Category Archives: Stanley Cup Playoffs

BECK: PREDICTIONS ON THE RANGERS AND WOLF PACK

 

 

 

 

 

BY: Mitch Beck, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The 2017-2018 hockey season is almost upon us.

EVERYWHERE, fans, prognosticators, supposed experts are all making their predictions and fans are boasting of a big season for their favorite team.

We’re no different.

After the last five years of struggles up in Hartford, New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton decided that it was time to make some serious sweeping changes and he has done just that.

Out are General Manager Jim Schoenfeld, who will concentrate on his AGM duties at MSG and head coach Ken Gernander. In their places are Connecticut hockey legend, Chris Drury as GM and Keith McCambridge will take the helm behind the bench after being an assistant under Gernander last season.

Aside from what went on in the front office, an entirely new ice-making system, and playing surface, glass and boards will be used in an evolving XL Center.

In terms of the roster itself, there have been sweeping changes. Most of the team from last season is gone. In their places are some fascinating prospects and some veteran faces including Joe Whitney, who will center the Pack’s first line.

It’s almost impossible to predict at this point where the Pack will end up because frankly, the team hasn’t been assembled yet, but based on the names and the prospects the Rangers have procured by various means, it is looking like this year could be a very promising season in Connecticut’s capital.

In New York, the Rangers have seen another core member depart as Derek Stepan was traded to the Arizona Coyotes. The biggest signing in the off-season has been that of a local boy returning home, Kevin Shattenkirk.

Some of their “younger players” are now in the veteran years of their careers and will be expected to pick up their games. Among those are Chris Kreider, captain Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller.

The moves this team made took them from being a sketchy team that relied on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to win them games, to now a deep and talented team. But they too are not without question marks.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins remain the overall favorite to “Three-Peat” this upcoming season, many have given The Rangers 18/1 odds to lift the Stanley Cup.

If the Rangers can solve who they are going to play down the middle, and the youngsters play up to their reputation and the team gets another stellar season from Lundqvist and players like Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Nash, Michael Grabner, Brady Skjei, and Mika Zibanejad can play up to what is expected of them this team has a good chance of finally breaking a now 23-year-old Championship drought.

Howlings prediction?

The Wolf Pack return to the playoffs. How far they go is anyone’s guess, but with the hiring of Stanley Cup winners Brad Richards and Rangers legend Brian Leetch, joining another CUp winner in Drury on the ice with the prospects along with the veteran coaching experience they have with McCambridge, a deep run would be no surprise.

As for the Rangers, there just seems to be too many variables to make a clear prediction. Lots will depend on if they can stay healthy if Lundqvist’s game remains solid. If the youngsters are as talented as they appear to be and if the vets can contribute. Nash, in particular, has a lot to play for as this is the final year of his $8M contract. If he fails to impress, he could be moved at the trade deadline, but if that happens, it means the Rangers have self-destructed.  Being an optimist and seeing the good that this group has put together, with a couple of breaks going their way, this could be the season the team gets to the promised land.

CANTLON: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 16

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 16

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Each week we inch closer and closer to the start of the 2017-18 Hartford Wolf Pack hockey season. Still, teams are making moves in pursuit of being the only team to win their last game of the entire season. 

PLAYER & COACHING MOVEMENT

Winger Michael Joly, who signed a free agent out of the QMJHL last summer with Hartford, has departed and headed out West. Joly signed a one-year AHL deal with San Antonio. Joly struggled early last season, then caught fire in the ECHL with the Pack’s ECHL affiliates, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Upon his return to the American League, Joly was playing well for the Wolf Pack. A teammate’s errant shot from center ice late in the season caught Joly under his visor. The shot cracked his orbital bone, ending his season.

After four years in Hartford, defenseman Tommy Hughes, as expected, has moved on, signing a contract to play for the Hershey Bears this coming season.

Former Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig signed another one-year AHL deal with Vancouver and will start the season in Utica.

Another former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Justin Agosta, signs with Manchester (ECHL).

Ex-Sound Tiger Chris Langkow returns from Europe where he split last year with HDD Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-AEHL) and VIK Vasteras HK (Sweden-Allsvenskan) and signs with expansion Worcester (ECHL).

Ex-Pack Vladimir Vorobiev was elevated from an assistant coach, which he’s been the last four years, to head coach for Dynamo Moscow (Russia-KHL).

The AHL Euro list has added Nikita Jevpalovs who left the San Jose Barracuda and heads back home to Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL). Fellow Latvian, Richard Burkharts, who split the season with Springfield and Manchester (ECHL) signs with HC Zlin (Czech Republic-CEL).

Chris Carlisle of Binghamton signs with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).

28 of the 30 teams in the AHL have now lost at least one player signing in Europe. The list has 77 players signing overseas.

