Category Archives: ECHL

RANGERS ANNOUNCE 2016 TRAINING CAMP ROSTER

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TOSTI: SWAMP RABBITS INK ROOKIE DESMOND BERGIN

new-player-desmond-bergin
SWAMP RABBITS INK ROOKIE DESMOND BERGIN

Rookie defenseman joins Greenville roster from Harvard University

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced that rookie defenseman Desmond Bergin has been signed for the 2016-17 season.

Bergin, 23, enters his first professional season following a career year at Harvard University. During his senior season, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound blue liner played in 34 games and tallied 10 points, the highest single-season total of his NCAA career. His plus-15 rating led the Crimson as they earned a bid into the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

“Desmond is a smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman,” said Head Coach Brian Gratz. “He is intelligent with the puck and a sound positional player. He has the ability to be a very good two-way defenseman.”

The Natick, MA native played all four years at the Ivy League school. In his career, he appeared in 117 games, scored 28 points (4g, 24a), and posted a plus-24 rating. He helped Harvard capture the ECAC Hockey Conference Tournament Championship in 2015 and two consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament during his junior and senior seasons.

“From everything I’ve heard, Greenville is an amazing city to live in and the Swamp Rabbits is a great organization to play for,” said Bergin. “I’m just excited to get there in a couple weeks and start the season.”

Prior to his freshman year at Harvard, Bergin skated in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Tri-City Storm and Dubuque Fighting Saints. He attended St. Sebastian’s School in Massachusetts, playing three seasons and totaling over 53 points (13g, 40a).

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all off-season long and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 season are available and on sale now! Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop to browse the full collection of fan wear and novelties!

 

CANTLON’S CORNER: XL CENTER ICE IS SET DOWN

xl-center-ice-completedBY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – What goes well with red and blue? Hockey ice of course.

14 die hard Hartford Wolf Pack fans took advantage of the opportunity to take part in the Annual Hartford Wolf Pack, “Paint The Lines” day at the XL Center. The fans got to paint the lines on the first fresh sheet of ice kicking off the 2016-17 season, the team’s 20th in the Connecticut capital.

Irene Leitao, of Enfield. is a season ticket holder and who occasionally sings the National Anthem at Wolf Pack games, was among those given the honor to paint a blue line. “It’s fun to be a part of starting another season and it feels nice that you’re helping out,” She said. “It was also fun to see people you see at the games and goof around with them and interact with the Wolf Pack staff and of course, our lovable Sonar! I’m a real hockey fan and have been rooting for the team since Day One.”

The process of making the ice and the painting the lines that these fans took part in, is a short slice of what goes on in creating the final product that the players will use on opening night.

dr-ice-2“We usually go from 8am-6pm to get this done correctly,” Wayne Knight who has spent 36 years making ice at the XL Center (nee Hartford Civic Center Coliseum) said.  “Today, we had a few hiccups, so we’ll be here into the evening, but it will  get done to perfection.”

Knight, whose nom de guerre is, “The Ice Doctor,” tends to the ice like it was his patient. His tools of the trade and preparation are not simply getting a bucket of paint at Lowe’s and  to start brushing.

“We have to use ten people,”Knight said. “It is very coordinated. We put a layer of ice over the concrete first, then we paint that white. Then we put a second layer of ice on top of the white. Then do the blue lines, then the secondary lines like the faceoff circle and hash marks, which must be done to the specifications. You can’t be off by an inch. Then the goal lines and then the center red line. We have sponsorship and team logos to do for the Wolf Pack and UConn last. It’s intricate work.”

To get the ice set up and the silky, creamy white color requires eight, 44-pound boxes (362 pounds) that must be placed on and over the first and second layer of ice which is placed over the concrete foundation. That’s all before the first brushes are even started to color in the blue lines.

The blue line paint (or the red line paint as well) isn’t some shelf store paint it is specially designed by a Canadian company called, “Jet Ice Limited” and it costs the team between $120 to $140 apiece.

The faceoff circle and the hash marks require three gallons of red paint. A pane of plexiglass is used to accurately set the marks to AHL league specifications.

Then the top layer of ice is made over the finished work of ice Picassos and sometimes it takes several cracks at it to get the perfection they seek.ice-painting-begins

painters-2 painters-3 painters sonar-interview-2 sonar-interviews-self sonar-with-fans

ON THE MOVE

Wolf Pack training camp is scheduled to start on Saturday, October 1st.

The Traverse City tournament began Friday and head coach Ken Gernander and his staff of new assistant coach Keith McCambridge and assistant coach and assistant GM Pat Boller will get their first look at the new young crop of Ranger prospects and free agents in the right team round robin tournament. It is the Rangers 10th season participating in the tournament in the Michigan Upper Penisula region –UP to the natives.

It will be available on streaming on Fox Sports Go and www.detroitredwings.com

Tyler Brown who played all last year with the Wolf Pack with four goals and nine assists signed an ECHL deal with Greenville.

Five Wolf Pack players still unsigned from last year’s squad include Luke Adam, Shawn O’Donnell, Chris McCarthy, Matt Lindblad and Brian Gibbons. You can scratch off two of those from that list.

The Philadelphia Flyers announced their training camp roster and McCarthy, a Pennsylvania native, was on it. He will wear jersey number 74 and will likely get an AHL/ECHL deal to play either for Lehigh Valley or Reading (ECHL).

The other is the lethargic Brian Gibbons who signed a PTO tryout contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Former Wolf Pack goalie Cedrick Desjardins is scheduled to go to training camp this weekend with Jonquiere Marquis (LNAH),but is waiting on a European deal for the 2016-17 season.

He started last year in Hartford rehabbing from off-season ACL knee surgery, but only played seven ECHL games with Manchester and Indianapolis not playing a minute of AHL action with a $275K deal.

Ryan Verbeek, the nephew of Hartford Whalers great, Pat Verbeek, who is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Assistant GM and Director of Player Development, will play as overage junior with Chicoutimi (QMJHL) this season is a training camp invitee for Tampa Bay because of the shortened roster because of the World Cup hockey tournament.

Ex-Pack rearguard Ryan Glenn will have a new address this season. After splitting last season between HC Sparta Prague (Czech Republic-CEL) and JYP Jyvaskylan (Finland-FEL) he heads to HC Bolzano (Austria-AEHL).

Former Hotchkiss Prep goalie Jay Williams has graduated from Miami (OH) (NCHC) and signed with Orlando (ECHL). That makes 202 NCAA players who have signed a North American professional contract since the end of the collegiate regular season.

There are plans for a season-long honoring of Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe who passed away this summer. A pair of green number nine’s at center ice on either side of the Wolf Pack logo.

This being the Pack’s 20th season there are still unfinished special promotions and player appearances in the works.

Get a laugh out of this. The oldest student assistant coach in the nation is former Ranger and NHL’er Corey Millen, age 52.

