Tag Archives: Stanley Cup

(SAT) RANGERS SLIDE CONTINUES WITH LOSS TO DEVILS

     Game Summary                                  NJD: K. Kincaid (W)   NYR: O. Pavelec (L)       Event Summary

–       SHOOTING GALLERY – The Rangers registered 31 shots on goal in tonight’s game, and 14 of 18 Rangers recorded at least one shot on goal. The Blueshirts have recorded 30 or more shots on goal in each of the last three games and in five of six games thus far in 2017-18.

–       HOT AT THE DOT – New York won 36 of 63 faceoffs in tonight’s contest (57.1%). The Rangers have posted a 50.0% faceoff win percentage or better in four of six games this season.

–       FIRST IN SCORE – The Rangers have registered the first goal of the game in each of the last two games and in three of the last four contests. Continue reading

CANTLON: (SUN) PACK BEAT PHANTOMS IN A SHOOTOUT GET FIRST WIN

WOLF Pack Beat Phantoms In A Shootout FOR FIRst Win

      VERSUS      

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – It took a little extra time for the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon to earn their first win of the season as it took Adam Tambellini’s shootout attempt to win it, 2-1.

The goal came as a result of a last second decision by Tambellini.

As Tambellini came down the slot, he began to lose control of the puck, but he recovered on the backhand switched to his forehand and left goaltender Alex Lyon on his face on the ice. It was the only puck to score during the shootout.

“That was all planned, all planned,” Tambellini said with a wry smile. “I worked on the move in the off-season and wanted to give it a go and it worked out.”

Chris Nell (28 saves) sealed the deal stopping the third Phantoms attempt from Phil Varone. Continue reading

RANGERS CLAIM FORWARD ADAM CRACKNELL

RANGERS CLAIM FORWARD ADAM CRACKNELL

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, October 9, 2017 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has claimed forward Adam Cracknell off waivers.

Cracknell, 32, has skated in 204 career NHL games with St. Louis, Columbus, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Dallas, registering 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points, along with a plus-five rating and 46 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in games played (69), goals (10), assists (six), points (16), and plus/minus rating (plus-nine) last season.

The 6-2, 218-pounder ranked second on Dallas in plus/minus rating and ranked fourth among Stars forwards with 91 hits in 2016-17. Dallas posted a 10-2-1 record in games which Cracknell registered a point last season, and he tallied his first career NHL hat trick on March 24, 2017, vs. San Jose. Cracknell skated in one game with Dallas this season before being placed on waivers. Cracknell has also helped his team advance to the playoffs twice in his NHL career. Cracknell has skated in 10 career NHL playoff games, all with St. Louis, registering one goal and two penalty minutes.

The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native was originally selected by Calgary in the ninth round, 279th overall, of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

CANTLON: HARTFORD WOLF PACK 2017-18 PREVIEW

HARTFORD WOLF PACK 2017-18 PREVIEW

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Get a program for the opening game of the 21st edition of the Hartford Wolf Pack season that begins Friday night at the XL Center against the Charlotte Checkers at 7 pm.

The Wolf Pack will unveil their roster in the home opener as a work in progress.  There will be changes as this team moves forward. It is far from a finished product.

Coming off their worst season in franchise history where they finished dead last in the AHL, the organization revamped the roster from top-to-bottom. The scrub/overhaul of the team started with removing the very face of the franchise for the past 20 years, head coach and former team captain, Ken Gernander. The purge continued by eliminating almost every nameplate in the locker room.

It looks like they have not finished retooling yet. Coming off an abbreviated pre-season schedule of just two games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, seemingly not much has changed getting shutout at home 2-0 and shelled in Worcester 7-1.

Coming off an abbreviated pre-season schedule of just two games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, it indeed seemed like not much has changed as they were shutout at home 2-0 and then shelled in the rematch played in Worcester 7-1.

“We have started to put some of our systems into place,” new Head Coach Keith McCambridge said. “It’s going to take time to put it into place exactly the way you want it. It will give management time to evaluate players.”

