CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK GET ICE PROBLEM SOLVED
BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – On Monday, the XL Center dodged a major deflected puck yet again.
A secondary attempt to make ice on Wednesday proved successful and averted what could have been a major problem with kicking off the 2017-18 hockey season at the aging XL Center for both the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and the UConn Huskies of Hockey East.
With two weeks to go before the Wolf Pack open their training camp, and just three weeks before their first home game, there was genuine concern that there would have been a disruption in the first month of Hartford’s regular season schedule.
Had the inability to make ice continued, the team would have had to find other venues to play their games. Places that would have received serious consideration to host the Wolf Pack and UConn would likely have included Quinnipiac University or the Ingalls Rink at Yale University. Had that occurred, it would have tested the relationship of the CRDA and Spectra in terms of the responsibility to pay for a rink rental in that situation. Thankfully though, they were successful making ice and none of that came to pass.
The Wolf Pack added to the drama with a stunning, and unexpected announcement on Monday. The team’s lone pre-season game at Trinity College, the annual Ryan Gordon Foundation game at Koeppel Community Center Rink, played to aid the Wolf Pack scholarship fund, was moved to the XL Center. The game will be played at noon and is closed to the public.
***LATE BREAKING ARENA NEWS***
The state budget crisis, with more twists and turns than a pro wrestling show, may have finally produced a budget and a big winner will be the XL Center.
Reports surfaced that an approval of $115 million toward the re-boot of the arena has been made. In a rare move, the agreement disregarded a finance committee recommendation made back in March.
The city’s run-down XL Center arena would get the money over two years as part of a budget plan that was debated Thursday night and early Friday morning by the state House and Senate.
Sen. John W. Fonfara, (D) – Hartford, and co-chairman of the legislature’s finance revenue and bonding committee said the capital plan includes $40 million for the current fiscal year and $75 million for 2019.
The allocation is just shy of the $125 million sought by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy but is higher than the $75 million approved earlier this year by the finance and bond committee.
The amount included in the budget plan is close to half of the $250 million needed for a recommended, top-to-bottom makeover proposed for the arena. The project envisioned as being spread out over three or four years. Excluded are the demolition costs as well as the cost of acquiring the title to the atrium, a major linchpin to the re-boot plan.
CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth did not return calls for comment.
Late Friday, the budget process was tossed into a blender as three Democrats broke party ranks to vote in favor of the Senate Republican budget proposal. The House also received support from enough Democrats to pass the budget which did not include funds for the XL Center. Governor Malloy has already gone public saying he is going to veto the budget. How this will be resolved and what the XL Center future is, remains nebulous.
(AP News story was included in this segment)
PLAYER AND COACHING MOVEMENT
Ex-Wolf Pack/CT Whale, Brandon Mashinter, signed an AHL deal with the San Jose Barracuda. For Mashinter it returns him to his first pro organization. and ex-Pack John Mitchell signs an NHL training camp PTO with Chicago.
Ex-Pack, John Mitchell, signs an NHL training camp PTO with Chicago.
Former CT Whale, Christian Thomas, signs an AHL free agent deal with Wilkes Barre/Scranton.
Enfield’s Robbie Baillargeon is in the Washington Capitals camp. He signed an ECHL deal with their affiliate South Carolina in the summer. He will also likely be in Hershey Bears (AHL) camp at some point.
Mark Kastelic, son of former Whaler, Ed Kastelic, who has one year of junior eligibility left with Calgary (WHL) is in San Jose training camp as an undrafted invitee.
Mathieu Sevigny, son of ex-Pack Pierre Sevigny, and who was born in Hartford and went undrafted with a year of junior eligibility left with Sherbrooke (QMJHL), is in the Winnipeg Jets rookie camp as an invitee.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers announced four players signed to AHL contracts in advance of their opening training camp next week.
