Tag Archives: Calder Cup



BY: Jason Chaimovitch, AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League today announced the four people selected for induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017.

Honored by the AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee as the 12th group of enshrinees are Billy DeaBryan HelmerRob Murray and Doug Yingst.

“The history of the American Hockey League is defined by the standards of excellence set by those who have played, coached and worked here over the past eight decades,” said David Andrews, AHL President, and Chief Executive Officer. “The AHL Board of Governors is proud to unanimously endorse the Selection Committee’s recommendation for the induction of these four individuals into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017.”

The Class of 2017 will be honored as part of the festivities at the 2017 Capital BlueCross AHL All-Star Classic, hosted by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The American Hockey League Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony is scheduled for January 30, 2017, in Allentown, Pa.

Formed in 2006 to recognize, honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions in the American Hockey League, the AHL Hall of Fame is housed online at www.ahlhalloffame.com and is accessible to fans worldwide with the click of a mouse as part of the AHL Internet Network.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams, as well as the NHL’s on-ice officials. By season’s end in 2015-16, more than 88 percent of all NHL players were American Hockey League graduates, including more than 200 former first- and second-round draft picks and more than 300 players who appeared in both leagues last season alone.

Click for complete release including career statistics


deaBilly Dea
Edmonton native Billy Dea spent more than half of his 19-year professional career in the American Hockey League, where his consistency, durability, and reliability made him one of the league’s all-time greats.

After seeing time in the National Hockey League with New York, Detroit, and Chicago, Dea made his AHL debut with the Buffalo Bisons on Oct. 8, 1958. Over the next eight seasons, Dea played in every single one of the Bisons’ contests, breaking Bill Needham’s league ironman record on Christmas night in 1965. Dea finally missed a game on Feb. 12, 1966, ending the streak at an amazing 548 straight (plus 48 more in the playoffs) – a mark that may never be broken.

A hard-working and popular winger, Dea had his most productive offensive season in 1960-61, when he set career bests with 35 goals and 74 points. He helped the Bisons return to the league finals in 1962, and was an important part of their Calder Cup championship team in 1963.

Dea spent nine seasons in Buffalo, eclipsing the 20-goal mark each year and reaching the 50-point plateau six times. He returned to the NHL with Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit before finishing his playing career with the AHL’s Tidewater Wings in 1971-72.

helmerBryan Helmer
Unheralded and undrafted after four seasons of Junior “A” and Junior “B” hockey, Bryan Helmer went on to play more games and record more assists and points than any defenseman in the history of the American Hockey League.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer made his pro debut with the Albany River Rats in 1993 and played five seasons in Albany, helping the club to a Calder Cup championship in 1995 and earning First Team AHL All-Star honors in 1997-98. Helmer later skated for the Worcester IceCats (1998-2000), the Manitoba Moose (2001-03) and the Springfield Falcons (2003-04) before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he did not miss a single game during two seasons and was named a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2005-06.

Helmer then spent two years as captain of the San Antonio Rampage (2006-08) and then two seasons with the Hershey Bears (2008-10), where he captained the club to back-to-back Calder Cup championships. In 2009, Helmer was selected to wear the “C” for the Canadian team at the AHL All-Star Classic.

Helmer joined the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010, and on Feb. 18, 2011, became the seventh player in league history to reach 1,000 regular-season games. He was the recipient of the league’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award in 2010-11, as the player exemplifying sportsmanship, determination, and dedication to hockey.

After two seasons with the Barons, Helmer completed his 20-year professional playing career back in Springfield, retiring in 2013 in third place all-time with 1,117 regular-season games played, and first among AHL defensemen with 435 assists and 564 points. Helmer also played more postseason games (159) than anyone in AHL history – including seven trips to the conference finals and his three Calder Cups – and he finished with a cumulative plus/minus rating of +188, finishing at +15 or better eight times.

murrayRob Murray 
Respected by both teammates and opponents for his leadership and hard-nosed play, Rob Murray spent 15 seasons as a forward in the American Hockey League.

A third-round draft pick by the Washington Capitals in 1985, Murray made his AHL debut with the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1988-89, racking up 34 points and finishing second on the team with 235 penalty minutes. He joined the Winnipeg Jets organization in 1991 and spent most of the next nine seasons with their AHL affiliates, first in Moncton – where he helped the Hawks reach the Calder Cup Finals in 1994 after scoring 25 goals in the regular season – and then in Springfield, where he quickly became a fan favorite and the face of the city’s new Falcons franchise.

After finishing the 1999-2000 season in Hamilton, Murray signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and began 2000-01 as captain of the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms before returning the Falcons later that year. He then spent one season with the Saint John Flames before finishing his career with a third stint in Springfield in 2002-03, becoming the sixth player ever to reach 1,000 regular-season games in the AHL and eventually helping the club to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Murray reached double digits in goals eight times and triple digits in penalty minutes 12 times during his playing career, and currently ranks second in AHL history with 2,940 PIM and seventh with 1,018 games played. The Toronto native wore the “C” for four different AHL franchises, as well as for the Canadian team at the 1997 AHL All-Star Classic.

Murray transitioned immediately into coaching and spent eight seasons behind the bench with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, winning a Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy (regular-season champions) as an assistant in 2007-08 and reaching the conference finals in his first year as head coach in 2008-09.

yingstDoug Yingst 
The successor to a Hockey Hall of Famer, Doug Yingst made a name for himself during a storied 34-year career as an executive with the Hershey Bears.

Hired as the Bears’ sales and promotions director in 1982, Yingst won the AHL’s Ken McKenzie Award for outstanding promotion of his club in 1987-88 as the Bears captured the Calder Cup. He was promoted to assistant general manager under the legendary Frank Mathers in 1988, and in 1990 added the role of director of hockey operations.

Yingst was named GM in 1996, and in his first season in that position the Bears won a Calder Cup championship. He later established an affiliation with the Washington Capitals in 2005 that began the greatest five-year run by any team in league history, with three more Calder Cup titles, four Finals appearances and a record 60-win season in 2009-10.

Yingst oversaw the groundbreaking for Giant Center, which opened in 2002 as one of the premier facilities in the AHL, and guided the Bears to 10 consecutive seasons of league-leading attendance from 2006-16. He was instrumental in bringing two AHL All-Star Classics to Hershey (1996, 2011), and also orchestrated the first-ever outdoor game in the region at Hersheypark Stadium in 2013.

A long-time member of the AHL’s Board of Governors and chairman of several league committees, Yingst was honored with the James C. Hendy Award as the league’s outstanding executive in both 2000 and 2006 and was the recipient of the Thomas Ebright Award for his career contributions in 2008.

Yingst retired in 2016 after one more trip to the Calder Cup Finals, the eighth of his career. His four championships as general manager are tied for the most of anyone in league history.


fhlFHL Formally Approves Expansion to Cornwall, Ontario for 2016-17 Season


Syracuse, NY – The Federal Hockey League (FHL) has formally approved an expansion FHL Member Club to Cornwall, Ontario, Canada that will begin play during the 2016-17 season.

The new Cornwall expansion membership will play its home games at the Ed Lumley Arena at the Cornwall Civic Complex in Cornwall, a venue that was opened in 1976 and has a seating capacity of up to 5,000 fans for hockey.

The membership has been awarded to Mitch Gagne and Rodney Rivette of Cornwall, Rodney is a well-known musician and promoter of the City of Cornwall. One of the founders of Cornwall’s Winterfest Rod sits on many community committees within the City of Cornwall.

Rodney also assisted with the day to day operations with the former Cornwall River Kings Hockey Club.

Mitch Gagne is the owner of Dangles And Dekes Hockey Inc. a successful hockey program provider in Cornwall. Mitch has also worked in one instance or another with every team that’s been in existent the last 22 years from the American Hockey League‘s Cornwall Aces to the most recent Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH. Mitch has held titles such as Equipment Manager to General Manager throughout those 22 years.

“We welcome the Cornwall, Ontario market as our only Canadian membership and are excited to branch out into the north,” said FHL Commissioner Don Kirnan. “Mitch and Rodney have already done a terrific job in the off-season including securing season ticket and corporate partnership commitments required to make this team successful.”

