Category Archives: Hockey

CANTLON’S CORNER: THE WEEK IN RANGERS/WOLF-PACK NEWS

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.

NEXT UP

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.

RANGER DRAFTEES

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.

DRAFTEES OF NOTE

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.

PLAYER MOVEMENTS

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 !

STRANGE BUT TRUE

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

No joke the tip comes from writer Steven Ellis of Hockey House.net whose story also appears courtesy of Eurohockey.com;

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.

FUEHRING: ROADIES SIGN RODRIGUES / HIMELSON

greenville-road-warriors_thumb16ROAD WARRIORS RETURN A PAIR OF FAMILIAR NAMES

Paul Rodrigues and Andrew Himelson re-sign with Greenville for 2015-16

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 signings of forward Paul Rodrigues and defenseman Andrew Himelson for the 2015-16 season. Both skaters appeared in at least 50 games with the Road Warriors last season.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my career in Greenville,” Rodrigues said. “I’ve enjoyed my time with the organization, and the fans and booster club are spectacular. They do so much for us and I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.”

A third-year pro, Rodrigues spent the majority of last season with the Road Warriors and amassed 19 points (8g, 11a) in 53 games, including five points (1g, 4a) in the last five contests. The 26-year old also played seven games with the Pensacola Ice Flyers (Southern Professional Hockey League) last season, where he earned six points (4g, 2a) and a +3 rating.

A native of Etobicoke, Ontario, Rodrigues made 40 appearances with South Carolina in 2013-14 and produced 15 points (7g, 8a) and 11 penalty minutes. He also played 20 games with SPHL Pensacola during his rookie campaign and recorded an impressive 26 points (5g, 21a). He went on to make seven post-season appearances with the Ice Flyers and helped win the President’s Cup Championship in 2014.

Prior to turning pro, the 5’9, 175-pound forward skated four seasons at State University of New York (SUNY) – Oswego from 2009-2013 and produced 133 points (50g, 83a) in 112 games. During his senior season in 2012-13, Rodrigues finished second in points (47) and tied for first in assists (30) among all NCAA Division III players.

Himelson, 25, notched 16 points (6g, 10a) in 50 games with the Road Warriors last season, including his first career three-point game on December 20th at Wheeling.

“I’m very excited to return to such an outstanding organization and community,” Himelson said. “It’s one of the best locations in the league and the team has such a great fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”

The third-year defenseman began his professional career in 2013-14 with the Tulsa Oilers (Central Hockey League), Knoxville Ice Bears (SPHL) and Greenville. In 35 games with the Road Warriors, he notched 10 points (1g, 9a) eight penalty minutes and a +6 rating. Himelson also appeared in 13 playoff contests for the Warriors notching two assists. The Monroe, New York native made his Road Warriors debut on January 3rd following four games with Tulsa and 17 contests with Knoxville.

Prior to turning pro, Himelson spent four seasons at Clarkson University and earned 32 points (7g, 25a) and 54 penalty minutes in 112 games. The 5’9, 183-pound defenseman also played one season in the United States Hockey League with the Des Moines Buccaneers. He was drafted in the seventh round (#82 overall) by Des Moines in the 2007 USHL 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.

RANGERS: KNOW YOUR 2015 DRAFT SELECTIONS

rp_new-york-r_thumb.gifRANGERS MAKE SEVEN SELECTIONS IN 2015 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

Blueshirts select five forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, June 27, 2015 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, along with Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark, oversaw the club’s activity at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Blueshirts, who held seven picks in the draft, selected five forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender.

The Rangers made all seven of their selections on Saturday. After acquiring a second-round pick (41st overall) in a trade they made with Anaheim on Saturday, the Rangers used the pick to select forward Ryan Gropp. (photo above).

Gropp, 18, skated in 67 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 44 penalty minutes. Gropp established WHL career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating in 2014-15. The 6-2, 187-pounder led Seattle in goals and points, ranked third in assists, and tied for fifth in plus/minus rating. In addition, Gropp led Seattle with seven assists and tied for second on the team with eight points in six playoff games this past season.With three selections in the third round, the Rangers selected forward Robin Kovacs, photo right, (62nd overall), defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy (79th overall), and forward Aleksi Saarela (89th overall).

