Category Archives: Junior Hockey

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 13

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 13

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Just when there seemed like there might be a lull for a bit in the heat of the summer, there comes LOTS of hockey news this week starting with the Hartford Wolf Pack rounding out the coaching staff. 

PACK NAME NEW ASSISTANT COACH

The Wolf Pack announced the hiring of Joe Mormina as the sixth assistant coach in team history.

Mormina comes to Hartford after coaching as an Assistant with Mercyhurst University Lakers (AHA) located in Erie, PA. Mormina was there for one season following his retirement as a player.

Standing 6’6, Mormina played 670 AHL games with six teams including Manchester, Albany, Adirondack, Syracuse, Rochester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where he was named Captain. He logged 31 career goals, 120 assists, 151 points, and 837 PM. Over an eleven-year professional career, he played one game in the NHL and that came with the Carolina Hurricanes. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 12

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 12

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Another busy off-season week.

OLYMPIC TEAMS

The first country to get started on the Olympics, sans NHL participation for the first time in the last five Olympiads, has begun.  Team Canada named its management and coaching staff and a preliminary roster.

The GM who will guide and put the pieces of the puzzle together, is former Hartford Whaler, Sean Burke. A pro scout with the Montreal Canadiens, Burke was named last Tuesday to begin the process of putting a team together in six months for the Pyeongchang, South Korean Games which will run from February 9-25.

The first roster that’s been released has a few familiar names. They will have two squads with few different players on each to play in the Sochi Tournament on August 6-9 and the Tournament Victor Puchkov from August 14-17.

For the Sochi tourney, ex-Pack, Daniel Paille, will be playing and for the Puchkov tourney with ex-Pack and ex Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Taylor Beck. In both games, ex-Sound Tigers’ goalie Kevin Poulin will dress for the Canada. Continue reading

TOSTI: CARTER SANDLAK JOINS SWAMP RABBITS ROSTER

Carter Sandlak Joins Swamp Rabbits Roster

Greenville adds fourth-year forward with more than 50 games of AHL experienceBY: 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, have come to terms with forward, Carter Sandlak for the 2017-18 season. The winger brings AHL experience to the roster, logging 54 games with the Charlotte Checkers in his first two professional seasons.

Sandlak, 24, spent last season with the Toledo Walleye suiting up for 41 games with the regular season champs. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound forward netted five goals and added two assists for the Walleye, but missed nearly two months of the season due to injury. Sandlak has battled the Swamp Rabbits six times during his career, including one contest last year.

“Carter has great hockey sense and is a tough, hard-nosed player who also brings experience at the next level,” said Head Coach Brian Gratz. “Over the last two seasons, we have seen him play with Toledo and Florida and felt he would be a good addition to our team. We’re excited to welcome him to Greenville and have him contribute to our team achieving its goals, while we help him reach his.”

During his first two pro seasons, Sandlak played his games within the Carolina Hurricanes system. The London, Ontario native netted two goals and grabbed three helpers in the AHL with the Checkers and was a mainstay in Charlotte as a rookie. In 29 ECHL games with the Florida Everblades from 2014 to 2016, Sandlak earned 15 points (5G, 10A). He also set a career best with the Everblades, collecting three points (1G, 2A) against the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-2 comeback win. In total, Sandlak has played 70 ECHL games, earning 22 points (10G, 12A) and logging 78 PIMS.

“Last year, the season didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I think that adversity made me grow as a player and as a person,” said Sandlak “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Swamp Rabbits organization. (Greenville) is a great place to play and the staff is great, so it was a no brainer for me.”

Before turning pro, Sandlak spent five seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He played a majority of his career with the Belleville Bulls but also held roster spots with the Guelph Storm and Plymouth Whalers. Sandlak ended his OHL tenure with 272 games, 122 points (59G, 63A), and 375 PIMS.

Carter also comes from a hockey family as his father, Jim Sandlak, played more than 500 NHL contests with the Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers. Sandlak becomes the eighth skater signed by the Swamp Rabbits this offseason (Nick Betz, Ricky DeRosa, Sean Flanagan, Chad Duchesne, Austin McKay, Joe Houk, and Evan Jasper).

The Swamp Rabbits open the season against the Wheeling Nailers on Oct. 13, 2017. The puck will drop for the Swamp Rabbits’ Opening Weekend at 7 p.m. EST at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Hockey Demo Days: Join the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for their Hockey Demo Day. Head to Dicks Sporting Goods on Woodruff Road on Sunday, July 30 from noon to 4 p.m. for an afternoon of fun! There will be free hockey instruction in the Dew Street Hockey Zone, corn hole, music, food, giveaways and much more. Call Charlie with the Swamp Rabbits at (864) 250-4937 for more information.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. Download the Swamp Rabbits app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for up to date information right in the palm of your hand.

Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for information on 2017-18 season tickets 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!

CANLTON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 11

CANLTON’S CORNER: Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 11

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – NFL football camps are opening. In basketball, the free agent signing period is in full-swing while in the NHL, nothing seems to be slowing down as the summer moves along.

RANGERS SIGNING

Of the many problems that existed for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, the most glaring concern was between the pipes as the goaltending was far beneath an acceptable level.

The theory was that with both Magnus Hellberg, returning off a solid season, and a healthy and seeming revitalized Mackenzie Skapski, who is now fully recovered from hip surgery, could be the foundation upon which the team could build as the team’s young members adjusted to life in pro hockey.

It’s pretty apparent, that never materialized.

Hellberg freely admitted at the end of the year that he was sub-par. He seemingly was always fighting the puck and had problems shoulder high to his glove side and getting beaten early in too many games. Skapski just never seemed to recover sinking deeper and deeper on the depth chart as the season progressed.

Skapski never seemed to recover and sunk deeper and deeper on the depth chart as the season progressed.

After such an impressive training camp in New York, Skapski had a terrible performance in an early season game in Providence. “The Buffalo Killer,” as Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault dubbed him in his rookie season after two wins against the Sabres, dropped to 0-4 and was getting beaten cleanly on long shots. He also was apprehensive in his decision making deciding to stay back in his net instead of getting to a loose puck that the Bruins Jake DeBrusk raced in to get before beating him to the top shelf. His performance earned him a return ticket to the ECHL and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, where he remained except for a few emergency recalls. Skapski ended the year with his getting bombed in a 6-1 shellacking in his only playoff appearance. He did not even dress for the following game.

Hellberg has since signed in Beijing, China with the Kunlun Red Star, a KHL team there. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: McCAMBRIDGE AND RANGERS FLESHING OUT ROSTER AND STAFF

CANTLON’S CORNER: McCambridge and Rangers Fleshing Out Roster and Staff

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT As the summer rolls on, the business of hockey continues to move along as well. For the Hartford Wolf Pack, this has been a very busy off-season.

The rebuild of the Pack began with the firing of Head Coach Ken Gernander, who was not only the team’s all-time winningest and tenured coach but who’d been the face of the franchise from his playing days as the team captain. Gernander was replaced by one of his assistants, Keith McCambridge. Chris Drury, the Trumbull native, and an ex-New York Ranger became the team’s newest GM replacing Jim Schoenfeld. The rebuilding effort on the ice has been in full swing as well.

One of the many pieces still being worked on is the hiring of a new assistant coach. That person has been selected, but they are not ready to announce it as of yet. McCambridge told Howlings, “Right now things (the contract) are being finalized, but we will make an announcement in a few weeks.”

When asked about the position the new coach played on the ice, McCambridge replied, “I can say it’s a defenseman. When I was coaching Manitoba or St. John’s, I handled the forwards there. While I played as a defenseman, we will have a person handling the defense this season.” This will keep the Wolf Pack streak of former defenseman as assistants intact joining the club of Mike Busniuk, Ulf

If the new coach is indeed a former defenseman, it keeps alive a streak for the Wolf Pack of former defenseman as an Assistant to the Head Coach.  THis person will join the club of Mike Busniuk, Ulf Samuelsson, JJ Daigneault, Jeff Beukeboom, and McCambridge.

The team’s Assistant GM and coach, the highly regarded Pat Boller, will return. Boller has been the driving force behind keeping the train running for a team that deals with a voluminous amount of administrative work. Boller also helps with the practice sessions as well.

McCambridge had a lot of input in an important signing for the team and a big asset to the forwards. The team signed center Dan DeSalvo, who played under McCambridge two years ago in Manitoba. In a 17 game recall, he logged 14 goals with 51 points in 55 games with Tulsa (ECHL).

After starting last season by registering 13 points in 12 games with Tulsa, DeSalvo came up to the Moose and popped in 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games. He’s a natural center and fills in the required boxes for offensive skills, faceoff ability, and will help the powerplay. These are all areas the Wolf Pack desperately lacked last season.

“(DeSalvo has) very good quickness and vision. He came up when I was there and did well. He really worked in Manitoba last year to get into the lineup and played a lot of first line minutes. He generates offense.”