Millen who attended the University of Minnesota didn’t complete his degree and was named student assistant coach for the Gophers staff last week. Millen played just 19 games for the Rangers from 1989-1991 before being traded to Los Angeles.

He also played for New Jersey, Calgary, and Dallas.

(All photos by Gerry Cantlon)

CANTLON’S CORNER: IN DEFENSE OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Hartford, CTThe recent new AHL Rule 46 announced in July at the conclusion of the AHL Board Governors meeting regarding fighting reads as follows:

Rule 46 (“Fighting”)/Rule 23 (“Game Misconducts”) 

  • Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a faceoff will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed.
  • During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game.
  • During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games.
  • In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule.

I rise in defense of the heavyweight.

This another assault on the character of the heavyweights and the continued micromanaging and over regulation of hockey in general. The rules addition is both unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion into the sport adding another layer of bureaucracy that allows officials who are often game-fully challenged as it is- to yet again get to play a further role in the game than is needed.

Did anyone hear an outcry to change and add this amendment to the fighting rules last year? Coaches? Players? The fans? No, just another bureaucratic fiat issued and the AHL is told just to put it in.

Primarily, it is the fear of a concussion lawsuit such as the judgement the NFL had of over $3.5 Billion that scares the bejesus out of the NHL. So the NHL now practices its version of defensive medicine because of a still yet unproven theory that connects CTE disease to fighting or concussions in general. Far more understanding and real science needs to find out what causes CTE. I believe there are far more complex medical and biological issues at play in that development.

Just my humble opinion.

Fighters are an important part of the game. They have served a very useful role in protecting smaller players and keeping fellow players in check from cheap shot artists who are indeed causing the reckless endangerment of players. Over the past several years, the PC police keep making it harder.

Again, this will allow those types of player’s free reign to do as they will because of the heavyweights, the player’s protectors if you will, will be circumspect about when, if and how to drop the mitts. You can’t depend on disciplinary sanctions, which were all negotiated in CBA contracts at the NHL and AHL level, to truly have a deterrent effect. It’s has been lawyered down and diluted to the point of having little to no effect.

The Raffi Torres suspension, for example, is the only significant exception to attempt to seek to have a corrective action taken on a players conduct.

Elbows directed at the head, to hits from behind, and stick activity, especially behind the play like spearing, high sticking, and butt-ending, are real issues in the game to correct – not fighting.

The majority of suspensions and injuries came from one of the aforementioned categories. At the same time, concussion-related injuries are down, and that’s good. We still have too many infractions of the above categories going on in the game. The real injury issue are those head shots that are unwarranted and reckless. Having a real deterrent on the ice offering immediate justice doled out by your peers should be in the game not excised from the game.

There was no call for this rule. This rule is a dictate from somewhere in the NHL offices which now more or less control the AHL. Almost any semblance of what the game once was has left the building. From the fighting to the overtime gimmicks to many other aspects of how the play of the game is now unrecognizable from its past to its present.

Can you imagine the recently passed, “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe, playing under some of these rules? Not a chance.

Hockey fighters, by and large, are great people. They’re strong community assets, particularly to charities. They are beloved by their teammates who respect their contribution to the team game. They are an enormous presence in the locker room for every team.

Fighting is a PART of hockey, not the whole game.

Remember the old, tired argument that people won’t watch hockey because of fighting? With fighting down significantly in the last five to ten years, where are the national ratings for the NHL on NBCSN?

Television ratings in the States are uneven at best. Why? Because the NHL is a market driven, ad revenue based league and a gate receipts generated league. They have no US national TV deal. However, there is a national TV deal in Canada. However, with the value of the falling Canadian dollar now an issue, it has made the deal less lucrative than the original figure. The demographics are shifting where hockey is played and is popular in the United States as the sport is no longer weather specific.

We have seen as recently as last year, players like Brian McGrattan (San Diego), Paul Bissonnette (Ontario), our old pal Stu Bickel (also in San Diego and who led the AHL last year with 210 PM), and recently retired players Matt Carkner, as well as, one-time Pack and NY Ranger, Colton Orr, and Nick Tarnasky of the Wolf Pack last year, all exiled to the AHL. They were sent packing as if they didn’t matter anymore. Shame on the NHL and shame on NHLPLA and PHPA for participating in this job-killing maneuver by the Lords of the Boards. The union is there to represent the players and maintain their job security not participate in their elimination or evisceration.

McGrattan, as other heavyweights have the last few years, signed in Europe with the Nottingham Panthers (England-EIHL). Tarnasky signed in San Diego, taking his slot. Bissonnette and Bickel re-signed for AHL deals with their respective teams they played with last year.

The fact is players want to fight in the game. In a survey done several years ago, 98% responded yes – Case closed, right?

No, as we found out this summer in college hockey when the coaches voted overwhelmingly to keep the OT rules as they are in the NCAA. I think that decision came with some guidance from the NHL which has sought to institute the same carnival concepts from pro hockey OT into the collegiate game. The majority vote was ignored and shown no respect. Thankfully, in that case, the coaches have prevailed—for now.

Fans stand up and cheer at a fight. Nobody is booing it. That’s a fact that many namby-pamby writers in particular and now some hockey executives many who have little understanding of the game, though some do, and benefitted in the fighting era and its history are suddenly recoiled by it. They seek to institute their social engineering theories to curb violence.

Truthful fact, violence is part of the human condition. How we maintain it, is a key to the maintenance of balance. A hockey fight is an expression of violence, but do you want to see real violence? Visit Chicago on a weekend or Hartford, Orlando, Syria, Dallas, Paris, Nice or Brussels. That, my friends, is real violence. A hockey fight or line brawl is not even in the neighborhood.

What happens when countries disarm in the name of peace? They will usually find their way into an inevitable war.

Hockey fighters have been important part of the fabric of our great game. From the good guys, and even the bad guys, they have been a part of our great sport. They have produced some great stories and incredible moments along with the exciting goal scoring and terrific defensive plays the game provides.

Paul Stewart, current head of officiating in the ECACHL college conference over the years regaled to many us writers of some of the characters he fought and played with in his days in the NAHL, WHA, AHL and eventually the NHL, all before becoming an NHL referee where he did 1,000 games.

From the inspiration for the Slap Shot character, Oggie Oglethorpe, he told of how he and teammate Bill Goldthorpe suckered him at the team Christmas party in Binghamton (NAHL) to see who would be the team heavyweight. His first pro fight was in Hartford with Jack “Killer” Carlson then of the New England Whalers (WHA) and Stewart with the Cincinnati Stingers. The referee, Bill Friday, told them, “Boys, that’s the best fight I’ve seen in 20 years.” Stewart also scored his first pro goal in Hartford against Louis Levassaeur.