With three selections in the third round, the Rangers selected forward Robin Kovacs, photo right, (62nd overall), defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy (79th overall), and forward Aleksi Saarela (89th overall).

Kovacs, 18, skated in 52 games with AIK in Allsvenskan in Sweden this past season, registering 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points, along with 63 penalty minutes. Kovacs’ 17 goals and 28 points were the most by a Junior player in Allsvenskan during the season.

Zborovskiy, 18, skated in 71 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering three goals and 16 assists for 19 points, along with a plus-15 rating and 70 penalty minutes. The 6-3, 198-pounder ranked third among team defensemen – and tied for third among team rookies – in points this season.

Saarela, 18, skated in 51 games with Assat of Liiga in Finland this past season, registering six goals and six assists for 12 points, along with 18 penalty minutes. The 5-10, 198-pounder also helped Finland capture a silver medal at the IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship by tallying eight points (three goals, five assists) and posting a plus-six rating in seven games.

The Rangers used their two selections in the fourth round to draft forwards Brad Morrison (113th overall) and Daniel Bernhardt (119th overall).

Morrison, 18, skated in 67 games with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2014-15, registering 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points, along with 30 penalty minutes. The Prince George, British Columbia native established WHL career-highs in games played, goals, assists and points this past season. Morrison ranked second on Prince George in goals and ranked third on the team in points.

Bernhardt, 19, skated in 44 games with Djurgarden J20 in the SuperElit league in Sweden, registering 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points, along with a plus-23 rating and 22 penalty minutes. The 6-3, 191-pounder led SuperElit league in goals and points and ranked second in the league in assists.

The Blueshirts selected goaltender Adam Huska in the seventh round (184th overall). Huska, 18, appeared in five games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) this past season. In addition, the 6-3, 189-pounder was named one of the Top 3 Players on his team while representing Slovakia at the 2015 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship.

RANGERS: HAGGERTY NETS RANGERS GOALIE

rp_new-york-r_thumb.gifRANGERS ACQUIRE GOALTENDER ANTTI RAANTA

Blueshirts trade forward Ryan Haggerty to Chicago

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, June 27, 2015 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has acquired goaltender Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Ryan Haggerty.

Raanta, 26, split this past season between Chicago and the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League (AHL). In 14 appearances with Chicago in 2014-15, Raanta posted a 7-4-1 record, along with a 1.89 GAA, a .936 SV%, and 2 SO. He allowed two goals or fewer in seven of 12 starts. Raanta made a single-game NHL career-high 40 saves on Dec. 3 vs. St. Louis. In 11 AHL appearances with Rockford in 2014-15, Raanta posted an 8-1-1 record, along with a 2.39 GAA, a .918 SV%, and 2 SO.

In 39 career NHL appearances over parts of two seasons, both with Chicago, the 6-0, 193-pounder has posted a 20-9-5 record, along with a 2.41 GAA, a .912 SV%, and 3 SO. Raanta made his NHL debut on Nov. 19, 2013 at Colorado, and earned his first NHL win on Nov. 27, 2013 at Calgary. He earned a point in 15 of his first 16 NHL decisions, posting a 12-1-3 record over the span.

The Rauma, Finland native originally signed with Chicago on Jun. 3, 2013.

Haggerty, 22, originally signed with the Rangers on Mar. 12, 2014

CANTLON’S CORNER: ALL THE HOCKEY NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT?

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The NHL Draft scheduled with Round 1 on Friday at 7pm on NBC Sports Network and then on Saturday at 10am rounds two through six on the NHL Network.

This is the latest update.

Will have a complete breakdown from a CT angle after all the action with trades and drafting takes place.

AHL MOVES

The contracts of the entire coaching staff of the Hershey Bears, including head coach Troy Mann and both assistants ex-Wolf Pack Randy Murphy and Bryan Helmer, were re-signed to multi-year contacts.

There are just five head coaching spots still vacant in the AHL. San Diego, and Cantlon’s Corner wrote last week, have interest in Steve Martinson who was the ECHL Kelly Cup winning coach in Allen. He is strongly rumored to land the job.

