockey in Danbury, CT in general continues. Read the latest on it HERE.

The ECHL’s  Kelly Cup Finals continue. The South Carolina Stingrays, with two assists from New Canaan native and former Taft Prep star, Drew MacKenzie, beat the Allen Americans 4-1 to force a Game 7 Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm. The game will be played in Allen, Texas. In the 27-year history of the ECHL, this is just the fourth Game 7.

Earlier we mentioned the soap opera in Danbury, CT concerning the FHL. That drama pales in comparison to the three ring circus surrounding the Arizona Coyotes.

The much-maligned franchise – much of it by its own making – and the NHL’s tolerance of it’s yearly losing of boatloads of cash – held an end of the year season in review with the press corps last week which produced some funny moments as well as some news.

First the comedy.

The team wants to go to a full youth movement.  Those are the words of former Wolf Pack GM, Hartford Whaler and New York Ranger, Don Maloney, the current GM of the Coyotes.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a youth movement per se because it’s been proven over time, we stick six or seven 20-year-olds, 19-year-olds or 18-year-olds in the lineup, we’ll be sitting here next year ready to shoot ourselves.”

All kidding aside, the Springfield Falcons, the team’s new affiliate in a second go-round for the two organizations, could have one of the best crop of young forwards in the AHL next year as Max Domi, Christan Dvorak, Anthony Duclair and Brandon Perlini could be on their roster.

Co-owner Anthony Leblanc confirmed what Cantlon’s Corner wrote over the past year about on the Coyotes future with Arizona State University (ASU),  a potential Frozen Four bid team out West, and potentially making a bid to host the World Junior Hockey Tournament.

“So on the World Junior front, we are actively putting together what I think is going to be a very compelling bid for the USA Hockey to review. Those initial bids are due at the end of this month. As a matter of fact, I just met with the staff this morning and in discussions of where we are.

“I’m very impressed with what the team has been able to put together, and I think the fact that this is a location that has hosted some pretty high end events as recently as this year with the Super Bowl, next year with the College [Football] Championship, the year after that with the Final Four, we feel very excited about that.

“We continue to work with ASU. We’re very excited, regardless of where the relationship goes, the fact is the program is going Division I. It’s nothing, but good for our for the brand of hockey in the Valley. But I feel fairly strongly that we’ll be announcing a much tighter relationship with ASU.

“And as for a Frozen Four, a number of us spent time in Boston at this year’s Frozen Four and started that process. The next Frozen Four that’s available is quite a few years out; they book them up fairly far in advance. But again, that ties in nicely with the relationship with ASU. They are the ones who would lead an eventual Frozen Four bid, but those are a high profile things that we’re looking at, but as I said, in part of the discussion with the city yesterday, it’s all about driving more events.

“And then hopefully we have more events next year called, ‘The Playoffs’ which would continue to drive more revenue to the team and to the city.”

Maloney addressed the team’s switch of their AHL affiliation from the Portland Pirates to Springfield. What’s been going on behind the scenes the past year was again, a confirmation of much of what Cantlon’s Corner has written about.

“We will be in Springfield next season, the Springfield Falcons. What happened was it was really when Anthony’s group came in. We were at the forefront of trying to get a division or really start or form our own league out West here just in terms of the changing the development model, (play) less games, more practice times.

“Long story short, five teams are coming West and forming a Pacific Division. In our situation, there’s just Anaheim (Ducks) and the Coyotes. We had to buy a team. Anaheim was able to purchase Norfolk (Admirals), which was the only team for sale, so though Anthony was actually involved in discussions trying to see is there was another team out there for sale at a price that made any sense whatsoever. So long story short, to this day there isn’t one available to us.

“We like the relationship in Portland. I was adamant about not doing a longer term deal, and when I found out it did not look like we were going to be in a position to bring a team West in the very near future. I reached back out; they had made a commitment to Florida and just through the shifting of alliances, we ended up in Springfield, which I actually think it’s better for us. The travel is better. They have a great facility. They’ve been in the league a long time. Bruce Landon has run that team for many, many years, real good hockey person. It’s easy to get to, in the sense of you fly into Hartford, you can fly into Boston and even Portland now with the loss of Manchester (Monarchs) and Worcester (Sharks – both to the ECHL), they’re on a little bit of an island out there. The travel all of a sudden gets a lot more.

