Category Archives: NHL

CANTLON’S CORNER: SEASON IS QUICKLY APPROACHING – LOTS OF NEWS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Aaaah, at last there’s the Hartford Wolf Pack regular season and pre-season schedule to talk about.

The 19th season of the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliated hockey team will begin when the blades hit the ice on Saturday October 10 at the XL Center at 7pm. The Wolf Pack will be hosting the St. John’s Ice Caps, the new affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. That contest will be the jump off point for the team’s 76-game regular season schedule, but for the league itself, the AHL will be entering its 80th year of operation and feature a true coast-to-coast presence with a brand new five team Pacific Divsion.

The Pack are adding a few new teams to their schedule as well as returning a few they haven’t seen in quite some time.

The Utica Comets, in their third season in the AHL, are the Vancouver Canucks’ farm team and will come to the XL Center for the first-ever encounter with the Wolf Pack on October 17 and then make their second appearance on November 22nd. The Rochester Americans, who the team defeated for their only Calder Cup title, return after a ten-year absence on Sunday, November 1st at 5:00pm.

The Toronto Marlies return to Hartford after a five-year absence on Wednesday, November 4th where they will play the team’s school day game with the puck dropping at 11:00AM.

Surprisingly, the Pack will have just three home dates to play in December. The first is against the Hershey Bears on Friday December 4th, then against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday the 12th and finishing with the Portland Pirates on Tuesday December 29th. The team will have two road games in close proximity to Hartford when they travel downstate to Bridgeport and then to Rhode Island to challenge the Providence Bruins during this stretch.

In further examination of the Pack schedule, they will end their regular season on the road. The team will play their last four games starting in Portland on Sunday April 10th and then travel north to Canada for a day game in Toronto on Wednesday, April 13th and then their final regular season ends with a pair of contests in St. John’s on  April 15th and 16th.

The start time of Friday night games has been pushed back to 7:15 PM to accommodate the typical horrendous Friday-night rush hour traffic on I-84 and I-91. Saturday games will start at 7:00 PM. There are a couple of exceptions. On October 31 and November 7, the games start at 7:30 PM. On March 12th, the start time is 3:00 PM. Other Saturday games with different times include October 18, November 1st and February 29 which begin at 5:00 PM and then March 12 sees the puck drop at 3:00 PM.

Sunday games will start at 3:00 PM except on November 15 which begins at 4:00pm, March 6 which starts at 1:00 PM and then October 18, November 1 and February 28th seeing the puck drop at 5:00 PM.

The Pack will play their franchise and intra-state rivals in Bridgeport a total of ten times while 1-91 foes, the Springfield Falcons lock horns eight times. New Atlantic Division rivals will be the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes- Barre/Scranton Penguins who’ll tango with the Pack a total of six times (three home and three away). The Bears play the Pack four times.

The team has no UCONN hockey doubleheaders to contend with this season despite having played two last season. There are no conflicts with the new Hartford Yard Goats playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Park nearby in the spring of 2016. The closest is on Saturday April 9th, the Yard Goats have an afternoon game with Richmond Flying Squirrels at 1:30pm.

Depending on AHL playoff action there could be some in April and May.

The full AHL team-by-team schedule is HERE.

PRE-SEASON

On the pre-season front, the Wolf Pack have just three games with only one as a “Home” game. The contest is at their second game and will be held at their practice facility at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell on Sunday, October 4th at 3:00pm against the Sound Tigers, the final game of a three game in four day pre-season.

The first exhibition game will be on Thursday, October 1st is against the Sound Tigers’ and will be played at their practice facility at Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport at 3:00 PM. The only road game will be their longest pre-season road trip in franchise history. The Pack will travel to Allentown, PA to challenge the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center starting at 5:00 PM on October 3rd.

The usual practice for the team has usually been to take on the Worcester Sharks, but they have migrated to the new west coast division in San Jose.

The Sound Tigers will play their first pre-season AHL games as an organization in five years.

NEWS

Surprise, surprise Quebec City and Las Vegas have moved on to round three of the NHL expansion process. There should be an announcement of the awarding of the expansion franchises perhaps by the halfway point of the NHL season or maybe at the NHL All-Star Game. Given the current uncertainty of the world’s financial markets over the past two weeks, expect the seal of approval to be done ASAP so the NHL and their franchises can add some serious digits to their bank accounts.

According to several pro hockey sources, interviews for the first GM for both potential franchises has already begun. Read about them HERE.

SIGNINGS

The Wolf Pack signed forward Tyler Brown to a one-year AHL deal. Brown played 33 games with the then Greenville Road Warriors before being recalled last year. Brown was an important part of the teams PK strategy as head coach Ken Gernander was able to take advantage of his speed and defensive stickwork.

Joey Crabb remains the only player not yet signed from last year’s conference final team.

Former CT Whale defenseman, Logan Pyett, has returned from Russia where he split last season in the KHL with HC Vladivostok and Severstal Cherepovets. Pyett signed a one-year, AHL deal with the Phantoms.