The others opening are with the Portland Pirates, who will likely tap former Whaler Tom Rowe, the Rochester Americans, the Charlotte Checkers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Speaking of Charlotte, the Checkers will be moving from the Time Warner Cable Arena into the now renovated Bojangles Coliseum (nee Charlotte Coliseum) originally built in 1955 after undergoing a $16 million renovation.

“It was long overdue for the Checkers,” A knowledgeable Carolina source, told Cantlon’s Corner. “They were not getting the better dates in the Hornets building. The relationship was very poor between the Checkers and Hornets and they needed their own spot. Things are on schedule to be ready for the season opener with new locker rooms, sound system and concession areas.”

This will reduce the number of AHL teams in NBA buildings to three. That number will eventually become two when the Milwaukee Bucks move to their NBA only building helping with better schedule dates and the ability to release the regular season schedule earlier. The others are Lake Erie (Cleveland) and San Antonio.

Read here on Milwaukee’s likely new home in two years.

This story updates how the San Diego Gulls are making progress on their arena the Valley View Casino Center.

Roy Sommer was named the new head coach for San Jose’s West Coast team in the new Pacific Division which will be called the San Jose Barracuda. This will be Sommer’s 18th consecutive season as the Sharks AHL head man and fourth city. He has guided the teams from Kentucky (1998-2001), Cleveland (2001-2006) and Worcester (2006-2015).

His assistant coach Ryan Mougenel from Worcester was also signed to be on the Barracuda staff.

Sommer heads home as he is an Oakland, CA native. He is closing in on the all-time record for coaching wins held by Fred “Bun” Cook who had 636. Sommer should pass that mark this season as he currently has 617. Sommer will also add to his already established record of most games coached in AHL history of 1,334 and counting.

Sommer scored his first NHL goal in his first game with Edmonton on January 28, 1981. He won a Calder Cup with the 1984 Maine Mariners who were coached by John Paddock who was just retiring. Paddock won his first of five Calder Cups because Tom McVie was promoted to coach the New Jersey Devils that year. Other notable teammates of Sommer were ex-Whalers Mike Antonovich and Garry Howatt in their last pro seasons. Current Rangers Pro Scouting Director Kevin Maxwell, former Wolf Pack assistant coach Mike Busniuk, who had a league leading 105 playoff PIM, a young rookie defenseman named Mike Stothers, who just coached the Manchester Monarchs to the Calder Cup title, and former New Haven Nighthawk Bud Stefanski.

Early in his playing career Sommer played in the old Pacific Hockey League (PHL) in the mid-‘70’s, a six team league that lasted two years with a team in the league called the San Francisco Shamrocks.

A former AHL writer ran a prostitution ring, now an AHL player was nabbed running a gambling ring. What’s next? A team mascot selling illegal exotic animals? Details HERE

A Wolf Pack team won a championship! Unfortunately for fans, that team was not in Hartford, but North Vancouver where their Wolf Pack, who play in the Canadian Junior B level Pacific Junior Hockey League based in British Columbia, won the PJHL title. Wolf Pack netminder, Mackenzie Skapski, is a graduate of the league (Ridge Meadows Flames).

PLAYER AND COACHING MOVES

Former Bridgeport Sound Tiger goalie Joey MacDonald heads to Europe leaving the Hamilton Bulldogs for Schwenniger in the German DEL. So does Jason Jaffray of the St. John’s IceCaps who heads to EHC Munich. Andrew Ebbett, who burned the Pack, has left the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins for SC Bern (Switzerland-LNA).

That makes 32 AHL players who have signed overseas since the end of the regular season and playoffs.

Sam Ftorek, son of the former Nighthawk player and head coach Robbie Ftorek hangs up his skates in Kalamazoo (ECHL) to become an assistant coach next season. Ftorek played 837 games, which is the most in ECHL history. Ftorek’s brother Casey is a prep school assistant coach at Hebron Academy in New Hampshire. Both lived in Guilford during their father’s tenure in New Haven.

Simsbury native and former Westminster Prep player Tommy Cross signed a new one year two way contract with Boston/Providence.

New Canaan native and former Taft Prep player, Drew MacKenzie, who just finished a seven game ECHL Kelly Cup final appearance with South Carolina, and who had a recall to the Providence Bruins this year, heads overseas to Austria and EC Dornbirner in the fall.

