Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 15
BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – The dog days of summer are upon us, and while things may be sweltering outside, things will be beginning to cool off a bit in hockey news, but not this week.
WOLF PACK NAME NEW ASSISTANT COACH
The off-season Wolf Pack moves seem like they are pretty much complete now with the naming of a new assistant coach to handle the Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman. That coach has plenty of experience.
Keith McCambridge was named last Wednesday as the team’s fourth assistant coach for the defenseman during Ken Gernander’s ten-year coaching reign.
McCambridge coached for a second time in his home Canadian province with the AHL Manitoba Moose. Last year’s Moose were not very impressive finishing with the third worst record in the AHL (26-41-4-5) with just 61 points. They led only the Springfield Falcons and the Iowa Wild. He was relieved of his duties in April by the parent Winnipeg Jets and replaced by Pascal Vincent.
McCambridge’s hockey resume includes coaching and playing with 532 AHL games as an assistant and head coach.
He was with the second edition of the Winnipeg Jets and managed their prospects in St. John’s for four years. He was an assistant coach for the first edition of the AHL Manitoba Moose from 2009 through 2011.
McCambridge’s first coaching stint came in ECHL with the Anchorage, Alaska-based Aces (216 games). He spent one season as the assistant coach then two years as a head coach before ex-Wolf Pack and current Bridgeport head coach, Brent Thompson, took over the reins.
McCambridge played in 378 games in the AHL with nine goals, 21 assists for 30 points and added 1,057 PIM. He was known as a hard-nosed, physical defensive defenseman and a solid team leader and locker room guy. His playing days included stops in St. John, Providence, Houston, and Cleveland. McCambridge also played in 83 games in the original IHL with Las Vegas and had three games with the first edition with the Manitoba Moose.
The last three years of McCambridge’s playing career were in Alaska where he served as a player/assistant coach. He was also the captain all three of those seasons. Over 166 games, McCambridge had five goals and 21 points and 375 PIM. The team won the Kelly Cup title in his last season as a player.
McCambridge had a 282-game junior career played primarily with the WHL Swift Current Broncos where he tallied six goals and 39 points and 570 PIM. The Broncos made it to the Memorial Cup final in 1993 but were knocked out by Laval.
He would revenge that loss to Laval in his last season of junior hockey. Traded at the deadline to the Kamloops Blazers, they went on to win the WHL playoffs and went to the Memorial Cup where the Blazers went undefeated and beat the host team Laval by the score of 4-3, coincidentally the same score they eliminated his Swift Current team by two years earlier.
McCambridge was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 8th round 201st overall in the 1994 Draft.
US HOCKEY HALL OF FAME
Congratulations to Enfield, CT native Craig Janney on his being named to the US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
Janney was a product of Connecticut high school hockey in the early 1980’s. During that time, the Connecticut developed a reputation as a viable player in hockey scene. Janney, and Cheshire’s Brian Leetch, Trumbull’s Drury’s, Ted and Chris, and Hamden’s Todd Hall – who would go on to play for the Wolf Pack – were the pride of the Nutmeg State.
Janney’s NHL career spanned 760 games with 188 goals 563 assists for 751 points and highest per a game assist average for a US born player.
He was drafted in the first round of the 1986 entry draft by the Boston Bruins. Janney was selected 13th overall and exited Boston College after his sophomore season to be paired with Cam Neely and formed one of the most effective one-two offensive combos in NHL history.
The apex of his Bruins career was in 1990-91 when he led the team with 92 points as the Bruins went on to the Stanley Cup final, but lost to the Edmonton Oilers.
Janney was traded the following season in a blockbuster deadline deal with the St. Louis Blues for Adam Oates where he was hooked up with another prolific sniper, Brett Hull.
He tallied 106 points and led the Blues the following season where he set up Hull for many of his 54 goals.
Janney also played for Phoenix (nee Arizona), San Jose, Winnipeg and ended his NHL career with the New York Islanders.
His collegiate career at Boston College was tremendous. In Janney’s sophomore season he established regular season conference marks for assists in a season, 51 with (55 total assists) and total points 74 had (83 points in total). Both records still stand today. BC was eliminated by Minnesota in the NCAA Final Four semifinals which at the time was a total goals determination based upon a two-game series.