Former CT Whale and Wolf Pack rearguard, the incredibly popular, Jared Nightingale, has signed again with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL on a one-year deal. Nightingale had six AHL PTO contracts last season. They included stints with Hartford, the Milwaukee Admirals, Grand Rapids Griffins (twice), the Norfolk Admirals and the Syracuse Crunch.

New Canaan native Jack Downing signed with ECHL Cincinnati for 2015-16.

Former Wolf Pack and CT Whale forward Andrew Carroll, after taking a year off, has signed a one-year ECHL deal with the Idaho Steelheads.

Former Sound Tigers’ defenseman Jordan Hill, who played in St. John’s last year, signs with Norfolk (ECHL) and joins former CT Whale, Mike Pelech, who split last year with the Utah Comets (ECHL) and the Rochester Americans (AHL).

A few more AHL’ers have signed in Europe as their preseason begins to wind down. The European regular season is set to kick off in early September. The regular season in the KHL is already under way!

Josh Gratton, an ex-Pack who played in Manchester last season, heads to Assat Pori in the Finnish Elite League (FEL), while Cody Kunyk of Syracuse leaves for the German DEL and EHC Wolfsburg and Thomas Larkin of Springfield has signed with Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL) making 67 AHL players who have signed overseas from last season.

ODDS AND ENDS

Former Wolf Pack forward Patrick Rissmiller has retired after winning an Italian league championship last year with SV Ritten/Renon. Rissmiller has been added to the New Jersey Devils development coaching staff.

The Wolf Pack’s ECHL affiliate, formerly known as the Greenville Road Warriors, have changed their nickname to something with heavy local appeal, the Swamp Rabbits.

While indigenous to the Greenville region, the name conjures up the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail-a ‘70’s classic comedy.

“It’s just a silly rabbit!”

Then of course the rabbit attacks the King’s warriors who scream, “Run away, run away,” before finally being destroyed by the, “Hold Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Chase Harwell of Southbury has again made the Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) team whose goalie coach is former Wolf Pack, Jean-Francois Labbe.

Ex-Pack Vladimir Vorobiev hooks up with his fourth KHL team in four years as an assistant coach with Dynamo Moscow. Another ex-Pack in Russia Evgeni “John” Namestnikov is now an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after Atlant Moscow folded after last season. His son Vladimir is with the Tampa Bay organization and spent some time with Syracuse last season.

Former Hartford Whaler, Andrei Nokolishin, continues on as head coach with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL whom he took over the reigns of early last season. His two sons are playing on the team. His oldest son Ivan is with Red Deer (WHL) and Alexander is with a Russian junior team HK Rossoah (Russia MHL-B).

Chase Zieky of Avon,  who played at Avon Old Farms last year, will skate for the Langley Rivermen (BCHL) this year. Zieky committed to the defending national champion Providence College Friars for 2016-17.

Former Quinnipiac Bobcat assistant coach Graham Johnson, who held the same post last year with the CT Nighthawks (EHL), was named the first head coach for the brand new NCAA Division III program of the Western Connecticut State University Colonials that will play in the MACSAC conference.

Don’t think hockey is a business read this story HERE.

Congrats to Berlin native and former Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack Adam Blanchette. He and his Southern Stampede (Queenstown) team won the New Zealand Birgel Cup to capture the NZIHL (New Zealand Ice Hockey League) championship the first time for the franchise since 2006 and its third title.

Blanchette, who was forced to retire last season after four games because of concussions is the team’s head coach this season. He was, however, a pivotal key on ice in the best of three final wins over the Canterbury (Christchurch) Red Devils.

Blanchette played one game in the regular season when they were shorthanded getting two assists and had to suit up on defense for the finals when they lost their best player Lucas Frey (New Bedford, MA) who had to go to training camp for the Swedish team he plays for in the winter-Tranas AIF (Division 1).

Blanchette scored a key goal for the team when they were down one-game-to-none in the series. In Game Two, Blanchette scored the game’s first goal before a hometown crowd at the Queenstown Ice Arena.

He compiled three points in the three games and the team’s North American imports Matt Schneider (Vernon, BC, Canada) and Mike McRae (Berkley, MI) played a critical role in their championship win.

The Stampede became the regular season champions in the five-team league that plays a limited 16-game regular season schedule. They compiled a record of 13-1-2 for 44 points. In the championship series, they beat the Red Devils by the score of 4-3 in both games.

Blancette’s friend and Cheshire native, Rob Malloy, goes for his second Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL). The Goodall Cup title is on the line this weekend with the Newcastle North Stars in Melbourne at the Medibank Ice House.

On Saturday, they play the CBR (Canberra) Brave who feature former Wolf Pack Scott Pitt in one semi-final.

The second semi features a battle between the Perth Thunder and one of the two teams from Melbourne, the Melbourne Ice.

The winner meets on Sunday for the Goodall Cup. Newcastle is the favorite with record-setting forward Geordie Wudrick, who had an AIHL regular league record 44 goals and 91 points.

The North Stars were the top team in the eight team AIHL with a record of 19-4-0-1 for 63 points and Malloy had eight goals and 29 points in 29 games. Malloy’s former team of three years, the Sydney Ice Dogs went winless in 28 games!