Veteran AHL writer Pat Williams of the NHL.com and Around the A.com while covering Manitoba thinks he’s a quality signing. “He did very well two years ago on a bad Moose team and he really improved even more last year and utilizes his wingers and will give you some offensive pop.”

Few are returning from last year’s roster. The very few people that are coming back are mostly entering the last year of their respective deals. Those who were unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) or were on one-year deals were not invited back.

Among the departed are Chris Summers, who’s off to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. Marek Hrivik left for the Stockton Heat. Magnus Hellberg left the country for China-KHL. Philip McRae left for Finland-FEL while Taylor Beck is heading to Russia-KHL. The team’s biggest loss is Nicklas Jensen who has officially signed with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland-FEL).

“(Beck’s loss) is tough. We had given him a qualifying offer, but he and his agent felt playing over there was s better option. Jenner played very well for us. He was an obvious offensive force and it’s big hole in our lineup to be filled.”

The latest signee is Westport native, and Choate grad, defenseman, Mike Paliotta, signed with the Toronto Marlies.

Matt Carey, who earned the right to a comeback with his strong second half of last season, will not be back, nor will Tommy Hughes. The one player still on the Pack brass’ radar is goalie Jeff Malcolm. He’s been an in dispensable insurance policy since his arrival from Yale four years ago. With a second year pro on the roster (Brandon Halverson and rookie Chris Nell), they have only two goalies now and need to shore that area up.

“I really can’t comment on Jeff’s status at this time.”

Translation code: We’re talking, but no deal is done.

There are two new pieces to the puzzle that have been added with the signings of Paul Carey (no relation to Matt Carey) and Cole Schneider. McCambridge is pleased with both additions.

“We still have Ranger camp, so before we can pick a team,” McCambridge said. “Carey we saw a lot of last year with Hershey. He’s a really good 200-foot player. He has a good shot and goes to the net and was net front on the power play. He brings a lot of upside.”

Schneider, a UConn alumnus, will play on the wing.

“Clearly, he has offensive upside with some good speed, and shot, from off the wing. We think if he is here, he would provide clear help scoring up front and like Carey had power play time in Rochester.”

One thing really pleasing to McCambridge is the early release of the AHL schedule. The planning for the six-month regular season now has given them the breathing room they lacked with the late August release over the last several years.

“Going into the summer, you always had to wait until August and there was a real crunch time to organize things. This gives some real freedom to coordinate all the various pieces, especially with travel both here and on the road for practice time. Dealing with the logistics of travel, regarding hotels, we have to balance all these things and personal needs, so I’m really pleased the schedule is out early.”

He was a bit disappointed in the playoff structure. The league will remain the top four teams from each division as opposed to the Top 8 in each conference from two years ago.

“I really think that (Top 8) format was better. I thought it made for a better balance, but we have got to work with what we have.”

The pieces of the 2017-18 season are fitting into place for what management hopes will be a long run into next summer.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 10

Cantlon’s Corner:

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 10

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTAnother week of hockey activity and the Hartford Wolf Pack are right in the middle of it.

CONGRATS

The American Hockey League honored the Hartford Wolf Pack for its 2016-17 Team Business Services, with an award for excellence in community service among Eastern Conference teams. The award was announced Wednesday evening at a gala reception during the AHL Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting at Hilton Head, SC.

“We are extremely proud of our staff’s and players’ dedication to giving back to the Hartford-area community, and that it has been celebrated with this tremendous AHL honor,” Chris Lawrence, General Manager of the XL Center and the head of Wolf Pack Business Operations for Spectra said in a press release.

“With the amount of time and effort the entire league puts into the service aspect of our business, it’s a credit to everyone involved with the team to be recognized. We look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in the Capital region.”

The Wolf Pack’s community outreach program, under the leadership of Manager of Community Relations, Frank Berrian, has continued to grow numerous signature elements. The Wolf Pack’s “Read to the Rink” reading program, sponsored by ProHealth Physicians’ Healthy Me, involved several dozen area schools. The “Hockey in the Streets” effort once again brought the fun and healthy exercise of street hockey to the youngsters of Camp Courant throughout the summer.

The Wolf Pack’s annual “Bowl-a-Thon” in support of Special Olympics Connecticut raised over $13,000, and the team staff’s efforts at, “Holiday Light Fantasia” in December helped generate nearly $7,000 for the Channel 3 Kids Camp. Also, the Wolf Pack players as well as the team’s iconic mascot, Sonar, combined to make nearly 200 community appearances during the 2016-17 season. Those appearances ranged from school and hospital visits to youth hockey events, holiday toy deliveries, and all manner of community parades and celebrations.