Former Quinnipiac University player Zach Tolkinen signs another one year deal with Elmira (ECHL).

AHL trade as the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers swapped players. Maple Leafs sent Greg Mckegg for just graduated prospect from Michigan (Big 10) Zac Hyman.

Former Sound Tiger Daniel Thaczuk switches teams leaving Owen Sound (OHL) to Kitchener (OHL) as an assistant coach.

Another ex-Sound Tiger, the still skating Mark Flood, stays in the KHL going from KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia to Lada Togliatti in Russia.

Ex-Wolf Pack Tommy Pyatt has resigned with HC Geneve-Servette Switzerland-LNA.

Former Salisbury Prep player Nick Lukko signed a one year AHL deal with Philadelphia to play in Lehigh Valley.

Rockford re-signs Pierre Cedric Labrie for another year.

Team USA has invited 35 players to Lake Placid, NY August 1-8 for the WJC camp. Among the invitees are Rangers goalie prospect Brandon Halverson (Sault Ste. Marie OHL), defenseman Chad Krys from Ridgefield via USNDTP (USHL) and Dominic Turgeon Grand Rapids nephew of former Whaler, Sylvain Turgeon.

One-time New York Ranger and AHL MVP, Jason Ward, is the new head coach for the expansion Hamilton Steelhawks senior league team in the ACH (Allan Cup League).

LAUGH OF THE DAY

The AHL holding its annual marketing meeting in Phoenix?

Hold the phone Batman, you’re serious? Yep. The team with the lowest average attendance in the NHL, the holder of the lucky #30 spot and that has never made a dime since they left Winnipeg in 1996, is giving AHL execs marketing advice. What could they POSSIBLY hope to learn there? How to get a good price from Mayflower moving?

Here’s a true story about Coyotes marketing.

A source worked over at the football stadium a few years back. They sent an employee to get a couple of sodas. The employee came back with two sodas and four Coyotes tickets wrapped in plastic tied with a rubber band to one of the sodas via a vending machine!

Now that’s a marketing plan!

FUEHRING: WARRIORS MAKE FIRST SIGNING

greenville-road-warriors_thumb16WARRIORS RE-SIGN DASILVA AS FIRST OFFSEASON MOVE

6’6, 215-pound defenseman notched a +7 rating in just four games last season

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Rd Warriors

(Editor’s Note: This news is a couple of days old. Sorry about being late on posting this story… Job has been busy and couldn’t get to it.)

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the team has re-signed rookie defenseman Justin DaSilva as its first move of the offseason.

The 6’6, 215-pound blueliner became a fan-favorite in just four games with the Road Warriors last season and his hard-nosed defensive play will be key to building a solid defense corps in 2015-16.

“I’m really looking forward to my first full professional season in Greenville after getting my feet wet,” DaSilva said. “I learned a lot about the pro game in just a few weeks last year, and I’m using that as motivation when I train this offseason to get bigger, faster and stronger.”

“I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to play in front of such passionate fans and for one of the best cities in the country,” DaSilva continued. “Downtown is breathtaking and everyone was very welcoming when I arrived last season. I can’t wait to get started.”

A native of Cambridge, Ontario, DaSilva earned one assist and a stellar +7 rating in four games with the Road Warriors last season after signing an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) on April 2nd. His plus-minus rating was the best among Greenville defensemen during that span.

Prior to turning pro, the 22-year old spent each of the last four seasons at Ohio State and recorded 23 points (7g, 16a) in 122 games. As a junior in 2013-14, he led the NCAA in blocked shots per game (2.74) and amassed 85 on the season. DaSilva also earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete honors three times and was an Academic All-Big Ten choice twice. He played two seasons at Ohio State with fellow Road Warriors’ defenseman Devon Krogh (2011-2013).

From 2007-2011, DaSilva spent four seasons in the junior hockey ranks with the Powell River Kings (British Columbia Hockey League) and Brampton Capitals (Ontario Junior Hockey League). He was named the BCHL’s Best Defenseman and a First All-Star Team selection following the 2010-11 campaign with Powell.

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.

CANTLON’S CORNER: CATCHING UP WITH HOCKEY NEWS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

The Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup Championship in the past six years with a thrilling 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six with a thrilling 2-0 shutout.

