Category Archives: Sports

TOSTI: PACK RECALL SKAPSKI

Mackenzie Skapski Receives Call Up to Hartford

Swamp Rabbits goaltender headed to AHL to join Wolf Pack before three-game weekend series

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, announced that goaltender Mackenzie Skapski has been reassigned by the New York Rangers from Greenville to the Hartford Wolf Pack. The netminder has earned eight wins this season and is coming off a 27-save victory on Sunday over Cincinnati. Hartford begins a three-in-three on Friday night, opening the weekend against the Toronto Marlies.

The Abbotsford, BC native has played in 17 ECHL games with the Swamp Rabbits this season. Skapski owns an 8-7-0-0 record and made 28 saves against the South Carolina Stingrays for his second career shutout earlier in December. In 17 appearances, he has attained a 3.06 goals against average and .902 save percentage. The 6-foot-3 goaltender achieved the longest win streak of his career, winning five consecutive games in net from December 8th through December 16th. Continue reading

TOSTI: SWAMP RABBITS WEEKLY: EDITION 12

Swamp Rabbits Weekly: Edition 12

Swamp Rabbits split the week, topping a pair of South Division opponents ahead of All-Star Classic

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

TAKE A BREAK

The Greenville Swamp Rabbits (19-16-2-1), proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, finished a four-game week with a pair of wins. The Swamp Rabbits bookended the 4-in-5 set with a 6-3 win on Wednesday over the Atlanta Gladiators and a 3-2 victory versus the Cincinnati Cyclones. The set of South Division contests pushed Greenville to 41 points and a three-point advantage over the Cyclones for fourth place in the standings. Tyler Brown and Brandon Alderson opened the week with two multi-point efforts on Wednesday and Trevor Gerling finished on Sunday with a goal and an assist. The Swamp Rabbits are now 2-4-0-1 in the month of January with five more games to play. The ECHL teams break for the 2017 CCM /ECHL All-Star Classic presented by I LOVE NY this week and resume play on Friday. Continue reading

CANTLON: FROZEN OUT AT FENWAY, UCONN SHUT OUT BY MAINE

Frozen Fenway Maine Shuts Out UCONN 4-0

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

BOSTON, MA Maine’s Cam Brown’s three points and Rob McGovern’s 31 saves helped the University of Maine shutout UCONN 4-0  in the first of two Hockey East games to close out the 2017 Frozen Fenway series.

“It was a terrific game for our team. Our guys did a good job dealing with the special elements of playing outdoors. The ice was great today considering all the distractions and we did a good job with that,”  Maine head coach Dennis ‘Red” Gendron said. “Our players played with great intelligence today and got pucks to the net, played really well defensively and obviously, Rob McGovern pitched a shutout and had to make some good saves. It was a good day for our team.”

UCONN’s record drops to 9-8-6 overall, 5-4-2 HEA. Maine ups its mark to 8-11-3 overall, 2-7-1 HEA.

While on a delayed penalty, Maine expanded their lead in the third period to 3-0 as Brendan Robbins had a quality shot stopped by UConn netminder, Adam Huska. Tage Thompson tried to make an outlet pass, but Robbins was there to intercept it. Robbins then fed Maine’s leading scorer, Cam Brown who dished the puck off to Rob Michel. The Maine defenseman then sent a 55-foot laser that sailed past Huska at 7:55 for his sixth of the season in as many games.

For Brown, it was his team-high 22nd assist.

(SEE GERRY CANTLON’S GALLARY OF PHOTOS BELOW) Continue reading

RANGERS LOOK TO GET BACK ON TRACK WITH DALLAS

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. DALLAS STARS
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 28-15-1 (57 pts)
Stars: 18-18-8 (44 pts)*

* The Stars play against the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon in Buffalo prior to facing the Rangers tomorrow

TOMORROW’S GAME

The Rangers play their 45th game of the 2016-17 season tomorrow, Jan. 17, against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). New York has won 11 of its last 17 games (11-6-0), including eight of its last 13 contests (8-5-0) and five of its last eight games (5-3-0). The Rangers have posted a 28-15-1 record this season. Continue reading

RANGERS ASSIGN MAREK HRIVIK TO HARTFORD

RANGERS ASSIGN MAREK HRIVIK TO HARTFORD

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, January 16, 2017 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has assigned Marek Hrivik to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Hrivik has skated in 16 games with the Rangers this season, registering two assists and two penalty minutes. He has posted a plus/minus rating of even or better in 12 of his 16 games with the Rangers in 2016-17. Hrivik made his season debut with the Blueshirts on Dec. 6 against the Islanders, and he recorded his first career NHL power play assist/point on Dec. 29 at Arizona.