With the soon to be relocated Eastern League’s New Britain Rock Cats and the Wolf Pack in Hartford, the market didn’t make the grade as one of the top 212 minor pro sports markets in the US as per the annual Sports Business Journal ranking.  Norwich, home of the NYPL (New York Penn League) Connecticut Tigers, was included as a market, which based on population of 13,000, is a surprise. They were tied in with West Haven over an hour away.

Not a good sign for the capital city, but in all fairness, some of the listings are puzzling. For example, Binghamton, NY is higher than Austin/Round Rock, Texas. Really? Read about it HERE.

Former Choate Prep player Mathieu Darche who had a 12 year NHL/AHL career and is now retired, will be inducted October 22nd into the McGill University (Montreal, QC) Sports Hall of Fame.

PURINTON ARRESTED

It’s likely you’ve already seen the story if you’re a NY Rangers or Hartford Wolf Pack fan, but if not, you can read HERE about the arrest of the Pack’s all time PIM leader Dale Purinton in upstate, New York.

The only facts we know come from the police report, but it’s a sad development for Purinton.

Two years ago in a personal conversation, “Diesel,” filled with optimism and happiness. He had three sons, a fledgling coaching career out in the beautiful part of British Columbia – first at the Junior A Cowichan Valley (BCHL) and then at Junior B level with the Kerry Park Islanders (VIJHL). His arrest photo doesn’t look good. Let’s hope this sorts itself out for the sake of his kids.

Purinton’s wife is originally from New York State.

A clip from the 2004-5 season when during NHL lockout Dale played with Victoria (ECHL), see it HERE.

CRAWFORD: WOLF PACK 2015-2016 SCHEDULE RELEASED

rp_hartfordwolfpacklogo_thumb1.jpgWOLF PACK ANNOUNCE 2015-16 GAME SCHEDULE

*           *           *           *

76-game Slate Begins October 10 at XL Center

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, August 27, 2015:  Spectra, operators of the XL Center and Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the Wolf Pack’s regular-season schedule of games for the 2015-16 AHL season.

The 76-game schedule of dates kicks off with the Wolf Pack’s home opener, which takes place Saturday, October 10 at the XL Center with the St. John’s IceCaps providing the opposition.  Faceoff is 7:00 PM.

The home opener is one of 13 Saturday-night slots on the Wolf Pack’s home schedule, which also includes eight Fridays.  Another 11 home games will be on Sundays, and there will be one Tuesday and five Wednesdays.

For a second straight season, one Wednesday game, November 4 vs. the Toronto Marlies, will be a “School Day Special” morning start, with faceoff at 11:00 AM.  In a new wrinkle this season, Friday-night games will start at 7:15 PM, while Saturday-night home dates remain 7:00 starts, with the exception of October 31 and November 7, which are 7:30 faceoffs, and March 12, which is a 3:00 start.  Most Sunday home games face off at 3:00 PM, except for November 15, which is a 4:00 start, March 6, a 1:00 faceoff, and October 18, November 1 and February 28, which start at 5:00.  The other Wednesday games besides November 4, and the one Tuesday game, face off at 7:00.

The Wolf Pack’s in-state foes, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, appear on the Pack’s schedule ten times (five home, five away), as do the Portland Pirates.  The Wolf Pack will take on the Springfield Falcons and Providence Bruins eight times (four home, four away) in 2015-16, and will meet new Atlantic Division rivals the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins six times (three home, three away) each.  Hartford sees its other new divisional adversary, the Hershey Bears, four times (two home, two away).  Those totals add up to 52 divisional games for the Wolf Pack.

The Pack’s remaining 24 contests will be against North Division opposition, highlighted by six games (three home, three away) vs. the Albany Devils.  The Wolf Pack will see the Rochester Americans, Utica Comets and the IceCaps four times (two home, two away) each, and will have two meetings (one home, one away) each with the Binghamton Senators, Syracuse Crunch and the Marlies.

Individual game tickets for 2015-16 Wolf Pack home games will go on sale Tuesday, September 15 at 12 noon, at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.

To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451.

HARTFORD WOLF PACK 2015-16 SCHEDULE

(All Home Games in Caps, All Times Eastern)

