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