“Long story short, I think it’s an upgrade for us to move there. Darcy Regier is going to be managing the team and put that team together. We’re close to finding our head coach down there. We changed our coaching staff out, so we’re excited about moving forward with Springfield.”

The one thing Maloney confirmed CC had kept in-house, was the threat made back last March, in an emergency meeting in Boston, of starting a new Western-based minor league with the NHL’s Western teams.

Maloney’s admission that it was Phoenix/Arizona at the head of the pack and openly threatening secession, is amazing. Consider the Coyotes own perilous financial situation, it seemed to be the more salient part of their strategy than new developmental models.

That brings us to last Wednesday’s termination of the Coyotes lease at the Jobing Arena in Glendale by the city council.

Here is the latest on that saga.

While it is obvious to everyone the team needs to be moved, the NHL won’t budge. Speculating that in 15-20 years from now,  a sports management course in the US and Canada will use the Coyotes as an example of how NOT to run a pro sports franchise.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Former Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers‘ captain Ryan Callahan scored a beautiful goal in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 home win and allowing the Bolts to take a 2-1 lead in games over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Callahan took a perfectly executed stretch pass from defenseman Victor Hedman and came down the right wing. Callahan fired the puck from off the right wing over Blackhawk’s goaltender, Corey Crawford’s glove. The puck went off the crossbar and went down into the left side of the net. The goal opened the scoring.

Game Four will be played Wednesday night in Tampa.

Meanwhile over in the Calder Cup Final, it’s no shock that the series, which switches to Utica, New York has the Manchester Monarchs up two-games-to-none. Game Three is also on Wednesday night. The game in Utica is available for free viewing on AHL Live.

The Monarchs won the first two games both in overtime by the scores of 3-2 and 2-1 respectively. Mike Mersch, who was knocked out of the Hartford series in Game Three off a big, hard and clean hit from defenseman Dylan McIlrath, scored twice including the game-winner. In Game Two, it was Nic Dowd who provided the overtime heroics for the Monarchs.

Mersch and Jordan Weal are tied for the AHL postseason scoring league with 21 points. Mersch is one behind Teemu Pulkinnen of the Grand Rapids Griffins with 13 goals for the top spot.

In both games, the Monarchs continued their impressive streak of scoring the game’s first goal, albeit, in this series, it’s taken them longer than at any time of the post season. Ex-Yale Bulldog Brian O’Neill scored at 16:00 in Game One and Zach O’Brien scored at 19:05 on the power-play in Game Two.

The Monarchs postseason record when they’ve scored the game’s first goal is an impressive 13-0­.

In other AHL news, Former Yale forward Andrew Miller has signed a new one-year deal with Edmonton. He scored 60 points in 63 games on the strength of 27 goals and 33 assists in Oklahoma City with the Barons last season. Miller played nine games in Edmonton where he scored one goal and had four assists.

Miller’s first NHL game on March 27th was quite memorable. He scored a goal and had an assist. What made it unique was that his first NHL goal was off a penalty shot.

Miller’s penalty shot goal as a first NHL goal made him the first Oiler to do that in team history. He was the first NHL’er to do it since Jay McClement did it for the St. Louis Blues on October 11, 2005. Miller became just the sixth player in NHL history to successfully duplicate the feat.

The first penalty shot goal as a first goal was done by Ralph “Scotty” Bowman (no relation to the hockey coaching great) with the St. Louis Eagles on November 13, 1934. That Bowman had eight career goals. The next time that feat was accomplished was 1973 when Phil Hoene, who was with the LA Kings, and was one of his only two goals in his 37 game NHL career.

Finnish born Ilkka Sinisalo, who was with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1981, was the first and only European to ever accomplish this unique goal. Ex-Springfield Falcon Reggie Savage did it when he was with the Washington Capitols in 1992.

The first ever NHL penalty shot was taken by Armand Mondou of the Montreal Canadians on November 10, 1934, Mondou ended his career with the New Haven Eagles in the old International American Hockey League (1936-40). The goalie who stopped him was George Hainsworth of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the uncle of former New Haven Blades (1968-1972), Nighthawks emergency goalie, and former Yale assistant coach, Dave Hainsworth.