This group will be, by far, the youngest Wolf Pack roster management has ever assembled. With that much youth, the team age average that is 22.6 years of age, there are risks and rewards that come from going in that direction.

“With youth, you get a lot of energy and get a chance to mold those young minds and young players. To teach and mold, that’s the fun part of coaching and with the three-in-threes, with those young legs, that’s on the positive side of the ledger,” McCambridge said.

In addressing the turnover on the team, McCambridge remarked, “There is more changeover in the American Hockey League as opposed to the NHL. Certainly, we have brought in a new batch of leaders here and I’m looking at what we have after training camp. It’s making sure we play the right way and there is no gray area. Players will know what the expectations are. Where they are to be on the ice, and they represent the Hartford Wolf Pack and the New York Rangers well, both on and off the ice.

“You can then see an identity grow. You can’t come in and write on the board this is our identity. You have to form that identity and steer it the right way, and that’s where it forms, and that takes time to form and take hold.”

The new philosophy was evident right at the end of training camp in New York and from the outset in Hartford.

The team dispatched forward Robin Kovacs on Sunday, taking his two goals and minus-27 in 72 games, plus a weak camp in New York and allowed him to return to Sweden. That was accomplished by placing him on unconditional waivers and buying out the last year of his two-year deal. According to the Swedish online publication, Kvallposten, Kovacs is set to sign with Lulea HF (Sweden-SHL) after weighing a competing offer from another Swedish team, Skelleftea AIK.

This newest edition of the Pack is even younger than last year.  The exceptions come from the addition of new veterans. Joe Whitney was named the team’s latest captain. He is also the team’s oldest player at 29. Whitney is eight months older than Eric Selleck.

Whitney is coming off what was not his best season. In 2016-17, Whitney played for San Antonio and Tucson. The Reading, MA native, is very eager to hit the ice.

“I have been a captain in many other places, but it’s always an honor and allows me to help show the young players the way. This is a great opportunity. When Chris Drury called me during the summer, he told me what the game plan was for Hartford. I wanted in.

“I’m a Northeast guy. I like the winter. I like the cold. It’s not hockey weather out West. It’s warm all the time. I realize that we have to take advantage of games early, but take them one game at a time.

“I have seen where you miss things at the end when you lose games early. On paper, I might be old, but I feel like I’m 20. I’m 110% healthy and last year I didn’t reach the expectations that I had for myself, and that will happen, but I’m excited and ready to play (Friday night).”

McCambridge knows Whitney quite well.

“I saw him a lot when I was in St. John’s in the playoffs against Albany. I have seen first-hand what he can do offensively and the leadership he provides. He’s a veteran, and that adds to trying to win hockey games, but also he was high on leadership qualities.”

Whitney will try to be the guy to help replace the scoring lost in Nicklas Jensen’s departure to Finland to join Jokerit Helsinki in the KHL.

“I was hoping we could have them together in the mix. That was my hope, and it’s hard to replace 30-plus goals. Of course, you lean on these type of guys, but some third-year players also have a chance to step up and fill in there. It’s their chance.

Selleck has 438 AHL games on his stat sheet. He was named an assistant captain.

Another veteran on the roster came in the resigning of Daniel Catenacci who arrived in an acquisition at last year’s trade deadline for former captain Mat Bodie.

McCambridge is going to be leaning heavily on his veterans as the season starts.

“Veterans at this level are very important. Not only do they represent how you want the practice to run, and games to take shape, you also want the young players to look at those players and conduct themselves that way on-and-off the ice,” McCambridge stated. “Character in veterans was high on the list and players who do get sent down are invested and interested in the Wolf Pack having success.”

The light will shine brightest in net. Last season was a rocky one with Magnus Hellberg, Mackenzie Skapski and Brandon Halverson guarding the pipes.

Poor netminding, particularly early in games, hampered the Wolf Pack for all of this past season. Better starts are required, not optional.

