Tag Archives: Associated Press

TOSTI: CARTER SANDLAK JOINS SWAMP RABBITS ROSTER

Carter Sandlak Joins Swamp Rabbits Roster

Greenville adds fourth-year forward with more than 50 games of AHL experienceBY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, have come to terms with forward, Carter Sandlak for the 2017-18 season. The winger brings AHL experience to the roster, logging 54 games with the Charlotte Checkers in his first two professional seasons.

Sandlak, 24, spent last season with the Toledo Walleye suiting up for 41 games with the regular season champs. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound forward netted five goals and added two assists for the Walleye, but missed nearly two months of the season due to injury. Sandlak has battled the Swamp Rabbits six times during his career, including one contest last year.

“Carter has great hockey sense and is a tough, hard-nosed player who also brings experience at the next level,” said Head Coach Brian Gratz. “Over the last two seasons, we have seen him play with Toledo and Florida and felt he would be a good addition to our team. We’re excited to welcome him to Greenville and have him contribute to our team achieving its goals, while we help him reach his.”

During his first two pro seasons, Sandlak played his games within the Carolina Hurricanes system. The London, Ontario native netted two goals and grabbed three helpers in the AHL with the Checkers and was a mainstay in Charlotte as a rookie. In 29 ECHL games with the Florida Everblades from 2014 to 2016, Sandlak earned 15 points (5G, 10A). He also set a career best with the Everblades, collecting three points (1G, 2A) against the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-2 comeback win. In total, Sandlak has played 70 ECHL games, earning 22 points (10G, 12A) and logging 78 PIMS.

“Last year, the season didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I think that adversity made me grow as a player and as a person,” said Sandlak “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Swamp Rabbits organization. (Greenville) is a great place to play and the staff is great, so it was a no brainer for me.”

Before turning pro, Sandlak spent five seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He played a majority of his career with the Belleville Bulls but also held roster spots with the Guelph Storm and Plymouth Whalers. Sandlak ended his OHL tenure with 272 games, 122 points (59G, 63A), and 375 PIMS.

Carter also comes from a hockey family as his father, Jim Sandlak, played more than 500 NHL contests with the Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers. Sandlak becomes the eighth skater signed by the Swamp Rabbits this offseason (Nick Betz, Ricky DeRosa, Sean Flanagan, Chad Duchesne, Austin McKay, Joe Houk, and Evan Jasper).

The Swamp Rabbits open the season against the Wheeling Nailers on Oct. 13, 2017. The puck will drop for the Swamp Rabbits’ Opening Weekend at 7 p.m. EST at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Hockey Demo Days: Join the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for their Hockey Demo Day. Head to Dicks Sporting Goods on Woodruff Road on Sunday, July 30 from noon to 4 p.m. for an afternoon of fun! There will be free hockey instruction in the Dew Street Hockey Zone, corn hole, music, food, giveaways and much more. Call Charlie with the Swamp Rabbits at (864) 250-4937 for more information.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. Download the Swamp Rabbits app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for up to date information right in the palm of your hand.

Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for information on 2017-18 season tickets and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop to browse the full collection of fan wear and novelties!

CRDA RELEASES PICTURE OF COMPLETED XL CENTER FLOOR

Here’s your first look at the new floor in the XL Center after all the work to repair the ice. It now needs to cure for the next 30 days…

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.

 

CRAWFORD: WOLF PACK ANNOUNCE 2017-18 GAME SCHEDULE

WOLF PACK ANNOUNCE 2017-18 GAME SCHEDULE

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Kick off Campaign with October 6 Home Opener vs. Charlotte

 

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, July 11, 2017:  Spectra, operators of the XL Center and Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the Wolf Pack’s schedule of games for the 2017-18 American Hockey League season.

The Wolf Pack’s first of 76 games on the year is their home opener at the XL Center, which takes place Friday, October 6 vs. the Charlotte Checkers.  Faceoff is 7:15 PM.

Including the home opener, the Wolf Pack schedule will feature 12 Friday-night dates, and 13 more home games will be on Saturdays.  The Wolf Pack will play nine Sundays at home, and four Wednesdays.

