Category Archives: Hartford Wolf Pack



Greenville inks two-time Kelly Cup champion, Nikita Kashirsky

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the signing of two-time Kelly Cup champion Nikita Kashirsky for the 2015-16 season. The veteran center also brings American Hockey League experience to Greenville and has earned at least 40 points in four out of his six professional seasons.

“Nikita is a very complete player who can make a difference in any situation,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He pays attention to the details and leads by example. With his championship experience, adding Nikita will provide the type of leadership and knowledge it takes to put us where we want to be as an organization.”

Kashirsky spent last season with Wichita and provided a consistent scoring threat, recording 39 points (16g, 23a) in 64 games. Previously, the 30-year old center averaged more than a point-per-game with the Dundee Stars of the Elite Hockey League (EIHL) in 2013-14. Overall, he notched a career-high 50 points (18g, 32a) in 44 contests and helped Dundee reach the Gardiner Conference title.

A native of Moscow, Russia, Kashirsky appeared in more than 190 ECHL games in his first four seasons alone, splitting time with South Carolina, Gwinnett and Reading. In 2012-13, he notched 44 points (18g, 32a) in just 41 regular-season contests and helped Reading capture the 2013 Kelly Cup championship with an additional 20 points (5g, 15a) in 22 playoff games. Kashirsky also registered 18 points (6g, 12a) in 21 post-season contests with South Carolina in 2009, helping the Stingrays to the Kelly Cup title as a rookie.

During the 2011-12 campaign, Kashirsky led Gwinnett’s offense with 49 points and a career-best 33 assists in 64 games.

“I’ve heard nothing but positives about Greenville and it made the decision easy,” Kashirsky said. “The organization, from the New York Rangers on down, knows how to treat players the right way and I’ve heard great things about the city, and fans. I look forward to a great season.”

In addition, the 6’0, 190-pound forward has benefited from nearly 40 games of AHL experience with Springfield, Manitoba and Hershey, in which he tallied eight points (5g, 3a). Kashirsky also skated in one contest with the Moscow Spartak of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in 2012-13.

Prior to turning pro, he spent four seasons at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont and recorded 144 points (73g, 71a) in 110 career games.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.


11036704_1031301260224509_2746268902010871348_nWOLF PACK RE-SIGN FORWARD SHAWN O’DONNELL

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Has Played 99 AHL Games in two Years with Pack

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, July 30, 2015:  Hartford Wolf Pack general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the Wolf Pack has re-signed forward Shawn O’Donnell.

Last season, in his second year of pro action, the 6-1, 192-pound O’Donnell suited up for 42 games with the Wolf Pack, contributing three goals and three assists for six points.  The Halifax, Nova Scotia native also served 69 minutes in penalties, fourth-most on the team.  In 13 playoff games with Hartford, first career postseason action, O’Donnell notched two assists and 12 PIM.

O’Donnell also saw action in 12 games with the Wolf Pack’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors, in 2014-15, chalking up three goals and five assists for eight points, along with 19 PIM, a +5 and 26 shots on goal.

As a rookie in 2013-14, O’Donnell skated in 57 games with the Wolf Pack, scoring three goals and adding seven assists for ten points.  He also served 85 minutes in penalties, the fifth-highest total on the Wolf Pack club.

Prior to turning pro, the 27-year-old O’Donnell played four years of Canadian University hockey at St. Mary’s University (AUS).  In 103 career games at St. Mary’s, he totaled 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points, along with 84 PIM.  Following the conclusion of his university career, O’Donnell joined the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, playing five 2012-13 games and contributing 1-3-4.  In 12 ECHL playoff contests, he chipped in two assists and logged 17 PIM.

O’Donnell originally signed an AHL contract with the Wolf Pack July 22, 2014.


                                                           Regular Season                                     Playoffs

Year           Team                  Lge.         GP    G     A   Pts.     PIM     GP     G     A  Pts.  PIM

2009-10     St. Mary’s Univ.  AUS          27     2      7      9        14       —      —     —   —     2010-11       St. Mary’s Univ.  AUS          28     4      8     12       14       —      —     —   —     2011-12       St. Mary’s Univ.  AUS          20     4     11    15       22       —      —     —   —     2012-13       Florida                    ECHL         5      1      3      4         2        12       0      2    2  17                           St. Mary’s Univ.  AUS          28    14    12    26       34       —      —     —   —   2013-14       Wolf Pack              AHL          57     3      7     10       85       —      —     —   —     2014-15       Wolf Pack              AHL          42     3      3      6        69       13       0      2    2 12                           Greenville             ECHL        12     3      5      8        19       —      —     —   —

The Wolf Pack’s 2015-16 home opener is set for Saturday, October 10 at the XL Center. Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2015-16 AHL campaign can be found on-line at  To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451.