Sat.     Oct.    10       ST. JOHN’S                           7:00
Wed.   Oct.    14      PROVIDENCE                      7:00
Sat.     Oct.    17       UTICA                                      7:00
Sun.    Oct.    18       SYRACUSE                            5:00
Fri.      Oct.    23      @ Syracuse                             7:00
Sat.     Oct.    24      @ Hershey                              7:00
Sun.    Oct.    25      @ Hershey                              5:00
Fri.      Oct.    30     @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.          7:05
Sat.     Oct.    31       PROVIDENCE                      7:30
Sun.    Nov.     1       ROCHESTER                        5:00
Wed.   Nov.     4      TORONTO                             11:00 AM
Sat.     Nov.     7       ALBANY                                  7:30
Sun.    Nov.     8      @ Bridgeport                        5:00
Wed.   Nov.   11      @ Portland                            7:00
Fri.      Nov.   13      @ Portland                            7:00
Sun.    Nov.   15      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.    4:00
Fri.      Nov.   20     @ Utica                                    7:00
Sat.     Nov.   21      LEHIGH VALLEY                7:00
Sun.    Nov.   22     UTICA                                      3:00
Fri.      Nov.   27     SPRINGFIELD                      7:15
Sat.     Nov.   28     @ Bridgeport                         7:00
Fri.      Dec.     4      HERSHEY                               7:15
Sat.     Dec.     5      @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.           7:05
Sun.    Dec.     6     @ Bridgeport                          5:00
Fri.      Dec.   11      @ Providence                         7:05
Sat.     Dec.   12     BRIDGEPORT                        7:00
Sun.    Dec.   13     @ Providence                         3:05
Fri.      Dec.   18     @ Rochester                           7:05
Sat.     Dec.   19     @ Utica                                     7:00
Sat.     Dec.   26    @ Binghamton                       7:05
Sun.    Dec.   27    @ Rochester                           5:05
Tue.    Dec.   29    PORTLAND                           7:00
Sat.     Jan.      2    ALBANY                                  7:00
Sun.    Jan.      3    WILKES-BARRE/SCR.    3:00
Fri.      Jan.      8    SPRINGFIELD                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.      9    BRIDGEPORT                      7:00
Sun.    Jan.    10    ALBANY                                 3:00
Fri.      Jan.    15    @ Springfield                        7:00
Sat.     Jan.    16    @ Lehigh Valley                   7:05
Mon.   Jan.    18   @ Providence                       3:05
Wed.   Jan.    20  @ Albany                                7:00
Sat.     Jan.    23   @ Bridgeport                        7:30
Sun.    Jan.    24   PORTLAND                          3:00
Wed.   Jan.    27   @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.        7:05
Fri.      Jan.    29   BRIDGEPORT                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.    30   ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Fri.      Feb.     5     @ Portland                           7:00
Sat.     Feb.     6      @ Albany                              5:00
Fri.      Feb.   12      WILKES-BARRE/SCR. 7:15
Sat.     Feb.   13      @ Bridgeport                      7:00
Sun.    Feb.   14      ROCHESTER                     3:00
Wed.   Feb.   17      PROVIDENCE                   7:00
Sat.     Feb.   20     @ Springfield                     7:00
Sun.    Feb.   21      BINGHAMTON                 3:00
Wed.   Feb.   24     PORTLAND                        7:00
Fri.      Feb.   26      @ Lehigh Valley                7:05
Sun.    Feb.   28      LEHIGH VALLEY             5:00
Sun.    Mar.     6      BRIDGEPORT                  1:00
Fri.      Mar.    11      @ Providence                   7:05
Sat.     Mar.    12      LEHIGH VALLEY           3:00
Sun.    Mar.    13      @ Portland                       3:00
Fri.      Mar.    18      PORTLAND                      7:15
Sat.     Mar.    19      SPRINGFIELD                7:00
Sun.    Mar.    20     @ Springfield                  5:00
Wed.   Mar.    23     PROVIDENCE                7:00
Fri.      Mar.    25      BRIDGEPORT                7:15
Sat.     Mar.    26      @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Tue.    Mar.    29      @ Albany                          7:00
Fri.      Apr.      1         HERSHEY                       7:15
Sat.     Apr.      2         PORTLAND                   7:00
Fri.      Apr.      8         @ Springfield                7:00
Sat.     Apr.      9         SPRINGFIELD              7:00
Sun.    Apr.    10        @ Portland                      3:00
Wed.   Apr.    13        @ Toronto                       11:00 AM
Fri.      Apr.    15         @ St. John’s                    6:00
Sat.     Apr.    16         @ St. John’s                    6:00

                              HOME

Sat.     Oct.    10       ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Wed.   Oct.    14      PROVIDENCE                     7:00
Sat.     Oct.    17       UTICA                                     7:00
Sun.    Oct.    18       SYRACUSE                          5:00
Sat.     Oct.    31       PROVIDENCE                     7:30
Sun.    Nov.     1       ROCHESTER                      5:00
Wed.   Nov.     4      TORONTO                           11:00 AM
Sat.     Nov.     7       ALBANY                                7:30
Sun.    Nov.   15      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   4:00
Sat.     Nov.   21      LEHIGH VALLEY               7:00
Sun.    Nov.   22     UTICA                                     3:00
Fri.      Nov.   27     SPRINGFIELD                     7:15
Fri.      Dec.     4      HERSHEY                              7:15
Sat.     Dec.   12      BRIDGEPORT                      7:00
Tue.    Dec.   29      PORTLAND                          7:00
Sat.     Jan.      2      ALBANY                                 7:00
Sun.    Jan.      3      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   3:00
Fri.      Jan.      8      SPRINGFIELD                    7:15
Sat.     Jan.      9      BRIDGEPORT                     7:00
Sun.    Jan.    10     ALBANY                                 3:00
Sun.    Jan.    24     PORTLAND                          3:00
Fri.      Jan.    29     BRIDGEPORT                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.    30     ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Fri.      Feb.   12      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   7:15
Sun.    Feb.   14      ROCHESTER                      3:00
Wed.   Feb.   17      PROVIDENCE                    7:00
Sun.    Feb.   21      BINGHAMTON                  3:00
Wed.   Feb.   24     PORTLAND                         7:00
Sun.    Feb.   28      LEHIGH VALLEY             5:00
Sun.    Mar.     6      BRIDGEPORT                   1:00
Sat.     Mar.    12     LEHIGH VALLEY             3:00
Fri.      Mar.    18     PORTLAND                        7:15
Sat.     Mar.    19     SPRINGFIELD                  7:00
Wed.   Mar.    23   PROVIDENCE                   7:00
Fri.      Mar.    25    BRIDGEPORT                   7:15
Fri.      Apr.      1      HERSHEY                           7:15
Sat.     Apr.      2      PORTLAND                       7:00
Sat.     Apr.      9      SPRINGFIELD                 7:00

