Category Archives: World Junior Championships

RANGERS: KNOW YOUR 2015 DRAFT SELECTIONS

rp_new-york-r_thumb.gifRANGERS MAKE SEVEN SELECTIONS IN 2015 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

Blueshirts select five forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, June 27, 2015 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, along with Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark, oversaw the club’s activity at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Blueshirts, who held seven picks in the draft, selected five forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender.

The Rangers made all seven of their selections on Saturday. After acquiring a second-round pick (41st overall) in a trade they made with Anaheim on Saturday, the Rangers used the pick to select forward Ryan Gropp. (photo above).

Gropp, 18, skated in 67 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 44 penalty minutes. Gropp established WHL career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating in 2014-15. The 6-2, 187-pounder led Seattle in goals and points, ranked third in assists, and tied for fifth in plus/minus rating. In addition, Gropp led Seattle with seven assists and tied for second on the team with eight points in six playoff games this past season.With three selections in the third round, the Rangers selected forward Robin Kovacs, photo right, (62nd overall), defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy (79th overall), and forward Aleksi Saarela (89th overall).

With three selections in the third round, the Rangers selected forward Robin Kovacs, photo right, (62nd overall), defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy (79th overall), and forward Aleksi Saarela (89th overall).

Kovacs, 18, skated in 52 games with AIK in Allsvenskan in Sweden this past season, registering 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points, along with 63 penalty minutes. Kovacs’ 17 goals and 28 points were the most by a Junior player in Allsvenskan during the season.

Zborovskiy, 18, skated in 71 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering three goals and 16 assists for 19 points, along with a plus-15 rating and 70 penalty minutes. The 6-3, 198-pounder ranked third among team defensemen – and tied for third among team rookies – in points this season.

Saarela, 18, skated in 51 games with Assat of Liiga in Finland this past season, registering six goals and six assists for 12 points, along with 18 penalty minutes. The 5-10, 198-pounder also helped Finland capture a silver medal at the IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship by tallying eight points (three goals, five assists) and posting a plus-six rating in seven games.

The Rangers used their two selections in the fourth round to draft forwards Brad Morrison (113th overall) and Daniel Bernhardt (119th overall).

Morrison, 18, skated in 67 games with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2014-15, registering 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points, along with 30 penalty minutes. The Prince George, British Columbia native established WHL career-highs in games played, goals, assists and points this past season. Morrison ranked second on Prince George in goals and ranked third on the team in points.

Bernhardt, 19, skated in 44 games with Djurgarden J20 in the SuperElit league in Sweden, registering 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points, along with a plus-23 rating and 22 penalty minutes. The 6-3, 191-pounder led SuperElit league in goals and points and ranked second in the league in assists.

The Blueshirts selected goaltender Adam Huska in the seventh round (184th overall). Huska, 18, appeared in five games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) this past season. In addition, the 6-3, 189-pounder was named one of the Top 3 Players on his team while representing Slovakia at the 2015 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship.

CANTLON’S CORNER: CATCHING UP WITH HOCKEY NEWS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

The Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup Championship in the past six years with a thrilling 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six with a thrilling 2-0 shutout.

Chicago’s Duncan Keith picked up the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff’s MVP. Keith scored the game winner in the first period on a wrist shot off a rebound of his own shot. Keith becomes the ninth defenseman to capture the Conn Smythe trophy. The previous eight are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ex-Hartford Whaler, Joel Quenneville earned his third championship ring while his good friend and assistant coach Kevin Dineen, who’d been fired as head coach of  the Florida Panthers a year and a half ago, finally had the opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. Combined with the gold medal he received coaching the Canadian Women’s Olympic Team, it’s saef to say that getting fired in Florida has worked out pretty well for the man known affectionately as, “Mr. Whaler” during his playing days !

Assistant GM Norm MacIver played for both the Whalers and New Haven Nighthawks and also got a taste from the silver chalice.

AHL CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS

The Hartford Wolf Pack can at least they say they lost to the AHL champions.

The Manchester Monarchs exited the AHL in regal style defeating the Utica Comets in five games to capture the 2015 Calder Cup.

Despite an injury to goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, the Monarchs barely skipped a beat with Czech rookie Patrick Bartosak between the pipes. Bartosak was brilliant in his making 31 saves of the Game 5 Cup clinching win.

Jordan Weal had 22 points in the playoffs and captured the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the Playoff MVP.

What made the Monarchs so deadly was the team’s ability to score the game’s first goal. In 15 of the games they played in the post season, Manchester tallied first and in each of those cases the team won the game. It was just an amazing feat.

Former Yale players Brian O’Neill and Sean Backman celebrated the title with Backman handing the Calder Cup after his twirl to his collegiate and pro teammate O’Neill.