The hard-charging, and ever present Sonar, who seems to work 480 days a year, was the biggest reason that award was presented. He is at various school functions during the regular season and the off-season as well. Sonar appears all throughout the greater Hartford community. Most recently, Sonar was at the Enfield Fourth of July celebrations this past weekend and does some great charity work too.

PLAYER AND COACHING MOVEMENT

The Pack has officially lost their leading scorer from last season, Nicklas Jensen.

In a team press release, Jokerit Helsinki’s (Finland-KHL) GM and former New York Ranger and NHL great Jari Kurri announced that the Danish forward agreed to a two-year deal with next season being an option year.

The 24-year-old forward led Hartford with 32 goals (second best in the AHL) and 55 points. Jensen came to the Wolf Pack in a deal trade with the Vancouver Canucks for Emerson Etem on January 8, 2016. In his brief tenure with the Pack, the one-time first-round selection by Vancouver in 2011, played very well offensively. Jensen is a swift skater with a very powerful shot and a quick release. He was the Pack’s lone AHL All-Star representative last season. Jensen earned one, seven-game recall by the Rangers last season.

His rights along with former Rangers prospect and CT Whale Tim Erixon were acquired in an April 20th KHL trade with Salavat Yulaev. Expect an announcement on Erixon’s signing in the coming weeks.

The AHL to Euro list gained five and lost one.

The latest was winger Mark Olver, the younger brother of ex-Pack, Darin Olver. He played with Tucson/Bakersfield last season joining the Condors at the trade deadline. Olver heads to his brother’s former team, Eisbaren Berlin (Germany-DEL). That move was announced by the Polar Bears GM and former New Haven Nighthawk, Stephane Richer. The two brothers will play against each other this season when they play ERC Ingolstadt.

Ex-Pack, Chad Nehring has left Binghamton (nee Belleville) and signed with Fischtown (Germany-DEL). Patrick Mullen, who split last year between Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL) and then left to sign with Rochester, goes to Linkopings HC (Sweden-SHL). William Wrenn of Toronto signed with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL) and Evan Mosey of Rockford signed with Nottingham (England-EIHL).

Ex-Springfield Thunderbirds goalie Reto Berra, who, two months ago had signed in his native Switzerland with HC Fribourg-Gotteron (NLA) just after the season ended, executed his NHL exit clause to sign just a one-year, one-way deal for $700K with Anaheim/San Diego (AHL). Last season in Springfield, Berra made $1.5 million on a one-way deal. His Swiss contract will remain the same (minus the one year term) should he sign for next season.

A player signing can execute the clause in their contract by July 31st (just before Euro training camp opens) without penalty.

That makes 50 players who have signed in Europe and 26 of 30 AHL teams that have lost at least one player.

Adam Johnson, of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was the 34th underclassmen from college hockey to sign a pro deal. He goes to Pittsburgh.

Johnson is 23-years-old and is classified as an academic junior. The numbers may be skewed, but that’s the world of college hockey today.

Cal Peterson, the goalie from Notre Dame, has also left. Peterson signed a three-year entry-level deal with Los Angeles paying $925K/$70K AHL. The Kings will have to compensate the Buffalo Sabres who originally drafted him with a 2018 draft pick.

Kyle Mackenzie and Josh Monk, both of Providence College, signed with the expansion Worcester (ECHL) team. Rhett Holland of Michigan State who played three games with Idaho (ECHL) after the college season ended has signed with HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL). He is the third Spartan to sign overseas.

That makes 154 Division I players have signed North American pro deals since the end of the college season (regular & postseason). Add in 20 from Division 3, and another 31 who completed or left school (Division I and III) and signed in Europe. The NCHC conference lost the most underclassmen at nine.

Schools who lost the most players were Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan Tech and Western Michigan University with six each. Boston College, Minnesota and Bowling Green lost five and Boston University saw four leave. They all were pure freshmen.

Ex-Pack and Thunderbird Dylan McIlrath, of the Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins, signed a one-year two-way deal with Detroit at $675K-NHL/$275K-AHL.

Former Sound Tiger and Avon Old Farms player goalie Parker Milner signs a one-year AHL deal with Hershey. He spent a portion of last season with Hershey and had a strong playoff run helping the South Carolina Stingrays to the ECHL Kelly Cup final before they were beaten by the Colorado Eagles.

Goalie Steve Michalek (Glastonbury/Loomis Chaffe) signs a one-year deal with Minnesota ($715K-NHL/$70K-AHL). He spent last year with the Iowa Wild playing 30 games with a record of 13-14-1-1 and a 2.63 GAA

Brody Sutter has left the Springfield Thunderbirds to sign with Manitoba.