The Ed Lumley Arena has hosted elite hockey organizations including the QMJHL Cornwall Royals (1976 – 1981) and most recently the Cornwall RiverKings on the LNAH. The Arena also hosts many amateur hockey organizations including the Cornwall Colts, a tier II junior A hockey club.

A press conference has been scheduled for Saturday, September 17th at the Cornwall Civic Complex to announce the team’s ownership jerseys and logo.

A revised 2016-17 schedule will be released shortly.

For more information about the new Cornwall, Ontario membership, visit federalhockey.com/cornwall or contact us at info@federalhockey.com.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT –  There’s always speculation on a team that didn’t make the playoffs in who’s coming back and who isn’t. The Hartford Wolf Pack have, as most AHL teams do, had some turnover. One player who’s future was an unknown had that question answered this past week.


Last season’s best insurance policy in the Pack net, Jeff Malcolm, has been resigned by the Rangers to an AHL deal for the 2016-17 season.

The question for Malcolm though is, “Will he be in Hartford or Greenville?

Looking at the goalie depth chart with Magnus Hellberg (making $100K-AHL last season), Mackenzie Skapski in the final year of his entry-level deal ($65K-AHL) and rookie Brandon Halverson (starting the first year of a three entry level contract) Greenville seems more likely for Malcolm.

We thought that last season too, but he spent significant time in Hartford early in the year because both Mackenzie Skapski (right hip labrum)i and Cedrick Desjardins (torn right ACL) were coming major surgeries in the off season.

Malcolm spent a better part of the second half as Magnus Hellberg’s backup when Skapski had troubles in net and was dispatched to Greenville was highly respected by his teammates and coaching staff on how he handled the backup role. Malcolm won some significant games including a critical 3-0 shutout in Springfield on March 20th in the Pack’s valiant, but unsuccessful bid to make the Calder Cup playoffs.

Malcolm’s season was ended prematurely in the waning weeks of the regular season suffering a fractured larynx in practice taking a shot similar to Providence Malcolm Subban injury and was rushed to a local surgeon for successful emergency surgery,

Malcolm, is entering amazingly his fourth pro season in 2016-17, and his first three seasons have all been in the Wolf Pack/New York Ranger organization. Last season, he played a career-high 14 AHL games with the Wolf Pack and tied his AHL career best in wins with seven, going 7-5-0 in AHL action. The 6-2, 185-pound Malcolm also established personal AHL bests of a 2.41 goals-against average and a 91.2% save percentage, and registered his first two career AHL shutouts.

Malcolm also appeared in nine ECHL games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits recording a record of 5-2-2 with a 3.40 GAA and an 89.4% save percentage. Malcolm also played in the ECHL All-Star game.

Originally signed by the Wolf Pack on July 17, 2013, Malcolm has seen action in 31 career AHL games, posting a 15-12-0 record, a 2.78 GAA and a 90.3% save percentage. In 64 total ECHL outings with Greenville, Malcolm is 35-21-6, with a 2.79 GAA, a 91.3% save percentage and one shutout.

Malcolm capped off his four-year Yale career in 2012-13 by backstopping the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA “Frozen Four” title in school history. Malcolm was 20-6-2 in 30 appearances for Yale in 2012-13, with a 2.24 goals-against average, a 91.9% save percentage and three shutouts. Those numbers represented the second-highest single-season win total, the third-best save percentage and fourth-lowest GAA in Yale Men’s Hockey history. Malcolm also finished second among ECACHL goaltenders in wins and tied for third in shutouts.

In his four years at Yale, Malcolm appeared in 67 games, amassing a record of 36-21-4 with a 2.60 GAA, a 90.7% save percentage and six shutouts. Those stats rank him fourth all-time in school history in wins, GAA and save percentage.


Former Wolf Pack Alex Krushelnyski, son of former New York Ranger, Mike Krushelnyski, signs an AHL deal with Binghamton.

Former Wolf Pack forward Andrew Rowe, who played for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he added seven goals and eight points in eleven games before an injury prematurely ended his season, has signed a one-year AHL deal with them for the upcoming season. The Sound Tigers also signed Finnish goalie Christopher Gibson for a one-year, two-way deal.

Eric O’Dell, who split the year with Rochester and Binghamton, signs with HK Sochi (Russia-KHL). Joining him in AHL’ers heading to Europe include Greg Rallo of Texas who goes to Iserlohn (Germany-DEL) and Drew Shore Stockton to EHC Kloten (Switzerland-LNA). Clark Seymour of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).

The AHL to Euro list now stands at 70.

Ex-Pack defenseman Vladimir Denisov re-signs with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia-KHL).

Former Sound Tigers goalie in 2005-06, Frederic Cloutier, goes from Kookoo (Finland Division-1) to Asiago AS (Italy-AlpsHL).

Ex-Pack and Sound Tiger, Mark Lee, split last year between Italy (SHC Fassa) and Denmark (SonderjyskE) signs with ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2).

Ex-CT Whale, Shayne Wiebe, leaves EHC Olten (Switzerland-LNB) for HC Val Pusteria (Italy-AlpsHL).

Former Quinnipiac Bobcat and Sound Tiger, Mike Dalhuisen, goes from Esbjerg(Denmark) to Torpedo Kamenogorsk (Russia-VHL).

Former Salisbury Prep player Kevin Quick goes from Nottingham (England-EIHL) to Beijing to play for the China Dragon in the ALIH (Asia League Ice Hockey) team.

Several new assistant coaches were named in the AHL this week. Ex-Sound Tiger Jay Leach and Trent Whitfield join Kevin Dean’s staff in Providence. Leach comes over from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Whitfield from Calgary (WHL). Leach was a captain with Providence and when he played at Providence College. Whitfield was also a P-Bruins captain and AHL All-Star selection finished his playing career in Portland wearing the “C” as well.

Chris Taylor from Rochester and JD Forrest (EC Salzburg-2 in Austria) become a part of Clark Donatelli’s staff in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Jason King was named an assistant with Utica moving over from St. John’s where he spent the last three years, two of them as an assistant coach and the final year as the Director of Hockey Operations.

The defending Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters will enter their tenth year this upcoming season and drop the Lake Erie name and become the Cleveland Monsters. After the poor run both on and off the ice as the Cleveland Barons they adopted the Lake Erie prefix and have become one of the best franchises in the AHL. They join a city of champions along with fellow tenant at Q, the NBA champion, Cleveland Cavaliers.

AHL switches have seen Albany lose two defensemen, Brandon Burlon, who signs with Tucson and Dan Kelly signs with San Jose.

Mike Angelidis, Syracuse’s captain the last four years and who had some memorable battles against the Wolf Pack, heads West and signs an AHL deal with Stockton.

Former Yale defenseman Gus Young goes from San Jose (AHL) to Chicago (AHL).

Going from Stockton, after spending half the year in Adirondack (ECHL) and Charlotte, is forward Mitch Heard.

American International College (AIC) who play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHC) in Springfield is leaving the West Springfield Olympia Arena and will make the MassMutual Center their new home starting this fall along with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds.

AHL teams will be wearing their white uniforms at home until Christmas break and then switch to the darker uniforms after the holidays. The Wolf Pack will also be unveiling new jerseys to mark their 20th anniversary season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has unveiled a new look as their parent team of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and they will adopt the Penguins look from their Stanley Cup winning era in 1991 and 1992.

AEG, the former operator of the XL Center, continues their restructuring of their worldwide hockey portfolio. Here in the states, they were replaced as the building operator of the Ontario Citizen Business Bank Arena. They had a ten-year run that’s started in October 2008 when the building opened at a cost of $150 million. SMG also runs the Ontario (CA) Convention Center and signed a five-year deal with a five-year option to start managing the facility. The deal became effective on July 1st.

AEG will still own and operate the AHL Ontario Reign. They did divest themselves of the ECHL Manchester Monarchs to the Boston-based PPI Sports LLC after 16 years. The Monarchs were in the AHL for 15 years winning their lone Calder Cup in 2015, their last year in the AHL. The organization flipped their franchises as part of the creation of the AHL Pacific Division. The ECHL Monarchs were the ECHL East Division champs last season.