The four include defenseman Mike Cornell, who played with the Sound Tigers in 2013-14, returns from EHC Straubing (Germany-DEL). The others are Matt Lane (Elmira-ECHL/Rochester), Kellen Jones, the Quinnipiac grad and grandson of former New Haven Blade Terry Jones, and who played in Bridgeport last season, and Pat Cullity, who played three games last year in Missouri (ECHL) (nee Kansas City) and 36 games with the Sound Tigers.
Ben Holstrom, the Sound Tigers captain the last two years and who played in every regular season game both seasons, is attending the parent New York Islanders’ training camp on a PTO deal. Goalie Stephon Williams signs with San Jose (AHL) and defenseman Loic Leduc who split the last two years between the Sound Tigers and Missouri (nee Kansas City) of the ECHL signs with Reading (ECHL).
Goalie Stephon Williams signs with San Jose (AHL).
Defenseman Loic Leduc, who split the last two years between the Sound Tigers and Missouri (nee Kansas City) of the ECHL, signs with the Reading Royals (ECHL).
Former Quinnipiac player, Zach Tolkinen, moves from Kansas City (ECHL) to Wheeling (ECHL) this season.
Ryan Segalla (Salisbury Prep/UCONN) signs with Reading (ECHL).
Mike McKee, a former Kent Prep player, signs a minor league deal with the St. Louis Blues. Should he not make the NHL roster, McKee will be placed on an unaffiliated AHL team since the Blues do not have an AHL affiliate this season. ANother option could be sending McKee to the team’s ECHL affiliate in Indianapolis. McKee is presently on St. Louis’ Traverse City tourney team.
Another AHL’er has signed in Europe. Marc Hagel leaves the former Binghamton Senators and signs with Lorenskog IK (Norway-NEL). That makes 83 AHL’ers who have signed for Europe for this season.
Ex-Sound Tiger, Kirill Kabanov, who first signed with IK Oskarshamn (Sweden-Allsvenskan) this summer, canceled that contract to sign with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark-DHL).
Former Sound Tiger, Victor Bartley, signed a two-year deal with Orebro HK (Sweden-SHL).
Stephen Seeger (Stamford/Brunswick Prep/CT Oilers), who played junior hockey last year with the Merritt Centennials (BCHL), signs a deal with Lowen Frankfurt (Germany DEL-2).
Jordan Ciccarello (New Hartford/South Kent Prep/Sacred Heart University) re-signs with SG Cortina (Italy-AlpsHL).
Ryan Cole of Trinity College (NESEAC) in Hartford signs with Kongsvinger (Norway-NEL).
A few more US collegians signed deals. Nolan De Jong of the University of Michigan (Big 10) signs with Colorado/San Antonio (AHL) while Davis Jones University Alaska-Fairbanks (WCHA) signs with Cincinnati (ECHL).
Steve Collins of SUNY-Geneseo (SUNYAC) is in Washington Capitals training camp. Collins signed an AHL/ECHL two-way deal with Hershey/South Carolina (ECHL). Collins was the SUNYAC Herb Hammond MVP of the conference and its top goal scorer. He was among the top Division III players in the nation last year. The late Herb Hammond was a long time amateur scout for the New York Rangers.
These signings now make 189 Division I players signing North American pro deals. If you include the 25 players from Division III, that number is 214. 46 signed in Europe making 260 college players from last year transitioning to professionals.
Ex-Sound Tiger, Jordan Hill, retired from playing due to injury. He immediately hooked up as the second assistant coach for the Owen Sound Attack (OHL) for this season. He joins another ex-Sound Tiger, Alan Letang, as an assistant coach.
Former Wolf Pack, Danny Syvret, has retired from playing ending his career. The previous two years, Syvret spent in the German DEL, last year with Nuremburg. He is taking the next step in his professional life in the financial services industry where he hopes to better help players with managing their money.
Syvret does leave open the possibility that he might play again if a contract comes along to his liking. It would most likely be in a Euro league or as an AHL injury cover for a team shorthanded.
