Category Archives: KHL

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 7

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 7

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Things are heating up not only outside, but in hockey news as well.

STANLEY CUP FINALS

With the Pittsburgh Penguins knocking off the Nashville Predators in six games, not only do the Pens become the first team to repeat as champion in over 20 years, but there are several Connecticut connections and two more chances for Lord Stanley to visit the Constitution State this summer.

On the ice, Nick Bonino (Farmington) captures his second title. Ron Hainsey (Bolton), who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Carolina Hurricanes, nabs his first Cup ring. Jake Guentzel, the son of former New Haven Nighthawk and the current head coach of the University Minnesota, Mike Guentzel, after starting the season in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The architect, getting his third Stanley Cup title, is GM Jim Rutherford. He was, of course, the GM with the Whalers and played with the New Haven Nighthawks. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 4 PART 2

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 4 Part 2

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – So much going on right now that one story wasn’t enough to cover it all.

PLAYER AND COACHING MOVEMENT

Magnus Hellberg is getting as far away from Hartford as he possibly can. The now ex-Pack netminder signed a one-year contract with the Kunlun Red Star in Beijing, China for the KHL team that is entering its second season. Hopefully, Hellberg got his yuans up front. Below is a story from the AP on the financial problems of the KHL.

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kontinental Hockey League has cut a Russian team as it tries to fix worsening financial problems, including debts to league players of over $17 million.

KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko said Wednesday that the league is removing the Metallurg Novokuznetsk team, which had a 14-46 record and small crowds this season, as it bids to become leaner and more commercially successful.

Croatian team Medvescak Zagreb said in March it would withdraw to join the Austrian-based EBEL league.

Chernyshenko says the KHL — widely considered the world’s strongest league outside the NHL — has been hit by “unprecedented” wage delays to players totaling over 1 billion rubles ($17.7 million).

Seven of the KHL’s 29 teams are “regularly” late with salaries and some players have been waiting over six months for payment.

“The KHL will not stand for this,” Chernyshenko said.

From 27 teams next season, the KHL will cut three more for the 2018-19 season, Chernyshenko said. A statistical rating system measuring teams’ on-ice ability, their finances and crowd appeal will be used to determine who quits the league.

The league also plans to lower the salary cap and close some loopholes which help big spenders. That could make the league more competitive and reduce the dominance of wealthy teams like CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, which are funded by state-owned oil and gas companies.

SKA won its second KHL championship in three years last month after posting a 46-14 record in the regular season and then winning all but two of the 18 games it played across four rounds in the playoffs.

Continue reading

CANTLON: WOLF PACK’S JENSEN HEADS TO KHL

Wolf Pack’s Jensen Heads to KHL

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT The exodus has begun.

The Hartford Wolf Pack’s leading scorer, Nicklas Jensen, who registered 55 points and was the second highest goal-scorer in the AHL with 32 goals. Jensen was the Pack’s only representative to the AHL All-Star game and was the team’s MVP as voted on by the players. Jensen has made the decision to leave for greener pastures in the KHL according to a press release from Jokerit Helsinki.

Jensen, who wore number 13 in Hartford, and another ex-Pack (when they were the CT Whale) and New York Rangers draft pick, Tim Erixon, who’s still playing with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL playoffs, have both signed with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in southwest Russia, near Kazakhstan. But that’s not all…Then both players were traded to the Finnish based KHL team Jokerit Helsinki for a fellow Dane Philip Larsen who played with Vancouver this year and his KHL rights which were held by Jokerit and financial compensation.

But that’s not all…

****UPDATE****

(Since Howlings first published this story, we have received clarification from Jokerit Helsinki. – “All we can say is that Jokerit has acquired Jensen’s rights and that no deal has been signed,” Ilro Keurulainen, the Media Communications Coordinator for the team told Howlings).

Right after being signed, both players were then traded to the Finnish-based KHL team, Jokerit Helsinki for Philip Larsen, a fellow Dane. Larsen played with the Vancouver Canucks this past season and his KHL rights were still held by Jokerit.

Jensen is a five-year AHL vet. Like many Europeans who come to the States, he waited to see where he was after five years. The decision becomes whether to pursue staying in North America or head back to Europe where there is usually better money, a different schedule and to be closer to home. Jensen was Vancouver’s first round pick in 2011 and was acquired by the Rangers along with a sixth-round draft pick and Emerson Etem on January 8th last year.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland. The team plays at the Hartwell Arena which seats over 13,000.

Jensen and Larsen will likely be teammates in for Denmark in Pool A of the 2017 IIHF World Championships to be held this year in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany in a couple of weeks.

These two signings boost the count to five AHL’ers who have signed to play in Europe next season. To date, that list includes, Reto Berra (Springfield to HC Fribourg-Gotteron Switzerland-LNA), Joel Vermin (Syracuse to HC Lausanne Switzerland-LNA) and Chad Billins (Utica to Linkopings HC Sweden-SHL).