One of those Wednesday dates, February 7 vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, will be the Wolf Pack’s fourth annual “Sonar’s Edu-skate” school-day home game, with faceoff at 11:00 AM.  All Friday-night home games will be 7:15 PM faceoffs. The rest of the non-Sunday home outings will start at 7:00 PM, except for Saturday, December 23, Saturday, March 3 and Saturday, March 24, which are 3:00 PM starts, and Saturday, November 4 and Saturday, January 27, which will start at 7:30.  All Sunday home games will be 5:00 PM faceoffs, except for March 4, which is a 3:00 start.

The most familiar opponent on the Wolf Pack schedule will be their close regional rivals the Springfield Thunderbirds, with whom the Wolf Pack will clash 12 times on the season (six home, six away).  The Wolf Pack will have ten games (five home, five away) each vs. divisional foes the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Providence Bruins, and will take on new Atlantic Division rivals the Charlotte Checkers eight times (four home, four away).  The Wolf Pack will see the rest of their divisional opponents, the Hershey Bears, Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, six times (three home, three away) apiece.

In action outside of their division, the Wolf Pack have four games (two home, two away) vs. Empire State foes the Rochester Americans and the Utica Comets, and play each of the remaining North Division teams, the Belleville Senators, Binghamton Devils, Laval Rocket, Syracuse Crunch and Toronto Marlies, twice (one home, one away).

Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2017-18 AHL season can be found on-line at hartfordwolfpack.com.  To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.

See the entire AHL schedule for all 30 teams HERE

 

CRDA PROVIDES PROGRESS PICTURES OF XL CENTER RENOVATION

CRDA PROVIDES PICTURES OF XL CENTER RENOVATION PROGRESS

BY: Mitch Beck, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Last week, Gerry Cantlon gave Howlings readers an in-depth report (Find it HERE) on the latest happenings with the renovation work currently going on at the XL Center.

Gerry was just provided ten pictures by the CRDA detailing the progress on those repairs.

Here they are:

    

WORST KEPT SECRET IN HOCKEY BECOMES OFFICIAL – LINDY RUFF HIRED BY RANGERS

RANGERS NAME LINDY RUFF ASSISTANT COACH

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, July 10, 2017 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team named Lindy Ruff as an Assistant Coach.

          Ruff, 57, has served as a Head Coach in the National Hockey League for the last 19 seasons (1997-98 – 2016-17). In 1,493 career regular season games as an NHL Head Coach, Ruff has posted a 736-554-78-125 record (.561 points percentage). He ranks fourth among head coaches in NHL history in regular season games coached, only trailing Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, and Joel Quenneville. Ruff also ranks fifth among head coaches in NHL history in regular season wins, only trailing Bowman, Quenneville, Arbour, and Ken Hitchcock. Ruff has also coached 120 career Stanley Cup Playoff games in the NHL, and his teams have posted a 66-54 record in the playoffs (.550 winning percentage).

          Ruff began his head coaching career in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres in 1997-98 and served as the team’s Head Coach for parts of 15 seasons (1997-98 – 2012-13). He is the Sabres’ all-time leader among head coaches in several categories, including games coached (1,165) and wins (571). After he had helped the Sabres advance to the Eastern Conference Final in his first season as the team’s head coach, he guided the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in his second season as Buffalo’s Head Coach in 1998-99.

Ruff also helped the Sabres advance to the Eastern Conference Final in two consecutive seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He was named the winner of the Jack Adams Award in 2005-06 for being the NHL head coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success” during the season. Ruff guided the Sabres to a 52-24-6 record during the 2005-06 season. He was also named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award in 2006-07, as he helped Buffalo win the Presidents’ Trophy (for having the best regular-season record in the NHL) for the first time in franchise history and establish a single-season franchise record with 53 wins.

Following his tenure in Buffalo, Ruff served as the Head Coach of the Dallas Stars for four seasons (2013-14 – 2016-17). He was selected as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for the third time in 2015-16, as he guided the Stars to a 50-23-9 record and helped the team finish in first place in the Central Division and in the Western Conference during the regular season. Over Ruff’s four-year tenure in Dallas, the Stars ranked second in the NHL – and led the Western Conference – in goals per game (2.97). Dallas ranked either first or second in the NHL in goals per game in two of Ruff’s four seasons as the team’s Head Coach.