Now the Monarchs head to Ontario, CA to become the Reign joining San Diego (Anaheim), Bakersfield (Edmonton), Stockton (Calgary) and San Jose in forming the California AHL Pacific Division.

Joining the Monarchs in Ontario is there current Director of Hockey Operations Hubie McDonough., a Manchester native who was a playoff hero in New Haven in 1989. McDonough sett what was then a league record, with 31 points in the playoffs. despite those impressive numbers, the Nighthawks fell to Adam Graves and the Adirondack Red Wings in Calder Cup final.

McDonough still is the all time leading scoring (210 points) in St. Anselm history and won the Small College Hockey Player of the Year in 1985 and skated five games with the Monarchs in the 2001 season.

ECHL KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS

The Allen Americans capped their first year in the ECHL by capturing the Kelly Cup championship in decisive fashion with a convincing 6-1 home victory Sunday afternoon at the Allen Event Center.

Ex-Sound Tiger Chad Costello paced the victory with two goals and an assist. Another ex-Sound Tiger, goalie Riley Gill, had 27 saves and picked up his second ECHL Kelly Cup. Gill joins five other goaltenders in ECHL history to ever accomplish winning multiple championships.

Gill won with the Reading Royals. The other goalies to win multiple championships in the ECHL were Nick Vitucci (four titles), Mark Bernard (Hampton Roads), Dave Gagnon (Hampton Roads/Toledo), Gerald Coleman (Alaska). Gill now has the second most playoff wins at 36 to Vitucci’s 43.

The winning head coach was former Nighthawk Steve Martinson. His assistant coach is former Sound Tiger and ex-Wolf Pack, Kevin Colley, the son of Nighthawk legend Tom Colley.

Ex-Wolf Pack Andrew Rowe scored South Carolina’s  only goal and finished with 34 points, third best in the playoffs. He is in a three way tie for most ECHL playoff points in a season with Blaine Moore (Richmond-1994) and the late John Spoltore (Louisiana-2000). New Canaan’s Drew Mackenzie, a former Taft Prep player, had 20 points in 27 games.

The playoff MVP was an odd choice in Allen’s Gregor Hanson who led the Americans with 29 points, but had none in Game 7.  South Carolina’s Wayne Simpson set a new league record with 39 points in the post season. The line of Rowe, Simpson and former Hotchkiss Prep star, Derek Deblois, combined for 102 points in the playoffs.

PLAYER MOVEMENT

Former Sound Tiger Alain Nasreddine, a long time assistant coach with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins follows John Hynes to the New Jersey Devils. Hynes leaves as head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to become the Devils top dog. Hynes named Nasreddine, who was his assistant with the Penguins, his assistant in Newark.

Other AHL head coaching jobs have been filled now. In Springfield, Ron Rolston, a longtime friend of Darcy Regier, who’s the new Falcons GM and who was Arizona’s assistant GM, is the new head coach. Rolston coached with the Rochester Americans for two years and was hired to coach the Buffalo Sabres mid-season in 2011-2012 and was releived of that position midway through 2012-2013. He was a scout for Arizona last year.

It was no surprise to learn that Todd Nelson was named the new head coach in Grand Rapids.

One of the AHL’s new Pacific coast teams, the San Diego Gulls, announced a brand new scoreboard will be put in place at the Valley View Casino Center for their first AHL season. The rumors are the teams first head coach could be Steve Martinson.

Martinson, a one-time Nighthawk, played three years in San Diego in the old IHL and coached the Gulls all nine years in the defunct West Coach Hockey League where he won five titles including the last Taylor Cup championship in 2003 before the league was absorbed into the ECHL. He coached the Gulls in their first season in the ECHL.

Former AHL’er D.J. Smith won the Memorial Cup guiding the Oshawa Generals (OHL) last month and was named an assistant coach with Toronto. Smith played for the Maple Leafs in Toronto and St. John’s.

Wilkes Barre/Scranton replaced Hynes behind the bench with former New York Rangers assistant coach, Mike Sullivan.

The losses of AHL players to signings in Europe grew by nine as goalie Jussi Rynas left the Texas Stars for AK Bars Kazan in Russia in the KHL, Peter Holland from the St. John’s IceCaps to HPK Hameenlina (Finland-FEL), Colin Fraser Chicago Fire to Nuremberg (Germany-DEL), Spencer Abbott Rockford/Toronto to Frolunda HC (Sweden-SHL), Markus Lauridsen Lake Erie Monsters to AIK (Sweden-Allsvenskan), Brandon Kozun, who split last year between the Marlies and the Maple Leafs in Toronto, goes to Finland to play for Jokerit Helsinki who play in the KHL and Brendan Maclean of St. John’s heads to EV Ravensburg Germany DEL-2.