Harvard’s Alex Kerfoot pursued by the New York Rangers and nine other NHL teams, settled on signing an ELC (entry level contract) with Colorado.

Eric Sweetman of St. Lawrence (ECACHL) signs with Texas (AHL).

UCONN’s Evan Richardson signed his first pro contract with Tulsa (ECHL). Doyle Somerby of Boston University (HE) signs with Cleveland (AHL). James De Haas of Clarkson University (ECACHL), signs with Lehigh Valley and his collegian teammate, A.J. Fossen, signs with RoKi (Finland Division-I).

Blaine Byron of the University of Maine (HE) signs with Springfield.  Danny Smith of R.I.T. (AHA) signs with Rapid City (ECHL) and Anthony Flaherty of Division III National champion, Norwich University, (Southfield, Vermont) signs with Rapid City.

That makes 182 Division I collegians signing North American pro contracts and 22 players from Division III. The total now stands at 204. Toss in another 45 signing in Europe and that’s 249 players moving from the American college hockey ranks to pro hockey.

NWHL & CWHL DRAFTS

The two professional women’s hockey leagues, the NWHL-National Women’s Hockey League and CWHL-Canadian Women’s Hockey League, recently held their respective drafts.

Two Yale players were taken in the NWHL Draft. Mallory Souliotis was taken by the Boston Pride which is coached by former Wolf Pack, Thomas Poeck while Eden Murray went to the CT Whale under new head coach, Ryan Equale (Wilton/UCONN)

Taylor Cianfarano of Quinnipiac University was selected by the New York Riveters coached by another ex-Pack, Chad Wiseman.

In the CWHL Draft, Nicole Kosta of Quinnipiac was selected the Markham (Ontario) Thunder and fellow Lady Bobcat Taryn Baumgardt was taken by the Calgary Inferno.

IN MEMORIAM

On Friday, some very sad and tragic news as former CT Whale Ticket Sales Director, Bob McCaffrey, passed away suddenly in South Carolina.

McCaffrey, a Hartford native, working for the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays was battling cancer the past two months and had his last chemotherapy treatment that morning.  He was a passionate man and a former member of the US Air Force. After the CT Whale dissolved, McCaffrey worked for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs for two seasons before moving to South Carolina in 2012.

His father, Jim McCaffrey, has been a goal judge for 19 of the 20 seasons in Hartford. He recently beat prostate cancer in the spring. Deepest condolences are sent to his mother, Barbara, and his sister, Karen, and the entire McCaffrey family.

IN MEMORIAM PART  TWO

Another link to New Haven’s minor pro hockey history has passed away.

84-year-old, Parker MacDonald, passed away in a Branford nursing home last Thursday. His wife Janice MacDonald, who passed away in 2011, was the PR Director for the Nighthawks in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. She was the first woman to win the PR Person of the Year Award.

MacDonald’s career started out in his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia where he played with the junior Sydney Millionaires. He then moved on to play major junior with the famed, Toronto Marlboros in the mid-1950’s. He played in the AHL with the old Pittsburgh Hornets for four seasons (1952-56). MacDonald got his first NHL action with one game with the Maple Leafs in 1956. The following fall he played for the Providence Reds, then the Rangers farm team, and played with the Rangers from 1956-60.

MacDonald was back in the AHL. His first was with the Buffalo Swords and then with the Springfield Indians in the early 1960’s.

MacDonald actually got some playing time with Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, in Detroit when he broke into a six team league in 1960. He then spent a split season in Hershey before going back to Detroit where he stayed from 1961-65. He played the rest of his career from 1965-1969 with Boston, Detroit and then the expansion Minnesota North Stars.

MacDonald had some more AHL time back with Pittsburgh and then closed his playing career with Memphis South Stars of the Central Professional Hockey League (CPHL).

His coaching career started with the Iowa Stars in the original Central Hockey League in 1969-70. There, MacDonald coached a young Rick Dudley who would eventually become a New Haven coach. he also coached a future Ranger in Walt McKechnie, a future WHA scorer in Danny Lawson, a long time North Star in Dennis O’ Brien and a goalie, Gilles Gilbert, who had a good run in Boston. Then he moved onto to Cleveland (AHL) the following year but was replaced midseason by John Muckler in 1970-’71.

MacDonald then took on the job with the AHL expansion, New Haven Nighthawks. He was the most successful and longest serving Nighthawks head coach and compiled a record of 221-151-43. He went to back-to-back Calder Cup finals as a Rangers affiliate from 1978-1979. his teams got swept both times by the Maine Mariners, the top farm team of the Flyers.

He won the Louis Pieri Award in 1978-79 as the league’s coach of the year. His only interruption in New Haven came when he started his second season in Minnesota but was replaced midseason. His last coaching stop was in Los Angeles as an assistant coach in 1980-81, and then later as a head coach in 1981-82. He was again replaced at midseason with a 13-24-5 record in 42 games by another New Haven hockey legend, Don Perry.