Chicago’s Duncan Keith picked up the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff’s MVP. Keith scored the game winner in the first period on a wrist shot off a rebound of his own shot. Keith becomes the ninth defenseman to capture the Conn Smythe trophy. The previous eight are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ex-Hartford Whaler, Joel Quenneville earned his third championship ring while his good friend and assistant coach Kevin Dineen, who’d been fired as head coach of  the Florida Panthers a year and a half ago, finally had the opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. Combined with the gold medal he received coaching the Canadian Women’s Olympic Team, it’s saef to say that getting fired in Florida has worked out pretty well for the man known affectionately as, “Mr. Whaler” during his playing days !

Assistant GM Norm MacIver played for both the Whalers and New Haven Nighthawks and also got a taste from the silver chalice.

AHL CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS

The Hartford Wolf Pack can at least they say they lost to the AHL champions.

The Manchester Monarchs exited the AHL in regal style defeating the Utica Comets in five games to capture the 2015 Calder Cup.

Despite an injury to goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, the Monarchs barely skipped a beat with Czech rookie Patrick Bartosak between the pipes. Bartosak was brilliant in his making 31 saves of the Game 5 Cup clinching win.

Jordan Weal had 22 points in the playoffs and captured the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the Playoff MVP.

What made the Monarchs so deadly was the team’s ability to score the game’s first goal. In 15 of the games they played in the post season, Manchester tallied first and in each of those cases the team won the game. It was just an amazing feat.

Former Yale players Brian O’Neill and Sean Backman celebrated the title with Backman handing the Calder Cup after his twirl to his collegiate and pro teammate O’Neill.

Now the Monarchs head to Ontario, CA to become the Reign joining San Diego (Anaheim), Bakersfield (Edmonton), Stockton (Calgary) and San Jose in forming the California AHL Pacific Division.

Joining the Monarchs in Ontario is there current Director of Hockey Operations Hubie McDonough., a Manchester native who was a playoff hero in New Haven in 1989. McDonough sett what was then a league record, with 31 points in the playoffs. despite those impressive numbers, the Nighthawks fell to Adam Graves and the Adirondack Red Wings in Calder Cup final.

McDonough still is the all time leading scoring (210 points) in St. Anselm history and won the Small College Hockey Player of the Year in 1985 and skated five games with the Monarchs in the 2001 season.

ECHL KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS

The Allen Americans capped their first year in the ECHL by capturing the Kelly Cup championship in decisive fashion with a convincing 6-1 home victory Sunday afternoon at the Allen Event Center.

Ex-Sound Tiger Chad Costello paced the victory with two goals and an assist. Another ex-Sound Tiger, goalie Riley Gill, had 27 saves and picked up his second ECHL Kelly Cup. Gill joins five other goaltenders in ECHL history to ever accomplish winning multiple championships.

Gill won with the Reading Royals. The other goalies to win multiple championships in the ECHL were Nick Vitucci (four titles), Mark Bernard (Hampton Roads), Dave Gagnon (Hampton Roads/Toledo), Gerald Coleman (Alaska). Gill now has the second most playoff wins at 36 to Vitucci’s 43.

The winning head coach was former Nighthawk Steve Martinson. His assistant coach is former Sound Tiger and ex-Wolf Pack, Kevin Colley, the son of Nighthawk legend Tom Colley.

Ex-Wolf Pack Andrew Rowe scored South Carolina’s  only goal and finished with 34 points, third best in the playoffs. He is in a three way tie for most ECHL playoff points in a season with Blaine Moore (Richmond-1994) and the late John Spoltore (Louisiana-2000). New Canaan’s Drew Mackenzie, a former Taft Prep player, had 20 points in 27 games.

The playoff MVP was an odd choice in Allen’s Gregor Hanson who led the Americans with 29 points, but had none in Game 7.  South Carolina’s Wayne Simpson set a new league record with 39 points in the post season. The line of Rowe, Simpson and former Hotchkiss Prep star, Derek Deblois, combined for 102 points in the playoffs.

PLAYER MOVEMENT

Former Sound Tiger Alain Nasreddine, a long time assistant coach with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins follows John Hynes to the New Jersey Devils. Hynes leaves as head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to become the Devils top dog. Hynes named Nasreddine, who was his assistant with the Penguins, his assistant in Newark.