11143639_927403127297912_3705843869806580190_nROAD WARRIORS AGREE TO TERMS WITH VANDANE, VAZZANO

Greenville adds a pair of rookies for the 2015-16 season


BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the addition of rookie defenseman Davis Vandane and first-year goaltender Alex Vazzano for the 2015-16 season.

Vandane, 23, will enter his first professional campaign after spending the last two seasons at the University of Calgary. He registered 17 points (5g, 12a), 12 penalty minutes and a +7 rating in 33 contests with the Dinos.

“Davis is a tough defenseman who brings an offensive upside to the game,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He has good size and moves well. I’m looking forward to seeing and utilizing his versatility.”

Prior to his collegiate career, the Yorkton, Saskatchewan native played four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 2009-2013. In 189 regular-season games, Vandane amassed 79 points (15g, 64a), 92 penalty minutes and a combined +27 rating with Saskatoon, Spokane and Prince Albert. The 6’4, 215-pound blueliner added seven assists and 16 penalty minutes in 34 playoff contests.

In addition, Vandane played two seasons alongside current Rangers’ prospect Josh Nicholls in Saskatoon (2009-2011) and spent another season with Tampa Bay Lightning star Tyler Johnson in Spokane (2010-11).

Vazzano, 24, turned pro near the end of last season when he made six appearances between the pipes for Evansville. Previously, the Trumbull, Connecticut native spent two seasons in net at the University of Vermont and was also the primary starter for two seasons at Sacred Heart University. He played alongside current Rangers’ prospect Chris McCarthy during both seasons at Vermont.

The 6’2, 200-pound netminder was selected in the third round (#34 overall) by Waterloo in the 2009 USHL Entry Draft.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.


XL Center

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Since the release of the SCI Report in March regarding the proposal for a new, downtown XL Center at the same spot, not much has happened publicly, but behind the scenes is a different story as Cantlon’s Corner can exclusively report.

The public portion is about to kick into high gear as the CRDA seeks to get a unified proposal to take to the public and the legislature.

The process, since the spring unveiling of a two-option solution to the aging, desiccated 40-year-old building, has produced some good news and some bad news.

First, the bad news.

The $500 million option, plus acquisition and demolition costs, which were both undefined, has been taken off the table.  Given the current financial shape the state is in, that should surprise no one. But with that money off the table, with that goes the dream of returning the NHL to Hartford. That news will disappoint its committed coterie of diminishing fans.

It’s not that the CRDA didn’t dip its toes into the recent NHL expansion waters.

“We had discussions with a group and in the final analysis there was too short a time frame and a very cost prohibitive process, that quite frankly, Hartford didn’t have the ability and wasn’t able to enter at this time,” CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth said. Friemuth declined to identify the name of the investment group.

The winners in Las Vegas and Quebec City had numerous advantages over Hartford.

“Look, Vegas is a casino. They have a boatload of cash with which to operate and are in the process of building a new facility. Quebec City has the federal (actually provincial) government backing it and they have a brand new building all done (set to open in September). We are at the very beginning of the process and when you look at $10 million just to apply, another $500 million to get into the league and on top of that build a brand new building at $500 million plus with the all the issues we have to face, it was very steep price tag and time frame we couldn’t match,” Freimuth said.

The process did reveal two things to Freimuth, “Seattle is a city the NHL clearly covets and I’m surprised they did not submit a bid. I think when they get someone to commit on a building there I bet there will be an NHL team in Seattle someday.”

The talk of relocation has also been around, but the NHL under Gary Bettman has loathed to go down that road. Winnipeg was fortunate as it came into a perfect storm to get the then floundering, Atlanta Thrashers.

“We did learn there are three NHL franchises who are likely candidates for relocation, but there seems to be no real movement in that direction at all.”

Friday’s unanimous passage of a new amended two-year agreement between the City of Glendale and the Arizona Coyotes, by the very same city council that voted to terminate their lease a month ago, shows the soap opera like issues surrounding the team will continue in the Southwest desert region for as long as the NHL will tolerate it.

On the plus side, the $250 million dollar proposal, plus atrium acquisition costs and demolition costs still undefined, is very much alive and much work has been on going to solidify it.  It too has many mountain steps yet still to climb.

Governor Dannel Malloy is said to be supportive of the CRDA’s $250 million proposal and that is part of the reason the final report is, well, not so final. The firm SCI Architects of New York City, the ones who did the report, have been asked to submit a further detailed breakdown of the costs and construction time frames of a renovated XL Center in maintaining building operation.

“The Governor came to us and said is that number rock solid? Let’s get a firm handle on the numbers and go forward,” Freimuth said. By the fall, the breakdown analysis will be completed and given to the CRDA. The other key linchpin, and quite frankly to any new building, is the relationship with UCONN. That also must also be in place in the fall.