The Kings will still be their ECHL affiliate next season, but are no longer under their umbrella. They could see a change in affiliation in a few years as part of the overall minor league restructuring that has been underway the last two years. The NHL/AHL/ECHL, 31/31/31 (eventually 32/32/32) model will marry the franchises and keep them closer to each other to reduce overall costs in travel and salary as part of the current NHL-CBA agreement.

AEG shut the doors of one of their two German DEL teams, the Hamburg Freezers in June, who drew over 9,000 per game.

One-time AHL Eddie Shore winner, Andy Delmore, goes from the University of Windsor (OUAA) to Toledo (ECHL) to be their assistant coach.

In a big collegiate move, Quinnipiac University (ECACHL) scored a transfer coup as Boston University’s (HE) Brandon Fortunato will become a Bobcat after sitting out the mandatory NCAA one-year transfer waiting period in 2017-18. He is still eligible to play junior hockey in the USHL since he doesn’t turn 21 until next June. The Fargo Force (USHL hold his rights 2014) still have his rights. He was originally drafted by Green Bay (USHL) in 2012 and the following year by Vityaz Podolsk in the KHL Draft.


The US squad at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia captured silver despite losing 4-3 to the host Czech Republic. The US squad received a strong performance from Cayden Primeau in net with 33 saves. The trophy returned to the host country for the first time in nine years that Canada didn’t win.

The US team advanced to the semifinals beating the Czechs 4-2 on the strength of a Ryan Poehling hat trick. Primeau, the son of ex-Whaler Keith Primeau, made 24 saves.

Poehling played this year at Lakeville H.S. in Minnesota where the assistant coach is former Wolf Pack defenseman, Jake Taylor.

The American team knocked off the Russians 4-3 in overtime in the semi-finals overcoming three one-goal deficits. Primeau was named the game MVP with 38 saves.

The Wolf Pack’s current assistant coach and assistant GM, Pat Boller, is one of the team’s assistant coaches.

At the Five Nations Tournament, that’s being held in Frisco, Texas – where the temperature outside was 105-107 degrees with a heat index of 112 or better – made being in the ice arena the place to be.

The American squad won the tournament for the second season in a row . The team went undefeated (4-0-0) and beat Germany 9-2 while outshooting their opponents, 54-13. They outscored the opposition 31-6 over the four games.

The team features some familiar names of sons of ex-Whalers.

Christian Krygier, the son of Whalers/UCONN/Nighthawk fame, Todd Krygier, earned two assists in the final game and had five points over the four games all assists.

Jack Drury, the son of Ted Drury and nephew to the Rangers Director of Player Development, Chris Drury of Trumbull, scored his first goal of the tournament along with four assists.

The US U-17 squad beat Switzerland 6-2 in the first game.

Krygier earned two assists in the first game while Drury picked up an assist.

In their second game, the US crushed Slovakia 10-1 at the Dr. Pepper Arena with Drury providing three assists and Krygier adding a helper.

The American squad then beat the Czech Republic 6-1 in the third game. Drury picked up another assist.

Both Drury and Krygier will play US junior hockey in the fall. Krygier will play with Lincoln (USHL) while Drury with Waterloo (USHL).

The team GM is Ken Rausch (Danbury) who played high school hockey at Immaculate High.

The Czech team features defenseman Zack Malik, son of former Whalers, Rangers and Beast of New Haven defenseman, Marek Malik.

The Canadian team had ex-New Haven Senator Darren Rumble as one of their assistant coaches.


The soap opera that is the New York Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum got a bit more interesting last week.

The New York Post reported that secret talks are underway for the possible return to the Coliseum. A Chief Nassau county official neither confirmed or denied that on the possibilities. Read the latest saga HERE!


Photo Courtesy of John Kozak

Photo Courtesy of John Kozak


Seventh-year forward has served as team captain each of the last two seasons

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the club has re-signed forward Bretton Cameron for the 2016-17 season.

Cameron returns for his sixth season in the Upstate following his acquisition during the 2011-12 campaign. He was named the Swamp Rabbits’ third captain in franchise history on October 15, 2014, and continued to serve in that role last season.

The 26-year-old notched 30 points (12g, 18a) and 112 penalty minutes in 54 games last season and has recorded 114 points (45g, 69a) in 238 regular-season contests during his career with Greenville. Overall, he is a veteran of more than 320 ECHL games.

“I am beyond excited to be back for another season in Greenville. My fiancé and I call Greenville home year-round and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Cameron said. “With the team becoming more of a staple in the community there is a lot of excitement about this season around the Upstate. I can’t wait to get things started and begin work on bringing a championship back to our city!”

A native of Didsbury, Alberta, Cameron debuted with Stockton during the 2010-11 campaign and recorded a career-best 31 points (16g, 15a) in 53 games. He was traded to Greenville from Stockton on January 24, 2012. In addition to his ECHL career, the sixth-year pro has dressed 23 games in the AHL with Hartford and Texas, where he registered six points (1g, 5a).

Prior to turning pro, the 5’11, 185-pound forward played parts of five seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 2005-2010. He collected 120 points (62g, 58a) in 179 career games.

Get Social: Follow the Swamp Rabbits all off-season long and get behind-the-scenes coverage like never before on the team’s official Facebook and Twitter.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 season are available and on sale now! Contact a Swamp Rabbits Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information and to secure your seats today! Get the latest Swamp Rabbits gear by visiting the “Hop Shop” online at SwampRabbits.com/shop.


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The AHL’s Final Four teams are set.

It took seven games, but the team with the league’s best record, the Toronto Marlies prevailed with a late goal in Game 7 to win 4-3 and eliminate the Albany Devils.

The Marlies were the deepest and most talented team entering the playoffs and were tested in every way in Game 7 and throughout the series with Albany.

Tied at one entering the third period, Albany scored early as Nick Lappin,  just signed out of Brown University after the collegiate season ended in March, scored his fifth of the postseason on a rebound after Jim O’Brien on a face off.

Before a packed crowd at the Ricoh Coliseum, Kasperi Kapanen, son of Whaler great Sami Kapanen, showed off his incredible speed by zipping down the left wing and whistling a wicked wrist shot to the short-side on Devils’ goalie, Scott Wedgewood.

William Nylander, son of former Whaler and New York Ranger Michael Nylander, employed his considerable skill and raced into the Devils zone. Nylander curled in the lower left-wing circle and found Kapanen again as he was open on the left wing. Kapanen waited and found Connor Carrick coming off the right point and hit him with a perfect cross-ice pass and he zipped his shot to the top shelf to take a 3-2 lead.

The Devils didn’t go away as Paul Thompson, a right-handed shot on the left wing side, took Marc-Andre Gragnani’s right point pass and drilled it to the short-side past a partially screened Antoine Bibeau.

Marlies veteran Richard Clune got a fortuitous bounce off the backboards of Andrei Soshnikov’s shot and chipped the puck into the top part of the net with 2:30 left in regulation for the game-winning goal.

The Devils had three whacks at the puck in the waning seconds, but Bibeau was down of the ice and kept his pads stacked to preserve the 4-3 win.

The Marlies will play the Hershey Bears featuring the Bourque brothers, Chris, and Ryan in the Eastern Conference final starting with Games 1 & 2 in Hershey Friday and Saturday night. The series will see a rare schedule of 2-3-1-1 format because of building scheduling issues in Hershey with the circus.

What a difference a year makes by the way.

Despite a strong regular season for Albany, Yann Danis has been the backup this playoff after his spectacular run last spring with the Wolf Pack and played just one period in relief of Wedgewood.

It took seven games and overtime for the Hershey Bears to advance.

Dustin Boyd’s goal at 10:58 gave Hershey a 3-2 over their Keystone State rivals, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Boyd swung around from behind the left-wing side and fired his shot high to the short side earning the Bears the victory.

Hershey took a 2-1 lead on what certainly has to be among those considered for the Goal-Of-The-Year.

Carter Camper made a great move to free himself then made a beautiful forehand-to-backhand move on Casey DeSmith to score the goal.

The Pacific Division series ended in Ontario Saturday night with the Reign winning 2-1 and advancing in five games to the Western Conference title.

Justin Auger had the game winner in the 2-1 Game 5 clincher.

The San Diego Gulls had just one win, a 3-0 shutout in Game Three.