The team will start the season with two rookie goalies, Alexander Georgiev from Moscow, Russia and Chris Nell. Georgiev played with TPS Turku (Finland-FEL) last year where he went 13-8-4 in 27 games with 1.70 GAA. Nell played four games at the end of last season with the Pack and went 1-3 with a 4.02 GAA. Nell came to Hartford after finishing his junior year with the Bowling Green University Falcons (NCHC) where he amassed a record of 17-14-2 in 34 games and a 2.15 GAA.

“We discussed in the off-season what Georgiev had done over there (in Finland). We’ve been educated on that, and both played well in Traverse City for us, so we got an early idea of what they have. Then, in the big camp, when you have NHL players bearing down on them drilling some shots, I liked the movement we saw and positives to their game. There are always going to be ups and downs for goalies, defenseman and forwards that’s why they are here in the AHL.”

Ryan Graves leads the defense. Entering the third and final year of his entry-level deal, Graves, with 150 games under his belt, now qualifies as a veteran, especially on such a young team. Along with Graves, Garrett Noonan, who came up as a recall from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, are the two most experienced of the seven rostered defenseman.

“He’s always been a well-conditioned athlete. He took it to a higher level and came into camp and was in the Top 10, so he was in excellent shape. He does have the offensive upside. He has the shot, good vision, and skating, and plays with sandpaper too.  Now, he needs to put the whole package together.”

Graves trained hard in the offseason in Charlottetown, PEI and is very much wanting to put last season behind him.

“I just trained hard and played some gold and hit the beach,” said Graves. Last year left a sour taste in everybody’s mouth. Now, we have a fresh slate. Last year is behind us, and I’m ready to get this season started and build on the good camp I had in New York. Sure, there are a lot of defenseman up top, but if I’m ready and play well, if a chance presents itself, I will be ready.”

Graves has offensive upside, but that aspect of his game disappeared as last season wore on. He concentrated solely on being a defensive defenseman, and that didn’t pan out either. While trying to transform his game, his 100-mph shot faded away.

It’s anyone’s guess which Graves shows up on the ice when the Pack play Friday night.

One of the team’s rookie rearguards will be 20-year-old Brendan Crawley, a fourth-round pick out of London (OHL). Crawley inked his three-year entry-level contract on Monday. The Rangers are trying to go back to the formula they have used in the past. Crawley, a right-hander, comes from Dale Hunter’s player factory in London. The Rangers have had a lot of success in the past with Dan Girardi, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and to a lesser degree with Tommy Hughes, who’s now with the Hershey Bears.

The rest of the roster fills some gaps and will be tested early on as they take on the fast skating team in Charlotte, a major part of the Carolina Hurricanes upgrade being taken on by the team’s GM, former Whaler great, Ron Francis. Behind the bench as head coach is former Hartford Whaler, Mike Vellucci.

Vince Pedrie played nine games last year after being signed out of Penn State. Pedrie showed mobility and talent for carrying the puck out of the zone and a good shot on the powerplay.

Neil Pionk is a right-handed shot out of one of the stronger national college programs, the University Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Last season, the Bulldogs were in the Frozen Four.

Rounding out the rearguard is Alexei Bereglazov, who went undrafted in either the NHL or KHL. Bereglazov will need to make the usual adjustment Europeans face in transitioning to playing on the smaller surface than what he was accustomed to playing on in Russia.

“Alexei has shown flashes of what we were told he had in Traverse City. Over the course of a month, his habits have gotten better. He’s shown better awareness (on the ice) and more structured, better plays with the puck as time has gone by. He is dealing with the language barrier, the different ice surface, and systems. It’s a lot to take in. From when I first saw him more than a month ago, he has made some really good strides,” McCambridge said.

For the Checkers, up front, they feature a rookie, Nick Schilkey from Ohio State. Schilkey scored 27 goals in 35 games for the Buckeyes and was a Hobey Baker candidate last year. He had seven points in two pre-season games last weekend against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, including a hat-trick.

Also up front for the Checkers is another young forward in Alexsi Saarela, a former Rangers high draft pick. Saarela and Schilkey will be a massive test for the Pack’s defense right off the bat.