The 6-2, 197-pounder has skated in 20 games with the Wolf Pack this season, registering eight goals and nine assists for 17 points, along with a plus-three rating and eight penalty minutes. At the time Hrivik was recalled by the Rangers on Dec. 5, he led Hartford in points and shorthanded goals (two), was tied for the team lead in goals and assists, and was tied for second on the team in plus/minus rating this season. In addition, he has recorded a point in 13 of 20 AHL games in 2016-17.

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: JAN. 9 – JAN. 15

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: JAN. 9 – JAN. 15

  1. Gabriel Fontaine, C, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) – Fontaine registered three goals/points in two games last week. The Rangers’ sixth round pick (171st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft extended his goal/point streak to four games, and he has tallied eight points (six goals, two assists) over the span. Fontaine has registered 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) and a plus-15 rating in 35 games this season.
  2. Igor Shesterkin, G, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) – Shesterkin posted a 3-0-0 record, along with a 1.95 GAA and a .923 SV% in three appearances during the week. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 29-3-1 record, along with a 1.55 GAA, a .941 SV%, and 8 SO in 35 appearances in the KHL this season. Shesterkin ranks third in the KHL in SV% and ranks fourth in the league in GAA this season.
  3. Ty Ronning, RW, Vancouver Giants (WHL) – Ronning registered a goal/point in each of Vancouver’s two games last week, tallying three points (two goals, one assist) over the span. The Rangers’ seventh round pick (201st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has notched a point in seven of the last eight games, recording 10 points (six goals, four assists) during the stretch. Ronning ranks second on Vancouver in goals (18) and points (38), and he is tied for second in assists (20) this season.

Continue reading

TOSTI: RABBITS SPIN PAST CYCLONES

      VERSUS      

  Swamp Rabbits Spin Past Cyclones

Greenville picks up second win of the week against South Division opponent on third-period goal from Tommy Thompson

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SCThe Greenville Swamp Rabbits (19-16-2-1), proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, rode past the Cincinnati Cyclones (17-15-4-0) this afternoon 3-2. Rookie forward Tommy Thompson netted the eventual game-winning goal in the third period.  Greenville will not face Cincinnati again until the Swamp Rabbits final home game of the regular season.

Trevor Gerling earned two points in the game, tallying an assist on the game’s opening goal. After 18 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Swamp Rabbits were winding down on the power play. Gerling shot the puck from the blue line and was blocked right to Desmond Bergin. The rookie made no mistake, putting the puck into the top corner for his fifth goal of the season. Greenville finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play. Continue reading

CANTLON: UCONN BATTLES HARD IN 6-3 WIN OVER MAINE

      VERSUS      

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

BRIDGEPORT, CT – UCONN got three points from Max Kalter and two goals from Tage Thompson and escaped a wild second period with a 6-3 win over the Maine Black Bears before 2.173 at the Webster Bank Arena.

The Huskies (9-7-6 overall,5-3-2 HEA) and Black Bears (7-11-3 overall, 1-7-1 HEA) started a unique home-and-home series Thursday night. The games will be held in two different arenas as both squads started the bulk of their Hockey East conference schedule.

The Huskies were the home team and on Saturday, Maine will be the home team at the conclusion of the Frozen Fenway series with a rescheduled 1:30 pm Saturday start time as a concession to Saturday night’s NFL Patriots playoff game at Foxboro.

The Huskies saw two leads vanish in a decisive four-goal second period, but Connecticut showed the kind of perseverance they couldn’t find when they played against Yale.

“Tonight was a perfect example of that. We got down 1-0. We tied it. They tied it at two. We go up 3-2, and (Maine) tied it at three. (Wyatt) Newpower gets a big goal and we played a pretty solid third period and OJ’s goal gets us up 5-3. It was huge and overall; I was happy with the effort.

“The Yale game was one of a few games we weren’t in it for sixty minutes. Tonight we were, and you have to persevere and take a body blow and keep swinging. You can’t have a  glass jaw,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

The Huskies regained the lead as their ace didn’t disappoint his family and friends who were in attendance.