                               ROAD

Fri.      Oct.    23      @ Syracuse                        7:00
Sat.     Oct.    24      @ Hershey                         7:00
Sun.    Oct.    25      @ Hershey                         5:00
Fri.      Oct.    30      @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.    7:05
Sun.    Nov.     8      @ Bridgeport                   5:00
Wed.   Nov.   11      @ Portland                       7:00
Fri.      Nov.   13      @ Portland                       7:00
Fri.      Nov.   20     @ Utica                              7:00
Sat.     Nov.   28      @ Bridgeport                  7:00
Sat.     Dec.     5        @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.   7:05
Sun.    Dec.     6       @ Bridgeport                   5:00
Fri.      Dec.   11        @ Providence                  7:05
Sun.    Dec.   13       @ Providence                  3:05
Fri.      Dec.   18       @ Rochester                    7:05
Sat.     Dec.   19       @ Utica                              7:00
Sat.     Dec.   26      @ Binghamton                7:05
Sun.    Dec.   27      @ Rochester                    5:05
Fri.      Jan.    15      @ Springfield                  7:00
Sat.     Jan.    16      @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Mon.   Jan.    18     @ Providence                 3:05
Wed.   Jan.    20    @ Albany                          7:00
Sat.     Jan.    23     @ Bridgeport                  7:30
Wed.   Jan.    27     @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.  7:05
Fri.      Feb.     5      @ Portland                      7:00
Sat.     Feb.     6      @ Albany                          5:00
Sat.     Feb.   13      @ Bridgeport                  7:00
Sat.     Feb.   20     @ Springfield                  7:00
Fri.      Feb.   26     @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Fri.      Mar.    11     @ Providence                 7:05
Sun.    Mar.    13    @ Portland                      3:00
Sun.    Mar.    20   @ Springfield                 5:00
Sat.     Mar.    26    @ Lehigh Valley            7:05
Tue.    Mar.    29   @ Albany                          7:00
Fri.      Apr.      8     @ Springfield                 7:00
Sun.    Apr.    10     @ Portland                     3:00
Wed.   Apr.    13    @ Toronto                       11:00 AM
Fri.      Apr.    15     @ St. John’s                    6:00
Sat.     Apr.    16     @ St. John’s                    6:00

CHAIMOVICH: ENTIRE 2015-2016 AHL SCHEDULE RELEASED

ahl-logo_thumb2015-16 AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE SCHEDULE RELEASED
80th-anniversary season gets underway Friday, Oct. 9

BY: Jason Chaimovich, The AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today released the complete schedule of regular-season games for the 2015-16 season, the league’s 80th year of operation. The season, comprising 1,120 games, begins on Fri., Oct. 9 and concludes on Sun., Apr. 17.

All teams will play 76 games each (38 at home, 38 on the road) with the exception of the clubs which joined the AHL in January as part of the creation of a Pacific Division (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton); those five teams will play 68 games each (34 home, 34 road).

Download 2015-16 team-by-team schedules (PDF)
Download 2015-16 day-by-day schedules (PDF)

Some highlights of the 2015-16 schedule:

• The 2015-16 regular season opens with five games on Oct. 9, including the beginning of a new era of professional hockey in California as the San Jose Barracuda, primary affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, host the Rockford IceHogs at the SAP Center in San Jose and the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers) host the Grand Rapids Griffins. On Oct. 10, the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings) visit Bakersfield, the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks) host Grand Rapids, and the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames) host Rockford. Ontario’s home opener is scheduled for Oct. 23 vs. Bakersfield.

• Opening night also marks the return of the Manitoba Moose as the new top affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. The Moose visit the Toronto Marlies on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10 before their home opener at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Oct. 15 vs. Ontario.

• The opening weekend of the AHL’s 80th season features some matchups between historic cities, as Lake Erie visits Rochester (Oct. 9), Hershey travels to Springfield (Oct. 10) and Providence hosts Portland (Oct. 11).