For the Pack, up front will be Whitney, a long time Pack killer (39 points in 33 career games), and Cole Schneider, a UConn product coming off a healthy year in Rochester. Adam Tambellini, in his third and last year of his entry-level deal, will look to make an impression to warrant another contract from the Rangers. Catenacci, a seven-year veteran, will also be one of the work-horses to lead this team both in five-on-five as well as on the power play. This group will be asked over the first six weeks mainly, to keep the Pack in contention as the new blood gets acclimated to professional hockey and the Rangers’ systems.

Boo Nieves, who at times last season showed flashes of excellence with his size and speed last season, enters his second year. Last season, Nieves saw it end early from a concussion. He is expecting a breakout season.

Forward Vinni Lieterri, who had a nine-game audition at the end of last year after completing his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, had a good showing in the Traverse City prospect tournament as well as in training camp in New York.

“He has the speed you want on your team,” McCambridge said. “He had a strong camp in New York, and he will be an important part of our offense.”

It’s a brand new squad looking to change the Wolf Pack look and start the season on a strong note.

NOTES:

Congrats to ex-Pack, Tanner Glass, on making the Calgary Flames roster.  The 33-year-old vet still can chip in a few goals, hits and will get in a few scraps and will add plenty of physical play. As the NHL and AHL have moved away from players like Glass, what he and players like him bring is a component every team needs.

Glass made his debut Wednesday in the Battle of Alberta against the Edmonton Oilers. In his 9:21 of ice time, Glass recorded three hits and had the first NHL fight of the season with Edmonton’s Zack Kassian. Calgary lost 3-0 to ex-Wolf Pack, Cam Talbot, who pitched a 24 save shutout.

Congrats to Tage Thompson (Orange/UConn) on making the St. Louis Blues.

The former UCONN Husky had a solid camp that began by leading the Traverse City tournament in scoring. Thompson is the son of ex-Pack, and current Bridgeport Sound Tiger head coach, Brent Thompson. Tage had 11:26 of ice time in his debut against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thompson drew the penalty that led to the Blues second goal in the second period. Olli Maatta tallied on a powerplay to tie the score at two.

Wade Megan (Salisbury Prep) was also on the final Blues roster was a scratch Wednesday night.

John Hayden (Greenwich/Yale) made the Chicago’s Blackhawks roster and made his debut Thursday night with an assist, his first NHL point. Hayden also had five hits, four shots on goal in the 14:19 he saw in ice time in a 10-1 thrashing of the Penguins.

The expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights feature former a Wolf Pack in centerman, Oscar Lindberg. They also have ex-CT Whale, Jonathan-Audy Marchessault, and former Sound Tiger, Griffin Reinhart.

Injured, but making the final cuts were ex-Pack, Marek Hrivik (Calgary), ex-Sound Tiger, Carter Verhaeghe (Tampa Bay), and Cole Cassels, the son of former Whaler, Andrew Cassels (Vancouver).

The Rangers assigned defenseman Sean Day back to the defending Memorial Cup champion, Windsor Spitfires. He joins Ty Ronning (Vancouver-WHL) and Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie-OHL) as the top Rangers prospects playing Canadian juniors.

The Wolf Pack record in season home openers is 10-9-1. There was a 3-3 tie back in 2003 with Bridgeport. The team’s home opener record is .500 at 6-6-1 including a 4-2 win over Charlotte in 2010-11. Of their 21 home openers, they have played four times, the most of any team, against Springfield followed by three with the Sound Tigers.

In 21 years, six of the teams they played in openers are no longer in the league. Those teams include New Haven, Philadelphia, Albany, Manchester, St. John’s and Quebec.

Vellucci was recently made head coach of the Checkers after being moved from a Carolina assistant GM to replacing a former Whalers and Rangers player as well as an assistant coach as well with the both the Wolf Pack and Avon Old Farms, Ulf Samuelsson.

Vellucci was a junior head coach and GM for the former Plymouth Whalers (OHL) for 13 years.

The Checkers have Ulf’s oldest son, Philip Samuelsson and Josh Wesley, the son of former Whaler, Glen Wesley, and nephew of Blake Wesley, both on defense. Up front, the team has ex-Yale University Bulldog, Andrew Miller.