Ex-Pack defenseman Matt Gilroy switches KHL teams leaving Spartak Moscow (Russia) to join Jokerit Helsinki (Finland). Vladimir Denisov goes from Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia-KHL) to Dynamo Minsk (Belarus-KHL).

Jared Eng, formerly of Sacred Heart University (AHA) and who left after two years completed school and playing hockey in Canada at Simon Fraser University (BICHL). He leaves Bjorbo IF (Sweden Division-2) to play for KRS Heilongjiang (China-VHL) next year.

Peter Quenneville, the former QU Bobcat, goes from Aalborg Pirates (Denmark-DHL) to HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL) next season.

Ex-Pack Travis Oleksuk re-signs with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).

John Dunbar, an ex-QU Bobcat, split last year with HC Mulhouse (France Division-1) and Norfolk (ECHL) signs with the Guildford Flames (England-EIHL) who were promoted to the top league starting this fall.

Former Springfield Falcon, Scott Barney, switches teams in the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) going from the Beijing-based China Dragon, that’s leaving the league, to join Anyang Halla in South Korea.

Former New Haven Nighthawk Mark Morrison makes it to the NHL as an assistant coach with Anaheim after six years as an AHL assistant (four years in St. John’s two in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Moose). His resume includes stops all over the hockey map including the two farthest points in Canada. The first was Victoria (WHL) where he was the head coach/GM for five years and the aforementioned, St. John’s (AHL).

He also was a player/coach for ten years with the Scottish based Fife Flyers then playing in the British National League (BNL).

Some other coaching changes include former Beast of New Haven forward Herberts Vasiljves, who just retired from playing a few months ago, was named as the assistant coach for his native Latvia U-18 National Junior team.

Former Sound Tiger Jeff Hutchins was named the head coach for the British U-18 National Junior team. He will continue as assistant coach and Director of Player Development for the Fife Flyers (Scotland-EIHL).

Congrats to former AHL player, Jordan Smith. He lost his sight in one eye ten years ago which ended his pro career after just two seasons in Portland. It was his injury that ushered in the mandatory half visor rule. Smith was hired as an associate head coach with Sudbury Wolves (OHL). He was the head coach for Sault Ste. Marie (NOJHL) last season.

AHL SCHEDULE

Hallelujah! An early AHL schedule!

As promised, the AHL released the 2017-18 schedule. The release came a month earlier than usual to the delight of the sales staff of all 30 teams and their fans.

The Wolf Pack will open the regular season on October 6th at the XL Center against the Charlotte Checkers, the top affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s the earliest opening for the Wolf Pack in some time and the first time Charlotte is back in Hartford since the 2010-11 season. The teams met four times that year going 2-2 each winning their home games. Charlotte now plays at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte having left last year from the Time Warner Cable Arena, the home of the NBA Charlotte Hornets.

Because of division realignment, Charlotte was finally airlifted out of the Western Conference and put back into the East where they belonged in the first place. Charlotte will have a new head coach making his debut that night, former Hartford Whaler, Mike Vellucci.

The Pack will be the home opener the following week for the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday, October 14th.and will meet them the most times this season, twelve (six home and six away). Bridgeport and Providence will face the Pack the second most in 2017-18 at ten times (five home and five away), and Charlotte eight times (four home and four away).

Hershey, Lehigh Valley, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will duel with the Wolf Pack six times (three home and three away).

Sadly, just two meetings (one home and one away) with the Canadian-based teams in the East from the North Division. They will all visit in the first month of the regular season (Toronto on Friday, October 13, Belleville on Friday, October 20 and Laval on Sunday, November 12).

The Pack home starting times for all Friday night games will start at 7:15 pm. Non-Sunday games start at 7:00 pm. On December 23rd, March 3rd and March 24th start time is 3:00pm. On Saturday, November 4th  and January 27th the puck will drop at 7:30 pm. All Sunday home games are 5:00 pm starts except March 4th when the game will begin at 3:00 pm.

The second longest AHL home opener is Bridgeport. They won’t be at the Webster Bank Arena until October 21st against the Laval Rocket, which is the Canadiens top farm team after their relocation from St. John’s. Laval, a suburb of Montreal, will open their new building, The Place Bell Centre, against Belleville on October 6th.

The longest home opener is a tentative one. on November 1

On November 1st the Belleville Senators will play in a renovated Yardmen Arena, which is undergoing a massive $20 million dollar makeover, against the Syracuse Crunch.

