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CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 8 – HOLD ON, THIS COULD GET BUMPY

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 8 – HOLD ON, THIS COULD GET BUMPY

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The NHL Draft is upon us and there is SO much going on in the NHL that has an effect on every team let alone the Hartford Wolf Pack.

LATE BREAKING NHL DRAFT NEWS

The New York Rangers swung a major pre-draft trade with the Arizona Coyotes as they dealt center, Derek Stepan and their backup goalie, Antti Raanta, for New Jersey-native, defenseman, Anthony D’Angelo who split last year between Arizona and the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) and the number seven overall pick in the 2017 draft.

The Ranger will have two first rounders as they will also select in the 21st spot. The Rangers look to replenish the team prospect depth, which is presently very low in Hartford. The Wolf Pack finished last in the AHL last season and they dismissed their long-time head coach, Ken Gernander, and hired Keith McCambridge to replace him.

The surprising part of the deal was the inclusion of Raanta. This creates an opening in New York for a backup goaltender, something the team will need to address. The Rangers have second-year pro, Brandon Halverson, and rookie Chris Nell both under contract for next season. They are the only other goalies in the organization right now.

*Cantlon’s Corner will have draft recap on Monday*

PLAYER & COACHING MOVEMENT

Ex-Pack Chad Johnson was traded by his hometown Calgary Flames to the Arizona Coyotes for another goalie Mike Smith.

Former Sound Tiger, Ryan Strome, was sent to the Edmonton Oilers for the highly skilled, Jordan Eberle.

One NHL coach going out and one coming in with CT connections.

Coming in is former Sound Tigers head coach Jack Capuano. He is one of the good guys in the game and he becomes the associate head coach with the Florida Panthers. Cap will work with the recently hired new head coach Bob Boughner.

Heading out is the Head Coach of the dysfunctional Arizona Coyotes. He is former Hartford Whaler, Dave Tippett, who leaves with four years left on a contract extension. Tippet was relieved the day before the draft!

The Coyotes are in complete disarray as an organization. They have no Head Coach, no Director of Player Operations, no captain, have become established as one of the least attended teams. They have an expiring arena lease after this season and no prospects for a new one to be built in the eastern part of Phoenix. Oh, and they also have the lowest payroll in hockey.

Ex-Pack Chris Bourque signed a two-year extension with Hershey with the second year being a mutual option for the 31-year-old forward.

Washington also signed Christian Djoos, the son of former Ranger, Per Djoos.

Nick Lukko, formerly of Salisbury Prep, signed a one-year deal with the Reading Royals (ECHL). His father is Peter Lukko is the CEO of the NHL Florida Panthers.

Joel Vermin, one of the top performers for the Syracuse Crunch in their Calder Cup run, has formally announced his signing with HC Lausanne (Switzerland-LNA) on a five-year contract to return to his homeland.

Petr Straka, who was with Albany Devils last year, also heads home to play with HC Plzen (Pilsner) in the Czech Republic Elite League (CEL).

A fellow Czech, Matej Stransky, leaves Texas for Severstal Cherepovets (Russia-KHL). That makes for 36 AHL’ers (22 of 30 teams so far have lost at least one player) to sign in Europe and with completed expansion draft and tonight’s amateur draft expect a few more names to be added just as the July 1st NHL/AHL free agency kicks in.

Ex-Pack/CT Whale Blake Parlett, who split last year with KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia before their finances went south and finished the year with Tappara (Finland-FEL), has signed with Eisbaren Berlin (Germany-DEL) for 2017-18.

Former UCONN Husky Brant Harris (AHA years), who spent most of last year with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) and eleven games in Bridgeport has signed with EC Salzburg (Austria-AEHL) for the next season.

Another UCONN Husky from last year who left school mid-season, defenseman Joona Kunnas, who split the rest of the year with Illves Tampere (Finland-FEL) and a few games with Leki (Finland Division-1), has signed with Grenoble in the French Elite Magnus league for 2017-18.