• Realignment has moved the defending Western Conference champion Utica Comets into the Eastern Conference, where they open Oct. 10 against their new North Division rivals, the Rochester Americans. The Comets, who sold out 40 of their 51 regular-season and playoff games at the Memorial Auditorium last year, open the home portion of their 2015-16 schedule on Oct. 21 vs. Rochester.

• The Charlotte Checkers return to the historic Bojangles’ Coliseum this season, with their home opener set for Nov. 7 vs. Manitoba.

• The 2016 AHL All-Star Classic will take place Sun., Jan. 31 and Mon., Feb. 1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, N.Y.

• There are three nights this season on which all 30 AHL teams are in action: Sat., Jan. 23, Sat., Feb. 6 and Sat., Apr. 9.

The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the AHL’s four divisions as ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available), with one possibility for a “crossover” in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would compete in the other division’s bracket.

As announced last month, the 2015-16 season will feature some new rules, most notably a five-minute overtime period during the regular season played at three skaters aside for the duration.

The American Hockey League was officially born in 1936 when the Canadian-American Hockey League and the International Hockey League merged to form the International-American Hockey League (the “International” would be dropped from the league’s name in 1940). The AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15. Through the years, the AHL has been home to more than 100 future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The entire 2015-16 AHL regular season schedule is available for viewing at theahl.com.

CRAWFORD: PACK RELEASE PRESEASON SCHEDULE

rp_hartfordwolfpacklogo_thumb1.jpgWOLF PACK ANNOUNCE PRESEASON SCHEDULE

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Lone Local Appearance is October 4 at Champions Skating Center

 BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, August 24, 2015:  Spectra, operators of the XL Center and Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the Wolf Pack’s 2015-16 preseason schedule.

The Wolf Pack will play three preseason contests to prep for their 19th AHL campaign, and the lone home game will be the last of the three.  That game will be played Sunday, October 4 at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, CT and will pit the Wolf Pack against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  Faceoff is 3:00 PM, and a $5 per person admission charge will benefit Whalers Youth Hockey.  Champions Skating Center is located at 6 Progress Drive in Cromwell.

The Wolf Pack also battle the Sound Tigers in the Wolf Pack’s preseason opener Thursday, October 1, at Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport.  That game faces off at 7:00, and Wonderland of Ice’s address is 123 Glenwood Ave. in Bridgeport.  The Wolf Pack’s other preseason game is at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA vs. the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday, October 3, with faceoff at 7:00.

HARTFORD WOLF PACK PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Date             Opponent          Venue                                  Faceoff

Thu.    Oct. 1     at Bridgeport        Wonderland of Ice                       7:00

Sat.     Oct. 3     at Lehigh Valley    PPL Center                                     5:05

Sun.    Oct. 4    BRIDGEPORT      CHAMPIONS SKATING CENTER,                                                                                               CROMWELL, CT                          3:00

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

CRAWFORD: TYLER BROWN RESIGNED BY WOLF PACK

rp_hartfordwolfpacklogo_thumb1.jpgWOLF PACK INK FORWARD TYLER BROWN TO AHL DEAL

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Notched seven Goals and 14 Points in 37 Games with Pack in 2014-15

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, August 20, 2015:  Hartford Wolf Pack general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the Wolf Pack has signed forward Tyler Brown to an AHL contract.

Brown, a 6-2, 195-pound native of Wasaga Beach, Ontario, will enter his fifth season of pro hockey in 2015-16, after skating in 37 games with the Wolf Pack this past season.  The 25-year-old Brown tallied seven goals and seven assists for 14 points, while serving ten minutes in penalties, in regular-season play with the Wolf Pack, and then saw action in all 15 of Hartford’s playoff games, contributing 1-1-2.

Brown joined the Wolf Pack on a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement January 7, following a 33-game stint with the Pack’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors.  He logged totals of 12-6-8, with 12 PIM, in action with Greenville.

Brown spent his first three pro seasons with the Adirondack Phantoms, after signing as a free agent with Adirondack’s NHL parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers, March 2, 2011.  In 219 career AHL games with the Phantoms and Wolf Pack, he has totaled 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points, plus 82 PIM.  Prior to turning pro, Brown played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Plymouth Whalers, amassing career totals of 48-75-123, with 103 PIM, in 220 games.

TYLER BROWN’S AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL RECORD

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

CANTLON’S CORNER: AUGUST MOVEMENT AS SEASON NEARS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Some quick updates…

The final summer edition of Cantlon Corner is coming in two weeks when the AHL schedule is released.

The Hartford Wolf Pack training camp will open at the XL Center on Wednesday, September 23rd.

Thankfully, the NBA regular season schedule is finally is out which will allow the AHL to complete their regular season schedule. The reason for the delay and how the NBA effects the AHL? It’s because the San Antonio Rampage, Milwaukee Admirals and Lake Erie Monsters all play in NBA buildings preventing the league from finalizing their plans until the NBA completed theirs. The Charlotte Checkers were in an NBA building, but will be playing in the refurbished Bojangles Coliseum (nee Charlotte Coliseum) this year.