A Nighthawks player who remembers him fondly, was then just a young kid out St. Mary’s, Ontario, Dan McCarthy.

“I had great respect for Parker. I had a tough first year with knee injuries, but he never gave up on me and always gave me a chance,” remarked McCarthy.

“He came and ran a practice working on game situations, but he expected you do the rest, get in shape, work on what he talked about, and work on your weak points. He expected you to be a man and he thought of you as a pro. He didn’t say, ‘Ah he’s a rookie, a first-year guy.’ He thought of you as a pro and among equals in the locker room. Looking back on it years later, I really appreciate that man-to-man approach. There were no analytic guys back then. You had expectations to meet. Parker was a fair and tough coach.”

He also had a sense of humor.

“One night in Syracuse, I got a breakaway from the red line with about ten seconds to go in regulation.  I missed it, so we have to go to overtime. I get back to the bench and Parker goes, ‘Thanks, McCarthy, now you’re cutting into my drinking time.'”

Parker MacDonald, a great part of New Haven and Connecticut hockey history rest in peace.

IN MEMORIAM PART III

The late first head coach of the Wolf Pack the effervescent and erudite, E.J. McGuire, was posthumously elected to Greater Buffalo Region Hall of Fame.

McGuire was obsessed with being healthy. He passed away in 2011 because of a rare blood cancer.

He started out as a head coach at Brockport University. He then went to the NCAA at the Division II level in the ECAC West. That was where he encountered a young, Mike Keenan, who was then the head coach of Rochester. After his five years there, he would become Keenan’s assistant. They went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, losing to Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers in 1985 and 1987.

He came from what was known as the First Ward of the city. Ironically, the ceremony was held around the corner from McGuire’s childhood home. His intellect was always off the charts. McGuire earned a Ph.D.d in Kinesiology/Psychology from the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) in 1990 certainly testifies to that.

He was a head coach twice in the pros and once in Canadian major junior. He coached Guelph (OHL) for two seasons where he earned a record of 80-41-10 in 132 games. His team lost in OHL Finals to Peterborough and then semi-finals to the Ottawa 67’s. Some of the players he coached those two seasons included ex-Wolf Pack players Dan Cloutier and Ryan Risidore and a trio of ex-Beast of New Haven players in the recently retired, Herbert Vasilijves, Dwayne Hay and Andrew Long,

Another Chris Hajt was recently named an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres.

McGuire coached the Maine Marines in 1991-92 with a 23-47-10 record and missed the Calder Cup playoffs.

He coached the first two Wolf Pack teams. In 160 games, McGuire had a a record of 81-55-17 mark and lost in the semifinals in six games his first year to the St. John Flames. He lost in his second year to the eventual Calder Cup champion Providence Bruins in a four game sweep.

He returned for one year as an assistant in Philly before becoming the Director of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau where he revamped and modernized the department.

After his passing, the NHL created the EJ McGuire Award of Excellence which is awarded to the draftee who best exemplified strength of character, competiveness, and athleticism.

He richly deserves to be in the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builders wing should be next.

CANTLON’S CORNER: HAINSEY BRINGS THE CUP HOME TO BOLTON

Hainsey Brings the Cup Home TO BOLTON

BOLTON, CT – On a steamy summer morning hockey fans waited patiently to get a picture taken with hockey’s silver chalice, the Stanley Cup.  For the Holy Grail of Hockey, it was the second public appearance in Connecticut in the last 24 hours and the fourth time in the Constitution State over the past five years.

The Bolton Ice Palace is tucked away off, just off Route 384 at the beginning of Route 6. Stanley Cup Champion Ron Hainsey started his life in hockey with the ECHO (Eastern Connecticut Hockey) program at the age of four in the shadow of the NHL when the Hartford Whalers were still in town.

“This is terrific,” the 36-year-old Hainsey said of the Penguins June 11 game 6 six victory over Nashville to capture their second Cup in a row. “Guys have won it two or three times and then go hide in a cabin or something. (For me), coming from here it was always a part of the game plan (to have it at Bolton Ice Palace) once we pulled this sucker off.”

The arena, which opened in 1974, has been noted as one of the coldest in Connecticut. Choate being a close second. It’s also the dimmest, but the lights were freshly lit with LED lighting and comfortable temps for all the fans and personnel awaiting the event.

Hainsey got the Cup from Farmington native, and former Avon Old Farms player, Nick Bonino who displayed it at the basketball gym at AOF Sunday morning.

“They bring it right to you drop it at the house,” Hainsey said while wearing his Penguins white home jersey. “I think Bonino had it into the late evening hours (last night).”

Hainsey’s baptism of hockey came very early at age four when a simple pamphlet paved the way.