Former Salisbury Prep product, Jerry Pollastone, signs for another year with Vienna (Austria-AEHL).

Ex-Sound Tiger Paul Flache was named Associate head coach for Flint (OHL).

Former New Haven Senator, Jake Grimes, signs a one year extension as assistant coach with Peteborough (OHL).

Ex-Pack, John Tripp, leaves ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2) where he started his coaching career mid-season last year, gets a gig with Braehead (Scotland-EIHL) for next season.

Former New Haven Knights assistant coach, Scott Bell, who has been an amateur scout for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins the last five years, and was a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher two time captain, has taken the assistant coach job at his alma mater who play in the Big 10 conference.

Leon Hayward, an assistant coach at Avon Old Farms (CTPREP) the last three years has taken the assistant coach position with Bloomington (USHL). After his five-year minor pro career,  spent mostly in the ECHL with some AHL time with the Providence Bruins and the Manchester Monarchs, the Northeastern grad was also an assistant at Taft Prep (Watertown) for four years.

EXPANSION DRAFT & NHL AWARDS

Certainly, the Las Vegas Golden Knights had some Connecticut hockey flavor for their first 30 players on their roster.

Former Wolf Pack Oscar Lindberg, underutilized by the Rangers, was selected as was former CT Whale, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, who had a breakout 30 goal campaign with Florida Panthers.

Two ex-Sound Tigers were among the 30. Goalie Jean-Francois Berube and former #1 pick of the Islanders, defenseman, Griffin Reinhart.

Gathering some trophy hardware was one time New Haven Nighthawk assistant coach and former Ranger coach John Tortorella. Now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tortorella garnered the Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year).

Ex-Pack Brady Skej was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

HOCKEY NEWS

Congrats to the US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017 that will be inducted in December.

One of the inductees is former Whaler Scott Young who played 197 games in Hartford with 138 points and is the currently an assistant coach with the Boston University Terriers (HEA).

Another CT connection is Ben Smith who was an assistant coach at Yale (ECACHL) for six years under the late Tim Taylor. He help guide the US Women’s Team to Olympic gold in Nagano, Japan in 1998.

Just the second official in history and the first in 43 years Kevin Collins (Springfield, MA) will be inducted for his work on ice and his work off ice to help develop the officiating fraternity in all levels of hockey.

The first and last official inducted was the late “Big Whistle”  Bill Chadwick known mostly by the older generation for his work as Rangers color commentator on Channel 9 in the 1970’s and 1980’s with Jim Gordon.

Ron Wilson, the long time NHL head coach who has worked almost every level and team for USA hockey is the other.

Providence Bruins Kevin Dean promoted to Boston as an assistant coach after just one year as the head coach.

Bridgeport signed former Quinnipiac Bobcat Travis St. Denis to a one year AHL contract for next season. The Sound Tigers also saw the Islander resign Steve Bernier to a two year two-way deal at $650K-NHL/$225K-AHL (1st year)/$250K (2nd year).

Former Yale Bulldog Denny Kearny who split last year with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL) and Cardiff (Wales-EIHL) will play with the recently promoted Milton Keynes team (England–EIHL).

This will be a quiet summer as far as AHL franchise movement next off season will likely not be.

It looks likely that St. Louis will likely place their full AHL team according to several hockey sources in Indianapolis. They will upgrade the Indy Fuel from ECHL to AHL in 2018-19. Currently Indy is Rockford’s ECHL affiliate.

It looks like the Colorado Avalanche will finally get their AHL affiliate in Colorado as they wanted to for several years. The same hockey sources have indicated that likely the Colorado Eagles will too be upgraded from the Avalanche ECHL affiliate to AHL affiliate.

The Avalanche really had wanted the now defunct Central Hockey League, the Denver Cutthroats to be that team, but it never worked out.