Ex-Wolf Pack d-man Tomas Kundratek leaves the Hershey Bears for Dynamo Riga in Latvia (KHL) and ex-Sound Tiger goalie Joey MacDonald heads to the German DEL and Schwenniger Wild Wings.

Another ex-Sound Tiger goalie, Peter Mannino, who played in Binghamton last season has retired and becomes the new assistant/goalie coach with the Chicago Steel (USHL) under their new head coach, former Yale associate coach, Dan Muse.

Former Wolf Pack players also finding new residences include, Tomas Kaberle who had a two game tryout this year, will stay in the Czech Republic and go from HC Kladno to HC Brno.

Evgeni Grachev stays in Russia (KHL) going from HC Vladivostok to Amur Khaborvsk.

Ex-Wolf Pack Gordie Dwyer, fired from Charlottetown (QMJHL) in May, will be the new head coach for KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia.

Former Wolf Pack Francois Fortier is returning to Quebec after leaving Valerenga IF in Norway for Jonquiere (LNAH).

Wallingford native and Avon Old Farms product, Pat Mullane, who was in Wolf Pack camp two years ago, heads from Reading (ECHL) to Assat Pori (Finland-FEL) next season.

Former UCONN goalie Matt Grogan is toiling away in the Land Down Under.

Grogan is the goalie for the Sydney Ice Dogs in the Australian Hockey League (AIHL). He played for UCONN from 2010-2014 and after completing school spent four games with the Ft. Wayne Komets (ECHL).

So far it’s been a tough go with a record of 1-10 and a 5.63 GAA.

Connecticut’s other Australian hockey prodigy, Chesire defenseman Robert Malloy who plays for the Newcastle North Stars is doing well with seven points in 10 games.

Presently 21 US and 15 Canadians are playing in the AIHL.

Former top Wolf Pack scorer Derek Armstrong, out of the coaching business for a year since the Denver Cutthroats, which folded with the Central Hockey League, will be taking over shortly as head coach for a team in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL).

NEW HEAD COACH

Congrats are in order to former Wolf Pack Todd Hall, who was officially named the new head coach of the Hamden High School Green Dragons program. The club who has won 17 state Division I titles in their history.

Hall, who grew up in the town and has been an assistant coach since he finished his pro career in Hartford in 2002, and who scored the Calder Cup game winning goal in 2000 against Rochester, becomes the 20th ex-Wolf Pack to become a head coach (66 ex-Pack are in a coaching or hockey position someplace on this planet) at some level of hockey.

He becomes just the fifth head coach the program has ever had since its inception 1948. The team has won state Division I title and became a  power program to model yourself afterward. The other were Don McNeil, Louis Astorino, Dick Gagliardi and most recently after 28 years with the program as coach and 33 in total Billy Verneris.

“Its not like the programs started in the 1980’s, so its pretty amazing-something­-very special. I’m very fortunate and thrilled to get this opportunity. It’s a really neat thing to be a part of,” Hall said.

The announcement was made at the team banquet.

“It was a very nice gesture by Billy he wanted it that way and the timeline was accomodated and the move by the school was a complete surprise to me,” Hall said.

Hall explained his philosophy, as only he can, and sums himself up all in the same description. “I want people to take this the right way. I value the game of hockey. It has given me a lot and the level of hockey (at Hamden) is different than when I played. I want their experience to not just be about hockey. We’re here to help mold young boys to become young men.

“Statistically speaking, a majority of them hockey will end after their senior season. Its very important to me that will go on to become good citizens, good fathers, good brothers and good friends.. Accountability, responsibility and discipline are things I will stress.”

Hall, who also won a state title in sophomore season and was in one other state final, recognizes the game and its structure has changed from when he played and from when he played Division college hockey first at BC and then at UNH.

The growth of and strength of not only prep schools, but junior hockey is not lost on him.

“When I played here the only the option was the USHL (based in the Midwest) or if you had a contact maybe, maybe Canadian (major) junior. That has all changed of course. I would never want to deny a kid the chance to go that route, but only at the point I really think we can’t develop his hockey skills any further and if he truly wants it. I wish them to succeed wherever they choose. I can’t recruit, I get the lineup that comes in at each year. The changed environment is something you deal with and I understand the business side of this.

I saw it start when I was in college from the 19 year old freshmen to the now you have 24-25 year old college seniors.”

The coaches of his pro career will be a part of his coaching strategy.