Before beginning his head coaching career, Ruff served as an Assistant Coach with the Florida Panthers for four seasons (1993-94 – 1996-97). During his tenure with the Panthers, Ruff helped Florida advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 1995-96. The Warburg, Alberta, native has served as a member of Canada’s coaching staff in several tournaments. Ruff helped Canada earn a silver medal while serving as the Head Coach at the 2009 IIHF World Championship and also served as Team Canada’s Head Coach at the 2013 IIHF World Championship. Also, Ruff earned a gold medal while serving as the Associate Coach for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Ruff skated in 691 career NHL games over parts of 12 seasons in the league (1979-80 – 1990-91), registering 105 goals and 195 assists for 300 points, along with 1,264 penalty minutes. He played parts of three seasons with the Rangers (1988-89 – 1990-91) after being acquired from Buffalo on March 7, 1989, and he recorded 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 83 career contests with the Blueshirts.

CHAIMOVITCH: AHL NAMES 2016-17 WINNERS OF TEAM BUSINESS SERVICES AWARDS

AHL NAMES 2016-17 WINNERS OF TEAM BUSINESS SERVICES AWARDS

BY: Jason Chaimovitch, VP Communications, AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews has announced the winners of the league’s annual Team Business Services awards, recognizing outstanding achievements in a variety of categories including ticket sales, community service, and fan experience. These awards were presented Wednesday evening at a gala reception during the Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

As part of its Team Business Services program, the AHL honored one club from each conference for top revenue growth in four areas during this past season: overall ticket salesseason-ticket salesgroup ticket sales and corporate sponsorship sales. The winners in overall ticket sales revenue growth were the Springfield Thunderbirds (Eastern) and the Cleveland Monsters (Western). Winners for season-ticket sales growth were the Springfield Thunderbirds (Eastern) and the Milwaukee Admirals (Western). The Springfield Thunderbirds (Eastern) and the San Diego Gulls (Western) earned the awards for group-ticket sales growth, and the Springfield Thunderbirds (Eastern) and Texas Stars (Western) were recognized for their corporate sponsorship sales growth.

Additionally, teams from each conference were selected for excellence in the areas of digital mediacommunity relations, and fan experience. The Syracuse Crunch (Eastern) and Iowa Wild (Western) were honored for digital media excellence; the Hartford Wolf Pack (Eastern) and Ontario Reign (Western) earned the nods for exceptional community relations efforts; and the Utica Comets (Eastern) and Cleveland Monsters (Western) were recognized for outstanding fan experience at home games.

The AHL also honored several teams and individuals for their efforts during the 2016-17 season at the league’s Marketing Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., last month, including the Iowa Wild as the sponsorship sales department of the year and the San Diego Gulls as the ticket sales department of the year.

The Cleveland Monsters were recognized for unique ticket sales promotion or theme night (“Cleveland Indians Tribute Night”); the Toronto Marlies were selected for unique game operations (“Hungry Hungry Hippos”), the Charlotte Checkers were chosen for unique community relations initiative (“Pass It Forward with Verizon”), the Grand Rapids Griffins were honored for unique social media promotion (“Snapchat Spectacles”); and the Charlotte Checkers were given the award for unique sponsorship package or entitlement (“HomeTrust Bank”).

In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.

CRAWFORD: WOLF PACK EARNS AHL ACCOLADE FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

WOLF PACK EARNS AHL ACCOLADE FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

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Recognized with League Team Business Service Award

BY: Bob Crawford Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, July 7, 2017:  The American Hockey League has honored the Hartford Wolf Pack with its 2016-17 Team Business Services 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,” said Chris Lawrence, general manager of the XL Center and head of Wolf Pack business operations for Spectra.  “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 “Read to the Rink” reading program, sponsored by ProHealth Physicians Healthy Me, involved several dozen area schools, and 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, Wolf Pack players and Sonar, the team’s iconic mascot, combined to make nearly 200 community appearances during the 2016-17 season, ranging from school and hospital visits to youth hockey events, holiday toy deliveries, and all manner of community parades and celebrations.