The Checkers lost forward Steven Lorentz for the opening night contest after receiving an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of regulation. He is under suspension by the AHL for one game. After the suspension, Lorentz goes to Florida (ECHL).

The last time these two teams met was in 2010-11 when they split a four-game series with each team winning their home matchups.

The Wolf Pack host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday at 5 pm. The Phantoms feature former Yale Bulldog goalie, Alex Lyon. The coach is former New Haven Nighthawk, Scott Gordon.

A few familiar names were among the last cuts in the NHL and sent to the AHL include ex-Pack players Dylan McIlrath (Grand Rapids), Jayson Megna (Utica), Brandon Mashinter (San Jose), Ryan Malone (Iowa) and Brian Gibbons (Binghamton). Also ex-Sound Tigers Chris Lee (Ontario) and J.F. Berube (Rockford) and Ken Agostino from Yale (Providence).

Matt Carey was released from his training camp tryout by Hershey but signed a PTO contract with Grand Rapids.

Another AHL’er off to Europe is Shane Harper who played last year with Springfield and Albany and some time with Florida (NHL). Harper signs with Lada Togliatti (Russia-KHL). Harper’s signing makes 86 AHLer’s who have signed in Europe or Asia from last year.

Even just five games with the team qualify Andreas Jamtin as an ex-Pack. The Swedish Sean Avery goes from Farjestads BK (Sweden-SHL)  to Sheffield (England-EIHL).

ECHL camps are about to get underway.

A few more collegians are late signees. Those names include Brian Morgan of UConn who inks a deal with Jacksonville (ECHL), Chris Izmirlian (Yale) who signs with Brampton (ECHL) and Connor Doherty (Sacred Heart), who heads to Worcester (ECHL).

To date, 271 collegians have signed pro deals in North America and Europe including 207 Division I players.

Former Yale player, Gus Young, was assigned to Florida (ECHL) from San Antonio camp. Ex-Pack, Shane McColgan, returns from Tilburg (Netherlands) and is in camp with Manchester (ECHL). Michael Joly heads to Colorado (ECHL) by San Antonio.

The Sound Tigers split up the Jones twins, sending Kellen (Quinnipiac University) to Worcester (ECHL) while keeping Connor. Both are grandsons to former New Haven Blades player, Terry Jones.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK TRAINING CAMP IN FULL SWING

CANTLON’S CORNER: Wolf Pack Training Camp In Full Swing

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT While it felt like mid-July In Hartford, inside the XL Center it was cold and hockey was on tap.

It was “Day Two” of the Hartford Wolf Pack’s 21st training camp, this season under the direction of its new head coach, Keith McCambridge.

“I’m not far removed from being a head coach with Manitoba (two years ago). Last season, I got a chance to step back and got to see the systems that are trending in the National Hockey League and it’s the same watching AHL games as well.”

Clearly, he has a new design and setup and is dealing with a thoroughly overhauled roster from last year’s AHL worst team.

“I can see the prospects what their strength and deficiencies are. I can’t replace Kenny (Gernander) and I have been fortunate enough to coach some really good prospects to help the Winnipeg Jets and I’m just focused on developing young prospects (for the Rangers).”

One player looking to impress McCambridge and the Rangers’ brass has some Hartford hockey DNA in his blood. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK FAN EVENT, “PAINT THE ICE,” POSTPONED (UPDATED)

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK FAN EVENT,

“PAINT THE ICE,” POSTPONED

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTThe annual fan event, “Paint The Ice” held at the XL Center was postponed Tuesday morning after a serious issue was discovered on the ice surface.

The brand new ice making system, which was hooked up to the old chiller system, was unable to make a complete sheet of ice. Spots of concrete in the area where the Hartford Wolf Pack defends twice were visible. The ice crew, and a local refrigeration company, Carrier, were on site trying to locate the problem and develop a remedy.

CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth was also on site. His only comment, “They have a month to get it ready.“ Freimuth was referencing the October 6th Pack home opener against the Charlotte Checkers.