The relationship in San Antonio with the Rampage owners, the NBA San Antonio Spurs has soured greatly. The Spurs are very disappointed with the on ice product especially last year when the Avalanche spent a lot of free agent money in the off season for a more competitive squad and finished with the third worst record in the AHL.

Then of course the unknown situation for the Rangers with the unresolved XL Center issue also hangs in the balance will Vancouver continue on in Utica.

The Pacific Division could see a small change as Calgary may look to move within California not because of the arena or fan support, rather a very serious real gang violence issue in Stockton that affects the players and staff. The two cities mentioned they are said to be exploring are Fresno and Sacramento, but no final decision has been made.

-Rapid City becomes the new ECHL affiliate for the Iowa Wild. Expect New Jersey to announce they will make Adirondack (Glen Falls) their ECHL affiliate for Binghamton where they just moved their AHL team from Albany.

CANTLON: McCAMBRIDGE NAMED NEW WOLF PACK HEAD COACH

McCAMBRIDGE NAMED NEW WOLF PACK HEAD COACH

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT: Well that didn’t take long.

Last year’s assistant coach, Keith McCambridge, was named the sixth head coach in Hartford Wolf Pack history on Monday just three weeks after long-time head Ken Gernander as relieved of his duties.

McCambridge is ready to go but was careful not to step on Gernander’s skates.

“It’s a very tough part of the hockey business,” McCambridge said. “Kenny gave a lot to Hartford and I can’t be anyone other than myself and I’m looking forward to getting at it. I have been in this situation before in Manitoba following popular coaches like Scott Arniel, and Claude Noel. I really believe in and demand hard work in practice as much as games and I think we have a lot of young talented prospects here.”

McCambridge, 43, joined the Rangers organization as the Wolf Pack’s Assistant Coach on August 3, 2016. Prior to working with the Wolf Pack, McCambridge served the previous five seasons (2011-12 – 2015-16) as Head Coach of the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate (St. John’s IceCaps from 2011-12 – 2014-15 and Manitoba Moose in 2015-16). He posted a 179-158-23-20 record (wins-losses-overtime losses-shootout losses) during his five seasons as Head Coach of the IceCaps/Moose and guided the team to a playoff berth twice over the span.

With back-to-back losing seasons and finishing dead last in the AHL with Manitoba and Hartford, McCambridge isn’t gun shy.

“It’s tough. I like the challenge and the have changed and the speed of the game is so much different than when I played. Then you would have three or four speedy guys now its everybody. We’re going to do our best to mimic the Rangers systems and have these guys ready to help in New York,” McCambridge stated.

In his first season with the team in 2011-12, McCambridge helped St. John’s finish in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 43-25-5-3 record and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The IceCaps earned 99 points during the regular season in 2013-14 (46-23-2-5 record), and McCambridge helped the team advance to the Calder Cup Finals. In addition, McCambridge served as the Head Coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic.

Prior to becoming Head Coach of the Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, the Thompson, Manitoba, native served as an Assistant Coach with the Manitoba Moose for two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11). In 2009-10, McCambridge worked alongside current Rangers Associate Coach Scott Arniel (former New Haven Senator), who was the Head Coach of the Moose.

McCambridge also spent six seasons with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL (2003-04 – 2008-09), serving three seasons as a player/Assistant Coach (2003-04 – 2005-06), one season as an Assistant Coach after finishing his playing career (2006-07), and two seasons as the Aces’ Head Coach (2007-08 and 2008-09). Continue reading

CRAWFORD: AETNA AND WOLF PACK CONTINUE TO GROW “AETNA AMATEUR HOCKEY” PROGRAM

AETNA AND WOLF PACK CONTINUE TO GROW “AETNA AMATEUR HOCKEY” PROGRAM

*           *           *           *

Nearly 100 teams and over 1500 skaters participated during 2016-17 season

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, April 20, 2017:  The 2016-17 Hartford Wolf Pack season featured another banner year for the Wolf Pack’s “Aetna Amateur Hockey” program.