Matt Hackett is the nephew of a former winner of the Calder Cup’s Jack Butterfield Award as the MVP of the playoffs. His uncle is also a goaltender. He’s Jeff Hackett, who played for Springfield in 1990. They younger Hackett pitched a shutout with 29 saves.

The Reign won Game 4 in overtime. The final score was 4-3 despite a strong three-point performance by ex-Hartford Wolf Pack, Chris Mueller.

Mueller set up rookie Shea Theodore on the powerplay with a perfect cross-ice pass from the right wing circle to Theodore at the left point for the first goal of the game.

Mueller potted a goal to tie the game at two from the left side of the net. The shot came off a rebound off the stick of AHL All-Rookie team member, rearguard Brandon Montour, who outworked Ontario captain Vincent LoVerde and jammed the puck home.

The Reign went ahead with two quick goals at 3-2 in a 1:52 span both by Adrian Kempe. Mueller scored ten seconds later going down the left wing side and turned Nic Dowd inside out and beat the league’s best in netminder Peter Budaj, but like last spring in Manchester when they were the Monarchs, the Reign found a way to get the game winner in overtime.

The Lake Erie Monsters looked to complete the sweep of the Grand Rapids Griffins after amassing a 3-0 series lead.  The Griffins, however, fought back to make it to a game six, but the Monsters overtime victory prevented a Game 7 by the count of 4-3. The Monsters will now play the defending AHL Calder Cup champions, the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference final starting Saturday with Game 2 Sunday in California.

Lake Erie was down early 2-0 in the first 2:16 of the game and that became 3-1 early in the second. When that happened, the Monsters replaced starting goalie Joonas Korpisala, with veteran and former Springfield Falcon goalie, Anton Forsberg and he shut the door stopping all 23 shots he faced.

Zach Werenski, the young defenseman just signed out of Michigan after their season ended a month ago, helped in engineering the Monster’s comeback.

Werenski set up Lukas Sedlak’s goal early in the second period with a right point shot. Sedlak chipped in a backhand rebound. Werenski, had the game-winner at 12:32 of overtime getting his rebound of a backhand shot and with four Grand Rapids players all nearby, Werenski got to the loose puck, and he put his second backhander in for the victory.

Had there been a seventh game, it would have been played in Columbus because the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers had a playoff game scheduled for Tuesday the same night that would have forced a date and venue change.

The Griffins rallied from a 4-1 deficit in Game Four with a three-goal third period to win 5-4 and avoid the playoff sweep. Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist.
Five different Grand Rapids players scored with Andreas Antanasiou tallying the game-winner with 1:55 to go in regulation.
Game 5 was all Grand Rapids a 6-1 win paced by a Tyler Bertuzzi hat trick.


French Connection II watching ex-CT Whale Jonathan Marchessault setting up former Ranger Anton Stralman to tie the game at two in Game 2 Monday night. Then Jonathan Drouin, banished to Syracuse in the AHL at midseason, sniping a goal off the right side to tie the game at two.


The Pack’s Nicklas Jensen continued the same strong play he showed down the stretch in Hartford’s failed playoff push helped Denmark engineer an upset win over the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.

Jensen helped Denmark engineer an upset win over the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.

He assisted on the game-tying goal, and he scored a shootout goal to keep Denmark alive in the extra round before Nikolas Ehlers scored the game winner.

Monday, Denmark beat Kazakhstan 4-1 with Jensen scoring again and had seven shots on goals, and the Danes secured a quarterfinal appearance because the Swiss lost 5-4 to Czechs on Tuesday. Last Friday, he scored his second goal, a shootout goal, to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia. In six games he has five goals (tied for fourth in goals scored with Tomas Plekanec Czech Republic/Montreal) and seven points for the Danes.

Last Friday, Jensen scored his second goal, in the shoot-out to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia. In six games he has five goals (tied for fourth in goals scored with Tomas Plekanec Czech Republic/Montreal) and seven points for the Danes.

The quarterfinals start Thursday Denmark plays Finland in St. Petersburg.

Ex-Pack Nigel Dawes continues to do well for Kazakhstan he scored the lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Friday and again in a loss to Denmark. He has eight points with four goals, good for tenth place in the tournament.

The best scoring defenseman still in the tourney is the Wolf Pack’s Raphael Diaz with six assists for Switzerland. Diaz played the most minutes (19:14) and had four shots on goal in a crucial 5-4 loss to the Czechs eliminating the Swiss from the medal round.

Ex-Sound Tiger Nino Niederreiter is right behind for the Swiss with three goals and five points.

The second best goalie so far is Canada’s and former Wolf Pack, Cam Talbot. In four games, Talbot has a microscopic 0.75 GAA, given up just three goals, pitched two shutouts and has a spectacular 96.0 % save percentage.

The Czech Republic’s Dominic Furch has a 0.65 GAA and a 97.2% save percentage. His numbers are better than Talbot’s, but he has played in only three games while Talbot’s played four.

Reminds you of Talbot’s AHL playoff debut when he shutout the Sound Tigers in three straight in an opening round series.

The US, despite a two-game slump, made the quarterfinals in Group B.

The US lost to Slovakia 3-2 on Tuesday despite getting the games first goal from ex-Sound Tiger, Brock Nelson.The game-winner came off the stick of ex-Springfield Falcon, Marko Dano.

The US plays the Czech Republic on Thursday in Moscow (9:00 am NBC Sports Network).


Much heralded right-wing, and third round pick, 75th overall in 2013, Pavel Buchnevich, inked an NHL entry-level deal with the Rangers last week.

The 21-year-old split the year with his hometown KHL team Severstal Cherepovets before being traded to St. Petersburg. For the season, he had 16 goals and 31 points in 58 games. St. Petersburg made it to the KHL Western Conference final of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

His three-year standard entry-level contract has an NHL salary of $925K and an AHL salary of $70K, but the contract according to General Fanager-dot-com has a European assignment clause which could mean if he doesn’t make the Rangers he would likely return to Russia.


Former Hartford Whaler, Randy Cunneyworth, was replaced and reassigned from Rochester as the Buffalo Sabres named Dan Lambert (Kelowna-WHL) as their new AHL head coach.

Congrats to another former Whaler and longtime AHL coach, Tom Rowe, who became GM of Florida (NHL) as part of a major Panthers organizational shuffle.

Curiously, Eric Joyce was named as an assistant GM; he was also the GM of the Portland Pirates last year. When Rowe was given his promotion on January 1st to Assistant GM in Florida after coaching the Pirates in the first half of the season.

Joyce retained the title GM of their of their AHL affiliate, but the team remains unnamed in the press release. The move of their member team from Portland to Springfield is still under review by the AHL, which is set to reconvene in ten days on the matter. The sale was made by the local owner Ron Cain to a yet publicly unidentified ownership group, but Cantlon’s Corner has learned former Falcons owner Charles Pompea and long-time face of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon, are two of the primary investors.

Sam Ftorek, son of former Nighthawk coach and player Robbie Ftorek, was named the first head coach for Roanoke (SPHL). He was the assistant coach for Kalamazoo (ECHL) last year.

Bridgeport Sound Tiger Sebastian Collberg heads back home to play with Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL) next year making him the sixth AHL’er to sign to play in Europe next season.

Ex-Pack Tomas Zaborsky goes from HIFK Helsinki (Finland-FEL) to Brynas IF (Sweden-SHL), nd defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen goes from Vaxjo (Sweden-SHL) to TPS Turku (Finland-FEL).

Old New Haven Knights forward, Alexei Lazarenko, 40, signed for another year with Vityaz Kharkov to play in the Ukrainian Hockey League. He is just one of seven players left actively playing who wore a New Haven uniform between the AHL and UHL.

AEG Europe announced its team the Hamburg Freezers (Germany-DEL) will not operate next season despite an average attendance of 9.002 (tenth best in Europe) last year when they missed the playoffs.

The team GM is former Nighthawk, Stephane J.G. Richer and ex-Pack, Sam Klassen, played on the team. AEG also owns another team in the DEL Eisbaren Berlin who have the second best attendance of all hockey played in Europe with 13,022 per game.