“I have been extremely lucky to have had so many good coaches in my life. When Dick Umile and Rick Serino (at UNH) were good when I transferred he told me I don’t care what happened (at BC) your here now. When my sister died (Leah Hall by a drunk driver) he arranged to have a team bus come down (to the wake) that is sort of thing you understand that is team.”

The two coaches he had with the Wolf Pack, EJ McGuire and John Paddock, have played an important part of his playing career and will use now as a guide as a head coach.

“EJ was the most detailed coach ever. You knew how everything that was going to be happening the minute you went to practice he had it posted, there was no guessing. I will be using that. Pads was the coach who gave me a lot of ice time and knew how to handle so many different players to get to work as a team.”

He will have returning assistant coach George Jerolman Jr. and is expected that the JV coach and former high school defense partner and brother-in-law, Scott Jason, will be announced as the new assistant coach. All three played together for the Green Dragons.

Hamden High is in the right hands with Todd Hall.

SAD NEWS

Former AHL’er Greg Parks,48 passed away in Edmonton earlier in the week. No cause of death was announced.

Parks started his AHL career after four years at Bowling Green University then a NCAA Division I program in the now defunct CCHA conference where they won a conference title in 1987. Park started his first pro season in Finland before hooking up with Johnstown (ECHL) then in Springfield with Indians where he won a Calder Cup.

In the AHL he also laced them up with Capital District (nee Albany) before getting to the NHL with the N.Y. Islanders. He earned a silver medal with Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics.

He had an extensive 10 year European career in Sweden, Switzerland (won an NLB championship), Germany and ended his playing career in Japan with the Oji Eagles.

After retiring he coached in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with St. Albert and for two years as head coach and GM and stayed with the team briefly when it moved to Whitecourt.

Sadly, he is second player from that Indians team to already pass away Guy Rouleau died of cancer in December 2008.

NEXT UP

The NHL Entry Draft next Friday and Saturday June 26 and 27 in Sunrise, Florida.

CANTLON’S CORNER: THIS WEEK IN HOCKEY

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Lots of Player Movement this week and it starts at home with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

It comes as no so surprise that the first Wolf Pack player to exit from this year’s team is none other than, Ryan Potulny.

Potulny played in just 25 regular season games and was a healthy scratch a majority of the season because of the veteran rule. He became very helpful when Justin Vaive went down with a broken foot in the series against the Hershey Bears and stepped in admirably with Chad Nehring and Shawn O’Donnell to form a potent fourth line.

Potulny heads to the Finnish Elite League and the Pelicans Lahti team.

The team’s head coach is former AHL’er Petri Maitkainen and ex-AHL goalie Pasi Nurminen is the assistant coach and owner of the team.

Teammate Carl Klingberg leaves Hartford and heads to the Russian KHL with the Torpedo Novgorod. Klingberg came over from St. John’s after four years in the Winnipeg organization. He played 13 games with the Pack garnering ten points and formed an effective duo with fellow Swede, Oscar Lindberg. He developed an injury late in the regular season and again in the playoffs, but bounced back and was one of the keys to the series win over Hershey.

Former CT Whale defenseman, Blake Parlett, leaves the San Antonio Rampage and heads to Croatia to play in Zagreb for KHL Medvescak in the KHL.

Not a big surprise, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ other Swedish forward, Johan Sundstrom, heads back home to play with Frolunda HC next season. Now 21 AHL’ers have signed with European teams in the

As of the writing of this article, 21 AHL’ers have signed with European teams in this off-season.

The Yale Bulldogs lost a prized recruit in John Marino. Marino played with South Shore Kings (USPHL-Premier) under the tutelage of former New Haven Nighthawk, Scott Harlow.  Marino already has been drafted by two junior leagues in the Chicago Steel (USHL) and the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). He is projected to be drafted in Florida in two weeks somewhere in the first three rounds of the NHL Draft.

He switched his commitment and will now attend Harvard. The other side of the coin is the USHL Steel has a new head coach former Yale assistant coach John Muse.

Another CT player heading to play Junior A hockey in Western Canada.

Michael Falanga (East Haven), who played for the CT Wolf Pack, will play for the Alberta-based Brooks Bandits (AJHL) in the fall.

Former Nighthawk Paul Boutilier was named an assistant coach for Saint John (QMJHL).

In news from around the AHL, The Texas Stars announced a new jersey color scheme for next season to coordinate with their parent club the Dallas Stars and the new Victory Green design. You can see it in all its emerald glory HERE

Here is an update on our old friend Dane Byers who was injured and had shoulder surgery in since February and missed the Hartford-Hershey series.

The soap opera-like situation surrounding the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League and hockey in Danbury, CT in general continues. Read the latest on it HERE.