CANTLON: WOLF PACK WRAP UP DAY

Wolf Pack Wrap Up Day

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The XL Center arena was dark. The ice is gone. Almost no equipment remains in the locker room as the picture was that of a 2016-17  AHL season Hartford Wolf Pack clearly over. While it may be over for the players, for the off ice staff was still at work with their season-ending multiple tasks.

The only news of the day was that the New York Rangers will not be recalling as many players for the playoffs as there have in the past to be a part of the Black Aces squad. The Rangers are ready for a crucial Game 4 in their Best-of-Seven series with the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers find themselves down two games to none. Magnus Hellberg, who was recalled earlier in the week was on the bench in the place on Antti Raanta. Hellberg may remain the only recall, but that remains undetermined.

“The list is truly not finalized as of yet. There are several contractual and other matters that need to be ironed out, but I can say there will be very few players going to New York,” Head Coach Ken Gernander said. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK HEAD TO SYRACUSE TO CRUNCH BEFORE XMAS

PACK HEAD TO SYRACUSE TO CRUNCH BEFORE XMAS

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

CROMWELL, CT – The chill of winter that permeates the air declares the holidays and the heart of the hockey season.

Before departing for the annual holiday break to spend time with family and loved ones, the Pack still have one more game to play on the road.

The Wolf Pack record stands at 9-14-3-1 (22 points) which has them last in the Atlantic Division, next to last in the conference, and 29th out of 30 teams in the AHL. The Pack is in Syracuse to battle the Crunch who, at 16-7-0-3 (35 points), are first in the North Division, second in the conference and third overall in the AHL. They will cross sticks at 7:00 pm Wednesday night at the War Memorial, their second meeting in over a week.

“It was a good weekend with good back-to-back games, but a far cry from where we want to be. They’re not that much different than Hershey. They have pretty good depth as far as skill players, and like Hershey, we won’t have the benefit of the last line change, so that will be a test. We just have to keep playing like we have been,” Pack head coach, Ken Gernander said. “It was very good that we got more scoring than we have on a night-by-night basis. I was happy with our weekend overall we did a lot of good things and even after looking at the video (after the game), there was a lot of positive reinforcement in our efforts.”  Continue reading

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: NOV. 28 – DEC. 4

prospect-reportNEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: NOV. 28 – DEC. 4Three Stars of the week1) Sergey Zborovskiy, D, Regina Pats (WHL) – Zborovskiy established single-game WHL career-highs with two goals, five assists, seven points, and a plus-eight rating on Dec. 3 vs. Prince Albert. He also recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and a plus-one rating on Dec. 4 at Swift Current to finish the week with nine points (three goals, six assists) and a plus-nine rating in two contests. The Rangers’ third round pick (79th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in 18 of the 22 WHL games he has played in 2016-17 (six goals, 19 assists), and he has posted a plus-two rating or better in 13 of the 22 contests.

Zborovskiy has already established a WHL career-high in assists and has tied his WHL career-high in points (25) through 22 games this season. He leads the WHL in plus/minus rating this season (plus-38), and he ranks third among WHL defensemen in points per game (1.14). In addition, he is tied for ninth among WHL defensemen in goals, is tied for 10th among WHL defensemen in points, is tied for 11th among WHL defensemen in assists in 2016-17. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: XL CENTER ICE IS SET DOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE MOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(All photos by Gerry Cantlon)

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK SEASON COMING UP SOON

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

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

WOLF PACK SIGNING

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE MOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MANNY CALLS IT A CAREER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLYMPIC HOCKEY NOW SET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRURY NEW ASSISTANT GM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CANTLON: HOCKEY SEASON’S GETTING CLOSE

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

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

WOLF PACK SIGNINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAVERSE CITY TOURNAMENT RANGERS ROSTER ANNOUNCED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE MOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KIWI HOCKEY CHAMPS

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

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

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

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

AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY TITLE STAYS WITH NEWCASTLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LATVIA GETS NEW NATIONAL TEAM COACH

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

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

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

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

All three pools will play from September 1-4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 14

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – While the temperature here in the northeast is plenty hot,  and people are moving a tad slower, in the hockey world, things are still moving along at a brisk pace as teams all over the world prepare for the upcoming hockey season.

ON THE MOVE

Travis Oleksuk, a critical center ice faceoff playing center, heads to Europe to play for HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL). The team is near the Austrian border and so they compete in the Austrian Elite Hockey League. Joining Oleksuk is former Hartford Wolf Pack forward, Andrew Yogan, who’s packing up his skateboard and heading to HC Bolzano as well. This past season, Yogan spent most of it with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) where he was the property of the Florida Panthers. Yogan had three AHL tours last season, first in Iowa, then briefly in Syracuse and lastly with St. John’s. He was sent back to Cincinnati for the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs.

From Year Two of the Wolf Pack, Garett Bembridge, who played seven games with the Pack after stints with three ECHL teams last year, starting with Indianapolis, followed by Rapid City, South Dakota and then ending up with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at the ECHL Trade deadline, heads back to Canada to play Canadian senior league hockey with the Rosetown Redwings of the Chinook Senior Hockey League (CSHL) that operates in Alberta.

