BY: Mitch Beck, Publisher – Howlings
In their first game following the end of the 113 NHL lockout, the Connecticut Whale played one of their best all-around games of the season minus three of their better forwards and their number one goaltender, as two rookies led the team to a 2-0 shutout of the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-0 at the XL Center Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Jean had two goals while backup netminder Jason Missiaen shined in his first start since being recalled from the Whale’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors. Jean was the game’s Second Star with his first multi-goal game, and Missiaen earned every bit of his First Star of the game honors with a gem of a 35-save performance.
With the lockout ended, prized rookie Chris Kreider took warm-ups but did not play. Head Coach Ken Gernander told the media after the game that the intention was to play him, but that the injury he had from the previous night against Adirondack, speculation being his taking a shot off his foot, wasn’t feeling right and that he was rested as a precaution. The same was the case with Marek Hrivik, although Hrivik was not announced as a scratch, but did not play due to what was described as, “an upper body injury.” Both players are listed as day-to-day and given the Whale are off until Saturday when they begin a six-game road trip, and the fact that New York Rangers training camp will likely open in the next couple of days, there was no reason to risk further injury to either player who both would appear to have a bright future with the organization moving forward. World Juniors champion J.T. Miller is reportedly back in the USA and officially reports to the Whale likely on Monday.
Ex-Wolf Pack defenseman Dylan Reese‘s high sticking call on Kris Newbury at 11:41 of the first period behind the Penguins net gave the Whale their first man advantage of the game and at 12:24, Jean made him pay for it by ending a 23-game goalless streak with his sixth of the season.
With Michael Haley screening starting netminder Brad Thiessen (4-7-1, 16 saves) Blake Parlett moved the puck from the right side over to the top of the slot where Logan Pyett awaited. The Whale defenseman slid the puck over to Jean at the left point. Jean walked the puck in just above the left circle as Philip Samuelsson, the son of former Rangers defenseman and former assistant coach of the Wolf Pack, Ulf Samuelsson, rushed at him in an attempt to block the shot. Jean got a rocket of a blast off which whizzed past Thiessen’s blocker and into the back of the net.
Early in the second period, Missiaen made a highlight reel save that was to this point anyway, the Save-of-the-Year.
Mike Verance had the puck behind the left side of the Whale net. Zach Still coming hard took the puck away and headed out the other end advancing the puck to the right side point to Philipe Dupuis. The Penguins’ center then fired a shot down low that was headed wide right. Former Wolf Pack tough guy Steve MacIntyre was there as was Pyett. The Whale defenseman knocked him to the ice as he put the shot on net. The puck hit Missiaen’s right pad and bounced out to the right side where Bobby Farnham, who’d gotten away from Vernace who turned to help Pyett with MacIntyre, came with speed across the front of the crease with speed and attempted a hard diving whack at the puck. Missiaen reading the play perfectly through his right leg out to corral the puck and caught it under the pad denying what would have been the game-tying goal in spectacular fashion. Farnam in disgust came over to the right ride boards and smashed his stick hard against the glass.
Missiaen’s great save at 4:26 ignited the crowd of 4,347 as well as his teammates and just under five minutes later Jean would strike again.
Jean started the play from just inside the Penguins side of the ice along the right side where he picked off a Dominik Uher clearing attempt and fired it back into the zone. Thiessen went behind the net to stop it and did. Thiessen saw Haley baring down on him and his defenseman Joe Morrow coming at him. Haley veered away and went to the left side of the net with Morrow to the right. Instead of handing it to his defenseman, Thiessen instead dumped the puck backhanded literally right to Haley. The Whale tough guy saw Shayne Wiebe in front of a rapidly closing Dupuis in front of the net and put the puck right there. Thiessen went down as Wiebe tried to pop it past him, but the puck bounced off the Penguins goaltender. Thiessen went to grab it, but Jean was too quick and flipped the puck into the right side of the vacated net.
For the Whale an important win. This was the first back-to-back shutouts since Cam Talbot did it in the first round of last season’s playoffs against Bridgeport, but it was the first at home since Steve Valiquette did it with a 33 save performance on January 15, 2005 against Bridgeport in a 4-0 Wolf Pack win and then the following game against Springfield on the 19th with a 21 save performance in a 5-0 win.
For reaction and comments see the video and audio files below.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS:
(Video provided by SentToNews.com)
26 Brandon Segal – 11 Kris Newbury – 42 Chad Kolarik
18 Michael Haley – 7 Kyle Jean – 9 Ryan Bourque
16 Tommy Grant – 90 Kelsey Tessier – 92 Christian Thomas
24 Shayne Wiebe – 15 Marek Hrivik**
31 Jason Missiaen
33 Cameron Talbot
Assistant Captains in BOLD
** Hrivik skated in warm-ups and has an upper body injury and couldn’t go. He wasn’t scratched but didn’t play. Listed by Ken Gernander as, “Day-to-Day”
20 – Chris Kreider – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
10 JT Miller - Reassigned to Team USA – Day-to-Day
1. CT – J. Missiaen
2. CT – K. Jean
3. CT – K. Newbury
Jarrod Ragusin (54)
Jim Briggs (83)
Derek Wahl (46)
The Whale are now on the road for their next six games. They play Saturday AND Sunday in Hershey against the Bears and then visit Portland on Tuesday, Springfield next Friday and then Portland against on Saturday and then Providence on the 20th. You can catch Bob Crawford and all of the action on WCCC-FM or watch it on AHL Live. You can also follow us for all of the play-by-play on Twitter at @HowlingsToday.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 0 at CT Whale 2 – Status: Final
Sunday, January 6, 2013 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
W-B/Scranton 0 0 0 – 0
Connecticut 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Jean 6 (Pyett, Parlett), 12:24 (PP). Penalties-Reese Wbs (high-sticking), 11:41.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Jean 7 (Wiebe, Haley), 9:29. Penalties-Parlett Ct (holding), 1:42; Pyett Ct (interference), 13:52.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Gibbons Wbs (hooking), 1:32; Bourque Ct (tripping), 14:52.
Shots on Goal-W-B/Scranton 11-13-11-35. Connecticut 9-6-3-18.
Power Play Opportunities-W-B/Scranton 0 / 3; Connecticut 1 / 2.
Goalies-W-B/Scranton, Thiessen 4-7-1 (18 shots-16 saves). Connecticut, Missiaen 3-3-0 (35 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Ragusin (54).
Linesmen-Jim Briggs (83), Derek Wahl (46).