The ECHL’s  Kelly Cup Finals continue. The South Carolina Stingrays, with two assists from New Canaan native and former Taft Prep star, Drew MacKenzie, beat the Allen Americans 4-1 to force a Game 7 Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm. The game will be played in Allen, Texas. In the 27-year history of the ECHL, this is just the fourth Game 7.

Earlier we mentioned the soap opera in Danbury, CT concerning the FHL. That drama pales in comparison to the three ring circus surrounding the Arizona Coyotes.

The much-maligned franchise – much of it by its own making – and the NHL’s tolerance of it’s yearly losing of boatloads of cash – held an end of the year season in review with the press corps last week which produced some funny moments as well as some news.

First the comedy.

The team wants to go to a full youth movement.  Those are the words of former Wolf Pack GM, Hartford Whaler and New York Ranger, Don Maloney, the current GM of the Coyotes.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a youth movement per se because it’s been proven over time, we stick six or seven 20-year-olds, 19-year-olds or 18-year-olds in the lineup, we’ll be sitting here next year ready to shoot ourselves.”

All kidding aside, the Springfield Falcons, the team’s new affiliate in a second go-round for the two organizations, could have one of the best crop of young forwards in the AHL next year as Max Domi, Christan Dvorak, Anthony Duclair and Brandon Perlini could be on their roster.

Co-owner Anthony Leblanc confirmed what Cantlon’s Corner wrote over the past year about on the Coyotes future with Arizona State University (ASU),  a potential Frozen Four bid team out West, and potentially making a bid to host the World Junior Hockey Tournament.

“So on the World Junior front, we are actively putting together what I think is going to be a very compelling bid for the USA Hockey to review. Those initial bids are due at the end of this month. As a matter of fact, I just met with the staff this morning and in discussions of where we are.

“I’m very impressed with what the team has been able to put together, and I think the fact that this is a location that has hosted some pretty high end events as recently as this year with the Super Bowl, next year with the College [Football] Championship, the year after that with the Final Four, we feel very excited about that.

“We continue to work with ASU. We’re very excited, regardless of where the relationship goes, the fact is the program is going Division I. It’s nothing, but good for our for the brand of hockey in the Valley. But I feel fairly strongly that we’ll be announcing a much tighter relationship with ASU.

“And as for a Frozen Four, a number of us spent time in Boston at this year’s Frozen Four and started that process. The next Frozen Four that’s available is quite a few years out; they book them up fairly far in advance. But again, that ties in nicely with the relationship with ASU. They are the ones who would lead an eventual Frozen Four bid, but those are a high profile things that we’re looking at, but as I said, in part of the discussion with the city yesterday, it’s all about driving more events.

“And then hopefully we have more events next year called, ‘The Playoffs’ which would continue to drive more revenue to the team and to the city.”

Maloney addressed the team’s switch of their AHL affiliation from the Portland Pirates to Springfield. What’s been going on behind the scenes the past year was again, a confirmation of much of what Cantlon’s Corner has written about.

“We will be in Springfield next season, the Springfield Falcons. What happened was it was really when Anthony’s group came in. We were at the forefront of trying to get a division or really start or form our own league out West here just in terms of the changing the development model, (play) less games, more practice times.

“Long story short, five teams are coming West and forming a Pacific Division. In our situation, there’s just Anaheim (Ducks) and the Coyotes. We had to buy a team. Anaheim was able to purchase Norfolk (Admirals), which was the only team for sale, so though Anthony was actually involved in discussions trying to see is there was another team out there for sale at a price that made any sense whatsoever. So long story short, to this day there isn’t one available to us.

“We like the relationship in Portland. I was adamant about not doing a longer term deal, and when I found out it did not look like we were going to be in a position to bring a team West in the very near future. I reached back out; they had made a commitment to Florida and just through the shifting of alliances, we ended up in Springfield, which I actually think it’s better for us. The travel is better. They have a great facility. They’ve been in the league a long time. Bruce Landon has run that team for many, many years, real good hockey person. It’s easy to get to, in the sense of you fly into Hartford, you can fly into Boston and even Portland now with the loss of Manchester (Monarchs) and Worcester (Sharks – both to the ECHL), they’re on a little bit of an island out there. The travel all of a sudden gets a lot more.

“Long story short, I think it’s an upgrade for us to move there. Darcy Regier is going to be managing the team and put that team together. We’re close to finding our head coach down there. We changed our coaching staff out, so we’re excited about moving forward with Springfield.”

The one thing Maloney confirmed CC had kept in-house, was the threat made back last March, in an emergency meeting in Boston, of starting a new Western-based minor league with the NHL’s Western teams.

Maloney’s admission that it was Phoenix/Arizona at the head of the pack and openly threatening secession, is amazing. Consider the Coyotes own perilous financial situation, it seemed to be the more salient part of their strategy than new developmental models.