Hartford PR Director, Bob Crawford, said the team hopes to reschedule the event in short order.

With training camp opening, a mere three weeks away, the hope is the Wolf Pack, and the UConn Huskies Hockey East squad will have the time to get adequately used to the brand new surface and in-rink conditions. Along with the ice, there are new dasher boards and a brand new, seamless Flex-glass. These renovations were part of a necessary 4 million dollar overhaul of the ice making system that started in early April. The process went full steam ahead in mid-May and included the pouring of a brand new concrete floor in mid-July.

WOLF PACK MAJOR SIGNING

After last year’s porous performance and the downward slide the Wolf Pack have had the past few years, the team took a major step in turning that around with the announcement of the signing of veteran center, Joe Whitney to a one-year AHL deal.

Whitney played for four years with Albany after completing a strong Division I college hockey career at Boston College (HE) where he tallied 142 points in 161 games for the Eagles.

Whitney has practically owned the Wolf Pack in his AHL career. Two years ago while skating with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he had nine points in five games including, not one, but two hat tricks. Whitney’s career numbers against Hartford during his years in Albany and Bridgeport are staggering. He’s registered 37 points in 33 games. Whitney suffered a broken leg midseason while with the Sound Tigers in 2015-16. Last year, he signed a lucrative $325K deal with the San Antonio Rampage. However, it didn’t work out too well.

Last year, he signed a lucrative $325K deal with the San Antonio Rampage. However, it didn’t work out too well.

Whitney and the Rampage team struggled as he posted just 28 points in 55 games. Whitney was dealt at the trade deadline to the Tucson Roadrunners where he logged just eight points in 19 games to finish out the year. Tucson, like the Wolf Pack, did not qualify for the AHL Calder Cup playoffs.

This signing, along with the signing of Paul Carey, and former UConn star, Cole Schneider, gives the Wolf Pack a bonafide number one line to start the season and will likely be their top powerplay unit.

Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: HAINSEY BRINGS THE CUP HOME TO BOLTON

Hainsey Brings the Cup Home TO BOLTON

BOLTON, CT – On a steamy summer morning hockey fans waited patiently to get a picture taken with hockey’s silver chalice, the Stanley Cup.  For the Holy Grail of Hockey, it was the second public appearance in Connecticut in the last 24 hours and the fourth time in the Constitution State over the past five years.

The Bolton Ice Palace is tucked away off, just off Route 384 at the beginning of Route 6. Stanley Cup Champion Ron Hainsey started his life in hockey with the ECHO (Eastern Connecticut Hockey) program at the age of four in the shadow of the NHL when the Hartford Whalers were still in town.

“This is terrific,” the 36-year-old Hainsey said of the Penguins June 11 game 6 six victory over Nashville to capture their second Cup in a row. “Guys have won it two or three times and then go hide in a cabin or something. (For me), coming from here it was always a part of the game plan (to have it at Bolton Ice Palace) once we pulled this sucker off.”

The arena, which opened in 1974, has been noted as one of the coldest in Connecticut. Choate being a close second. It’s also the dimmest, but the lights were freshly lit with LED lighting and comfortable temps for all the fans and personnel awaiting the event.

Hainsey got the Cup from Farmington native, and former Avon Old Farms player, Nick Bonino who displayed it at the basketball gym at AOF Sunday morning.

“They bring it right to you drop it at the house,” Hainsey said while wearing his Penguins white home jersey. “I think Bonino had it into the late evening hours (last night).”

Hainsey’s baptism of hockey came very early at age four when a simple pamphlet paved the way.

“We had season tickets to the Whalers. We always took Ronnie,” said a very proud mother, Kerry Hainsey. “He would come home sliding around the kitchen floor, and one day, we got the ‘Learn-to-Skate’ pamphlet that came in the mail, and my husband took him over, and he took to it very quickly.”

His first trophy came with a great one liner. “I remember the coach saying it was the first time we have ever given a trophy to a player still in nursery school.”

Hainsey would graduate from ECHO and move on to the late Gary Dineen’s program at the Enfield Twin Rinks. Dineen is credited by many as the coach who started junior hockey in Connecticut.