Stewart’s NHL debut with the Quebec Nordiques was in his hometown at the Boston Garden. He battled Terry O’ Reilly that night. Stewart told him during the warm-ups, “You’re not the only Irishmen in the building O’Reilly. He fought Stan Jonathan and Al Secord in one night. Stewart’s verbal battle with all-time Bruins great goalie Gerry Cheevers is simply laugh-out-loud funny. “Cheesey! I know where your horses are. I’ll burn the barn down!”

One of my all-time favorites, Frank “Seldom” Beaton, played with the New Haven Nighthawks for two-and-a-half seasons in the late 1970’s. When he was in the WHA playing for Birmingham in a game in Cincinnati (where he had played the year before) had cops seeking him out on an assault arrest charge. He’d apparently punched out a gas attendant who spilled gas on his Corvette. He was carried out under their noses in the player’s stick bags to the team bus to avoid them.

You’re laughingI know you are. And you should because these are funny stories. It’s a part of life and the game that has many of these vignettes.

The attempt to sanitize our sport by the PC police must stop now. Fans and I know there are a lot of you who agree with me. Let’s hear your voices before the faceless bureaucrats destroy a part of the hockey spirit. They have done enough damage already in other areas.

I gladly stand to defend the heavyweights and scrappers of our game they deserve to be respected and appreciated not legislated, marginalized and ostracized from our great game.

(Publisher’s note: This editorial represents the sole opinion of our esteemed colleague, but does not express the opinion for all of the Howlings staff).

TOSTI: GREENVILLE WELCOMES BACK DASILVA

justin-dasilvaGREENVILLE WELCOMES BACK DASILVA
Swamp Rabbits defenseman Justin DaSilva back for a second season

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, are excited to announce the signing of second-year defenseman Justin DaSilva for the 2016-17 season.

DaSilva, 26, returns to the Swamp Rabbits organization following his first season in the professional ranks. The blueliner totaled 21 points (3g, 18a) in 61 games for Greenville, tying him for third in scoring among Swamp Rabbits defensemen.

“Justin is coming off of a solid rookie season,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He brings a strong physical presence and the ability to move the play up the ice. I look forward to seeing his continued growth development this year.”

As a rookie with the Swamp Rabbits, DaSilva was second on the team in plus/minus, going +5 on the season. His first goal came against the Swamp Rabbits’ South Division rival the Orlando Solar Bears on December 19. In that game, he posted a career-best three points (1g, 2a) en route to a 6-1 win. Justin joined the team toward the end of Greenville’s season in 2014-15 playing in four games, making his professional debut, and recording his first professional point.

“I enjoyed my time in Greenville last year,” DaSilva said. “The community, team, and organization were all very welcoming last year. I’m definitely excited to continue my time in Greenville and make a run for the playoffs and the Kelly Cup.”

Prior to signing with Greenville in 2015, DaSilva played for four years at Ohio State University. With the Buckeyes, the Cambridge, Ontario native produced 23 points (7g, 16a) including a season-high 10 points (4g, 6a) during his junior campaign. That season he also led the NCAA in blocked shots, averaging more than two per game.

DaSilva played two years in the British Colombian Hockey League (BCHL) with the Powell River Kings before heading to the collegiate ranks. In his second season, the 6-foot-6 skater led the River Kings from the blue line with 43 points (11g, 32a) in 54 games.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all off-season long and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 season are available and on sale now! Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop to browse the full collection of fan wear and novelties!

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK SEASON COMING UP SOON

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Hartford, CTFor Hartford Wolf Pack fans, the excitement is beginning to rise as the season is getting closer by the day.

WOLF PACK SIGNING

The Pack made another signing mid-week inking forward Matt Carey to a contract for the ’16 – ‘17 season.

Carey led the Quad City Mallards (ECHL) with 25 goals and 47 points in 49 games. He also spent 21 games with the Iowa Wild (AHL) garnering two goals and four points for what turned out to be the AHL’s worst team last season.

He played with the Rockford IceHogs the previous season and left St. Lawrence (ECACHL) after just one college season where he compiled 37 points in 38 games. Carey scored his first NHL goal in his second game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carey is a 6’0, 190lb. winger who played Junior A hockey in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario (OJHL). He is also the younger brother of Greg Carey, who played with the Springfield Falcons last season. The elder Carey has signed to play with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for this coming season.

The New York Rangers formally announced the signing of BU forward and defenseman, Ahti Oksanen, to an AHL deal. Cantlon’s Corner reported this signing back in June.

ON THE MOVE

Former Pack forward Nick Tarnasky has signed with the San Diego Gulls. Tarnasky moves into the slot vacated by Brian McGrattan, who signed with Nottingham (England-EIHL). Former Wolf Pack and Ranger, Stu Bickel, and former Yale player, Antoine Langaniere, re-signed with San Diego for another year.

Tarnasky represents the 12th player from last season’s Hartford roster to sign elsewhere. Just five players from that team have yet to be signed. They are Shawn O’Donnell, Tyler Brown, Chris McCarthy, Matt Lindblad and Brian Gibbons.

Joining McGrattan in heading to Europe is forward Matt Fraser who split last season between Rockford and the Manitoba Moose. Fraser is going to Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL) while goalie Joni Ortio, who played with the Stockton Thunder and had some time with the Calgary Flames, heads to Skelelftea AIK (Sweden-SHL).

The list of AHL to Euro players is up to 78. Now 28 of the 30 AHL teams have seen at least one player head overseas. To this point, only the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Ontario Reign have not seen any roster players head across the pond.

The new Laval team, scheduled to launch in the AHL next fall when the Montreal Canadiens move their farm team there from St. John’s in the soon to be completed, Place Bell Centre, now has a name. 51 percent of those responding to the, “Name The Team” contest selected, “Rocket” over Patriotes and Rapides (French spelling). The name of course, honors Montreal Canadians great, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, who was the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games in NHL history.

The team name “Rocket” has been used once before when it was the name of a QMJHL franchise that played out of the Maurice Richard Arena (which is now used for speed and figure skating) and the Bell Centre from 1999-2003. The team was sold and moved to Charlottetown, PEI and retained the name, Rocket, until last year when the team was renamed, “The Charlottetown Islanders.”

Former Wolf Pack Vinny Saponari, who played most of the last year with the Pack’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and who had three AHL recalls for a total of 18 games, was released in training camp by KHL Dynamo Riga, but has signed with Frisk Asker (Norway-NEL).

Samuel Noreau, an ex-Pack who played for three ECHL teams last season including Greenville, was cut loose by the Rangers and signed with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL).

Former Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Lukas Sutter, the son of Rich Sutter from the NHL’s legendary Sutter clan, after a sitting out a year playing senior hockey with the Prairie Outlaw of the Fort Carlton Senior Hockey League (FCHL), suits up in Canadian collegiate hockey with the University of Sasketchewan Huskies (CWUAA) this season.