His high school career saw him help lead Enfield to back-to-back state titles. As an Enfield freshman, Janney’s squad knocked off the East Haven Yellow Jackets 5-4 in the Division II title. Elevated to Division I, the following year, the Raiders (nee Eagles) defeated the ND-WH Green Knights 5-4 before Janney departed the next year for prep school at nearby Deerfield Academy just over the CT/MA line in Longmeadow.
Enfield has a combined program with the other high school Enrico Fermi.
The other two inductees include Normand “Bill” Belisle (Manville, Rhode Island) whose coaching career at national powerhouse prep school, Mt. St. Charles Mounties (Woonsocket, RI). The program was one of the most successful high school programs in the region and the country.
Belisle had a career coaching record of 990-183-37, a winning percentage of .818 and won 26 consecutive Rhode Island Met A-League state titles from 1978-2003. He coached the program for 42 years, and his son is the present head coach. During the elder Belisle’s tenure behind the bench, that period saw New England hockey grow in national prominence. That fame also brought along Belisle, John Gardner of Avon Old Farms, the late Lou Astorino of Hamden, and the rise of Catholic Memorial in Massachusetts high school hockey.
Belisle had 20 eventual NHL’ers emerge from the program including ex-Hartford Whaler, Brian Lawton, who was a number one overall pick in 1983 by the Minnesota North Stars. Bryan Berard was also a number one pick overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1995, though he never played for them. Berard’s rights were traded to the Islanders for ex-CT Whale, Wade Redden. Berard played with the Rangers and Islanders. Goalie Brian Boucher and defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who also played with the Rangers for two years. Schneider was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame along with Chris Drury in 2015.
The last inductees were the US Gold medal winning 1996 World Cup team that went 6-0-1-0 in the tournament, including one of the fiercest opening games in any tournament, a 5-3 win over Canada. They then went on to beat Team Canada in the title game in Montreal at the Bell Centre (nee Molson Centre) by the same score and outscored their opponents by a total of 37-18.
Brett Hull had seven goals and 11 points. 16 players from that squad are in the US Hockey Hall of Fame.
US WJC EVALUATION CAMP AND TOURNEY
UConn’s Tage Thompson has certainly made a case for himself.
Thompson was a standout at the US National Evaluation Camp held in Plymouth, MI this past weekend as the team prepares the World Junior Hockey Championship squad to play in the Christmas-time tournament that will be played this year in Toronto and Montreal.
Thompson scored a hat trick (all even-strength goals) and had four points on the US Blue squad in their opening 8-1 drubbing of Finland.
If that weren’t impressive enough, Thompson went on to pop in two more goals in the following game in a 6-4 win over Sweden.
Then in tourney portion, the US squad knocked off Sweden again by the score of 4-3. Thompson was scoreless but has 11 shots on goal. His 21 shots on goals in the tourney were the most for the US squad.
The US team won the tournament with a strong 5-1 win over Canada. Thompson played on a line with two players who he will play against this season in Hockey East play. Both players are with Boston College, Clayton Keller, and Kieffer Bellows.
In the big summer European hockey tournament held in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, one that Canada has won nine years in a row, the US U-18 team won their first game in overtime 4-3 over Finland and then defeated Switzerland by the same score in regulation.
The U-18 team features former Avon Old Farms product Ben Mirageas, goalie Cayden Primeau (was in net against the Swiss) the son of former Whalers Keith Primeau and another former Whaler’s offspring, Mark Kastelic, the son of Ed Kastelic. Both Primeau and Mirageas will play US junior hockey this season with the Bloomington (Ill) Thunder and Lincoln (NE) Stars (USHL) respectively.
ON THE MOVE
The AHL to Euro flow continues to grow as Marc-Andre Gragnani goes from the Albany Devils to Dynamo Minsk (Belarus-KHL) and ex-Sound Tiger, Blair Riley goes from the Stockton Thunder to the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland-EIHL).