Sheldon Keefe is the new head coach of the Toronto Marlies. Keefe played in the AHL with Springfield, the Hershey Bears and the Utah Grizzlies.

Keefe coached the last three seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) racking up an impressive record and was named CHL and OHL, “Coach Of The Year” last year en route to a 54-12-0-2 record and team record of 110 points.

Prior to that, Keefe coached Junior A hockey with the CCHL Pembroke Lumber Kings with five straight winning seasons and league titles and a national Junior A RBC Cup title in 2011.

Keefe will name two new assistant coaches in the near future.

In what may have been the worst-kept secret in hockey, last year’s AHL, “Coach Of The Year,” Grand Rapids’ Jeff Blashill was named the new head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Blashill compiled a record of 134-83-11 in three seasons with the Griffins. he won a Calder Cup title in the AHL in 2012.

Blashill is the eighth current coach who has won a Calder Cup and is now behind an NHL bench. he’s also the fourth current AHL Coach of the Year (Louis A. Pieri Award) winner to be in, “The Show.”

No announcement on the next Grand Rapids coaching staff was made.

Back in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals,  the series between the Allen Americans and the South Carolina Stingrays which has shifted to Charleston, SC has the Americans up three-games-to-two on the strength of a 3-2 overtime win on Tuesday night. Allen can clinch the Kelly Cup, also on Wednesday night, at the North Charleston Arena.

Allen won Game Five on a Greger Hanson goal at 5:25 into OT. South Carolina forced OT with a goal by Wayne Simpson off an assist by New Canaan native, and former Taft Prep player, Drew Mackenzie and former Hotchkiss star, Derek Deblois, with 1:55 left in regulation. Simpson has an ECHL record best 38 points.

Allen regained the home-ice advantage when they won Game Four in double overtime 3-2 on Sunday. The game-winning goal came off the stick of Vincent Arseneau and ex-Sound Tiger, Dyson Stevenson, had a goal and an assist in the game.

Anybody who has listened to hockey on the radio (over the air analog style) knows about the legendary voice of the Ft. Wayne Komets, Bob Chase. At 89, Chase is still doing the games on the 50,000 watt clear channel WOWO-AM (1190) that booms across America just finished his 52nd season. Read this fine piece on Chaser.

In juniors, it’s that time again for the QMJHL draft.

It was a long day in Sherbrooke last Saturday and quite a number of Connecticut kids in Connecticut-based hockey programs heard their names selected in the QMJHL Draft.

The highest pick was Michael O’Leary of Salisbury Prep. O’Leary was selected for a second year in a row. Last year, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles took him in the first round, 14th overall for the Halifax native who has committed to Cornell (ECACHL) for 2016-17. This time O’Leary’s name lasted several rounds more when the Moncton Wild Cats took him in the third round, 52nd overall. In 2014, he was taken by the Dubuque Thunderbirds (USHL) in 14th round, 226th overall.

In the 6th round, 96th overall, an Avon Old Farms player for next season, Matt Allen, was selected by the Sherbrooke Phoenix from the South Kent School’s US Selects program. He is committed to Providence College for 2017-18.

From Stamford, via the nationally acclaimed Shattuck St. Mary’s program, Alex Mella was taken by the Rimouski Océanic in the seventh round, 110th overall. Earlier in the spring he was taken by the Green Bay Bobcats (USHL) in the sixth round, 82nd overall of their draft.

Also in the 7th round, Manchester’s Lucas Niezelski, a defenseman, was taken by Rimouski, 127th overall. He plays for the Boston Jr. Bruins program in the USPHL-Premier League.

In the 9th round, Ben Mirageas of Avon Old Farms was selected by Saint John Sea Dogs. In the spring, Mirageas was taken by the Bloomington Thunder (USHL) in the second round, 30th overall.

In the 12th round 203rd Greenwich native from Brunswick Prep Christian LeSeuer was taken by Baie Comeau. He was selected by Sioux City (USHL) in their draft in the 5th round 79th overall.

In the thirteenth round, 221st overall, Wilton native Matt Gosiewski was taken by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. He was taken in the USHL Draft by the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, third round and 45th overall. He is committed to Harvard University (ECACHL) for 2017-18.