That brings us to last Wednesday’s termination of the Coyotes lease at the Jobing Arena in Glendale by the city council.

Here is the latest on that saga.

While it is obvious to everyone the team needs to be moved, the NHL won’t budge. Speculating that in 15-20 years from now,  a sports management course in the US and Canada will use the Coyotes as an example of how NOT to run a pro sports franchise.

CANTLON’S CORNER: ANOTHER WEEK, MORE HOCKEY NEWS

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Former Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers‘ captain Ryan Callahan scored a beautiful goal in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 home win and allowing the Bolts to take a 2-1 lead in games over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Callahan took a perfectly executed stretch pass from defenseman Victor Hedman and came down the right wing. Callahan fired the puck from off the right wing over Blackhawk’s goaltender, Corey Crawford’s glove. The puck went off the crossbar and went down into the left side of the net. The goal opened the scoring.

Game Four will be played Wednesday night in Tampa.

Meanwhile over in the Calder Cup Final, it’s no shock that the series, which switches to Utica, New York has the Manchester Monarchs up two-games-to-none. Game Three is also on Wednesday night. The game in Utica is available for free viewing on AHL Live.

The Monarchs won the first two games both in overtime by the scores of 3-2 and 2-1 respectively. Mike Mersch, who was knocked out of the Hartford series in Game Three off a big, hard and clean hit from defenseman Dylan McIlrath, scored twice including the game-winner. In Game Two, it was Nic Dowd who provided the overtime heroics for the Monarchs.

Mersch and Jordan Weal are tied for the AHL postseason scoring league with 21 points. Mersch is one behind Teemu Pulkinnen of the Grand Rapids Griffins with 13 goals for the top spot.

In both games, the Monarchs continued their impressive streak of scoring the game’s first goal, albeit, in this series, it’s taken them longer than at any time of the post season. Ex-Yale Bulldog Brian O’Neill scored at 16:00 in Game One and Zach O’Brien scored at 19:05 on the power-play in Game Two.

The Monarchs postseason record when they’ve scored the game’s first goal is an impressive 13-0­.

In other AHL news, Former Yale forward Andrew Miller has signed a new one-year deal with Edmonton. He scored 60 points in 63 games on the strength of 27 goals and 33 assists in Oklahoma City with the Barons last season. Miller played nine games in Edmonton where he scored one goal and had four assists.

Miller’s first NHL game on March 27th was quite memorable. He scored a goal and had an assist. What made it unique was that his first NHL goal was off a penalty shot.

Miller’s penalty shot goal as a first NHL goal made him the first Oiler to do that in team history. He was the first NHL’er to do it since Jay McClement did it for the St. Louis Blues on October 11, 2005. Miller became just the sixth player in NHL history to successfully duplicate the feat.

The first penalty shot goal as a first goal was done by Ralph “Scotty” Bowman (no relation to the hockey coaching great) with the St. Louis Eagles on November 13, 1934. That Bowman had eight career goals. The next time that feat was accomplished was 1973 when Phil Hoene, who was with the LA Kings, and was one of his only two goals in his 37 game NHL career.

Finnish born Ilkka Sinisalo, who was with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1981, was the first and only European to ever accomplish this unique goal. Ex-Springfield Falcon Reggie Savage did it when he was with the Washington Capitols in 1992.

The first ever NHL penalty shot was taken by Armand Mondou of the Montreal Canadians on November 10, 1934, Mondou ended his career with the New Haven Eagles in the old International American Hockey League (1936-40). The goalie who stopped him was George Hainsworth of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the uncle of former New Haven Blades (1968-1972), Nighthawks emergency goalie, and former Yale assistant coach, Dave Hainsworth.

Sheldon Keefe is the new head coach of the Toronto Marlies. Keefe played in the AHL with Springfield, the Hershey Bears and the Utah Grizzlies.

Keefe coached the last three seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) racking up an impressive record and was named CHL and OHL, “Coach Of The Year” last year en route to a 54-12-0-2 record and team record of 110 points.

Prior to that, Keefe coached Junior A hockey with the CCHL Pembroke Lumber Kings with five straight winning seasons and league titles and a national Junior A RBC Cup title in 2011.

Keefe will name two new assistant coaches in the near future.

In what may have been the worst-kept secret in hockey, last year’s AHL, “Coach Of The Year,” Grand Rapids’ Jeff Blashill was named the new head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Blashill compiled a record of 134-83-11 in three seasons with the Griffins. he won a Calder Cup title in the AHL in 2012.

Blashill is the eighth current coach who has won a Calder Cup and is now behind an NHL bench. he’s also the fourth current AHL Coach of the Year (Louis A. Pieri Award) winner to be in, “The Show.”