MANNY CALLS IT A CAREER

Ex-Pack and Ranger, Manny Malhotra, is now officially retired. Incredibly, Malhotra played in 991 NHL games tallying 295 points. Malhotra was a number one pick for the Rangers, 7th overall in 1998. It seems like just yesterday that he was at Wolf Pack practice when it was held at Avon Old Farms Jennings-Fairchild Arena.

Malhotra never became the type of player the Rangers hoped he would be. He was an example of drafting a talented player and heaping unrealistic expectations and projections on his skill set and assets. It was also an example of too much over-handling in a player’s development. He was really a solid second round pick, but his leadership skills remained intact throughout his playing career and was a mentor to the younger players the past few years.

He never became the big scorer the Rangers envisioned he would be. Under the Ranger GM at the time, Neil Smith, the organization could never make up its mind about him and that caused many problems.

At the end of training camp in 2000, Malhotra was told he was being switched from a center, where had played all camp, to left wing – With no notice! Malhotra was genuinely peeved.

Malhotra would evolve into one of the best checking and best faceoff centers in the NHL, let alone in New York. He led the NHL in face-off percentage in 2009-10 with a 61.4% ratio while with the Vancouver Canucks and despite suffering a near career-ending injury, he played in the Stanley Cup final for a Canucks team that went on to lose to the Boston Bruins in seven.

His eventual departure from Vancouver didn’t go well either. He still played in the NHL with both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets and ended his career playing for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) last season before being released on March 1st. He didn’t get to play for the eventual Calder Cup champions. Malhotra played in 71 AHL games in his career and scored 10 goals and 23 points overall.

He won his only championship in 2000 as a member of the Calder Cup Champion Wolf Pack. Malhotra played in all 23 playoff games that year but in his career only played 40 regular season games with the Pack. He registered 17 points on six goals and 11 assists. Malhotra also won a bronze medal with Team Canada that same year at the World Junior Championships.

Malhotra junior career was in Guelph (OHL) where he went to the Memorial Cup final in 1998, but he and his teammates failed to win a title. Despite that disappointment, Malhotra was named to the All-Tournament team with the likes of Marian Hossa and former Pack tough guy, Frankie Lessard.

After 206 games with the Rangers where he registered just 19 goals and 41 points, Malhotra was traded to Dallas along with ex-Pack Barrett Heitsten for Martin Rucinsky, and the late Roman Lyashenko.

While in juniors, Malhotra was selected number one and 17th overall by Guelph where he was coached by the Wolf Pack’s first head coach, the late E.J. McGuire during his first year. Malhotra was named the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year (Bobby Smith Award) in his second season.

Malhotra, who is of Pakistani descent, grew up in Toronto was one of the first Eurasian players to ever play in the NHL. A player following in Malhtora’s footsteps as a second generation player of sorts will skate for the Rangers this upcoming season. Mika Zibanejad is an Iranian-Swede who was born and raised in Sweden.

Malhotra was a consummate pro who was among the most thoughtful and truly articulate interviewees in the Wolf Pack’s twenty-year history.

He will make Vancouver his post-career home, but won’t be totally out of hockey. According to the Vancouver Province newspaper, Malhotra is expected to be taking a coaching position with the Canucks for the upcoming season.

If this happens, it’s possible that Malhotra would be used as a skill development coach this coming season and could be on the bench as an Assistant Coach in the 2017-18 season for the Canucks AHL affiliate in Vancouver.

OLYMPIC HOCKEY NOW SET

Norway, Slovenia, and Germany will fill out the last three Olympic spots for the 2018 Pyeongchang, South Korea Games as all three countries won the qualifying pools last weekend.

Group F saw Norway, paced by ex-Pack and current Ranger, Mats Zuccarello, beat France 2-1 in order to advance. Zuccarello, who was the top scorer for all players with five points, scored the equalizer just 5:10 after the French took the lead. They were the only host nation to win their pool.

The Germans knocked off the host Latvians 3-2 as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ Thomas Kuhnhackl scored a powerplay goal with 5:09 left in regulation to advance. The Germans, along with Norway, will be in Pool C at the Olympics.

Slovenia beat Belarus 3-2 winning Group D in penalty shot style.

Denmark, one of the tournament favorites to win Group D after a strong World Championship showing in April, didn’t win a game until their final one last Sunday placing third in the Group D pool.

Current Wolf Pack Nicklas Jensen paced a 5-2 win over Poland with three primary assists and four shots on goal. Ex-Sound Tiger Franz Nielsen had three assists for the Dames in the tournament.

Mike Cichy, the New Hartford, CT native, had one assist (primary) a backhand pass on a goal by Kamil Kalinowski for the Polish team.

DRURY NEW ASSISTANT GM

Trumbull, CT native Chris Drury has always been successful and has taken another step up the ladder in the Rangers organization. He’s done so with the same speed he had as a player coming out of Boston University.

Drury was named the team’s new assistant GM where he will gain one of the portfolios Jim Schoenfeld has held along with being the GM in Hartford. This could be a signaling of the changing of the guard in the Rangers’ organization that has been whispered about since Glen Sather stepped down as Rangers GM a year and a half ago.

Drury’s work with the young forwards of the Wolf Pack paid dividends last spring with the revitalized team having a strong second half. The team would fall short though of their goal of making the playoffs. Drury spent time with Nicklas Jensen, Marek Hrivik and the now departed Jayson Megna in developing their down low games.

Drury’s career highlights professionally are highly impressive. After being drafted in Hartford in 1993 by the Quebec Nordiques (nee Colorado Avalanche), he would shine in a 12-year NHL career. Drury skated in 892 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and the Rangers. He registered 255 goals and 360 assists for 615 points and added 468 penalty minutes. Drury captured the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2000-01 when he ranked second in the NHL with 11 goals in 23 games during that team’s playoff run.

In 1998-99, Drury received the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year after registering 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points with Colorado. Drury recorded at least 20 goals in nine different seasons in his career and recorded at least 50 points in eight different seasons.

In addition, Drury’s team reached the playoffs in nine of his 12 seasons in the NHL and advanced to the Conference Finals on six occasions. In 135 career NHL playoff games, Drury tallied 47 goals and 42 assists for 89 points, along with a plus-24 rating and 46 penalty minutes. Over his 12 NHL seasons (1998 – 2011), Drury led the league in playoff game-winning goals (17), ranked second in playoff overtime goals (four), ranked fourth in playoff goals, and ranked ninth in playoff games played.

Drury played four seasons with the Rangers (2007-2011) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 1, 2007. In addition, Drury served as the Rangers captain for three seasons (2008-09 – 2010-11) as the 25th captain in franchise history – as well as the second American-born captain in franchise history – on October 3, 2008. In 264 regular season games with the Blueshirts, Drury recorded 62 goals and 89 assists for 151 points, along with 116 penalty minutes. Over his first three seasons with the Rangers, Drury led the team in goals (61) and points (146), ranked second in assists (85), and tied for second in game-winning goals (10). In addition, the Rangers made the playoffs three times during Drury’s four seasons with the team.