In addition, a number of Wolf Pack game-night initiatives contribute significantly to supporting important causes.  Those game-oriented elements include such favorites as Xfinity “Chuck-a-Puck”, “Aetna Amateur Hockey” and Jefferson Radiology’s “Stick it to Cancer” Night and “Guns & Hoses Night”.

Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2017-18 AHL season can be found on-line at hartfordwolfpack.com.  To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.

CANTLON’S CORNER: NEW XL CENTER ICE WORK CONTINUES

CANTLON’S CORNER:

NEW XL CENTER ICE WORK CONTINUES

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Despite the all the financial difficulties for the XL Center, the new ice project continues on with no hiccups to report thus far.

“We’re hitting on all cylinders right now,” remarked CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth on Friday. “We have the pipes in. They’re getting welded as we speak and we have the rebar down. So we’re doing constant pressure monitoring and once all the welding is done we’ll have a system-wide test to make sure everything is ready before we pour the concrete.”

Cleary, the Hartford Wolf Pack lack of a playoff season has been a help to get this project closer to its target completion date.

A tentative completion date seems to be sometime in mid-July with a one month curing period following the concrete being poured.

“We think (mid-July) is likely target date. Once, we have all the components ready and in place, then we can pour (the concrete). Because of the cure period, we have to make sure everything is correctly done beforehand.”

One of the deadline pressures is the scheduled September 24th Rogers Waters concert at the XL Center. It’s already been heavily promoted and the addition of two others concerts, along with the Wolf Pack training camp at the end of September are all on everybody’s mind.

“Certainly, we need to get the sub-floor in and done by the end of August. We clearly have those dates sitting in front us.”

One date Freimuth has no control over is the pending expiration of the state budget battle. The timeline for round two comes on June 30th.

“We’re in the same boat as everyone else is,” Freimuth said. “We have to wait and we have developed contingencies and they aren’t any more appetizing as the budget will be.”

The current contingency plan for the XL Center is to operate under last year’s budget with a ten-percent reduction. When a budget does get passed a reduction of an unknown amount or size is planned.

“We had an 18% reduction the last two years and 25% since we started. It clearly is getting harder, but we are fortunate that we have these extra concerts coming in. It helps us run the building, meet payroll, and pay the utilities. All discretionary spending is frozen and many planned projects are on hold or may be shelved. There will be a cut again of what amount or size, I have no idea.

“Right now we can use some of the operating capital and revenue until this gets resolved. It’s critical for the building. If it’s still like this in three or four months, I might be just a little anxious,” Freimuth said seemingly with a heavy dose of anxiousness in his reply.

The CRDA Executive has confirmed that initial discussions with MSG regarding the Wolf Pack, who are entering the last year of their contract, have occurred.

“We have had surface and preliminary discussions, and I mean really preliminary; just two meetings to date to lay the ground work. We have discussed ideas and going forward what they are looking for and what we are looking for from them.”

He wouldn’t confirm what reliable sources have told Cantlon’s Corner that a two-year extension under the current terms structure for 2018-19 and 2019-20 at $1.55 and $1.6 million has been initially offered.

Like everything else, the present and future of the XL Center hinge on the legislative outcome in Hartford.

PHOTO CREDIT: CRDA

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 NHL DRAFT RESULTS AND MORE

CANTLON’S CORNER: 2017 DRAFT RESULTS AND MORE

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The first round of the NHL Draft went more or less according to the script.

There wasn’t much in the way of “cloak and dagger” or major surprises at Friday night’s two and half hour TV spectacle.

The New York Rangers did manage, for the first time since 2012, to have a first round pick. In fact, they didn’t just have one, but they had two selections to start the restocking process for a team in serious need of prospects. The team stocked up on centerman which seemed to be a shortage of over the past half dozen years or more.

The Blueshirts acquired the seventh overall choice in the draft from the Arizona Coyotes earlier in the day. They converted that pick into Lias Andersson from HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Andersson posted nine goals and 19 points in 42 games. The question with this 18-year-old is not about his skill or his compete level, but will he fill out his current 6’1 180-lb frame?

Just a reminder, Jaromir Jagr was 175-pounds in 1991 when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him. He’s still playing if you didn’t know. Continue reading