Other AHL head coaching jobs have been filled now. In Springfield, Ron Rolston, a longtime friend of Darcy Regier, who’s the new Falcons GM and who was Arizona’s assistant GM, is the new head coach. Rolston coached with the Rochester Americans for two years and was hired to coach the Buffalo Sabres mid-season in 2011-2012 and was releived of that position midway through 2012-2013. He was a scout for Arizona last year.

It was no surprise to learn that Todd Nelson was named the new head coach in Grand Rapids.

One of the AHL’s new Pacific coast teams, the San Diego Gulls, announced a brand new scoreboard will be put in place at the Valley View Casino Center for their first AHL season. The rumors are the teams first head coach could be Steve Martinson.

Martinson, a one-time Nighthawk, played three years in San Diego in the old IHL and coached the Gulls all nine years in the defunct West Coach Hockey League where he won five titles including the last Taylor Cup championship in 2003 before the league was absorbed into the ECHL. He coached the Gulls in their first season in the ECHL.

Former AHL’er D.J. Smith won the Memorial Cup guiding the Oshawa Generals (OHL) last month and was named an assistant coach with Toronto. Smith played for the Maple Leafs in Toronto and St. John’s.

Wilkes Barre/Scranton replaced Hynes behind the bench with former New York Rangers assistant coach, Mike Sullivan.

The losses of AHL players to signings in Europe grew by nine as goalie Jussi Rynas left the Texas Stars for AK Bars Kazan in Russia in the KHL, Peter Holland from the St. John’s IceCaps to HPK Hameenlina (Finland-FEL), Colin Fraser Chicago Fire to Nuremberg (Germany-DEL), Spencer Abbott Rockford/Toronto to Frolunda HC (Sweden-SHL), Markus Lauridsen Lake Erie Monsters to AIK (Sweden-Allsvenskan), Brandon Kozun, who split last year between the Marlies and the Maple Leafs in Toronto, goes to Finland to play for Jokerit Helsinki who play in the KHL and Brendan Maclean of St. John’s heads to EV Ravensburg Germany DEL-2.

Ex-Wolf Pack d-man Tomas Kundratek leaves the Hershey Bears for Dynamo Riga in Latvia (KHL) and ex-Sound Tiger goalie Joey MacDonald heads to the German DEL and Schwenniger Wild Wings.

Another ex-Sound Tiger goalie, Peter Mannino, who played in Binghamton last season has retired and becomes the new assistant/goalie coach with the Chicago Steel (USHL) under their new head coach, former Yale associate coach, Dan Muse.

Former Wolf Pack players also finding new residences include, Tomas Kaberle who had a two game tryout this year, will stay in the Czech Republic and go from HC Kladno to HC Brno.

Evgeni Grachev stays in Russia (KHL) going from HC Vladivostok to Amur Khaborvsk.

Ex-Wolf Pack Gordie Dwyer, fired from Charlottetown (QMJHL) in May, will be the new head coach for KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia.

Former Wolf Pack Francois Fortier is returning to Quebec after leaving Valerenga IF in Norway for Jonquiere (LNAH).

Wallingford native and Avon Old Farms product, Pat Mullane, who was in Wolf Pack camp two years ago, heads from Reading (ECHL) to Assat Pori (Finland-FEL) next season.

Former UCONN goalie Matt Grogan is toiling away in the Land Down Under.

Grogan is the goalie for the Sydney Ice Dogs in the Australian Hockey League (AIHL). He played for UCONN from 2010-2014 and after completing school spent four games with the Ft. Wayne Komets (ECHL).

So far it’s been a tough go with a record of 1-10 and a 5.63 GAA.

Connecticut’s other Australian hockey prodigy, Chesire defenseman Robert Malloy who plays for the Newcastle North Stars is doing well with seven points in 10 games.

Presently 21 US and 15 Canadians are playing in the AIHL.

Former top Wolf Pack scorer Derek Armstrong, out of the coaching business for a year since the Denver Cutthroats, which folded with the Central Hockey League, will be taking over shortly as head coach for a team in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL).

NEW HEAD COACH

Congrats are in order to former Wolf Pack Todd Hall, who was officially named the new head coach of the Hamden High School Green Dragons program. The club who has won 17 state Division I titles in their history.