Syvret’s younger brother, Cory, played in the AHL and ECHL. He has also announced his retirement and is training to be a referee. He will likely end up in the OHL this year.
The comeback attempt by 42-year-old ex-Pack, Anders Myrvold, was short lived. Myrvold retired at the conclusion of training camp with Valerenga (Norway-NEL).
TRAVERSE CITY CITY TOURNEY RESULTS
The annual tournament didn’t get the results the Rangers had hoped for to start the 2017-18 hockey season
The team finished eighth out of eight teams with a 1-3 record.
The Rangers split their first two games. They got a 3-2 win over Chicago and then were shutout by Carolina 4-0.
In the victory, the Baby Rangers scored the game’s first two goals in a 1:20 span. Malte Stromwall tallied the first goal and Ryan Gropp adding the second at 9:50 of the first period. The eventual game-winner came off the stick of defenseman Sean Day midway through the second period.
The Baby Blackhawks scored twice late in the third period to spoil a shutout bid by goalie Chris Nell. The goals came just 1:32 apart with the second coming on the powerplay.
The Hurricanes pitched a 4-0 shutout spoiling the debut of Russian goalie, Alexander Georgiev, who stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced. The Rangers had just 19 shots on goal with almost half of them coming from just two players, Ty Ronning and defenseman Neal Pionk. The duo had four each.
The Baby Rangers then dropped their third tourney game 4-1 to the tournament’s host team, the Detroit Red Wings. Gropp scored the lone goal. Nell made 32 saves on 35 shots. Luke Esposito (Greenwich/Brunswick Prep) had an assist and was a plus-two for the Red Wings.
The Rangers closed out the tourney playing in the seventh-place game against Dallas and suffered a 4-1 loss.
Stromwall scored the only Rangers goal, his second of the tournament. Lias Andersson had his best game of the tournament setting up the goal for his first point of the tourney. He had a game-high five shots on net. Georgiev was in goal for the Baby Blueshirts facing 26 shots making 23 saves.
Players of note in the tournament include former UConn Husky, Tage Thompson, the son of ex-Wolf Pack and current Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson. The younger Thompson, now with the St. Louis Blues, had the best performance of the tournament with four goals and nine points leading all scorers.
Thompson closed out his sterling efforts with a three-point (2g, 1a) effort as the Blues dropped Detroit 5-1 in their last game capturing fifth place.
Thompson, had a tough first game going minus-three in a wild 8-5 loss to Minnesota, but had a much better outing in his second game. Thompson picked up a goal and two assists in the third period of a come-from-behind 7-6 overtime victory over Dallas. Thompson scored the game-tying goal with 2:29 left in regulation.
Thompson picked up a goal and an assist including the game-winner, unassisted at 15:32 of the third period of a 3-2 win over Columbus.
The Blues’ Adam Musil, the nephew of ex-Whaler and Ranger, Bobby Holik, also got an assist in the first two games played. He tallied the game’s first goal against Columbus and overall had two goals and four points in four games.
Carolina goalie Callum Booth (Salisbury Prep) helped Carolina to capture third place with a 5-0 shutout of Minnesota. Booth stopped all 29 Wild shots and picked up an assist as well. He also stopped 34 of 36 shots in a 6-2 Carolina win over Detroit. Booth then found himself on the wrong side of a 9-2 shellacking by Chicago where he surrendered eight of the nine goals before getting lifted with just under a minute left in the game.
Booth could be the starting goalie for Charlotte on opening night in Hartford in two weeks at the XL Center.
The aforementioned Luke Esposito picked up an assist in his second game a 4-3 loss to Chicago as did his teammate Dominic Turgeon, the nephew of former Whaler, Sylvain Turgeon.
SEATTLE ARENA UPDATE
The project to renovate the Seattle Key Arena is moving ahead with alacrity and by the end of the year, a deal could be in place with a framework that could see the NHL in the #14 TV market as early as 2020 as an expansion franchise and the 32nd NHL team. Read about it HERE