Category Archives: Stanley Cup Playoffs

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 10

Cantlon’s Corner:

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 10

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

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

CONGRATS

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLAYER AND COACHING MOVEMENT

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

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

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

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

The AHL to Euro list gained five and lost one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AHL SCHEDULE

Hallelujah! An early AHL schedule!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete AHL schedule team by team is HERE

MACCABIAH GAMES

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

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

The American Open roster features three CT connections.

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

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

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

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

 

HOCKEY HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2017 INDUCTEES

HOCKEY HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2017 INDUCTEES

BY: The National Hockey League

TORONTO (June 26, 2017) – Lanny McDonald, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame and John Davidson, Chairman of the Selection Committee, announced today that seven individuals have been elected to Hockey Hall of Fame Honoured Membership, five in the Player Category and two in the Builder Category.  The vote took place today at the annual meeting of the Selection Committee in Toronto.

“The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these hockey legends as Honoured Members,” said Lanny McDonald.  “Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved.” Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 5

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 5

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Five weeks out from the end of the Hartford Wolf Pack season and there are still plenty of things going on.

CALDER CUP FINALS

The Calder Cup finals started Friday night and came to a thrilling conclusion. In Game One, the Grand Rapids Griffins got a goal from Tomas Nosek with 13.9 seconds remaining to break a 2-2 deadlock with the Syracuse Crunch.

The series is in a 2-3-2 format.

Games 2 will also be in Grand Rapids with the next three in Syracuse.

During the regular season, both teams were hit hard when injuries became a factor for their parent clubs, the Tampa Bay Lightning (Syracuse) and the Detroit Red Wings (Grand Rapids) respectively. As time heals all wounds, as both teams got healthy and didn’t make the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, they were able to return players to both their farm teams which benefitted greatly.

Each team won Game 5 of the conference final series to advance to Calder Cup final. 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’S CORNER: PACK OFF-SEASON REPORT – WEEK THREE

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK OFF-SEASON REPORT -WEEK THREE

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT  – While the lights may be out for hockey in Hartford, and after a big shake-up hit last week for the Wolf Pack, the off-season continues to move forward.

AHL CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS

The conference finals are set. On the West Coast, the San Jose Barracuda will faceoff against the Grand Rapids Griffins. On the East Coast, the Providence Bruins will meet the Syracuse Crunch. Each series will play a 2-3-2 format.

Grand Rapids advanced after beating the Milwaukee Admirals in five games. The Griffins feature ex-Wolf Pack players Dylan McIlrath and Matt Ford.

San Jose disposed of San Diego in five games as well.

Despite being down three games to two to the Hershey Bears, Providence rallied and on Wednesday on the back of three goals in the second period, advanced to their first conference finals appearance since 2009.

The Bears led Providence after surviving a three-game set in Providence of trap hockey. While not pretty to watch, the Bears were held to just 44 shots over three games, but still managed to win two of them. The Bruins, after falling behind 2-0 in Game 6, came roaring back with the last four goals and forced the decisive seventh game Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK OFF-SEASON NOTEBOOK – WEEK TWO

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK OFF-SEASON NOTEBOOK – WEEK TWO

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTWhile the lights may be out in Hartford, there is still plenty of hockey going on still in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL.

AHL PLAYOFFS

The Hershey Bears have a three-games-to-two lead in their playoff series with the Providence Bruins after the weekend’s action. On Thursday night, Hershey won a 2-1 OT thriller with, who else but ex-Hartford Wolf Pack, Chris Bourque scoring both goals. The team got the win despite registering just 15 shots on goal. Bears’ goalie Pheonix Copley stopped 39 of 40 Bruins shots. The series is a 2-3-2 format with Game 4 on Friday going to the Bruins in a reversal of the score from the previous night and their own 2-1 win.  In Game 5 on Sunday in Providence, it took OT to get a result again, and Hershey won again as Madison Bowey scored 1:58 into overtime to give the Bears a 3-2 win.