Prior to joining the NHL, Drury completed one of the most impressive collegiate hockey careers in NCAA history.

Over four seasons at Boston University Terriers (1994-1998), Drury tallied 113 goals and 101 assists for 214 points in 155 games. During his collegiate career, the Terriers captured the National Championship in 1994-95, appeared in the National Championship Game twice (1994-95, 1996-97), and appeared in the Frozen Four three times (1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97).

Drury was selected as a First Team All-American on two occasions (1996-97, 1997-98), a Hobey Baker Finalist as the Top Player in College Hockey on three occasions (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98), and he became the first Terrier to receive the Hobey Baker Award in 1997-98. Drury is Boston University’s all-time leader in goals and ranks third on the school’s all-time points list.

Internationally, Drury represented the United States in numerous tournaments and earned several medals. He participated in three consecutive Winter Olympics (2002, 2006, 2010), capturing a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Drury was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

Drury started his illustrious career at Fairfield Prep High school in Fairfield winning a state title his sophomore year beating an unbeaten and untied Hamden team 3-1 at the Hartford Civic Center (nee XL Center) and appeared in one other final against Greenwich which they lost. His number 18 which he and his older brother Ted, an ex-Hartford Whaler wore, is retired and a banner hangs to honor him in the corner of the Jesuits home rink, Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport.

A second generation Drury is following in their footsteps in his nephew Jack Drury’s (Ted’s oldest son) who’s playing this season for Waterloo (USHL) and is an early college commit to Ted’s alma mater, Harvard University.

*Portions of a Rangers press release was used in this segment

 

TOSTI: SWAMP RABBITS RELEASE PRESEASON SCHEDULE

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  SWAMP RABBITS PRESEASON SCHEDULE REVEALED

Pair of games in Georgia scheduled for October 7th and 8th

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, announced today the team will face off with the Norfolk Admirals and Atlanta Gladiators in a two-game exhibition road schedule prior to the 2016-17 season.

Preseason Schedule

Opponent Date Time Location
Norfolk Admirals October 7, 2016 7:00 p.m. Duluth Ice Forum
Atlanta Gladiators October 8, 2016 7:00 p.m. Duluth Ice Forum

The Swamp Rabbits open their weekend set from the Duluth Ice Forum in Duluth, Georgia on Friday, October 7th at 7 p.m. against the Admirals. The following night, the Swamp Rabbits take the ice again in Duluth to clash with the Atlanta Gladiators. The puck will drop between the I-85 rivals at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 8th.

Greenville opens the 2016-17 regular season on the road in Estero, Florida on October 14th versus the Florida Everblades at 7:30 p.m.

Opening night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena is slated for Friday, October 28th at 7 p.m. against the Wichita Thunder. The first 1,000 fans at the Well will receive a Swamp Rabbits rally towel. Orange level tickets are discounted to just $10. Join us for a pre-game Fan Fest on the Clemson Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. with inflatables, concessions, and live music.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all off-season long and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 season are available and on sale now! Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop to browse the full collection of fan wear and novelties!

CANTLON: HOCKEY SEASON’S GETTING CLOSE

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The calendar turns to September, and while the weather outside is starting it’s seasonal change to cooling down,  for Hartford Wolf Pack and hockey fans in general, things are starting to heat up. 

WOLF PACK SIGNINGS

The New York Rangers got forward Phillip McRae to his signature on a one-year AHL contract.

Last year McRae played for the Bakersfield Condors (AHL) putting nine goals between the pipes and 15 points in the stat book while playing in 35 games.  The Condors play in the AHL Pacific Division, and they are top farm team of the Edmonton Oilers.

The St. Louis Blues drafted McRae in the second round 33rd overall in 2008.

McRae has some strong hockey bloodlines. His father Basil McRae was among the toughest competitors in his day. He compiled 2,454 PM in 576 games and is presently the GM and part franchise owner of the London Knights (OHL). The younger McRae’s uncle, Chris, played in the AHL in the mid-to-late 1980’s through the early 1990’s with Adirondack, Newmarket, and St. Catharine’s. He completed his career in Ft. Wayne (IHL), leading the league with 413 PM in 1991-’92.

His sister Abbey just completed a four-year, Division I career with St. Lawrence University (ECACHLW).

The Pack finally announced forward Michael Joly signed an AHL deal for one season. Cantlon’s Corner announced that signing over six weeks ago. Joly played most of his QMJHL career with the Rimouski Oceanic and before his middle of last season trade to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles where he played with Pierre-Luc Dubois. That’s the same Luc-Dubois who was the Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick, third overall, in this past summer’s draft.

The Rangers signed forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year $1.1 million deal giving the Blueshirts 48 of their 50 CBA allowable contract slots. They have salary commitments of $71.6M in salaries for the upcoming season. They have roughly $1.4 million of remaining cap space. It is almost a forgone conclusion that some preseason or early season deal would be forthcoming for the Rangers. They are tight on contracts, have little maneuverability regarding cap space and have 18 defenseman and six goalies in the organization.

TRAVERSE CITY TOURNAMENT RANGERS ROSTER ANNOUNCED

The Rangers announced their 2016 Traverse City Tournament roster is coming up in Traverse City, Michigan. The Rangers will be making their tenth consecutive appearance in the eight-team tournament, which is set to begin on Friday, September 16.

New York’s roster will feature 25 prospects (15 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders), including three of the team’s selections from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft: Sean Day, Tim Gettinger, and Ty Ronning. The roster also includes 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, who just signed with the Rangers as a free agent on August 19th. Russian forward prospect, Pavel Buchnevich, the organization’s highly regarded prospect will participate in the Tournament for the first time.

Several of the prospects on this year’s roster also represented the Rangers in the 2015 edition of the Tournament. Among those prospects are 2015 draft picks Ryan Gropp, Brad Morrison, and Sergey Zborovskiy. Also, 2015 draft pick Robin Kovacs from Sweden will also participate for the first time this year. Traverse City’s own, Brandon Halverson, did not appear in the 2015 tournament due to injury, but he’s healthy and one of two goaltenders on the Rangers’ roster this year. The Rangers selected twelve of the 25 participants in the NHL Entry Draft. The remaining list are kids on tryout contracts.

The Rangers are one of four teams that comprise the Ted Lindsay Division. Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild are also in their division. The Blueshirts begin the tournament tangling with Carolina on Friday, September 16 at 4:00 p.m. New York will face Dallas on Saturday, September 17 at 3:30 p.m. and the Wild on Monday, September 19 at 3:00 p.m. Following their three round-robin games, the Rangers will have a placement game against a team from the Gordie Howe Division on Tuesday, September 20.

In the nine years that the Rangers have previously participated in the tournament, they have reached the Championship Game twice and won it in 2007. Current Blueshirts Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Marc Staal, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes, and Brady Skjei have all represented the team at the tournament in recent years.