Featuring opportunities for amateur hockey teams of all age levels, from six and seven-year-old Mites to adult-league squads, to play full-length games before and after Wolf Pack home games at the XL Center, the Aetna Amateur Hockey program brought 96 teams to the XL Center ice in 2016-17.  That means that more than 1,500 players had the chance to show their skills on the same ice surface where the Wolf Pack players strive to make their way to the National Hockey League. Continue reading

CANLTON’S CORNER: BRUCE LANDON OFFICIALLY RETIRES

CANTLON’S CORNER:

BRUCE Landon Officially Retires

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

SPRINGFIELD, MA – You couldn’t have written a better ending to a great fair tale story.

Bruce Landon, the true face of Springfield hockey for the past 40 years, ended his career in the city to which he admits he owes everything to. Hartford also played a pivotal role in his planting roots over the border.

Almost with a sense of poetic justice in mind, the Thunderbirds and Wolf Pack close out the 2016-17 season at the same time as Landon closed his career as Springfield defeated Hartford, 5-1. Continue reading

TOSTI: FOUR RETURNED TO RABBITS FOR POST SEASON

Four Returned To Rabbits for Post Season

Recent call-ups finish the weekend in AHL and rejoin Greenville ahead of first round matchup against South Carolina.

BY: 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, announced today that forwards Brandon Alderson, Allan McPherson, Angelo Miceli, and defenseman Joe Houk have been returned to the Swamp Rabbits by the AHL’s Texas Stars. The four skaters joined Texas during a weekend series in Charlotte, NC against the Charlotte Checkers.

Alderson skated in two games for the Stars and recorded an assist. The winger earned three call-ups and played in 13 AHL contests this season between the Stars, Hartford Wolf Pack, and Syracuse Crunch. The 6-foot-4 skater has played 146 career AHL contests and earned 33 points (17G, 16A) over parts of five seasons. The Oakville, ON native ended the regular season second on the team in scoring with 55 points (26G, 29A) in 45 games. In the final 25 games of the ECHL season, Alderson recorded 33 points (15G, 18A) in 25 games. Only six ECHL skaters tallied more points in that stretch.

Miceli earned an assist on Texas’ lone goal on Sunday afternoon. The second-year pro earned his first AHL call-up of the season after tallying 77 points (22G, 55A) in 68 ECHL games. The center from Montreal, QC ended the regular season one point shy of Greenville’s franchise record set by Justin Bowers in 2012. Miceli’s efforts this season led the Swamp Rabbits and finished ninth in the ECHL. The 5-foot-10 skater earned Sher-Wood Hockey / ECHL Player of the Week in March and led Greenville with 22 multi-point performances. Continue reading

TOSTI: SWAMP RABBITS CLINCH BERTH IN 2017 KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS

Swamp Rabbits Clinch Berth in 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Check out the SwampRabbits.com playoff hub for preliminary information, tickets, and scheduling for the first round of the Swamp Rabbits post-season

BY: Brian Tosti, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SCThe Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, punched their ticket to the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs last night. The Swamp Rabbits are ready to begin the playoff push after locking up one of four positions in the South Division. Seeding and scheduling for the first round of the postseason is still to be determined.

GREENVILLE PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Swamp Rabbits trip to the playoffs is the first since Greenville made the 2014 Eastern Conference Final round. Jeff Malcolm and Bretton Cameron are the lone returners from the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoff team. Greenville qualified for the playoffs during the franchise’s first four seasons, winning the South Division title in 2011. Continue reading

CRAWFORD: PENGUINS CRUSH PACK 5-2

       VERSUS     

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5, Hartford Wolf Pack 2

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

Wilkes-Barre, PA, March 21, 2017 – The Hartford Wolf Pack’s frustrations against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins continued Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, as the Wolf Pack fell to 0-7-0-0 on the year against the Penguins with a 5-2 loss.