Two selections later, Avon native Jake Gresh, who played with Avon Old Farms, was selected by Cape Breton.

In the 14th round, 236th overall, Westminster Prep’s Pat Dawson, was taken by Acadie Bathurst. Their GM is former New Haven Nighthawk, Sylvain Couturier. Dawson was selected in the USHL Draft by Bloomington in the ninth round and 136th overall.

Two spots later Glastonbury’s Brendan Casey from the Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack program was taken by the Victoriaville Tigres.

At 248th overall in the 14th round, West Haven native Eric Esposito, who played at Loomis Chaffe school in Windsor, was taken by the Val D’Or Foreurs. He was taken in the spring by Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) 16th round 249th overall. He is heading to the University of New Hampshire (HE) in 2017-18.

Jack Hoey, a Fairfield native who played public school hockey at Fairfield Prep before going to Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, was taken right after Esposito by the Quebec Remparts.

The last Connecticut native taken was New Canaan’s smooth passing, quick skating Pat Harper from Avon Old Farms. He was selected by the Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada. Their head coach and GM is former Wolf Pack and Sound Tiger, Joel Bouchard. Harper is committed to Boston University (HE) for 2016-17. Harper was selected by Omaha Junior Lancers (USHL) in the 11th round 182nd overall in their draft.

A few names of note in the USHL Draft were the sons of former Hartford Whalers. Alexander Nylander, who plays in Sweden was selected by the Dubuque Fighting Saints; Blake Coffey, was taken by the Waterloo Blackhawks and presently plays in Canada and Matt Barnaby Jr., son of the ex-Ranger, was taken by Bloomington and will play at Avon Old Farms in the fall.

Lastly, big 6’4 right handed shooting defenseman Tommy Craft from Hamden who plays for Deerfield Academy just over the CT/MA border was taken by Sioux Falls.


A good number of CT prep school players are heading off to Western Canada to play Junior A hockey next season to prepare to play collegiately and for some to preserve their NCAA eligibility. Those who play major junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) automatically lose their NCAA eligibility.

Here is the breakdown by school.

Avon Old Farms-Chase Sisky Langley (BCJHL).

Brunswick Prep-Matt Esposito Chilliwack (BCHL).

Choate Prep-Charley Borek Nanaimo (BCHL), Jeremy Germain-Chilliwack (BCHL), Jake Smith-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Brenden Russ-Langley (BCHL).

Gunnery Prep-Noah Bauld-Lloydminster (AJHL).

Kent Prep-Max Kaufman-Langley (BCHL), Bennett Morrison Salmon Arm (BCHL), Lewis Zerter-Penticton (BCHL) and Anthony Rinaldi Nanaimo (BCHL).

Loomis Chaffe-Erik Benshadle-Chilliwack (BCHL), Zach Giuttari-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Ben Short-Chilliwack (BCHL).

Salisbury Prep-James Gobetz-Brooks (AJHL), Brett Stirling-Victoria (BCHL), Kale Kane-Chilliwack (BCHL), Vimal Sukumaran-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Bailey MacBurnue-Trail (BCHL).

Westminster Prep-Anthony DiPlacido-Smith Falls (CCHL) and Nick Quillan-Lloydminster (BCHL)


Ex-Pack Devin DiDiomete after three ECHL teams last year (Allen, Missouri, and Idaho) and after starting the year in England (Sheffield) heads back overseas and HC Banska Bystrica in Slovakia.

Ex-CT Whale Benn Ferriero heads up the list of the latest AHL’ers to go to Europe leaving Chicago and signing with EC Salzburg (Austria-AEHL).

Fellow CT Whale teammate Andreas Thuresson departs the KHL after playing with Sibir Novosibirsk and Severstal Cherepovets and returns home to the play in Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and Malmo IF.

Two former Sound Tigers switch teams. Brock Montpetit, in Sweden, goes from Vasteras IK to Leksand IF in the Allsvenskan league and in Russia in the VHL Sergei Ogorodnikov departs from Sarys Karaganda in Kazakhstan to HK Ryazan in Russia.

Former South Kent Prep player Wade Megan has made the switch to the Florida Panthers new AHL home, the Portland Pirates, from the San Antonio Rampage, signing a one-year AHL deal.