Justin Shuggs, who played with the Charlotte Checkers last season, is on a tryout contract with Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL). Vinny Saponari, an ex-Wolf Pack who played with three AHL teams and ECHL team last year, was cut before Dynamo Riga left for a five-game pre-season exhibition tour.
The AHL to Euro list stands at 64.
Former Wolf Pack, Danny Kristo, re-signs with St. Louis on a one-year, two-way deal at $575K-NHL/$175K-AHL.That’s a $100K reduction on the AHL salary side from last year after leading Chicago (AHL) with 25 goals and second for the Wolves in points with 48 points.
Former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Danny Federico, signs an ECHL deal with South Carolina after playing with Kelly Cup champion Allen last year. Fellow Bobcat alum goalie, Eric Hartzell, returns from Heilbronner (Germany DEL-2) and signs with the Ft. Wayne Komets.
Ex-Sound Tigers, Darryl Bootland (Colorado), and Guy Lebouef (Elmira), each sign one-year deals with their ECHL teams from a season ago.
Former Whaler/Nighthawk/UCONN player, Todd Krygier, has been hired as an assistant coach with the Western Michigan University Broncos (NCHC) last Thursday.
Krygier has been the head coach of Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) since June 5, 2013, where he is replacing another ex-Whaler, Jim McKenzie. He played 543 NHL games after being a 1998 Supplemental Draft pick (1st round, 16th overall) by the Whalers. He played 13 games in New Haven after four years at UConn, then a NCAA Division III program in the ECAC North Conference. He played 130 games for the Whalers with 31 goals, 24 assists, and 55 points.
Krygier also played with Washington and Anaheim in his NHL career and ended his playing career in 2000 after two years with Orlando (IHL) as the league folded after the season and six teams merged with the AHL.
He has five children with two playing NCAA Division I sports. Krygier’s son, Brock, plays hockey with the Arizona State Sun Devils after transferring from Michigan State. Daughter Natalie plays Division I soccer with the University of Iowa after transferring from UConn after one year. Daughter Grace is a committed to Iowa but is still in high school.
The two younger sons, twins Cole and Christian, are playing Bantam hockey in Michigan in the Little Caesars U-16 team (HPHL). They made news this week by making an early commitment to the University of Wisconsin Badgers (Big 10) for the 2019-20 season and will be junior hockey eligible next year in the US or Canada.
Christian and Cole were drafted in this past spring’s OHL Priority Draft by the London Knights, but only Cole was selected by the Lincoln Stars in the USHL Draft.
A former Whaler draft pick, Jim Culhane, was accepted into the Broncos Ring of Honor for retired players last weekend.
Culhane was drafted in the 11th round, 214th overall by the Whalers in 1984. He played six games in Hartford notching an assist in his third year of pro hockey. He retired from playing after a five-year minor pro career and went to WMU (1993-2010) as an assistant coach for six years and another 11 as head coach.
Recently graduated Yale University player Stu Wilson has already hung up his skates and has accepted a position as USHL Manager of Operations in their Chicago-based office. The Pittsford, NY native did play three AHL games with Rochester after his collegiate season was over and scored his first and only pro goal in his second game.
Wilson’s father Wayne is the head coach for R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology) (AHC).
David Musil, the nephew of ex-Whaler and Ranger Bobby Holik, has signed a one-year, two-way deal with Edmonton at $600K-NHL/$75K-AHL.
Sam Gagner, son of former New Haven Nighthawk and Ranger Dave Gagner, signs a one-year $650K cap friendly deal with Columbus.
Drew Omicioli, who played at Loomis Chaffe (Windsor) and is an ex-Danbury Trasher, takes a head coaching job with SG Cortina (Italy). The team will play in a newly formed Alps Hockey League featuring Italian and Austrian based in the Alps region teams next year. He was the head coach last year for the Louisiana IceGators (SPHL) who suspended operations for a year while renovation work is done on their arena the CajunDome.
Joining him will be New Hartford native Jordan Cicarello who played with Louisiana and also skated with Florida (ECHL) and South Carolina (ECHL) last season. He also has played at Sacred Heart University, FHL Danbury Whalers and South Kent Prep in his career.