Defenseman and occasionally a left winger, Dallas Jackson, who split last year between Hartford and their ECHL affiliates, the Greenville Road Warriors, heads over to Sweden next season to play with Division I Hudiksvalls HC.

“It will be fun to try out hockey in Sweden, Jackson said in a team press release. “(It’s) different than North America. I have checked out a lot about Hudiksvalls and looks like a fancy place to play.” He will wear the same number 21 he wore in Hartford overseas next season.

Jackson played 44 games for the Wolf Pack and played a steady and strong game on defending either side and occasionally became a left wing filling in admirably. Jackson scored his only goal of the season as a winger and had 10 points, after starting the year in Greenville. Jackson was recalled on November 2nd and signed an AHL contract on January 4th.  Exactly two months later, Jackson was returned to Greenville when Chris Summers arrived from Arizona leaving the team with seven defensemen. After the ECHL season ended, and Greenville didn’t make the ECHL playoffs, he returned April 13th, and had 14 points in 23 games played.

The previous season, Jackson was with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers playing quality minutes, including the power play, before being traded to the Springfield Falcons where he played in just four games and was a healthy scratch the rest of the season.

At 26, Jackson is a victim of the contract situation in the AHL. He could fill in on any team, but was the odd man out two years in a row.

Joining Jackson in departing from Hartford is his fellow defenseman, Steve Spinell. He signed a one-year AHL deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Contract details have not been released.

Spinell made the Hartford roster out of training camp playing 15 of the first 22 games. He was sent to Greenville on November 14 to get some playing time and spent six games with the Road Warriors before being recalled for good November 25.

He played 52 games potting one goal and four helpers for five points. He played three playoff games, all in the Providence series subbing for an injured Conor Allen. Spinell scored a goal in Game 1 of the series.

Only Joey Crabb and Tyler Brown remain as the only full-time Wolf Pack players who have not signed. They too are also not likely to be returning. That means 13 regulars from last season’s Eastern Conference Finalists have left for new destinations to play in next season.

An update on Chris Bourque’s Hershey contract. The contract is listed as $375K a year. Cantlon’s Corner has confirmed Bourque will be guaranteed $390K in each of the next two seasons making him the highest paid player at the AHL level who’s not on a one-way NHL deal.

The Sound Tigers saw the New York Islanders sign goaltender Kevin Poulin to a one-year, two-way contract. Poulin’s NHL money will be $600K and in the AHL at $275K. Defenseman Matt Carkner 34, a rugged rearguard with NHL time under his belt, was signed to a two-year AHL deal (details not available), but they did lose D/F Scooter Vaughan who signed with the Chicago Wolves.

Former Wolf Pack defenseman Maxim Kondratiev on the move again in the KHL Traktor Chelyabinsk to Torpedo Novgorod. This is his seventh KHL team.

Also leaving the KHL former Wolf Pack defenseman Ivan Baranka from HC Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) to Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL).

A blast from the past as Ukrainian Alexei Lazarenko, who played with the UHL (defunct United Hockey League) New Haven Knights, returns after 10 years out of hockey to play with his hometown team Vityaz Kharkov in the UHL-Ukrainian Hockey League.

Several more players AHL player have signed to play in Europe. The latest to make that decision was the Albany Devils’ Cam Janssen who heads to Nottingham (England-EIHL), Frederic St. Denis of Springfield heads to German DEL and EHC Munich. Providence’s Alexander Khokhlachev had his KHL rights traded from Avangard Omsk to St. Petersburg for a former PB teammate D Yuri Alexandrov, Kevin Marshall of Toronto signed with Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL).

CJ Stretch who played 45 games in Bridgeport and was a deadline deal last year to the Oklahoma City Barons has signed with Rosenheim in the German DEL-2 league and Jonathon Blum of the Iowa Stars signed with HC Vladivostok (Russia-KHL).

Now all 30 AHL teams have lost at least one player to signing overseas for this season and the list has grown to 64 players. Chicago and St. John’s have lost the most players to Europe with five each.

Several players signed in the Quebec based LNAH league include ex-Pack Alexandre Imbeault who re-signed with Laval, ex-Sound Tiger Pierre-Luc Faubert with Cornwall and Marco Charpentier with Sorel-Tracy.

Jason Krog, an AHL MVP and ex-Sound Tiger from their first year, split last season with Medvascek Zagreb (Croatia-KHL) and Villacher SV (Austria-AEHL). Krog has signed with HC Rouen in the French (Elite) Magnus League.

The former heavyweight of the now defunct Danbury Whalers (FHL), Anthony Pisano, has signed with Louisiana (SPHL) for next season. The Louisiana head coach is Drew Omicioli, a Rhode Island native who played with the Danbury Trashers (UHL) in 2005-06 and CT prep school hockey at Loomis Chaffe (Windsor,CT). Omicioli’s teammate with the Trashers, Jean-Michael Daoust goes from Stavanger (Norway-NEL) to EC Kassel (Germany DEL-2).

Ex-Wolf Pack, Bruce Graham, heads behind the bench as he’s been named assistant coach with the County (St. Stephen’s, NB) Aces in the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) one of Canada’s 10 Junior A level hockey leagues.