No announcement on the next Grand Rapids coaching staff was made.

Back in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals,  the series between the Allen Americans and the South Carolina Stingrays which has shifted to Charleston, SC has the Americans up three-games-to-two on the strength of a 3-2 overtime win on Tuesday night. Allen can clinch the Kelly Cup, also on Wednesday night, at the North Charleston Arena.

Allen won Game Five on a Greger Hanson goal at 5:25 into OT. South Carolina forced OT with a goal by Wayne Simpson off an assist by New Canaan native, and former Taft Prep player, Drew Mackenzie and former Hotchkiss star, Derek Deblois, with 1:55 left in regulation. Simpson has an ECHL record best 38 points.

Allen regained the home-ice advantage when they won Game Four in double overtime 3-2 on Sunday. The game-winning goal came off the stick of Vincent Arseneau and ex-Sound Tiger, Dyson Stevenson, had a goal and an assist in the game.

Anybody who has listened to hockey on the radio (over the air analog style) knows about the legendary voice of the Ft. Wayne Komets, Bob Chase. At 89, Chase is still doing the games on the 50,000 watt clear channel WOWO-AM (1190) that booms across America just finished his 52nd season. Read this fine piece on Chaser.

In juniors, it’s that time again for the QMJHL draft.

It was a long day in Sherbrooke last Saturday and quite a number of Connecticut kids in Connecticut-based hockey programs heard their names selected in the QMJHL Draft.

The highest pick was Michael O’Leary of Salisbury Prep. O’Leary was selected for a second year in a row. Last year, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles took him in the first round, 14th overall for the Halifax native who has committed to Cornell (ECACHL) for 2016-17. This time O’Leary’s name lasted several rounds more when the Moncton Wild Cats took him in the third round, 52nd overall. In 2014, he was taken by the Dubuque Thunderbirds (USHL) in 14th round, 226th overall.

In the 6th round, 96th overall, an Avon Old Farms player for next season, Matt Allen, was selected by the Sherbrooke Phoenix from the South Kent School’s US Selects program. He is committed to Providence College for 2017-18.

From Stamford, via the nationally acclaimed Shattuck St. Mary’s program, Alex Mella was taken by the Rimouski Océanic in the seventh round, 110th overall. Earlier in the spring he was taken by the Green Bay Bobcats (USHL) in the sixth round, 82nd overall of their draft.

Also in the 7th round, Manchester’s Lucas Niezelski, a defenseman, was taken by Rimouski, 127th overall. He plays for the Boston Jr. Bruins program in the USPHL-Premier League.

In the 9th round, Ben Mirageas of Avon Old Farms was selected by Saint John Sea Dogs. In the spring, Mirageas was taken by the Bloomington Thunder (USHL) in the second round, 30th overall.

In the 12th round 203rd Greenwich native from Brunswick Prep Christian LeSeuer was taken by Baie Comeau. He was selected by Sioux City (USHL) in their draft in the 5th round 79th overall.

In the thirteenth round, 221st overall, Wilton native Matt Gosiewski was taken by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. He was taken in the USHL Draft by the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, third round and 45th overall. He is committed to Harvard University (ECACHL) for 2017-18.

Two selections later, Avon native Jake Gresh, who played with Avon Old Farms, was selected by Cape Breton.

In the 14th round, 236th overall, Westminster Prep’s Pat Dawson, was taken by Acadie Bathurst. Their GM is former New Haven Nighthawk, Sylvain Couturier. Dawson was selected in the USHL Draft by Bloomington in the ninth round and 136th overall.

Two spots later Glastonbury’s Brendan Casey from the Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack program was taken by the Victoriaville Tigres.

At 248th overall in the 14th round, West Haven native Eric Esposito, who played at Loomis Chaffe school in Windsor, was taken by the Val D’Or Foreurs. He was taken in the spring by Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) 16th round 249th overall. He is heading to the University of New Hampshire (HE) in 2017-18.

Jack Hoey, a Fairfield native who played public school hockey at Fairfield Prep before going to Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, was taken right after Esposito by the Quebec Remparts.

The last Connecticut native taken was New Canaan’s smooth passing, quick skating Pat Harper from Avon Old Farms. He was selected by the Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada. Their head coach and GM is former Wolf Pack and Sound Tiger, Joel Bouchard. Harper is committed to Boston University (HE) for 2016-17. Harper was selected by Omaha Junior Lancers (USHL) in the 11th round 182nd overall in their draft.