The complete AHL schedule team by team is HERE

MACCABIAH GAMES

Every year in Israel as a celebration of Jewish athletes and their skill level. For The Maccabiah Games, this is the 20th anniversary year, and ice hockey is an official sport. The games are ongoing. They started on July 4th and will end on July 17th.  The games feature just over 40 sports. The country has three hockey arenas. There’s one in Metula near the Lebanon border, Eliat, Ma’alot and a now a fourth new arena in Jerusalem that is to be christened in these games.

The hockey features a junior level of play. There’s an open division covering ages 18-39 and a Masters division for players over 40.

The American Open roster features three CT connections.

Current UCONN junior Max Kalter is on the team with a fellow Husky, from UCONN’s club hockey team (ACHA Division 2) in Benjamin Pulley. Sacred Heart University Pioneers (AHA) backup goalie Samuel Bernard-Boymel is the third player. The team’s assistant coach is former Wesleyan University (Middletown) player Casey Fratkin.

The US Junior team roster features one player with CT ties, Ethan Gorelkin of Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford).

The Canada’s open team features a former Sound Tiger training camp invitee, Aaron Berisha. He eventually went back to Canadian college hockey and played for former Nighthawk Trevor Steinburg at St. Mary’s University in Halifax last year.

In the Masters Division, former New Haven Nighthawks from the mid-80’s Brian Wilks now 51 is playing for Canada.

 

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 9

CANTLON’S CORNER:

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 9

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTThe Stanley Cup winner has been decided. The expansion and entry drafts are completed and now comes the hard work for NHL and AHL executives to put together their rosters for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

PLAYER & COACHING MOVEMENT

Five ex-Pack are finding new destinations for next season. Kodie Curran switches countries in the North Atlantic going from Esbjerg (Denmark-DHL) to

Kodie Curran switches countries in the North Atlantic going from Esbjerg (Denmark-DHL) to Storhamer (Norway-NEL) next season.

Ex-CT Whale Scott Pitt leaves Braehead (Scotland-EIHL) heads for MsHK Zilina (Slovakia-SLEL).

Josh Nicholls goes from EHC Straubing (Germany-DEL) to HC Litvinov (Czech Republic-CEL)

Hannu Pikkarainen (maybe the best Wolf Pack player name of all time) goes from Iserlohn (Germany-DEL) to Jukurit (Finland-FEL). Continue reading

RANGERS RELEASE 2017 PROSPECT BIOS

RANGERS RELEASE

2017

PROSPECT BIOS

BY: The New York Rangers

Name: Lias Andersson 
Position: Center Height: 6-0
Weight: 200 Shoots: Left
Born: October 13, 1998
Birthplace: Smogen, Sweden 

2016-17 Notes: Skated in 42 games with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), registering nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, along with a plus-21 rating and 18 penalty minutes … Established SHL career-highs in several categories, including games played, goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating … Ranked eighth in the SHL – and led all junior players (younger than 20 years old) in the league – in plus/minus rating … Ranked second among all junior players in the SHL in goals and assists, and tied for second among all junior players in the SHL in points … Registered five points (four goals, one assist) and 18 penalty minutes in 16 playoff games while helping HV71 win the Le Mat Trophy as Swedish Hockey League Champions … Tied for fifth on HV71 in goals in the playoffs; also ranked second among all junior players in the SHL in playoff goals … Recorded two goals in three games with HV71’s junior team in SuperElit … Registered three goals and posted a plus-two rating in seven games while representing Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Career Highlights: Helped Sweden earn a silver medal at the 2016 IIHF World U18 Championship; recorded nine points (five goals, four assists) in seven contests and was selected as one of the Top Three Players on his team in the tournament … Helped Sweden earn a silver medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament … Has skated in 64 career SHL games over parts of two seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17), registering 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists), along with a plus-14 rating … His father,  Niklas Andersson, played parts of six seasons in the NHL (1992-93; 1995-96 – 1997-98; 1999-00 – 2000-01) with Quebec, the NY Islanders, San Jose, Nashville, and Calgary … His uncle, Mikael Andersson, played in the NHL for parts of 15 seasons (1985-86 – 1999-00) and is currently a European Scout with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Career Transactions: June 23, 2017 – Selected by the Rangers in the first round, seventh overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 NHL DRAFT RESULTS AND MORE

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 DRAFT RESULTS AND MORE

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The first round of the NHL Draft went more or less according to the script.

There wasn’t much in the way of “cloak and dagger” or major surprises at Friday night’s two and half hour TV spectacle.