Hall, who grew up in the town and has been an assistant coach since he finished his pro career in Hartford in 2002, and who scored the Calder Cup game winning goal in 2000 against Rochester, becomes the 20th ex-Wolf Pack to become a head coach (66 ex-Pack are in a coaching or hockey position someplace on this planet) at some level of hockey.

He becomes just the fifth head coach the program has ever had since its inception 1948. The team has won state Division I title and became a  power program to model yourself afterward. The other were Don McNeil, Louis Astorino, Dick Gagliardi and most recently after 28 years with the program as coach and 33 in total Billy Verneris.

“Its not like the programs started in the 1980’s, so its pretty amazing-something­-very special. I’m very fortunate and thrilled to get this opportunity. It’s a really neat thing to be a part of,” Hall said.

The announcement was made at the team banquet.

“It was a very nice gesture by Billy he wanted it that way and the timeline was accomodated and the move by the school was a complete surprise to me,” Hall said.

Hall explained his philosophy, as only he can, and sums himself up all in the same description. “I want people to take this the right way. I value the game of hockey. It has given me a lot and the level of hockey (at Hamden) is different than when I played. I want their experience to not just be about hockey. We’re here to help mold young boys to become young men.

“Statistically speaking, a majority of them hockey will end after their senior season. Its very important to me that will go on to become good citizens, good fathers, good brothers and good friends.. Accountability, responsibility and discipline are things I will stress.”

Hall, who also won a state title in sophomore season and was in one other state final, recognizes the game and its structure has changed from when he played and from when he played Division college hockey first at BC and then at UNH.

The growth of and strength of not only prep schools, but junior hockey is not lost on him.

“When I played here the only the option was the USHL (based in the Midwest) or if you had a contact maybe, maybe Canadian (major) junior. That has all changed of course. I would never want to deny a kid the chance to go that route, but only at the point I really think we can’t develop his hockey skills any further and if he truly wants it. I wish them to succeed wherever they choose. I can’t recruit, I get the lineup that comes in at each year. The changed environment is something you deal with and I understand the business side of this.

I saw it start when I was in college from the 19 year old freshmen to the now you have 24-25 year old college seniors.”

The coaches of his pro career will be a part of his coaching strategy.

“I have been extremely lucky to have had so many good coaches in my life. When Dick Umile and Rick Serino (at UNH) were good when I transferred he told me I don’t care what happened (at BC) your here now. When my sister died (Leah Hall by a drunk driver) he arranged to have a team bus come down (to the wake) that is sort of thing you understand that is team.”

The two coaches he had with the Wolf Pack, EJ McGuire and John Paddock, have played an important part of his playing career and will use now as a guide as a head coach.

“EJ was the most detailed coach ever. You knew how everything that was going to be happening the minute you went to practice he had it posted, there was no guessing. I will be using that. Pads was the coach who gave me a lot of ice time and knew how to handle so many different players to get to work as a team.”

He will have returning assistant coach George Jerolman Jr. and is expected that the JV coach and former high school defense partner and brother-in-law, Scott Jason, will be announced as the new assistant coach. All three played together for the Green Dragons.

Hamden High is in the right hands with Todd Hall.

SAD NEWS

Former AHL’er Greg Parks,48 passed away in Edmonton earlier in the week. No cause of death was announced.

Parks started his AHL career after four years at Bowling Green University then a NCAA Division I program in the now defunct CCHA conference where they won a conference title in 1987. Park started his first pro season in Finland before hooking up with Johnstown (ECHL) then in Springfield with Indians where he won a Calder Cup.

In the AHL he also laced them up with Capital District (nee Albany) before getting to the NHL with the N.Y. Islanders. He earned a silver medal with Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics.

He had an extensive 10 year European career in Sweden, Switzerland (won an NLB championship), Germany and ended his playing career in Japan with the Oji Eagles.

After retiring he coached in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with St. Albert and for two years as head coach and GM and stayed with the team briefly when it moved to Whitecourt.

Sadly, he is second player from that Indians team to already pass away Guy Rouleau died of cancer in December 2008.

NEXT UP

The NHL Entry Draft next Friday and Saturday June 26 and 27 in Sunrise, Florida.