Former Wolf Pack forward Layne Ulmer has left playoff champion Asiago AS (Italy-LIHG). With the league changing direction, Ulmer signs with Cardiff (Wales-EIHL). Defenseman Bretton Stamler who played with the Pack and CT Whale changes his European address going from Augsburger (Germany-DEL) to Frederikshavn IK (Denmark-DHL) were among his new teammates is ex-Pack David Liffiton.

Defenseman Bretton Stamler, who played with the Pack and CT Whale, changes his European address going from Augsburger (Germany-DEL) to Frederikshavn IK (Denmark-DHL) where among his new teammates is ex-Pack, David Liffiton.

Brandon DeFazio, a former Bridgeport Sound Tiger, and the son of one-time Nighthawk Dean DeFazio leaves Providence to play for Texas next season.

Chris Langkow, another ex-Sound Tiger, goes from Elmira (ECHL) to HDD Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-AEHL).

Joining Oleksuk and Yogan in the ever growing AHL’ers heading to Europe list is Cory Kane of Texas. Kane goes to HC Trinec (Czech Republic-CEL). AHL heavyweight Jay Rosehill from Lehigh Valley to Braehead (Scotland-EIHL) and John McFarland of Portland heads to the North Atlantic and SaiPa (Finland-FEL).

AHL heavyweight Jay Rosehill leaves Lehigh Valley to head to Braehead (Scotland-EIHL) while John McFarland of Portland heads to the North Atlantic and SaiPa (Finland-FEL).

Three more players have exited across the Atlantic. Scott Timmins goes from the San Jose Barracuda to EHC Straubing (Germany-DEL) and joining him in the league will be Dave Dziurzynski of Binghamton, who played some time in Ottawa. Dziurzynski will be with the Iserlohn Roosters. The third player making the move would be Kirill Gotovets, who goes from Rockford to Dynamo Minsk (Belarus-KHL).

The AHL to players to Euro list now stands at 62.

Daniel Tetrault, an Ex-Sound Tiger from their second season, has retired and was named the assistant coach for Rapid City (ECHL).

Little change in state college hockey circles.

Quinnipiac University (ECACHL) head coach Rand Pecknold, after signing a five-year contract extension, lost assistant coach Reid Cashman to the Hershey Bears replacing Bryan Helmer, who was elevated to VP of Hockey Operations. The other Bears assistant coach is ex-Wolf Pack, Randy Murphy.

Replacing Cashman is a Quinnipiac alum, Joe Dumais who was the associate head coach at Union College.

The Bobcats lost forward Canon Piper, who played in just 14 games over two seasons in Hamden, to transfer. Piper heads to the University of Maine Black Bears (HE). He will sit out next season and be able to play again in 2017-18. His twin brother Bo will stay at QU.

Alex Barron, who graduated this spring Quinnipiac has signed with Strasbourg (France-FREL) for this season.

UConn hockey gained a graduate transfer from Maine. Forward Brian Morgan who graduated early and is still eligible to play under NCAA rules this season joins the Huskies. In 103 career games with the Black Bears, Morgan had 17 goals and 32 points.

UConn has a commitment from Jordan Timmons who played with the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins U-16 (TIEHL). Timmons went to South Fayatt High School and had two junior games for Sioux City (USHL) last year. He has committed to coming to Storrs in 2017-18.

At the college level, another underclassman (now a total of 41) has left school early to play in the pros. The latest junior, Travis Moore, has left the University of Denver (NCHC) and signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth a $925K at the NHL level and $70K in AHL dollars.

183 collegians have signed North American pro deals since the end of the college season.

The New York Rangers have added a 16th defenseman to the organization’s depth chart when they inked 2014 draft pick (third round, 79th overall) 6’4 Russian, Sergei Zoborovskiy to a three-year entry level deal that, in the first year, pays him $667,500 for play in the NHL and $70K at the AHL level. Zoborovskiy has one year of junior eligibility left with Regina (WHL) where he is coached by former Calder Cup winning Wolf Pack coach, John Paddock.

The Rangers organization has officially 45 of the 50 permitted contracted players under the CBA. Marek Hrivik’s deal was announced late last week, was a one-year two-way deal paying $600K for play in New York and $175K for his games in Hartford. Cantlon’s Corner reported the deal had been signed a month ago. The team has current salary committed of $69,575.00 million with cap space of $3.425 million. Each team can be over the limit up until the end of training camp and then must get down to the two magic numbers of 50 total contracts and 23 roster players as required under the CBA.

Of the 45 players with contracts, the Rangers have 23 slotted for the New York roster and 22 non-roster players. Now the roster composition can change based on training camp performance trades, waivers and of course that can affect the overall cap number.

Vladimir Namestnikov, son of ex-Wolf Pack Evgeni “John” Namestnikov, has signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning at $1.9 with a second year at $1.95 million.

*All cap and contract numbers courtesy of www.generalfanager.com