Rich McKenna was hired as the new head coach for the Division III powerhouse University Wisconsin-Superior. McKenna was an assistant coach at both UConn (AHC years) and Wesleyan University. There are thirteen former UConn players and coaches in the coaching ranks nationally collegiately (Division I and III), juniors, and prep and public schools


Former UConn player, Trevor Stewart, guided his Fairbanks (AK) Ice Dogs to their third NAHL Robertson Cup title after a 2-0 win over Wichita Falls (TX) Wildcats on Sunday in Edina, MN in the national championship game.

Each team won both semifinal games Fairbanks over Aston (PA) Rebels and Wichita Falls over Bismarck (ND) Bobcats.

In the USHL’s best of five Clark Cup Finals, the Tri-City (NE) Storm are up 2-0 over the Dubuque (IA) Fighting Saints. In Game One, Yale-bound Evan Smith scored the first goal of the game for Dubuque,b ut Tri-City scored the next five goals in a 5-1 victory.

Then in Game 2, Tri-City won 4-2. Smith and his twin brother, Mitchell (also heading to Yale) had five and four shots respectively and former prep school teammate at Salisbury Michael O’ Leary, who is committed to Notre Dame had three shots at Tri-City.

Games 3 and maybe 4 are in Tri-City Friday and Saturday.

The 98th edition of Canadian junior hockey’s Memorial Cup tournament is all set to start in Red Deer, Alberta on Friday night as the host team and city Red Deer Rebels (WHL) play the London Knights in the opening game.

The Rebels join WHL playoff champion Brandon Wheat Kings, QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the OHL juggernaut winners of 13 straight games London Knights coached by Dale Hunter.

The tourney starts Friday and the NHL Network will air the games live with Red Deer in the Mountain time zone. Saturday Brandon plays Rouyn-Noranda and Sunday Red Deer plays Rouyn-Noranda at 7pm.

If you haven’t watched it you should it’s a fantastic view of some future NHL stars already drafted, those to be drafted and of course new names emerge.


Congrats to the Bentley Generals coached by former Wolf Pack, Ryan Tobler, winning their second consecutive Canadian senior hockey title in beating the tournament host Southeast Praire Thunder in Steinbach, Manitoba.

The Generals also featured former Wolf Pack, Matt St fashion, who scored six goals in four games in the tournament. He played most of his season with Big Valley in the North Central (Senior) Hockey League and was added to the Bentley roster for the post season when Big Valley’s season ended.

Former Sound Tiger Adam Huxley was also on the team and he played for his hometown senior team Wainwright (SASHL) in the regular season and was also added for the playoffs.



BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT The minor league hockey map is changing again as the shifting sands continue.

On Tuesday, the AHL Board of Governors (BOG) met in Chicago and conditionally approved the sale of the Springfield Falcons to the Arizona Coyotes. They also approved the team’s relocation to Tucson, AZ where they will start play in the fall at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC).

The Rio Nuevo Board, which oversees the TCC, approved $3.2 million for use in renovation and upgrades to the TCC. It’s a mere formality. They will become the sixth member of the AHL Pacific Division with the release of conference alignments likely coming in July.

The Tucson City Council is expected to finalize a lease. Once it’s approved, that would be the second hurdle cleared on the way to a full approval from the AHL BOG.

The other sale on the agenda is that of the Portland Pirates.  However to a yet un-named investor group in Springfield was tabled for another two weeks before a vote would take place.

The sale of the Pirates is to an unnamed investor group in Springfield. That move was set aside for another two weeks before a vote will take place.

Two versions have emerged regarding the hold-up.

The first is that the Florida Panthers are steamed about the sale and expected to be in Portland as their affiliation agreement stipulated.  The Panthers are threatening to break the 30-30-30 balance of NHL and AHL teams and eventually the 30 ECHL teams in the new model minor league arrangement.

The other is the local investor group in Springfield needs more to show the financial capabilities for purchasing and maintaining the franchise.

One of the major principals in the sale is former Falcons owner, Charles Pompea, and the former Director of Hockley Operations, and the long-time face of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon. There is also potentially MGM-Springfield, who will be begin running the Mass Mutual Center as of July 1st.

MGM Springfield needs a team as, Spectra, the soon-to-be former management company of the building, has no bookings of any kind scheduled beyond July 1st.

Meanwhile, Portland has already begun the process to gain entry into the ECHL in 2017-18, the same time when Worcester will make it’s entrance.

In a story, in the Portland Press Herald, (HEREthey identify the Pirates GM this past season Brad Church and C. Godfrey Wood, involved in hockey in the region going back to the WHA Whaler days. Cantlon’s Corner has learned through two sources that Wood’s business partners are none other than the Baldwin boys—Howard, Sr., and Howard, Jr.

The group made a bid for the Worcester (ECHL) franchise in the spring and were denied by the city. They tried again recently with the Portland (AHL) sale and according to a source, “were blown out of the water.” Another source, with long-time hockey connections, when confirming Baldwin and Wood were working together in a bid to gain an ECHL franchise for Portland, said, “there are no two better thieves than those two…look out Portland!”

The Baldwin’s left a trail a debt from their last run in Hartford. The trail was more than $3 million to banks, vendors, employees and even the State of Connecticut while running the CT Whale as Hartford Hockey, LLC and never repaid a dime of the money.


The Toronto Marlies have begun to demonstrate their offensive firepower in smashing Albany Devils 7-2 and 5-1 in the last two games to take a commanding 3-2 in the series. The Devils forced a game seven with a 4-1 win on Saturday.

In the 5-1 win, Milford native and Yale grad, Mark Arcobello, posted three assists and had five points in the last two games.

Andrei Soznikov’s two goals help engineer the 7-1 drubbing. Connor Carrick, William Nylander, Connor Brown and Sam Carrick have posted multiple-point games in the last two as the depth of the Marlies has been on full display.

What a difference a year makes. Despite a strong regular season for Albany, Yann Danis has been the backup this playoff series. After his spectacular run last spring with the Wolf Pack, he has played just one period in relief of starter, Scott Wedgewood. That appearance came in the 7-1 loss. Wedgewood went the distance in the game six win in Toronto and will likely start Game 7 in Albany on Monday.

Albany defenseman, Dan Kelly, was hit with a ten-game suspension for a wicked elbow to the head of Toronto’s Andreas Johanson in that 7-2 loss. Johanson had a brief stay in the hospital. Kelly’s is out for the rest of the series and will miss seven more playoffs games should Albany win and advance or the rest of the games will be served next season.

It’s the second longest suspension of the year. The longest went to the Ontario Reign’s Kurtis MacDermid, youngest son of former Whaler Paul MacDermid, who got twelve games for an illegal hit to the head.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won Game 6 6-2 over the Hershey Bears on Friday night. That series will see a Game 7 at 5:00 pm on Sunday.

Game 5 Hershey with an intense third period, rallied past the Penguins with Zach Sill having a goal and two assists for the contest in the 5-3 win.  Ryan Bourque, the former Wolf Pack captain, tallied the empty net goal to seal the win.

Lake Erie looked to finish off and sweep Grand Rapids but was stunned as the Griffins rallied from a 4-1 deficit with a three-goal third period in Game Four to win 5-4. Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist.

Five different Grand Rapids players scored with Andreas Antanasiou scoring the game-winner with 1:55 to go in regulation. The two teams hook up for Game 5 in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, and the Griffins kept the series alive with a 6-1 drubbing of the Griffins to send it to a Game 6 on Monday night. A Game 7 would be played on Wednesday if it became necessary.

-The Pacific Division saw the Reign close out the San Diego Gulls with a 2-1 win. The Reign have former Wolf Pack center Kris Newbury on their roster. The Gulls feature ex-Pack Chris Mueller and Stu Bickel on their team.

The Gulls had a 3-0 shutout in the last game played on Sunday with Matt Hackett nephew of former Calder Cup Jack Butterfield playoff MVP goalie Jeff Hackett (Springfield 1990) pitching a shutout with 29 saves.


Current and former Wolf Pack are making quite the impact at the Hockey World Championships.

The Pack’s Nicklas Jensen continues to play well as he showed down the stretch in Hartford’s failed playoff push.