Since the Rangers began participating in the Traverse City Tournament in 2006, in every year, at least one Rangers’ prospect who represented the team in the tournament, has also appeared in a game with the Blueshirts that same season.

*Portions of the Rangers press release were used in preparation of this segment

ON THE MOVE

Former Ranger and Yale University player, Chris Higgins, and former Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Raffi Torres, each signed an NHL training camp PTO contracts with Calgary and Carolina respectively.

Ex-Pack, and now twice an ex-Ranger, Dominic Moore, has signed a one-year, one-way deal with Boston for $900K.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Kevin Czuczman has signed an AHL deal with Manitoba.

Ex-Pack, Ryan Potulny goes from Lahti (Finland-FEL) to HK Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic-CEL) this year.

Ex-Pack, Devin Didiomete, is taking his stick and skates back to Italy and SHC Fassa playing in the brand new Alps Hockey League (AlpsHL).

Ex-Pack, Josh Nicholls, who played eleven games with Hartford last year, signed a one-year deal with Colorado (ECHL).

Another Wolf Pack alumni, Scott Tanski, who split last year with Orlando and Reading (ECHL) has signed a one-year deal with South Carolina. (ECHL).

Andreas Jamtin, the advertised Swedish version of Sean Avery, and who lasted in Hartford for fewer games than the North American version. Jamtim played in just ten games, five with Greenville, and five with the Pack. He leaves Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL) to return home and Farjestads BK (Sweden-SHL).

Here’s a blast from the past. CT Whale defenseman, Sean Collins, who has not played hockey in three years since last playing in Hartford during the 2012-13 season, has signed a tryout contract with the Beijing-based KHL team, Kunlun Red Star.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Mike Banwell, returns from Lillehammer IK (Norway-NEL) to become the playing assistant coach with Utah (ECHL).

Max Jones, the son of ex-New Haven Nighthawk, Brad Jones, has signed a standard NHL three-year, entry-level, two-way contract with Anaheim ($925K-NHL/$70K-AHL). He will play his last junior year this coming season with London (OHL).

Matt Hussey, who was born in New Haven and played at Avon Old Farms, signs with HE Rouen French Magnus Elite League.

Francis Drolet, who played at Salisbury Prep, stays in the French second Division going from Nantes AHG to HC Briancon.

Goalie Brendan Burke, son of ex-Hartford Whaler, Sean Burke, and who was on the Memorial Cup winning London Knights (OHL) and an Arizona Coyote draftee, is heading to Canadian university hockey and the University of Alberta Golden Bears (CWUAA) this year.

Returning to North America is ex-Sound Tiger, Juraj Kolnik, from Nottingham (England-EIHL) to Jonquiere (LNAH) the Quebec-based semi-pro hockey league.

The LNAH lost one team this week as the Cornwall River Kings closed shop a month before their regular season was set to begin. Former Wolf Pack tough guy, Francis Lessard, and South Kent Prep alumni, C.J. Chartrain, both played their last year.

Jared Bednar, who coached the Cleveland (nee Lake Erie) Monsters to the Calder Cup title was hired to succeed Patrick Roy in Colorado. One of his assistants held the same role in Cleveland under former Beast of New Haven and Hartford Whaler, Nolan Pratt.

Patrick Bordeleau, who played in San Antonio last year, has signed with Cardiff (Wales-EIHL). Jerome Leduc, who split last season with Rochester and Binghamton, signed with HC Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL). Blair Jones, who ended the year in Charlotte after a trade from Utica at the trade deadline, signs with Iserlohn (Germany-DEL). David Wohlberg of Charlotte goes to EHC Bayreuth (Germany DEL-2).

Trevor Parkes of San Jose goes to Augsburger (Germany-DEL) while also heading to Deutschland is Jeremy Welsh, who goes from the Chicago Wolves to the Fischtown Penguins.

This latest batch of talent leaving the AHL for Europe sees the list go up to 75. Now 27 out of the 30 AHL teams have lost at least one player to Europe during this off-season.

Last week, Edmonton announced that it signed defenseman Matt Benning to a two-year, two-way contract ($925K-NHL/$70K-AHL). Benning becomes the 40th Hockey East player to sign a pro deal. Benning leaves Northeastern after his junior season and is the 42nd underclassmen to bolt early from the collegiate ranks nationally.

Benning has some serious hockey DNA flowing through him. His father, Brian Benning, played 568 NHL games and had 276 points with LA, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Edmonton and Florida. His uncle, Jim Benning, was a first round, sixth overall selection by Toronto in 1981 and played 610 NHL games with 243 points with the Maple Leafs and Vancouver. He is presently the GM of the Canucks.

His grandfather Elmer has been a scout with Montreal since 2000, and his cousin Brandon is a scout with Vancouver.

Jon Jutsi, who played six games with Manitoba at the end of last year after finishing up with Minnesota-Mankato (NCHC), has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alex Gacek of Miami (OH) and Nicholas Bligh of Dartmouth signed deals with South Carolina (ECHL) meanwhile Coltyn Anderson becomes the latest from North Dakota (NCHC), the defending national champion, signs with Orlando (ECHL), Trevot Jeke of Boston College signs with South Carolina (ECHL) and Collin MacDonald of New Hampshire signs with Toledo (ECHL)..

The latest is UCONN Husky Shaun Pauly like Sanderson, who graduated, inked a deal with Missouri (ECHL).

Now 200 NCAA players have signed North American pro deals since the end of the college hockey season.

KIWI HOCKEY CHAMPS

Former Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack and Berlin native Adam Blanchette guided the Sky Sports Southern Stampede (Queenstown) to their second consecutive Birgel Cup in the short-season New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) finals sweeping the best of three finals in two games.

Before a rowdy home crowd, they overcame a sluggish first period down 1-0 by scoring seven consecutive goals en route to a 7-1 championship victory over the Canterbury Red Devils.

Leading the way was three Canadians with two from the Canadian college ranks, Matt Schneider (defenseman) and Adrian Volpe (goalie) plus Jade Portwood (US college).

It was the team fourth overall title in league history for the league which started in 2005. Canterbury also has four titles. The runner-ups featured former Danbury Whaler (FHL) Matt Puntereri who scored a goal in Game 1 a 6-2 loss in Christchurch.

AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY TITLE STAYS WITH NEWCASTLE

The Newcastle North Stars led by captain Rob Malloy of Cheshire and a Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack alumni like Blanchette captured their second consecutive Goodall Cup title 2-1 over the CBR (Canberra) Brave in the Grand Final game in Melbourne at the O’Brien Group Arena.The title is the North Stars sixth title tops in AIHL history since the league began 16 years ago and had to work against his former teammate of a year ago Geordie Wudrick.