Chris Brown and Marek Hrivik had goals for the Wolf Pack Tuesday, but former Wolf Pack Ryan Haggerty scored twice for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Tom Kostopoulos and Dominik Simon had two assists apiece.

“They’ve got a really good team,” Brown said of the Penguins.  “They’ve got a lot of depth, and they proved that tonight.  They capitalized on a lot of Grade A opportunities.  I was proud of the guys for battling in the third.  I thought we had a really good third period, did some really good things, and hopefully, we can build off of that momentum of positive play.”

The first period was high-scoring, with the teams combining for five goals, and the Penguins came out of it with a 3-2 lead. Continue reading

PECORARO: (SAT) TITANS HOLD OFF RIVER DRIVERS, WIN 3-2

      VERSUS      

Titans Hold Off River Drivers, Win 3-2

BY: Tommy Pecoraro, Danbury Titans

Danbury, CT  In what could be a Federal Hockey League playoff preview, Dalton Jay and Taylor Bourne each registered a goal and an assist, while Ryan Wilkinson added two helpers to lead the Danbury Titans to a crucial 3-2 win over the visiting Berlin River Drivers before 812 at the Danbury Ice Arena on Saturday night.

Both teams were looking to secure second place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs. The playoffs start in three weeks. The Titans built a 3-1 lead and held on against a late Berlin charge to secure a 3-2 win.

In the third period, with the team nursing a 2-1 lead, the Titans got what would prove to be the game-winner at 7:55 of the third period.

Wilkinson was just barely able to avoid a huge center ice check from the River Drivers’ Vojtek Zemlicka. The puck got loose and was found by Jay who took it all the way to River Drivers’ netminder, Matt Kaludis (43 saves) and shot it over his shoulder to make it 3-1.

The River Drivers pressed to make it a one-goal game and were awarded a power play at 15:20 when Frankie Hart went off for holding.  Tyler Howe deflected a shot in front of Titan goaltender, Bobby Bowden (23 saves) and made it 3-2.

BOXSCORE Continue reading

CRAWFORD: PACK HUMILIATED BY PENGUINS 8-1

      VERSUS      

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 8, Hartford Wolf Pack 1

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

Wilkes-Barre, PA, March 10, 2017 – Taylor Beck scored his first Hartford Wolf Pack goal Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, but that was the only bright spot for the Wolf Pack in an 8-1 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot led the way for the winning side with a goal and three assists, and Jean-Sebastien Dea, Kevin Porter, and Barry Goers had a goal and two assists apiece.

The Penguins took control of the game in the first period, building a 3-0 lead through the first 20 minutes. Continue reading

MCGINNISS: (SAT) DANBURY WINS FOURTH STRAIGHT

      VERSUS      

BY: Zak McGinniss, Danbury Titans

DANBURY, CT The Titans scored all four of their goals in the second period en route to a 4-1 victory over the St Clair Shores Fighting Saints on Saturday night at the Danbury Ice Arena. Nikita Ivandikov stopped 29 of 30 shots for Danbury as he improved to 14-13 on the season and the Titans kept pace in the Federal Hockey League playoff race.

A scoreless first period which saw the Titans outshoot the Saints 12-5 gave way to more offensive pressure from the home team. Taylor Bourne would break the deadlock with his 22nd goal of the season 4:38 into the middle period, with assists from Matt Graham and Dalton Jay. With the goal, Bourne moves into a tie with Jay for the team lead in goals. Matt Coleman potted the eventual game-winner less than 2 minutes later on a breakaway from Mike Dolman and John Scully. Halfway through the period Taylor Love was left alone in the slot and fed a pass from Graham to make it 3-0. Then, with only 1:39 remaining, Graham found the back of the net himself, with Jay and Vadim Subbitnikov on the helpers.  Continue reading