On Friday, Jensen, who scored during regulation, tallied a dazzling goal in the shootout, to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia.  In five games for the Danes, Jensen has four goals and five points.

Ex-Pack and Ranger, Nigel Dawes, is doing well for Kazakhstan. Dawes scored the team’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Friday. He has three goals and four assists (seven points) in five games. That puts Dawes in a five-way tie for the fourth spot in scoring to this stage in the tournament.

The best scoring defenseman in the tourney thus far is the Wolf Pack’s Raphael Diaz with six assists for Switzerland.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Nino Niederreiter, is right behind Diaz for the Swiss. Niederreiter has three goals and five points.

The best goalie to this stage in the tournament has been former Wolf Pack, Cam Talbot. In four games for Team Canada, Talbot has a 1.00 GAA and a spectacular 94.7 % save percentage.


The much-heralded, right-wing and a third round pick (75th overall) in 2013, Pavel Buchnevich, inked an NHL entry-level deal with the Rangers.

The 21-year-old split the season with his hometown KHL team, several Cherepovets, before being traded to St. Petersburg. For the season, Buchnevich had 16 goals and 31 points in 58 games. St. Peterburg made it to the KHL Western Conference final of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

In what might be a related story, Russian media reports have stated the Rangers have made an offer to former WolfPack/CT Whale defenseman, Pavel Valentenko. The Russian, who had a monster shot, but little control over it while in Hartford, split the KHL season with Avangard Omsk and Spartak Moscow. The expectation is that should Valentenko sign; he would return to Hartford once both sides agree to a deal.

While the Rangers are looking to getting younger in New York, they also want to add more depth on defense, perhaps Valentenko would have something to do Buchnevich, who does not speak any English.


According to Czech media reports, Richard Nejezchleb is close to signing a deal with HC Litvinov in the Czech Elite League (CEL) for next season. Nejezchleb started last season with the Wolf Pack and scored only one goal in thirteen games before being reassigned on November 17th to Greenville (41-8-15-23).

Carl Klingberg, another ex-Pack playing in Russia, has left Torpedo Novgorod. His departure for the KHL, after last season, truly caught the organization off guard. According to reports, the Rangers are making overtures to him.

Former Wolf Pack/CT Whale Chad Kolarik goes from financially troubled EHC Kloten in Switzerland (LNA) to Adler Mannheim (Germany-DEL) next season.

Benoit Groulx, the highly successful QMJHL coach with the Gatineau Olympics, is making a second stab at coaching in the AHL. His first go was for two years in 2008-2010 with the Rochester Americans, but that didn’t end well. On Thursday, Groulx was named the new head coach for the Syracuse Crunch, the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Bench2015-16 was a Season of Growth for Wolf Pack

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, CT – As Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander and his staff began their off-season last week, they were still dealing with the sting of falling just short of a 2015-16 playoff berth.  The Wolf Pack made a strong playoff push, and kept their hopes alive as late as the final weekend of the regular season, but ultimately ended up an agonizing two points shy of a postseason spot.

The ultimate result of the season is undoubtedly the source of significant frustration, but there are some positives to be taken from the second half of the year.  After January 8, at which point the Wolf Pack were 14-19-2-0 and in last place in the Atlantic Division, the team played nearly .700 hockey, going 27-13-1-0 in their last 41 games.

That is a point of pride for Gernander, but also makes it that much more vexing that the club was not able to get over the playoff hump.

“We can take some solace in the fact that I think we did grow and develop as the season went along,” the Wolf Pack bench boss said recently.  “It is a development league, so that’s one of the markers we use as far as evaluation.  We did grow, and it’s still a little bit of a sore spot that we didn’t make the playoffs.”

Growth is obviously a keyword in a player-development environment, and Gernander feels that his collective group increased its rate of progression as the season went on, and that was the key to the club’s second-half surge.

“Some of our younger players grew,” he said.  “We had a young defensive corps, but I think they were one of the strengths of our team at season’s end.  Our goaltending kind of came together there at the end, after a little bit of an up-and-down start, and I think we added a couple of players that created some depth for us up front that were helpful, and part of our success.”

The biggest of those additions was Nicklas Jensen, whose first game with the Wolf Pack after being acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks organization was January 9.  The Wolf Pack beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers that night, 5-4, to begin what would turn out to be an eight-game winning streak and the turnaround of their season.

Jensen would amass solid numbers for the Wolf Pack the rest of the way, 15 goals and 25 points in 41 games, but the team’s record after he had joined the group would seem to indicate that his impact went way deeper than that.  To Gernander, that just highlights what a big difference one quality player can make to a team in the game of hockey.

“Go through any NHL roster, I’m sure there’s one or two players that they would really hate to see lost for a big game, or a big series, or anything like that, and the same holds true here,” he said.  “You’ve got a couple of players who certainly can make a difference.  They can either shoulder a big part of the burden on their own, or certainly complement players to the point where they make everybody around them better.  You can’t underestimate the impact that certain players can have on a team.”

By the end of that strong second-half run, the Wolf Pack had compiled the eighth-best goals-against-per-game figure (2.62) in the AHL. The club, though, was never able to develop quite enough of a consistent finishing touch at the other end of the ice, scoring only 2.66 goals-per-game, which ranked them 25th out of the 30 AHL teams.

“If we’re going to look for shortcomings, it was offensive numbers and offensive output,” Gernander said.  “The other numbers are certainly in the ballpark in terms of where you’d like to finish.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t score a lot of goals or generate a lot of offense.”

One pleasant surprise on offense was the production of Chad Nehring, playing his first full season of AHL hockey at age 28 and in his fifth year as a pro.  After contributing four goals and 12 points in 53 games with the Wolf Pack last year, Nehring led this season’s Hartford club in both points and goals, with 22-26-48, and played in all 76 games.

“That makes for a nice story, too,” said Gernander of Nehring’s ascent.  “He came to us last year on an AHL tryout, and we asked him to play a role, kill penalties and take big faceoffs.  He really embraced the role and became a very important part of our team coming down the stretch and in the playoffs, because he was so reliable defensively, and this season just continued to grow his game and grow his game, to the point where he’s a pretty solid two-way player and eventually ended up leading our team in scoring, which is a real feather in his cap.”

Another good story surrounding the Wolf Pack was the finish of Marek Hrivik’s season, which saw the Slovakian import get his first shot at NHL action with the parent New York Rangers, after nearly 250 games in the AHL.  Hrivik ultimately logged five games with the big club, generating one assist and almost universally positive reviews.

“Hopefully, Marek’s a bit of a late bloomer, and where he left off this season, that’s hopefully where he set the bar and his play never dips below that again, he just continues to grow from there,” Gernander analyzed.  “That all remains to be seen, but he was certainly a real reliable player for us, an important part of our team, and it was great to see him get rewarded and do as well as he did at the end of the season.”

Before the 2015-16 season, only one Wolf Pack goaltender had ever chalked up a 30-win season, and that was Jason LaBarbera, who did it twice, winning a franchise-record 34 games in 2003-04 and 31 more the following year.  Magnus Hellberg, all of whose previous AHL experience had been in the Western Conference with the Milwaukee Admirals, joined LaBarbera in that exclusive club this year, going 30-20-3, with a 2.40 goals-against average, a 91.8% save percentage and three shutouts in 53 Wolf Pack games.

“We didn’t know him real well coming in here,” Gernander said of Hellberg, “coming from Milwaukee, wasn’t a goalie we were real familiar with, but he just took the reins there toward the end of November and really played some good hockey for us.”

Hellberg, a trade acquisition by the Ranger organization last summer from the Nashville Predators, finished the 2015-16 campaign third among AHL goaltenders in wins, minutes played (3,098) and saves (1,383), and had the sixth-best GAA in the league.

Few goaltenders can be successful without plenty of help from their defense, and the work of the defense corps was a consistent positive for the Wolf Pack throughout the season.  The top six for much of the season consisted of Chris Summers, the “grizzled vet” of the group at age 28. Then there were rookies Brady Skjei, Ryan Graves and Calle Andersson, a second-year pro, Mat Bodie and third-year man Tommy Hughes, with Raphael Diaz, who endured an injury-marred season, seeing significant time as well.  Assistant Coach Jeff Beukeboom, who runs the Wolf Pack defense, rotated the pairings for much of the season, ensuring all of his blueliners were comfortable playing with alongside regardless who was next to them.