“It’s never easy to repeat because the target on our back was huge. This team had a ton of character. We had guys that played specific roles that they took pride in. The imports we brought out had the ability to take control of games and step up when it really mattered. I think continuously being compared with Geordie helped the imports step up because they had something to prove.Geordie is a hell of a hockey player and a great guy, but on the ice, there is no love lost. He left a huge void for us to fill, but the boys simply saw it as an opportunity,” said Malloy via e-mail.

The North Stars advanced by the downing the Perth Thunder in dramatic fashion 3-2 in overtime in the semi-finals to get into the title game.

“This one was different because we came into the playoffs as an underdog. The two other times we were regular season champs, and we were the team to beat. I saw this as an opportunity to leave a legacy as well. We don’t know of anybody else in the history of the league to captain two different teams to a Cup!” commented Malloy.

Canberra who finished 15 points behind the Melbourne Ice knocked off the league’s best team in the other semi-final also in OT 4-3 in their barn.

The Braves playing head coach is ex-Sound Tiger Artem (Art) Bidlevski.

For Malloy this is his third title in four years and caps a big six months of hockey for Malloy having been a part of the Australian national team that won the gold medal at the IIHF Division II tournament in Mexico City and moved the national program up a level in late March just before the AIHL regular season began.

“It’s funny how there has been a resurgence in my hockey career, after college, I thought my career was over. I guess my wife is the one responsible. Out here I get the best of both worlds, I have a full-time job to support my family, and I can still follow my dream. I’ll take a few months away from hockey and spend time with my family. Coming off of training for the world championship, then the tournament itself, and jumping right into our season – it definitely takes a toll. I’ll recharge the batteries, nurse a few injuries and work on my golf game !!

I’ll eventually get the itch to get back on the ice soon. Our world championships are in Romania next year, so that is next on the horizon, then we defend our title,” Malloy remarked.

Malloy and the North Stars are the Kings of Australian hockey and keep making history every season.

LATVIA GETS NEW NATIONAL TEAM COACH

Just days before the team’s pre-tournament camp and a week before they host the Group E IIHF Olympic qualifying tournament in Riga, the Latvians have a new national team coach who the Latvian hockey family is familiar with.

Harolds Vailjves, 64 last coached the team 15 years ago when the national team made it to Salt Lake City and the 2002 Olympic Games for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union.

Vasiljves is the father of former Beast of New Haven forward Herberts Vasiljves. Ironically, he is one of the 30 players in camp as he is likely looking at his last opportunity at 39 to represent the hockey loving the Baltic nation. The younger Vasiljves resides and still plays pro hockey for the Krefeld Penguins in the DEL league, pool  alsobut wasn’t selected for the team

The elder Vasiljves coaches in the Latvian national league for Zemgale. He replaces Leonids Beresnews who resigned for unspecified personal reasons. He was a big star in his playing days for Dynamo Riga then under Soviet/Russian occupation in the Soviet league.

All three pools will play from September 1-4.

The pool also features Germany, Austria and Japan and Latvia.

Latvia beat Japan 3-1 despite a strong effort in net from Japanese netminder Yukata Fukufuji who won his first AHL game against Hartford years ago and Germany shutout Austria 6-0.

In Group F opening action Kazakhstan beat Norway 4-3 in OT.

Former AHL All-Star Brandon Bochenski in a three-on-three format scored 29 seconds into the extra session on a setup from ex-Wolf Pack Nigel Dawes and another AHL Star who had success in the KHL Kevin Dallman.

Norway trailed 3-1 with former Wolf Pack/CT Whale Mats Zuccarello scoring a goal and assist and set up the game-tying goal with 16 seconds left in regulation.

In other game, France won in overtime 2-1 as former AHL’er Stephand DaCosta scored 23 seconds into the extra frame setup by current Philadelphia Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellamare.

The French then knocked off Kazakhstan 4-1 despite Dawes scoring seconds into the game. Damien Fleury scored twice for the French team.

Norway beat Italy 4-1 to stay in the hunt as Patrick Thoresen an ex-Springfield Falcon had two assists for the Norwegian team that is being coached by his father, Petter.

In Group D Slovenia downed Poland 6-1 who feature New Hartford, CT native Mike Cichy on defense for the Poles. Belarus knocked off Denmark 5-2 despite current Wolf Pack Nicklas Jensen scoring the game’s first goal at 2:46 and had four shots on goal for the game.

The Danes got shutout 3-0 in their second game by Slovenia and Kazakhstan down 2-0 won 5-2 over Poland in the second game played.

The winners of the three pools gets the last three spots for 2018 Pyongncheong, South Korea Olympic Games.

TOSTI: SWAMP RABBITS ANNOUNCE 2016-17 PROMOTIONAL SCHEDULE

rp_Greenville-Swamp-Rabbits-300x225.pngSWAMP RABBITS ANNOUNCE 2016-17 PROMOTIONAL SCHEDULE

Variety of themes, promotions, and events offers something fun for everyone

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, are excited to announce their promotional calendar for the 2016-17 season at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. In addition to the many great giveaways and weekly promotions, this season’s calendar features all-new theme nights like Country Night on January 7 and a Mascot Birthday Party on November 12.

“The Greenville community continues to give the Swamp Rabbits tremendous support and that inspires us to come up with bigger and better ways to make sure our fans get the entertainment value and experience they deserve,” Chief Marketing Officer Megan Dotson said. “With new giveaways, memorable theme nights and great deals, the Swamp Rabbits offer fun and affordable entertainment for the whole family.”

The promotional schedule kicks off with a Swamp Rabbits’ carrot rally towel giveaway on Friday, Oct. 28 as Greenville battles the Wichita Thunder on Opening Night.

Other giveaways will include a mascot bobblehead to celebrate the mascot’s birthday on Nov. 12, and an all new blanket giveaway on Sunday, Jan. 15. Swamp Rabbits youth jerseys will be handed out on Wednesday, Dec. 28, while fans on March 10 will receive a free Swamp Rabbits t-shirt.

Weekly Promotions Set to Return:

Bon Secours St. Francis Family Fun Packs will be available at every Friday and Sunday home game. A great value and  fan favorite, families can take advantage of four (4) orange level tickets, four (4) hot dogs, four (4) fountain drinks, four (4) bags of chips and Swamp Rabbits souvenirs – A $100 value for just $60!

Post-Game Skate: At the conclusion of select Sunday home games, all fans are invited to stick around and participate in an open skate with the players and receive free autographs on the SANDLAPPER Securities Rink. The Swamp Rabbits will also sport their popular New York Rangers-style jerseys during each Sunday contest.

Thirsty Thursdays: During each of the Thursday night home games this season; $5 upper bowl tickets will be available at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena box office and online through the team website. In addition, domestic draft beers, fountain drinks, pretzels and hot dogs are all just $2 during Hockey Happy Hour from 6-8 p.m.!