Meanwhile, back in Thursday’s game, Bourque got his first goal early in the third and then the second, the game winner, the other came at 7:23 in overtime both on the powerplay. The Bears evened up their series with Providence at one with Travis Boyd scoring the overtime game-winner in Game 2. Continue reading

RANGERS BEATEN BY SENATORS – SEASON OVER

  Game Summary                           OTT: C. Anderson (W) NYR: H. Lundqvist (L)             Event Summary

–        SHOOTING GALLERY – The Rangers registered 39 shots on goal in tonight’s game, as 15 of 18 skaters recorded at least one shot on goal.

–        KILL ZONE – The Rangers were 2-for-2 (4:00) on the penalty kill in tonight’s contest. Dating back to the regular season, New York did not allow a power-play goal in 13 of its final 17 games. In addition, the Blueshirts did not allow a power play goal against in each of their final five games.

–        HITTING MACHINE – New York was credited with 30 hits in tonight’s contest. The Rangers registered 30 or more hits in each of their 12 playoff games this year, and as of the conclusion of tonight’s game, the Blueshirts lead the NHL in hits in the 2017 Playoffs (499). Continue reading

IT’S WIN OR GO HOME TOMORROW FOR THE RANGERS

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. OTTAWA SENATORS
Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 6-5 (2-3)*
Senators: 7-4 (3-2)*

* 2017 Playoffs Record (Second Round Series Record)

Read The New York Rangers 2017 Playoff Guide (Second Round Edition) via the following link: HERE 

BY: The New York Rangers

TOMORROW’S GAME

The Rangers play Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow, May 9, at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET – TV: NBCSN; Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). The Rangers trail the best-of-seven series, three games to two, following the Senators’ 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 of the series in Ottawa on May 6.

RANGERS VS. SENATORS – PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Rangers are facing the Senators in a playoff series for the second time in franchise history*. The two teams played against each other in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2012, and New York defeated Ottawa, four games to three. The Rangers rallied from a three-games-to-two deficit in the series to win Game 6 in Ottawa and close out the series with a 2-1 win in Game 7 at MSG, which was the Rangers’ first win in a Game 7 since the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver. Six players currently on the Rangers roster were also on the roster when the team faced Ottawa in 2012: Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, and Derek Stepan. Lundqvist posted a 4-3 record, along with a 1.70 GAA, a .945 SV%, and 1 SO against Ottawa during the 2012 Playoffs. He stopped 205 of 217 shots in the series, including 26 of 27 shots he faced in Game 7 and allowed two goals or fewer in five of the seven contests. Staal and Girardi each tallied a goal in Game 7 of the series, and Girardi registered the game-winning goal in the match. Girardi recorded four points (one goal, three assists) in the seven-game series. Kreider made his NHL debut in Game 3 of the series in Ottawa on Apr. 16, 2012, which was less than a week after he signed an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Apr. 10, 2012. Kreider tallied his first goal/point in the NHL in Game 6 of the series, and the goal was the game-winning goal in the contest. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME ONE

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 Wolf Pack Off Season Volume One

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – There is LOTS of news going on regarding the New York Rangers and their top affiliates in Hartford and even in Greenville With the Swamp Rabbits. We will give to you a weekly series all summer keeping you up to date on all of it.

Week One has plenty to offer.

PLAYERS SiGNINGS

The Hartford Wolf Pack team makeover for 2017-18 is clearly underway.

The first two off season signings were on defense.

The latest is from the collegiate ranks in right-handed shooting rearguard, Neal Pionk. Continue reading

RANGERS WASTE ANOTHER GAME – ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL ENDING

  Game Summary                                NYR: H. Lundqvist (L)   OTT: C. Anderson (W)       Event Summary

FOUR SCORENew York has tallied four or more goals in each of the last four games, registering 17 goals over the span The Blueshirts have recorded at least four goals in four or more consecutive playoff games for the first time since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the NY Islanders in 1994 to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Washington in 1994 (six consecutive games). In addition, the Rangers have registered four or more goals in four straight games in the same playoff series for the first time since the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 1994 against the NY Islanders (all four games during the series). Continue reading