Goalie Andy Illes, a former Salisbury Prep player, signs a deal with Elmira (ECHL) joining his seventh ECHL team in two years since graduating from Cornell.
Former Sound Tiger, Mike Radja, returns from Belfast to play for Elmira (ECHL).
Sacred Heart University Pioneers (AHC) assistant coach, Joel Beal, in his fourth year with the program, has been elevated to associate head coach under head coach C.J. Marrotolo (North Haven, CT).
Three more collegians sign pro contracts. Ryan Chyzyk of North Dakota (Rockford) and two others signed with Idaho (ECHL), Kevin Glen (Penn State) and Will Merchant (Maine). To date, 188 collegians have signed North American pro deals for next season and on August 15th the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes for the Hobey Baker winner will commence.
ELLERY AWARD WINNER
Congratulations to long time AHL writer, Patrick Williams, on being awarded the AHL James Ellery Award for coverage of the AHL.
Williams, based in Winnipeg reported on the AHL Moose in their second incarnation in Manitoba and Williams also covers the NHL Winnipeg Jets for NHL.com.
Williams coverage of the AHL and Hockey, in general, has taken him all over the North American map.
He was the longtime writer covering the Philadelphia Phantoms before the building the Spectrum was closed and demolished and the team relocated to Glen Falls for five years before going to Allentown, PA last season.
Williams has covered Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a period and covered the OHL for several years for the Canadian Press.
Finding his way to Winnipeg was a stroke of luck after the Phantoms left Philadelphia. His wife, Carrie Dymont, took a fellowship in studying aboriginal cultures, and the largest concentration is North America is near Winnipeg! So after losing his team and building in Philadelphia, he got the opportunity to continue his passion, and it blossomed when the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated to Winnipeg and gave birth to the Winnipeg Jets 2.0.
Covering the AHL comes with little money or glory, so it is great to see one of the true lovers of the AHL and our ever shrinking band of writing brothers and sisters get so richly rewarded after covering games in silence in Lowell to raucous Hershey.
Well done Pat.
“COOLEST” HOCKEY STORY EVER?
Odd as it may sound, hockey in the South Pole needs some ice?
Ryan Bahl, a hockey player from San Diego, CA, is bidding to get in the Guinness Book of World Records after he was told his playing on all six continents didn’t qualify as a record because he hadn’t played on all seven continents – meaning he needed to add the South Pole! So, Bahl has started an ice roots movement to change that and bring an ice arena to the bottom of the globe.
Bahl has played in such novel and unique hockey spots, starting in junior hockey with his hometown San Diego team in the WSHL and Las Vegas in the defunct MWHL. Bahl has been in Sweden for the HC Lions a Division 3 team, Iceland for UMFK Esja, Turkey for SK Beledivasi, the Czech Republic HC Zdar Sazavou in Division 3. Spain S.A.D. Majadahonda, Canterbury Red Devils in New Zealand and the short season NZIHL and in Cape Town (Storm), South Africa in the Western Province Ice Hockey League (WPIHL).
He presently is in Chile playing and coaching.
Read about this exciting developing chapter in hockey history from a story by Andy Potts at the IIHF.com HERE
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE HOCKEY
Speaking of the NZIHL, the defending champion Sky Sports Southern Stampede (Queenstown) coached by Berlin native and former Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack, Adam Blanchette, have qualified for the finals with a three-way race for the second spot between the Botany Swarm, West Auckland Admirals, and Canterbury.
Former Danbury Whaler Matt Puntureri plays for Canterbury. The semifinals are played the weekend of August 19-21 and the Finals the following weekend August 27th and 28th.
The Australian Goodall Cup Semifinals and Final will be played in Melbourne on August 27-28. The games are single elimination to be played at the O’Brien Group Arena.
The defending champs, the Newcastle North Stars, are led by their captain and Cheshire native Rob “Bert” Malloy. They look to repeat and currently sit in second place (14-7-0-1-3) for 48 points, ten behind the league leader Melbourne Ice. They are tied in points with the Perth Thunder and Canberra (CBR) Brave as they head into the final three weeks of the regular season.
All four teams have qualified for the tournament.