“They shuffled around a bit, but I think we had a good mix of lefties, righties, veterans, younger kids, bigger guys, puck movers,” Gernander said of the blueline crew.  “Beuk (Beukeboom) did a good job balancing them, or meshing them together, and I think they were one of our team’s strengths.”

Bodie, despite his relatively tender pro experience level, became a trusted leader on the backline and had the honor of being named the Wolf Pack’s official full team leader March 2.  That was when the 26-year-old former NCAA champion at Union College had the captain’s “C” sewn on his jersey after the trade of Ryan Bourque.

“It’s only his second year, but he does have a certain level of maturity to him,” Gernander said of Bodie.  “He’s 26; he’s been around and certainly has a pretty good resume, with a national championship on his record and being a captain at Union.  So he has a lot of experience to draw upon.  Obviously, a very important part of our team, and really picked up the torch there when Ryan was traded, and we didn’t really miss a beat, I think, from a leadership standpoint.”

In addition to Hrivik’s becoming part of the Ranger mix near the end of the season, Skjei also found himself on an extended tour of NHL duty as the year wound down.  The University of Minnesota product and 2012 Ranger first-round pick was recalled April 5, after Blueshirt captain Ryan McDonagh was injured, and stayed the rest of the season, seeing action in each of New York’s last three regular-season games and all five Ranger playoff contests.

“I think he made real good strides,” was Gernander’s comment on the rookie season of his fellow ex-Gopher.  “To be able to compete and play where he did at the end of the season is ultimately the goal of your development club, to get him to the next level.  And hopefully that’s just a starting-off point for him, and his game continues to grow there (with the Rangers).  If he shows the same growth at that level that he did this level, he picked things up real quickly; he’s going to be a good player for a long time to come.”

Not far behind Skjei on the development curve was Graves, who at 20 years old was the Wolf Pack’s youngest player.  A fourth-round draftee by the Rangers in 2013, Graves carried the momentum from an excellent last Junior season in the QMJHL into this year and used his hard shot to lead Wolf Pack defensemen in goals with nine.

While Graves’ number did not come up for an NHL taste, Gernander was happy with the 6-4, 220-pound youngster’s progress.

“I think defense is a little bit tougher position than forward, and your mistakes seem to stand out a bit more,” he said, “since you’re the last line of defense before the goaltender.  And that being said, I thought he (Graves) did a real good job this season defending, and actually, for a first-year guy, generated some offense for us as well.  Pretty solid two-way effort, pretty good season for him.”

So there are more than a few positives for the organization to hang its hat on, and, in a bit of a mixed blessing, much time to break down the good and the bad, and to use that analysis to plan the future.  According to Gernander, that process has started in earnest already.

“It’s a full-time deal,” he said.  “We’re still trying to recap and learn, assess, from this current season, where we could be better, what things we did well, where we go from here.  Then it becomes time to turn the page and start looking forward, and put all that into good practical use.”



rp_hartfordwolfpacklogo_thumb1.jpgWOLF PACK ANNOUNCE 2015-16 GAME SCHEDULE

*           *           *           *

76-game Slate Begins October 10 at XL Center

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, August 27, 2015:  Spectra, operators of the XL Center and Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the Wolf Pack’s regular-season schedule of games for the 2015-16 AHL season.

The 76-game schedule of dates kicks off with the Wolf Pack’s home opener, which takes place Saturday, October 10 at the XL Center with the St. John’s IceCaps providing the opposition.  Faceoff is 7:00 PM.

The home opener is one of 13 Saturday-night slots on the Wolf Pack’s home schedule, which also includes eight Fridays.  Another 11 home games will be on Sundays, and there will be one Tuesday and five Wednesdays.

For a second straight season, one Wednesday game, November 4 vs. the Toronto Marlies, will be a “School Day Special” morning start, with faceoff at 11:00 AM.  In a new wrinkle this season, Friday-night games will start at 7:15 PM, while Saturday-night home dates remain 7:00 starts, with the exception of October 31 and November 7, which are 7:30 faceoffs, and March 12, which is a 3:00 start.  Most Sunday home games face off at 3:00 PM, except for November 15, which is a 4:00 start, March 6, a 1:00 faceoff, and October 18, November 1 and February 28, which start at 5:00.  The other Wednesday games besides November 4, and the one Tuesday game, face off at 7:00.

The Wolf Pack’s in-state foes, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, appear on the Pack’s schedule ten times (five home, five away), as do the Portland Pirates.  The Wolf Pack will take on the Springfield Falcons and Providence Bruins eight times (four home, four away) in 2015-16, and will meet new Atlantic Division rivals the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins six times (three home, three away) each.  Hartford sees its other new divisional adversary, the Hershey Bears, four times (two home, two away).  Those totals add up to 52 divisional games for the Wolf Pack.

The Pack’s remaining 24 contests will be against North Division opposition, highlighted by six games (three home, three away) vs. the Albany Devils.  The Wolf Pack will see the Rochester Americans, Utica Comets and the IceCaps four times (two home, two away) each, and will have two meetings (one home, one away) each with the Binghamton Senators, Syracuse Crunch and the Marlies.

Individual game tickets for 2015-16 Wolf Pack home games will go on sale Tuesday, September 15 at 12 noon, at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.

To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451.


(All Home Games in Caps, All Times Eastern)

Sat.     Oct.    10       ST. JOHN’S                           7:00
Wed.   Oct.    14      PROVIDENCE                      7:00
Sat.     Oct.    17       UTICA                                      7:00
Sun.    Oct.    18       SYRACUSE                            5:00
Fri.      Oct.    23      @ Syracuse                             7:00
Sat.     Oct.    24      @ Hershey                              7:00
Sun.    Oct.    25      @ Hershey                              5:00
Fri.      Oct.    30     @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.          7:05
Sat.     Oct.    31       PROVIDENCE                      7:30
Sun.    Nov.     1       ROCHESTER                        5:00
Wed.   Nov.     4      TORONTO                             11:00 AM
Sat.     Nov.     7       ALBANY                                  7:30
Sun.    Nov.     8      @ Bridgeport                        5:00
Wed.   Nov.   11      @ Portland                            7:00
Fri.      Nov.   13      @ Portland                            7:00
Sun.    Nov.   15      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.    4:00
Fri.      Nov.   20     @ Utica                                    7:00
Sat.     Nov.   21      LEHIGH VALLEY                7:00
Sun.    Nov.   22     UTICA                                      3:00
Fri.      Nov.   27     SPRINGFIELD                      7:15
Sat.     Nov.   28     @ Bridgeport                         7:00
Fri.      Dec.     4      HERSHEY                               7:15
Sat.     Dec.     5      @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.           7:05
Sun.    Dec.     6     @ Bridgeport                          5:00
Fri.      Dec.   11      @ Providence                         7:05
Sat.     Dec.   12     BRIDGEPORT                        7:00
Sun.    Dec.   13     @ Providence                         3:05
Fri.      Dec.   18     @ Rochester                           7:05
Sat.     Dec.   19     @ Utica                                     7:00
Sat.     Dec.   26    @ Binghamton                       7:05
Sun.    Dec.   27    @ Rochester                           5:05
Tue.    Dec.   29    PORTLAND                           7:00
Sat.     Jan.      2    ALBANY                                  7:00
Sun.    Jan.      3    WILKES-BARRE/SCR.    3:00
Fri.      Jan.      8    SPRINGFIELD                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.      9    BRIDGEPORT                      7:00
Sun.    Jan.    10    ALBANY                                 3:00
Fri.      Jan.    15    @ Springfield                        7:00
Sat.     Jan.    16    @ Lehigh Valley                   7:05
Mon.   Jan.    18   @ Providence                       3:05
Wed.   Jan.    20  @ Albany                                7:00
Sat.     Jan.    23   @ Bridgeport                        7:30
Sun.    Jan.    24   PORTLAND                          3:00
Wed.   Jan.    27   @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.        7:05
Fri.      Jan.    29   BRIDGEPORT                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.    30   ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Fri.      Feb.     5     @ Portland                           7:00
Sat.     Feb.     6      @ Albany                              5:00
Fri.      Feb.   12      WILKES-BARRE/SCR. 7:15
Sat.     Feb.   13      @ Bridgeport                      7:00
Sun.    Feb.   14      ROCHESTER                     3:00
Wed.   Feb.   17      PROVIDENCE                   7:00
Sat.     Feb.   20     @ Springfield                     7:00
Sun.    Feb.   21      BINGHAMTON                 3:00
Wed.   Feb.   24     PORTLAND                        7:00
Fri.      Feb.   26      @ Lehigh Valley                7:05
Sun.    Feb.   28      LEHIGH VALLEY             5:00
Sun.    Mar.     6      BRIDGEPORT                  1:00
Fri.      Mar.    11      @ Providence                   7:05
Sat.     Mar.    12      LEHIGH VALLEY           3:00
Sun.    Mar.    13      @ Portland                       3:00
Fri.      Mar.    18      PORTLAND                      7:15
Sat.     Mar.    19      SPRINGFIELD                7:00
Sun.    Mar.    20     @ Springfield                  5:00
Wed.   Mar.    23     PROVIDENCE                7:00
Fri.      Mar.    25      BRIDGEPORT                7:15
Sat.     Mar.    26      @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Tue.    Mar.    29      @ Albany                          7:00
Fri.      Apr.      1         HERSHEY                       7:15
Sat.     Apr.      2         PORTLAND                   7:00
Fri.      Apr.      8         @ Springfield                7:00
Sat.     Apr.      9         SPRINGFIELD              7:00
Sun.    Apr.    10        @ Portland                      3:00
Wed.   Apr.    13        @ Toronto                       11:00 AM
Fri.      Apr.    15         @ St. John’s                    6:00
Sat.     Apr.    16         @ St. John’s                    6:00