Thompson was all alone in the slot and took a Max Kalter’s pass after he had swung around the net, nearly lost the puck, regathered it and then hit Thompson on the tape. Thompson ripped his 13th at 13:31 and made it a 3-2 Huskies lead.

“It’s very important to play the puck back there,” a laughing Kalter said. “I kinda just threw it at the net really. It’s pretty easy when you have Tage and Letty (Maxim Letunov), to pass to.”

Kalter earned a goal and two assists and was the game’s first star.

Maine caught a break in tying the game at 15:02. The Black Bears junior, Nolan Vesey, the younger brother of the New York Rangers’, Jimmy Vesey, was on a semi-broken play but retrieved the puck that came out of a crowd of players and turned and shot. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ draftee watched his 40-footer elude goaltender, Adam Huska, to knot the game at 3-3.

It was his fifth of the season.

The Huskies power play skills helped them regain the lead with 18 seconds left. Letunov sent a short pass to Newpower, who stepped off the right point and let a wrist shot go along the ice that sailed past Black Bears goalie Matt Morris for his second goal of the year giving UCONN a 4-3 lead. The goal was the eventual game-winner.

“I was able to make a move on the defenseman,” the freshman Newpower said. “Good things happen when you shoot. I don’t think he saw it. Tage was in front of him. I really don’t think he saw it.”

Maine had a great chance to tie the game at four when they had a 39-second five-on-three power play and the rest of a five-on-four for 1:21 in the third period that UCONN successfully killed off.

“That was a great effort we had Tage, Max and Johnny Austin out there and they did a great job with their rotations.  We got some big blocks and once David (Drake) gotta out of the box we were able to get an icing there that was a big kill for us,” said Cavanaugh.

Maine head coach Red Gendron was clearly frustrated about the loss and tried his best to be philosophical about their failure to score with their two-man advantage.

“The score was still 4-3. Had we scored at the time, it would have made things easier. Because we didn’t score on a five-on-three, do you slit your throat and go home? Of course not,” Gendron said with his deep New England accent. “It’s still four-to-three. You chip one in when we were five-on-four, but we didn’t.”

The Huskies finally got the two-goal lead they were seeking at 14:19 of the third period.

Kasperi Ojantakanen picked up a rebound of a shot blocked in front, retrieved the loose biscuit, and fired a 35-foot wrist shot high to the glove side on Morris for his third of the year.

The Black Bears caught the Huskies playing too passive defensively early in the second period and made them pay for it. Maine tied the game at two.

“I don’t know if it was the defense, but we didn’t have much back pressure because if we don’t have back pressure, they (the defense) have to be passive. We have to better with our back pressure (on Saturday). We call it, ‘Following back in the zone,’ and it did cost us two goals tonight,” said Cavanaugh.

Maine’s Blake Byron was able to retrieve the puck unchecked in the right corner and made a nice short pass to Cam Brown, the Black Bears top scorer. Brown put a perfect cross-ice pass through the box to Brendan Robbins. The right-handed shot was on the left wing side, and he made no mistake, drilling his second of the season past Huska at 6:32.

The Black Bears scored the game’s first goal on two perfect plays.

The first came from Brown. He came across the blue line, pulled up, and found defenseman Rob Michel speed into the open left wing lane behind Huskies defenseman Johnny Austin. He opened his stick blade perfectly and redirected the puck inside the short-side post on Huska at 7:27 for his first goal.

“We did some nice things, but not enough of them. We gotta be ready to play them on Saturday,” said Gendron.

The Huskies came back to tie the game at one. Ben Freeman was behind the net and used his body effectively to shield the puck. Freeman fired the pass in from behind the net to Spencer Naas, who split the defensive coverage and snapped in his 12th goal of the season at 11:47.

It was his fourth goal in as many games and is one shy of his team-best five straight that was set back in his freshmen year.

“It was a great goal and good offensive zone play. We have been working on this all the time and Ben Freeman made a nice cutback, and Spencer was in front and finished it,” Cavanaugh stated.

The Huskies grabbed the lead at 2-1 on the powerplay.

Huskies newcomer, Philip Nyberg, in just his fourth game, was at the left point and spotted Letunov along the right-wing boards. Letunov took the pass and spun to the top of the right wing circle and looked to take the shot. Letunov spotted and hit Kalter who was open down to the right of Morris. Kalter perfectly tipped his shot to Morris’ short-side. Morris seemed to be playing for a Letunov shot leaving him vulnerable. Kalter’s third goal of the season came at 15:34.