The New York Rangers did manage, for the first time since 2012, to have a first round pick. In fact, they didn’t just have one, but they had two selections to start the restocking process for a team in serious need of prospects. The team stocked up on centerman which seemed to be a shortage of over the past half dozen years or more.

The Blueshirts acquired the seventh overall choice in the draft from the Arizona Coyotes earlier in the day. They converted that pick into Lias Andersson from HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Andersson posted nine goals and 19 points in 42 games. The question with this 18-year-old is not about his skill or his compete level, but will he fill out his current 6’1 180-lb frame?

Just a reminder, Jaromir Jagr was 175-pounds in 1991 when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him. He’s still playing if you didn’t know. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 8 – HOLD ON, THIS COULD GET BUMPY

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 8 – HOLD ON, THIS COULD GET BUMPY

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The NHL Draft is upon us and there is SO much going on in the NHL that has an effect on every team let alone the Hartford Wolf Pack.

LATE BREAKING NHL DRAFT NEWS

The New York Rangers swung a major pre-draft trade with the Arizona Coyotes as they dealt center, Derek Stepan and their backup goalie, Antti Raanta, for New Jersey-native, defenseman, Anthony D’Angelo who split last year between Arizona and the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) and the number seven overall pick in the 2017 draft.

The Ranger will have two first rounders as they will also select in the 21st spot. The Rangers look to replenish the team prospect depth, which is presently very low in Hartford. The Wolf Pack finished last in the AHL last season and they dismissed their long-time head coach, Ken Gernander, and hired Keith McCambridge to replace him.

The surprising part of the deal was the inclusion of Raanta. This creates an opening in New York for a backup goaltender, something the team will need to address. The Rangers have second-year pro, Brandon Halverson, and rookie Chris Nell both under contract for next season. They are the only other goalies in the organization right now.

*Cantlon’s Corner will have draft recap on Monday*

PLAYER & COACHING MOVEMENT

Ex-Pack Chad Johnson was traded by his hometown Calgary Flames to the Arizona Coyotes for another goalie Mike Smith.

Former Sound Tiger, Ryan Strome, was sent to the Edmonton Oilers for the highly skilled, Jordan Eberle.

One NHL coach going out and one coming in with CT connections.

Coming in is former Sound Tigers head coach Jack Capuano. He is one of the good guys in the game and he becomes the associate head coach with the Florida Panthers. Cap will work with the recently hired new head coach Bob Boughner.

Heading out is the Head Coach of the dysfunctional Arizona Coyotes. He is former Hartford Whaler, Dave Tippett, who leaves with four years left on a contract extension. Tippet was relieved the day before the draft!

The Coyotes are in complete disarray as an organization. They have no Head Coach, no Director of Player Operations, no captain, have become established as one of the least attended teams. They have an expiring arena lease after this season and no prospects for a new one to be built in the eastern part of Phoenix. Oh, and they also have the lowest payroll in hockey.

Ex-Pack Chris Bourque signed a two-year extension with Hershey with the second year being a mutual option for the 31-year-old forward.

Washington also signed Christian Djoos, the son of former Ranger, Per Djoos.

Nick Lukko, formerly of Salisbury Prep, signed a one-year deal with the Reading Royals (ECHL). His father is Peter Lukko is the CEO of the NHL Florida Panthers.

Joel Vermin, one of the top performers for the Syracuse Crunch in their Calder Cup run, has formally announced his signing with HC Lausanne (Switzerland-LNA) on a five-year contract to return to his homeland.

Petr Straka, who was with Albany Devils last year, also heads home to play with HC Plzen (Pilsner) in the Czech Republic Elite League (CEL).

A fellow Czech, Matej Stransky, leaves Texas for Severstal Cherepovets (Russia-KHL). That makes for 36 AHL’ers (22 of 30 teams so far have lost at least one player) to sign in Europe and with completed expansion draft and tonight’s amateur draft expect a few more names to be added just as the July 1st NHL/AHL free agency kicks in.

Ex-Pack/CT Whale Blake Parlett, who split last year with KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia before their finances went south and finished the year with Tappara (Finland-FEL), has signed with Eisbaren Berlin (Germany-DEL) for 2017-18.

Former UCONN Husky Brant Harris (AHA years), who spent most of last year with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) and eleven games in Bridgeport has signed with EC Salzburg (Austria-AEHL) for the next season.

Another UCONN Husky from last year who left school mid-season, defenseman Joona Kunnas, who split the rest of the year with Illves Tampere (Finland-FEL) and a few games with Leki (Finland Division-1), has signed with Grenoble in the French Elite Magnus league for 2017-18.

Former Salisbury Prep product, Jerry Pollastone, signs for another year with Vienna (Austria-AEHL).