Ryan Donald, the former Yale player, leaves Woodstock (MHL) to become assistant coach/assistant GM of the Junior A level Trail Smoke Easters of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) joining former Yale teammate Nick Deschenes-the Trail head coach.

Former Kent Prep player Drew Brown, who missed last year’s Providence College NCAA championship season while battling cancer, got double good news. He is cancer free, but decided to retire from playing and his senior season he will be as a student assistant coach with the Friars.

Former New Haven Knights player and assistant coach Bobby Ferraris, after 10 years, leaves Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA) (AHA) as their associate coach and will be the new head coach with his high school alma mater Trinity-Pawling Prep School just over the Connecticut border in Brewster, New York.

The unusual move of the summer is that a highly regarded prospect expected to go in the Top 5 at next year’s NHL Draft, Arizona native Auston Matthews, with US-Mexico dual citizenship, bolts the US National Development Team (USNDTP) that plays in the USHL, also spurning a Canadian major junior team Everett (WA) Silvertips (WHL) to play in the Swiss NLA League with ZSC Zurich coached by former NHL head coach Marc Crawford.

The Lions feature Darien native Ryan Shannon as their assistant captain.

Somewhere in Ontario Eric Lindros is smiling.

Goalie Dylan St. Cyr, son of former New Haven Senator Gerry St. Cyr and his mother Manon Rheaume, the first women to play goal in an NHL exhibition game with Tampa Bay who will play this year with the USNDTP (USHL) made an oral commitment to the University of Michigan (Big 10) for 2018-19.

Nice story HERE on former Wolf Pack goalie Milan Hnilicka the GM of the Czech Republic U-20 on the prep for this year’s World Junior tournament.

Credit Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant on this scoop for UCONN hockey;

According to the Hartford Courant, Maxim Letunov, a highly-touted recruit originally from Russia, has committed to play hockey at UConn after his initial plans to attend Boston University fell through due to what the Courant called, “complications with the admissions process.”

Letunov, a 19-year-old forward, was a second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2014, but in March, was traded to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Zbynek Michalek and a third-round draft pick.

In 118 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL the last two seasons, Letunov posted 107 points, including 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 58 games during the 2014-15 season.

The Courant noted HERE that while UConn is still awaiting official word on Letunov’s admission to the university, it was not expected to be an issue. What is to be determined in the coming weeks is whether Letunov will be granted his initial NCAA eligibility for the upcoming season or for the 2016-17 season.

FUEHRING: KWIET A DAY FOR GREENVILLE

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WARRIORS STRENGTHEN DEFENSE WITH ROB KWIET

Greenville also signs Jordan Ciccarello to a Professional Tryout Contract

 BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Road Warriors

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the signing of defenseman Rob Kwiet for the 2015-16 season. In addition, Greenville has inked defenseman Jordan Ciccarello to a Professional Tryout Contract (PTO). Both skaters have previously played for the Road Warriors.

“Rob is a solid two-way defenseman who will bolster our back line, but also add an offensive upside,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He is versatile, moves the puck well and has a lot of experience. I’m looking forward to his impact and the excitement he will bring to this team.”

Kwiet, 26, enters his seventh professional season since debuting with the Muskegon Fury of the International Hockey League (IHL) in 2007-08. Last season, he made 52 appearances with Kaufbeuren ESV in DEL2, Germany’s secondary league, and finished third on the team in scoring with 37 points (9g, 28a).

A native of Toronto, Kwiet is a veteran of 366 pro games and more than 270 ECHL contests. He skated 13 games with Greenville in 2012-13 and earned 10 points (2g, 8a), 16 penalty minutes and a +5 rating. In addition, Kwiet led San Francisco defenseman with 19 assists and 27 points in 50 games that season and ranked fifth among all ECHL blue-liners with 37 total points (10g, 27a) between San Francisco and Greenville.

Overall, Kwiet has amassed 142 points (32g, 110a) in 272 career ECHL games with Greenville, San Francisco, Reading, Stockton, Fort Wayne, Gwinnett and Florida. He also appeared in 42 AHL games with Providence and Bridgeport from 2009-11.

Prior to turning pro, the 6’1, 220-pound defenseman played four seasons of major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and helped the Windsor Spitfires to the OHL regular-season championship in 2008-09 with a team high +54 rating. He added five goals and 15 points in 20 playoff contests en route to the 2009 OHL Robertson Cup championship.

Ciccarello, 24, split his rookie campaign last season between four different teams in three different leagues, including seven games with the Road Warriors last February (one assist). He also dressed nine games with Elmira, 25 contests with the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League (FHL) and 15 regular-season games with the Louisiana Ice Gators of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).

A native of New Hartford, Connecticut, Ciccarello debuted with Elmira during the 2013-14 season and notched one goal in four games. He also played one season of college hockey at Sacred Heart University (2011-12) and two seasons at Nazareth College (2012-14). The 6’0, 210-pound defenseman was named team captain at Nazareth prior to the 2012-13 campaign.

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

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