A few names of note in the USHL Draft were the sons of former Hartford Whalers. Alexander Nylander, who plays in Sweden was selected by the Dubuque Fighting Saints; Blake Coffey, was taken by the Waterloo Blackhawks and presently plays in Canada and Matt Barnaby Jr., son of the ex-Ranger, was taken by Bloomington and will play at Avon Old Farms in the fall.

Lastly, big 6’4 right handed shooting defenseman Tommy Craft from Hamden who plays for Deerfield Academy just over the CT/MA border was taken by Sioux Falls.

JUNIOR A BOUND

A good number of CT prep school players are heading off to Western Canada to play Junior A hockey next season to prepare to play collegiately and for some to preserve their NCAA eligibility. Those who play major junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) automatically lose their NCAA eligibility.

Here is the breakdown by school.

Avon Old Farms-Chase Sisky Langley (BCJHL).

Brunswick Prep-Matt Esposito Chilliwack (BCHL).

Choate Prep-Charley Borek Nanaimo (BCHL), Jeremy Germain-Chilliwack (BCHL), Jake Smith-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Brenden Russ-Langley (BCHL).

Gunnery Prep-Noah Bauld-Lloydminster (AJHL).

Kent Prep-Max Kaufman-Langley (BCHL), Bennett Morrison Salmon Arm (BCHL), Lewis Zerter-Penticton (BCHL) and Anthony Rinaldi Nanaimo (BCHL).

Loomis Chaffe-Erik Benshadle-Chilliwack (BCHL), Zach Giuttari-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Ben Short-Chilliwack (BCHL).

Salisbury Prep-James Gobetz-Brooks (AJHL), Brett Stirling-Victoria (BCHL), Kale Kane-Chilliwack (BCHL), Vimal Sukumaran-Chilliwack (BCHL) and Bailey MacBurnue-Trail (BCHL).

Westminster Prep-Anthony DiPlacido-Smith Falls (CCHL) and Nick Quillan-Lloydminster (BCHL)

PLAYERS ON THE MOVE

Ex-Pack Devin DiDiomete after three ECHL teams last year (Allen, Missouri, and Idaho) and after starting the year in England (Sheffield) heads back overseas and HC Banska Bystrica in Slovakia.

Ex-CT Whale Benn Ferriero heads up the list of the latest AHL’ers to go to Europe leaving Chicago and signing with EC Salzburg (Austria-AEHL).

Fellow CT Whale teammate Andreas Thuresson departs the KHL after playing with Sibir Novosibirsk and Severstal Cherepovets and returns home to the play in Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and Malmo IF.

Two former Sound Tigers switch teams. Brock Montpetit, in Sweden, goes from Vasteras IK to Leksand IF in the Allsvenskan league and in Russia in the VHL Sergei Ogorodnikov departs from Sarys Karaganda in Kazakhstan to HK Ryazan in Russia.

Former South Kent Prep player Wade Megan has made the switch to the Florida Panthers new AHL home, the Portland Pirates, from the San Antonio Rampage, signing a one-year AHL deal.

CANTLON: PACK RALLY ENDS SHORT OF GOAL AGAINST PENS

rp_hartfordwolfpacklogo_thumb1.jpg      VERSUS      Wilkes Barre

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

The Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins scored twice in the third period and needed both after a furious late charge by the Hartford Wolf Pack to seal a critical 4-3 win before 4,114 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Wednesday night.

The Wolf Pack trailed 4-1 and scored twice in the last five minutes to make it a single marker difference, but try as they did, they couldn’t find the equalizer.

Chris Bourque started the comeback as he out positioned Penguins’ defenseman Scott Harrington in front of the net. Bourque easily deposited the rebound of Tommy Hughes shot from the right point at 15:11. Hughes made the play by intercepting Scott Wilson’s clearing attempt off the left wing boards and then launching an effective 55 foot shot that created the rebound. Continue reading

FUEHRING: ROSTER MOVES EFFECTING ROADIES

greenville-road-warriors_thumb16SAPONARI RECALLED BY HARTFORD

Banwell activated from injured reserve; Arnold placed on 21-day IR

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Rd Warriors 

Greenville, SC The Greenville Road Warriors, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced forward Vinny Saponari has been recalled by Hartford. In addition, defenseman Mike Banwell has been activated from the 21-day injured reserve while forward Scott Arnold has been placed on the 21-day injured reserve, retroactive to November 27thContinue reading

CRAWFORD: SAPONARI RECALLED

hartford-wolf-pack-logo-150x133WOLF PACK RECALL FORWARD VINNY SAPONARI FROM GREENVILLE

*           *           *           *

2nd-year Pro is Road Warriors’ Leading Pt-scorer

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack 

HARTFORD, December 9, 2014:  Hartford Wolf Pack general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the Wolf Pack has recalled forward Vinny Saponari from its ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors. Continue reading