Ex-Sound Tiger Paul Flache was named Associate head coach for Flint (OHL).

Former New Haven Senator, Jake Grimes, signs a one year extension as assistant coach with Peteborough (OHL).

Ex-Pack, John Tripp, leaves ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2) where he started his coaching career mid-season last year, gets a gig with Braehead (Scotland-EIHL) for next season.

Former New Haven Knights assistant coach, Scott Bell, who has been an amateur scout for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins the last five years, and was a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher two time captain, has taken the assistant coach job at his alma mater who play in the Big 10 conference.

Leon Hayward, an assistant coach at Avon Old Farms (CTPREP) the last three years has taken the assistant coach position with Bloomington (USHL). After his five-year minor pro career,  spent mostly in the ECHL with some AHL time with the Providence Bruins and the Manchester Monarchs, the Northeastern grad was also an assistant at Taft Prep (Watertown) for four years.

EXPANSION DRAFT & NHL AWARDS

Certainly, the Las Vegas Golden Knights had some Connecticut hockey flavor for their first 30 players on their roster.

Former Wolf Pack Oscar Lindberg, underutilized by the Rangers, was selected as was former CT Whale, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, who had a breakout 30 goal campaign with Florida Panthers.

Two ex-Sound Tigers were among the 30. Goalie Jean-Francois Berube and former #1 pick of the Islanders, defenseman, Griffin Reinhart.

Gathering some trophy hardware was one time New Haven Nighthawk assistant coach and former Ranger coach John Tortorella. Now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tortorella garnered the Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year).

Ex-Pack Brady Skej was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

HOCKEY NEWS

Congrats to the US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017 that will be inducted in December.

One of the inductees is former Whaler Scott Young who played 197 games in Hartford with 138 points and is the currently an assistant coach with the Boston University Terriers (HEA).

Another CT connection is Ben Smith who was an assistant coach at Yale (ECACHL) for six years under the late Tim Taylor. He help guide the US Women’s Team to Olympic gold in Nagano, Japan in 1998.

Just the second official in history and the first in 43 years Kevin Collins (Springfield, MA) will be inducted for his work on ice and his work off ice to help develop the officiating fraternity in all levels of hockey.

The first and last official inducted was the late “Big Whistle”  Bill Chadwick known mostly by the older generation for his work as Rangers color commentator on Channel 9 in the 1970’s and 1980’s with Jim Gordon.

Ron Wilson, the long time NHL head coach who has worked almost every level and team for USA hockey is the other.

Providence Bruins Kevin Dean promoted to Boston as an assistant coach after just one year as the head coach.

Bridgeport signed former Quinnipiac Bobcat Travis St. Denis to a one year AHL contract for next season. The Sound Tigers also saw the Islander resign Steve Bernier to a two year two-way deal at $650K-NHL/$225K-AHL (1st year)/$250K (2nd year).

Former Yale Bulldog Denny Kearny who split last year with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL) and Cardiff (Wales-EIHL) will play with the recently promoted Milton Keynes team (England–EIHL).

This will be a quiet summer as far as AHL franchise movement next off season will likely not be.

It looks likely that St. Louis will likely place their full AHL team according to several hockey sources in Indianapolis. They will upgrade the Indy Fuel from ECHL to AHL in 2018-19. Currently Indy is Rockford’s ECHL affiliate.

It looks like the Colorado Avalanche will finally get their AHL affiliate in Colorado as they wanted to for several years. The same hockey sources have indicated that likely the Colorado Eagles will too be upgraded from the Avalanche ECHL affiliate to AHL affiliate.

The Avalanche really had wanted the now defunct Central Hockey League, the Denver Cutthroats to be that team, but it never worked out.

The relationship in San Antonio with the Rampage owners, the NBA San Antonio Spurs has soured greatly. The Spurs are very disappointed with the on ice product especially last year when the Avalanche spent a lot of free agent money in the off season for a more competitive squad and finished with the third worst record in the AHL.

Then of course the unknown situation for the Rangers with the unresolved XL Center issue also hangs in the balance will Vancouver continue on in Utica.

The Pacific Division could see a small change as Calgary may look to move within California not because of the arena or fan support, rather a very serious real gang violence issue in Stockton that affects the players and staff. The two cities mentioned they are said to be exploring are Fresno and Sacramento, but no final decision has been made.

-Rapid City becomes the new ECHL affiliate for the Iowa Wild. Expect New Jersey to announce they will make Adirondack (Glen Falls) their ECHL affiliate for Binghamton where they just moved their AHL team from Albany.