“We had season tickets to the Whalers. We always took Ronnie,” said a very proud mother, Kerry Hainsey. “He would come home sliding around the kitchen floor, and one day, we got the ‘Learn-to-Skate’ pamphlet that came in the mail, and my husband took him over, and he took to it very quickly.”

His first trophy came with a great one liner. “I remember the coach saying it was the first time we have ever given a trophy to a player still in nursery school.”

Hainsey would graduate from ECHO and move on to the late Gary Dineen’s program at the Enfield Twin Rinks. Dineen is credited by many as the coach who started junior hockey in Connecticut.

“I did a lot there, but obviously this is where I started…my hometown,” Hainsey said. He went on to play in the US National Development program and then two years at UMASS-Lowell in Hockey East followed. Hainey turned pro after being drafted in the first round, thirteenth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2000.

The rink’s Owner/General Manager is no stranger to the hockey community. He’s former Whaler, Bob Crawford. He also runs rinks in Bolton, Cromwell, and Simsbury. The Belleville, Ontario native relished this moment.

“This is hockey in its purest form. A true small town and (Hainsey’s) family has been extraordinarily gracious and wanted the kids to be the center of the event and the entire ECHO programs which cover like 20 towns. (They’re) All small places that have made this place their hockey home. When I grew up, it was the Hulls-Bobby and Dennis, and few forget Brett was born in Belleville. Andrew Shaw and my brother Marc won it with Colorado.

“We had at it at the kitchen table for breakfast one morning before taking it to the center of town where 10,000 of our closest friends came, which before today was the only time I have ever seen the Cup in person. All the security and staff people here (inside) and outside are ECHO people. They care greatly about (Hainsey) and this program. They are volunteering their time. They didn’t have to be asked. It’s a special moment for this town, and you feel the pride in this building.” Crawford said.

Hainsey’s father Marty decked out in his Penguins championship t-shirt, and dark shades was in awe of the whole scene.

The elder Hainsey is still pinching himself over all of it.

“Everyday since he was drafted, playing (in the NHL), it’s just amazing to consider it all.”

Speaking about the lunar eclipse this past Monday, inspired Hainsey’s agent, Matt Keator, to make an excellent observation. “He wins a Stanley Cup as often as there is a lunar eclipse.”

There is another number significant in Hainsey’s capturing a title. He played 907 NHL games without a playoff appearance breaking him of a streak reminiscent of the late Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs), who played his entire Hall-of-Fame career without ever making a World Series appearance.

“We have been having fun. We’re having hats made up with 907 (on them),” Keator, who played prep school hockey at Pomfret and college hockey at Trinity College, said with a smirk. “I walked onto the ice (after they won) and he goes. ‘Dude, I’m one-for-one in the playoffs.’ That’s vintage Ronnie.”

Keator has known Hainsey since he was 15-years-old. He executed a two year, $6 million dollar deal for Hainsey with a rising Stanley Cup seeking Toronto Maple Leafs team. It will allow Hainsey to play in possibly over 1,000 regular season NHL games.

Bonino has also left the Penguins. He departs for the team the Pens beat for the title. Bonino signed a four-year, $16.4 deal with the Predators.

Hansey’s fortunes changed when he was moved by a childhood hero, former Whaler great, and the current GM of Carolina, Ron Francis, to Pittsburgh. The Pens GM is Jim Rutherford, a former Hartford/Carolina GM who also played AHL hockey in New Haven.

“I knew he would get traded because that’s what Carolina does when contracts are up. I really thought Pittsburgh,” Kerry Hainsey said with a laugh. “I remember those times at the Hartford Civic Center (nee XL Center) and the irony is the guy he cheered for, Ronnie Francis, trades him to Pittsburgh.”

The move to Pittsburgh was perfect for Hainsey, but not an easy one.

“When he got traded from Carolina, there were a lot of mixed emotions. His first was the outdoor game (at Heinz Field against the Flyers),” his wife Hayley said as she and their three children passed out signed pictures to fans. “We loved the team he played for and also where we were living, but going to a team like Pittsburgh, how could you be upset, right? Great team, great players, great guys. It obviously turned out for the best for us.”

Hainsey’s last playoff appearance came in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs against the Rochester Americans in a four game sweep. One of his Hamilton teammates was with him in Pittsburgh, Trevor Daley. Before winning the Cup in the NHL, Hainsey’s deepest playoff experience was also in Hamilton. It came during the 2002-03 season when the Bulldogs were the top team in the AHL but lost to the Houston Aeros in seven games.

To the strains of John Mellencamp’s song, “Small Town,” reverberating off the ceiling, Hainsey didn’t disappoint those who were unable to enter because of time constraints. He brought Lord Stanley to them to see it and thank them all for waiting in line for quite some time.

Hainsey’s realization of his dream just shows that anyone’s hockey odyssey from a small town can happen.

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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