Sitting on UCONN’s desk is a 20-year operation agreement proposal covering all three teams that will operate in the building (men’s and women’s basketball and college hockey).

“It is vital to have this nailed down to move forward in this process. We have a proposal of sharing revenue from sponsorship, seating, and concessions. In exchange, we have to have a threshold number of games at the building we need to make this work. A 30 game per sport per year is there. I can’t go into any other details as you can understand, but this is critical that we need a return on the investment. The $500 million we had doubled the costs and was not doable and we think this deal fits both UCONN’s needs and ours,” said Freimuth.

Reminder, the two sides agreed on a five-year deal at the present XL Center, but UCONN never signed the contract and works on a game-to-game basis, a highly unusual move. The inclusion of UCONN hockey in the proposal makes clear the proposed on-campus hockey arena in Mansfield is a non-starter and a UCONN Hartford campus makes the XL Center their on-campus arena in their eyes and meets their Hockey East requirements.

Even if agreed to, and the process of selling the $250 million proposal to the legislature which would vote to bond whatever the final number is, is not a slam dunk or even an easy tap-in to be approved. Freimuth was blunt in the fact that resisting putting a proposal to the legislature this year and waiting a year was a wise move.

“Given what just happened there (in the legislature during in the budget process) we would have been sawdust. This is an uphill battle and is by no means settled. The jury is still out and a lot of questions and good ones, have been asked. We’re working on putting forth the best proposal we can for the XL Center.”

According to Freimuth, the proposal, when finalized, would go to the Finance committee and would become a budget item as a capital expenditure project.

“This whole process is a Rubik cube. You might get all the colors on one side and be all over the place on the other three sides and that’s the nature of dealing with one of the most complex and challenging endeavors to get involved with. People want a quick or easy answer with all these elements, it’s just not possible.”

The future interest rates for bonding also remain tenuous. If the federal Treasury raises interest rates, the long-term costs of the project would be elevated thus making an already difficult proposition even harder for the legislature with so many extenuating budget commitments.

The XL Center’s other major tenant, the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, are entering its 19th season and the last year of their contract before the two, one-year options at their disposal kick in.

Freimuth was coy about their future.

“We have had talks about this with MSG, and granted they are heading into the final year of their deal. I hope they are around when we hopefully start construction of a new place.”

The CRDA also completed another piece of the puzzle in acquiring the Church Street garage from the city of Hartford with $16 million of state bonding money and the work is about to begin.

“Were taking active bids right now on the repair and renovations and we hope to make selections next month and start the work. We’re absolutely committed to integrating it to the XL Center. It’s not going to happen overnight, but gradually, as we do the repairs, we will start to do so.”

The CRDA also has concluded an operational contract on the atrium portion of XL Center with Northland Corporation, but the final status talks on ownership are down the road and have not yet begun.

Lastly, Freimuth expressed optimism that the Wolf Pack and minor-league, professional hockey will be operating at the XL Center even though they team aggregately added about 400 more fans in its year-end numbers, despite the budget cuts by the state, Freimuth has an optimistic feel for the 2015-16 calendar year.

“We finished up the year well. All the numbers are trending upwards for hockey. We had a couple of very good concerts, especially the Eagles concert did exceptionally well. Certainly, the budget cuts hurt. Right now we’re holding our own, but we will feel the pain. We’re not alone. Everybody in the (state) budget took a hit. We expected problems. I’ll be honest, we didn’t expect it would be daily in some instances, but I think we have turned a corner.”

Whether that corner will a brick wall or open pathway will be determined in the fall and winter seasons.



BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, July 27, 2015 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to contract terms with restricted free agent forward Derek Stepan.

Stepan, 25, registered 16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points, along with a plus-26 rating and 22 penalty minutes in 68 games with the Rangers this past season. Stepan was one of two NHL players who ranked tied for fifth or higher on his respective team in all of the following categories in 2014-15: assists, points, game-winning goals, plus/minus rating, shots on goal, power play goals, power play assists, power play points, shorthanded goals, shorthanded assists, and shorthanded points (along with Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks). In addition, he was one of three NHL players who tallied 55 or more points, posted a plus/minus rating of plus-25 or better, and recorded 25 or fewer penalty minutes in 2014-15.

Stepan established career-highs in assists per game (0.57), plus/minus rating, shorthanded goals (two), and shorthanded points (five), and tied a career-high in shorthanded assists (three) this past season. He also averaged 0.81 points per game in 2014-15, which is the most he has averaged in an 82-game season thus far in his career. Stepan tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded assists and tied for second in the NHL in shorthanded points. He also tied for ninth in the NHL – and ranked third among NHL centers – in plus/minus rating. From the time he made his season debut on Nov. 8 until the end of the regular season, Stepan led the Rangers in assists, ranked second in points, and tied for fourth in goals.