Sat.     Oct.    10       ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Wed.   Oct.    14      PROVIDENCE                     7:00
Sat.     Oct.    17       UTICA                                     7:00
Sun.    Oct.    18       SYRACUSE                          5:00
Sat.     Oct.    31       PROVIDENCE                     7:30
Sun.    Nov.     1       ROCHESTER                      5:00
Wed.   Nov.     4      TORONTO                           11:00 AM
Sat.     Nov.     7       ALBANY                                7:30
Sun.    Nov.   15      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   4:00
Sat.     Nov.   21      LEHIGH VALLEY               7:00
Sun.    Nov.   22     UTICA                                     3:00
Fri.      Nov.   27     SPRINGFIELD                     7:15
Fri.      Dec.     4      HERSHEY                              7:15
Sat.     Dec.   12      BRIDGEPORT                      7:00
Tue.    Dec.   29      PORTLAND                          7:00
Sat.     Jan.      2      ALBANY                                 7:00
Sun.    Jan.      3      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   3:00
Fri.      Jan.      8      SPRINGFIELD                    7:15
Sat.     Jan.      9      BRIDGEPORT                     7:00
Sun.    Jan.    10     ALBANY                                 3:00
Sun.    Jan.    24     PORTLAND                          3:00
Fri.      Jan.    29     BRIDGEPORT                     7:15
Sat.     Jan.    30     ST. JOHN’S                          7:00
Fri.      Feb.   12      WILKES-BARRE/SCR.   7:15
Sun.    Feb.   14      ROCHESTER                      3:00
Wed.   Feb.   17      PROVIDENCE                    7:00
Sun.    Feb.   21      BINGHAMTON                  3:00
Wed.   Feb.   24     PORTLAND                         7:00
Sun.    Feb.   28      LEHIGH VALLEY             5:00
Sun.    Mar.     6      BRIDGEPORT                   1:00
Sat.     Mar.    12     LEHIGH VALLEY             3:00
Fri.      Mar.    18     PORTLAND                        7:15
Sat.     Mar.    19     SPRINGFIELD                  7:00
Wed.   Mar.    23   PROVIDENCE                   7:00
Fri.      Mar.    25    BRIDGEPORT                   7:15
Fri.      Apr.      1      HERSHEY                           7:15
Sat.     Apr.      2      PORTLAND                       7:00
Sat.     Apr.      9      SPRINGFIELD                 7:00


Fri.      Oct.    23      @ Syracuse                        7:00
Sat.     Oct.    24      @ Hershey                         7:00
Sun.    Oct.    25      @ Hershey                         5:00
Fri.      Oct.    30      @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.    7:05
Sun.    Nov.     8      @ Bridgeport                   5:00
Wed.   Nov.   11      @ Portland                       7:00
Fri.      Nov.   13      @ Portland                       7:00
Fri.      Nov.   20     @ Utica                              7:00
Sat.     Nov.   28      @ Bridgeport                  7:00
Sat.     Dec.     5        @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.   7:05
Sun.    Dec.     6       @ Bridgeport                   5:00
Fri.      Dec.   11        @ Providence                  7:05
Sun.    Dec.   13       @ Providence                  3:05
Fri.      Dec.   18       @ Rochester                    7:05
Sat.     Dec.   19       @ Utica                              7:00
Sat.     Dec.   26      @ Binghamton                7:05
Sun.    Dec.   27      @ Rochester                    5:05
Fri.      Jan.    15      @ Springfield                  7:00
Sat.     Jan.    16      @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Mon.   Jan.    18     @ Providence                 3:05
Wed.   Jan.    20    @ Albany                          7:00
Sat.     Jan.    23     @ Bridgeport                  7:30
Wed.   Jan.    27     @ Wilkes-Barre/Scr.  7:05
Fri.      Feb.     5      @ Portland                      7:00
Sat.     Feb.     6      @ Albany                          5:00
Sat.     Feb.   13      @ Bridgeport                  7:00
Sat.     Feb.   20     @ Springfield                  7:00
Fri.      Feb.   26     @ Lehigh Valley             7:05
Fri.      Mar.    11     @ Providence                 7:05
Sun.    Mar.    13    @ Portland                      3:00
Sun.    Mar.    20   @ Springfield                 5:00
Sat.     Mar.    26    @ Lehigh Valley            7:05
Tue.    Mar.    29   @ Albany                          7:00
Fri.      Apr.      8     @ Springfield                 7:00
Sun.    Apr.    10     @ Portland                     3:00
Wed.   Apr.    13    @ Toronto                       11:00 AM
Fri.      Apr.    15     @ St. John’s                    6:00
Sat.     Apr.    16     @ St. John’s                    6:00


gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings


The evisceration and the emasculation of the AHL is complete.

Confirmation of all that was whispered about a few months ago for next year, not only about having one division, the newly created Pacific Division, but their playing only 68 games while the rest of the league will play 76, has all happened. Couple that with the new bizarre percentage-points-based playoff system that’s been spawned because of it.

You may need a degree in trigonometry to figure out how the AHL playoff races are going to be figured out next spring. Continue reading


ahl-logo_thumbBY: Jason Chaimovitch, VP Communications, AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has concluded its 2015 Annual Meeting, held this week at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Chaired by AHL President and CEO David Andrews, the four days of meetings, which concluded Thursday, saw the approval by the Board of the following items to be implemented beginning in 2015-16:

Playing Schedule/Standings
• The 2015-16 regular season will consist of 1,120 games, played between Oct. 9 and Apr. 17. All teams will play 76 games each with the exception of the clubs which joined the AHL in January as part of the creation of a Pacific Division (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton); those five teams will play 68 games each.

• Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division’s bracket.

• The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals.

• The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven.

Rule 85 (“Overtime”) 
• During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be five minutes (5:00) in length.

• Full playing strength will be 3-on-3 (plus goaltenders) for the entire period.

• Overtime will be preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.

• Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.

• If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.

Rule 79 (“Video Review”) 
• A team may use a “coach’s challenge” to initiate an official video review; only those situations which are subject to review by rule may be challenged.

• A team may only request a coach’s challenge if it has its timeout available, and the coach’s challenge must be effectively initiated prior to the resumption of play.

• If the coach’s challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such challenge will be charged with a timeout.

Rule 76.4 (“Face-offs”) 
• For all face-offs (excluding center ice), the defending player shall place his stick on the ice first; for face-offs at center ice, the visiting player shall place his stick on the ice first.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15.