Each team had solid chance to tie or extend the lead in the last minute-and-a-half of play.

Maine’s Mark Hamilton had a wide-open left wing side and walked in and let a sharp wrist go. Hamilton’s shot just missed the far post with 1:16 remaining that could have tied it for the Black Bears. Newpower had an opportunity with 10 seconds to go. His righthanded shot that came from the left point was a rising wrister that sailed just above the crossbar and could have given the Huskies a two- goal lead before the first intermission.

NOTES:

The series now favors UCONN 3-2-3.

The last meeting was last season March 16th a 1-1 overtime tie.

Maine’s 4th line center, Peter Housakos’ younger brother, Tasso, plays for Westminster (Simsbury) Prep.

UCONN has played in Bridgeport five times and are 4-4-0 overall playing at Webster Bank Arena (nee Arena at Harbor Yard)

For Maine’s Associate Coach, Ben Guite, it was a homecoming of sorts. Guite returns to Bridgeport where he played for the AHL Sound Tigers in their first season 2001-02 and again two years later 2003-04.

It was also a return for Maine’s Jay Leach, the team’s other assistant coach who played collegiately at the University of New Haven (ECAC North) in the late 1970’s (1977-1979). The program was then in Division II and played just up the road at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Leach’s nephew, of the same name, played with Guite in Bridgeport in 2003-04 and is now an assistant coach with the Providence Bruins (AHL).

Gendron also has his own ties to Connecticut. He was an assistant coach for the Yale Bulldogs (2011-2013) under Keith Allain and was a part of their NCAA championship team four years ago.

Cavanaugh spent his off day in Watertown taking in a CT prep school hockey game between Taft and Westminster.  The Taft Rhinos were victorious, 5-2. Cavanaugh was keeping tabs on Taft’s Nik Allain who has committed to UCONN for 2018-19 and is the son of current Yale head coach Keith Allain.

The two coaches were chatting as all coaches would be doing during the game!

UCONN goalie Matt Grogan (AHA years) is playing with Peoria (SPHL). The Huskies have a new goalie coach after parting ways with former Boston Bruin, Andrew Raycroft. In his place is Manchester native Ross MacKinnon, who had a brief three-year minor pro career primarily at the lower level.

MacKinnon played Division III college hockey at Neumann College and moved up to the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL) and with Pensacola (SPHL). MacKinnon also had three stops in the now defunct Central Hockey League with Allen, Bloomington, and Tulsa, who are all now in the ECHL. He ended his playing days with the Watertown (NY) Wolves of the Federal Hockey League (FHL).

RANGERS: LEAFS NOT HOSPITABLE GUESTS AT MSG

Game Summary                                TOR: F. Andersen (W)  NYR: H. Lundqvist (L)         Event Summary

–        THREE’S COMPANY – The Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello line has tallied 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) over the last eight games (including tonight). The three players have registered 51 points – including 19 goals – in the Rangers’ 19 games since Dec. 1. Zuccarello has registered an assist on 11 of Kreider’s last 12 goals, dating back to Dec. 3 vs. Carolina.

–        SHOOTING GALLERY – The Rangers registered 36 shots on goal in tonight’s contest. The Blueshirts have recorded at least 30 shots on goal in each of the last two games and in five of the last eight contests.

–        FULL HOUSE – Tonight’s game was the Rangers’ 207th consecutive regular season sellout and the Blueshirts’ 248th consecutive sellout (regular season and playoffs combined). The Rangers’ sellout streak dates back to Nov. 3, 2011. Continue reading

CRAWFORD: PACK WIN IN OT

    VERSUS    

Hartford Wolf Pack 2, St. John’s IceCaps 1 (OT)

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

St. John’s, Newfoundland, January 13, 2017 – Chris Brown’s goal at 2:07 of overtime gave the Hartford Wolf Pack a 2-1 win over the St. John’s IceCaps Friday night at Mile One Centre, in the first of back-to-back games between the two teams in St. John’s.A

On the winning play, Brown, who had been denied on a chance moments earlier by IceCap goaltender Charlie Lindgren, re-gathered the puck, cut across the middle of the zone and down the slot, and fired a hard snap shot cleanly past Lindgren on the stick side.

“It’s just, get pucks on net and hopefully they go in,” Brown said.  “The first one, I had a couple of rebounds and they just didn’t go in.  But [Mat Bodie] made a great read, setting a nice little pick for me, and I kind of walked down and just shot it.  And fortunately, it went in.” Continue reading