The 6-0, 196-pounder registered five goals and seven assists for 12 points, along with 10 penalty minutes in 19 games during the 2015 Playoffs. Stepan tied playoff career-highs in goals and power play goals (two) this past year. He tied for the team lead in power play goals, ranked third in points and shots on goal (48), and tied for third in goals, assists, game-winning goals (one), and power play points (four) in the 2015 Playoffs. Stepan tallied the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 7 of the Second Round vs. Washington on May 13.

Stepan has skated in 362 career NHL games over five seasons, all with the Rangers, registering 89 goals and 163 assists for 252 points, along with a plus-85 rating and 94 penalty minutes. He has reached the 50-point plateau in each of the last two seasons and in three of the last four seasons (including each of the last three seasons which were 82 games in length). Stepan became the first Rangers center to record 50 or more points in three consecutive seasons which were 82 games in length since Wayne Gretzky did so from 1996-97 to 1998-99. Since he joined the Rangers at the start of the 2010-11 season, Stepan leads the team in assists and points, is tied for the team lead in goals, and ranks second in games played and plus/minus rating. He also ranks 10th in the NHL – and ranks third among NHL centers – in plus/minus rating over the span.

In addition, Stepan is one of five Rangers in franchise history who have tallied at least 40 points in each of their first five NHL seasons. He is also one of three Rangers in franchise history, and the only forward, to post a plus/minus rating of plus-eight or better in each of his first five NHL seasons.

Stepan has skated in 80 career NHL playoff games, all with the Rangers, registering 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points, along with 20 penalty minutes. Stepan is tied for second in franchise history in playoff points by a player 24 years old or younger. He ranks eighth on the Rangers’ all-time playoff games played list and he is one of three forwards who have skated in at least 80 career playoff contests with the franchise. Stepan is also tied for ninth on the Rangers’ all-time playoff assists list.

Throughout his tenure with the Rangers, Stepan has received numerous honors and awards. This past season, he was named the winner of the John Halligan Good Guy Award, which recognizes a player, selected by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, for his cooperation with the media. Stepan was named an alternate captain on Oct. 6, 2014, and he received the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the top Rangers rookie in Training Camp in 2010.

Internationally, the Hastings, Minnesota native has represented the United States in several tournaments. Most recently, Stepan skated with Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In addition, he captured a gold medal as the captain of Team USA at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, as he led all skaters in the tournament in assists (10) and points (14).

Stepan was originally selected by the Rangers in the second round, 51st overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings


The evisceration and the emasculation of the AHL is complete.

Confirmation of all that was whispered about a few months ago for next year, not only about having one division, the newly created Pacific Division, but their playing only 68 games while the rest of the league will play 76, has all happened. Couple that with the new bizarre percentage-points-based playoff system that’s been spawned because of it.

You may need a degree in trigonometry to figure out how the AHL playoff races are going to be figured out next spring. Continue reading



Greenville signs Tyler Elbrecht for 2015-16 season

 BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Rd Warriors

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Tyler Elbrecht for the 2015-16 season.

“Tyler’s addition is a huge piece to strengthening our defensive corps,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He has good experience at this level and is the kind of player we’ve been looking to add to our blue line. He is hard-nosed and physical, and has a lot of potential to continue to enhance his role with the team.”

A third-year pro, Elbrecht spent each of his first two seasons with Toledo and Idaho, providing a strong and physical presence on the back line. He led the Walleye with 117 penalty minutes last season, and added 12 points (2g, 10a) and a +17 rating in 66 regular-season games. Elbrecht also produced six penalty minutes in seven playoff contests, helping Toledo reach the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. He was a teammate of Road Warriors’ Assistant Coach Troy Schwab in 2014-15 as well.

A native of Edwardsville, Illinois, Elbrecht debuted with Idaho during the 2013-14 campaign and recorded seven points (1g, 6a) and 110 penalty minutes in 45 contests. He was traded to Toledo on February 24, 2014 and chipped in two assists and 62 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Walleye.

Prior to turning pro, Elbrecht spent four seasons at Minnesota State University-Mankato from 2009-2013. In 142 contests, he notched 27 points (3g, 24a) and 103 penalty minutes, and was named team captain in his junior and senior seasons. The 6’4, 210-pound defenseman also played one season of junior hockey in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and won the 2008 Clark Cup Championship with the Omaha Lancers.

Follow: Keep up with the Road Warriors throughout the off-season and interact with other fans on the Official Road Warriors Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Ticket plans for the Road Warriors’ sixth season in the Upstate are available now and start as low as $81! Call an Account Executive today at 864-674-PUCK or CLICK HERE to secure your seats! The Road Warriors open their home portion of the 2015-16 season on Friday, October 23rd with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop against the South Carolina Stingrays.