Promotional Headliners:

Opening Night: The Swamp Rabbits kick off the home portion of their seventh season in the Upstate on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:00 p.m. In celebration, fans will receive a Swamp Rabbits carrot rally towel and orange-level tickets will be discounted to just $10! The night will kick off with a pre-game Fan Fest on the Clemson plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. that will feature inflatables, concessions, and live music.

Teddy Bear Toss Presented by Bon Secours St. Francis: On Friday, December 2, the Swamp Rabbits will once again encourage all fans to bring a stuffed animal to toss onto the ice after Greenville’s first goal. All of the stuffed animals will be collected and donated to Toys for Tots. The Swamp Rabbits also invite local elementary and middle school choirs to perform holiday favorites throughout the evening with our Sing for Santa program.

Country Night: The Swamp Rabbits are excited to introduce Country Night on Saturday, January 7. The night will begin with a 5 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays. Following the game, fans are invited to stay for a FREE one-hour post-game concert from a platinum recording artist who has had multiple songs on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart! This is a night you won’t want to miss!

Non-Profit Night: Non-profit organizations are invited to join us on Friday, January 20 for Non-Profit Night! It’s a great way to raise both money and awareness for great causes, while also cheering on the Swamp Rabbits against the Atlanta Gladiators at 7 p.m.

Scout Night/Outdoors Night: The Swamp Rabbits are bringing back the annual Scout Night on Saturday, February 11. All scout groups are welcomed and are encouraged to bring friends and family to enjoy this with discounted tickets. Register your scout group at SwampRabbits.com/Scout-Night. In addition, fans will receive a one-of-a-kind Swamp Rabbits folding lawn chair!

Craft Beer Night is on tap for Friday, March 31. Indulge in distinctive craft beer from local and regional breweries in the Upstate. Fans 21 years old and over, can enjoy a pre-game event with beer tastings, live entertainment, food pairings and a Swamp Rabbits souvenir from the event.

Fan Appreciation Night Presented by The Hilton Greenville: On Friday, April 7, the Swamp Rabbits will wrap up the regular season by recognizing and celebrating YOU, the BEST fans in the ECHL. The team will say thank you with $10 orange level tickets and dozens of prize giveaways throughout the game! The night will kick off with a pre-game Fan Fest on the Clemson plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. that will feature inflatables, concessions, and live music.

The full 2016-17 promotional schedule is listed below. All dates, themes, promotions, and quantities of the giveaways are subject to change.

Friday, Oct. 28: Opening Night / Carrot Rally Towel Giveaway

Sunday, Oct. 30: Halloween Game/ Trick-Or-Treating on the Concourse / Post-Game Skate

Thursday, Nov. 3: Education Day (10:30 a.m. Start Time)

Friday, Nov. 4: 90’s Night

Saturday, Nov. 12: Mascot Birthday / Mascot Bobblehead Giveaway

Friday, Dec. 2: Teddy Bear Toss / Sing for Santa Presented by Bon Secours St. Francis

Sunday, Dec. 4: High School Recognition Night / Post-Game Skate

Tuesday, Dec. 6: Service Industry Night

Thursday, Dec. 8: International Business Night Presented by Elliot Davis / Thirsty Thursday

Thursday, Dec. 15: Thirsty Thursday

Friday, Dec. 16: Grrrowl Night / Specialty Jersey

Wednesday, Dec. 28: Youth Jersey Giveaway

Saturday, Jan. 7: Country Night / Post-Game Concert

Sunday, Jan. 8: Post Game Skate

Friday, Jan. 13: Star Wars Night

Saturday, Jan. 14: Video Game Night / Specialty Jersey

Sunday, Jan. 15: Teacher Appreciation Day / Blanket Giveaway / Post Game Skate

Friday, Jan. 20: Non-Profit Night

Friday, Feb. 10: Stick it to Cancer Presented by Bon Secours St. Francis / Specialty Jersey

Saturday, Feb. 11: Scout Night / Outdoors Night / Lawn Chair Giveaway

Thursday, Feb. 16: Business Power Play Night / Thirsty Thursday

Saturday, Feb. 18: Pucks and Paws

Sunday, Feb. 19: Scholar Book Club Night / Post-Game Skate

Friday, March 10: Heroes Night / T-Shirt Giveaway

Thursday, March 16: CDS Night / Thirsty Thursday / Specialty Warmup Jersey

Friday, March 17: Celebrate Greenville / Specialty Jersey

Friday, March 24: Faith and Family Night

Saturday, March 25: Bike Night presented by Iron Horse Motorcycle Lawyers

Friday, March 31: Craft Beer Night

Sunday, April 2: Post Game Skate

Friday, April 7: Fan Appreciation Night Presented by The Hilton Greenville

Get social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all season long and interact with other fans on the Official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Group tickets are available now for any of our games and start as low as $10 per ticket! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK to secure your seats! The Swamp Rabbits open the home portion of the 2016-17 season on Friday, October 28 with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the Wichita Thunder.

FUEHRING: BRIAN TOSTI NAMED SWAMP RABBITS BROADCASTER

AWWJ_qWgBRIAN TOSTI NAMED SWAMP RABBITS BROADCASTER

Newest member of the Greenville family joins as the Director of Media Relations

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, are pleased to announce the addition of Brian Tosti as the Director of Media Relations/Broadcaster.

“We are extremely happy to add Brian to our team,” Swamp Rabbits President and General Manager, Chris Lewis said. “Brian comes to us having achieved great success in the USHL and we are excited for our fans to meet him and experience the informative and entertaining way that he will bring Swamp Rabbits hockey to them.”

Tosti makes the move to Greenville following two seasons as the Public Relations Coordinator & Sales Representative of the Bloomington Thunder in the United States Hockey League. In addition to serving as the voice of the Thunder, he was responsible for all video, print, and audio content for the organization. During his second season, Tosti added management responsibilities for  the Thunder’s website, social media, and graphic design.

Brian’s quality of work in Bloomington placed him in high regard with the USHL and he  was also selected to cover content for the league at multiple events, which included the 2015 & 2016 USHL Draft Shows, and most recently the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, NY.

“There have been some great broadcasters that have come to Greenville and it’s an honor to fill the role with an organization that has had very talented people behind the mic,” said Tosti. “I’m excited to join the community in Greenville and be part of such a fantastic organization. Everything I have heard about the city and team has been top notch. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.

“I can’t thank Bloomington and the USHL enough for the past two years,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be in this position without the opportunities I had there.”

Prior to his time in Bloomington, Tosti spent a season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs broadcast department. Additionally, Brian served as the sports director for SUNY Oswego’s campus TV station and as the play-by-play voice for a variety of college’s sports, including hockey.

Born and raised in Clifton Park, New York, Tosti graduated in 2013 from the State University of New York, at Oswego with a BA in Broadcasting and Mass Communication.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all off-season long and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 season are available and on sale now! Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop to browse the full collection of fan wear and novelties!