“I did a lot there, but obviously this is where I started…my hometown,” Hainsey said. He went on to play in the US National Development program and then two years at UMASS-Lowell in Hockey East followed. Hainey turned pro after being drafted in the first round, thirteenth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2000.

The rink’s Owner/General Manager is no stranger to the hockey community. He’s former Whaler, Bob Crawford. He also runs rinks in Bolton, Cromwell, and Simsbury. The Belleville, Ontario native relished this moment.

“This is hockey in its purest form. A true small town and (Hainsey’s) family has been extraordinarily gracious and wanted the kids to be the center of the event and the entire ECHO programs which cover like 20 towns. (They’re) All small places that have made this place their hockey home. When I grew up, it was the Hulls-Bobby and Dennis, and few forget Brett was born in Belleville. Andrew Shaw and my brother Marc won it with Colorado.

“We had at it at the kitchen table for breakfast one morning before taking it to the center of town where 10,000 of our closest friends came, which before today was the only time I have ever seen the Cup in person. All the security and staff people here (inside) and outside are ECHO people. They care greatly about (Hainsey) and this program. They are volunteering their time. They didn’t have to be asked. It’s a special moment for this town, and you feel the pride in this building.” Crawford said.

Hainsey’s father Marty decked out in his Penguins championship t-shirt, and dark shades was in awe of the whole scene.

The elder Hainsey is still pinching himself over all of it.

“Everyday since he was drafted, playing (in the NHL), it’s just amazing to consider it all.”

Speaking about the lunar eclipse this past Monday, inspired Hainsey’s agent, Matt Keator, to make an excellent observation. “He wins a Stanley Cup as often as there is a lunar eclipse.”

There is another number significant in Hainsey’s capturing a title. He played 907 NHL games without a playoff appearance breaking him of a streak reminiscent of the late Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs), who played his entire Hall-of-Fame career without ever making a World Series appearance.

“We have been having fun. We’re having hats made up with 907 (on them),” Keator, who played prep school hockey at Pomfret and college hockey at Trinity College, said with a smirk. “I walked onto the ice (after they won) and he goes. ‘Dude, I’m one-for-one in the playoffs.’ That’s vintage Ronnie.”

Keator has known Hainsey since he was 15-years-old. He executed a two year, $6 million dollar deal for Hainsey with a rising Stanley Cup seeking Toronto Maple Leafs team. It will allow Hainsey to play in possibly over 1,000 regular season NHL games.

Bonino has also left the Penguins. He departs for the team the Pens beat for the title. Bonino signed a four-year, $16.4 deal with the Predators.

Hansey’s fortunes changed when he was moved by a childhood hero, former Whaler great, and the current GM of Carolina, Ron Francis, to Pittsburgh. The Pens GM is Jim Rutherford, a former Hartford/Carolina GM who also played AHL hockey in New Haven.

“I knew he would get traded because that’s what Carolina does when contracts are up. I really thought Pittsburgh,” Kerry Hainsey said with a laugh. “I remember those times at the Hartford Civic Center (nee XL Center) and the irony is the guy he cheered for, Ronnie Francis, trades him to Pittsburgh.”

The move to Pittsburgh was perfect for Hainsey, but not an easy one.

“When he got traded from Carolina, there were a lot of mixed emotions. His first was the outdoor game (at Heinz Field against the Flyers),” his wife Hayley said as she and their three children passed out signed pictures to fans. “We loved the team he played for and also where we were living, but going to a team like Pittsburgh, how could you be upset, right? Great team, great players, great guys. It obviously turned out for the best for us.”

Hainsey’s last playoff appearance came in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs against the Rochester Americans in a four game sweep. One of his Hamilton teammates was with him in Pittsburgh, Trevor Daley. Before winning the Cup in the NHL, Hainsey’s deepest playoff experience was also in Hamilton. It came during the 2002-03 season when the Bulldogs were the top team in the AHL but lost to the Houston Aeros in seven games.

To the strains of John Mellencamp’s song, “Small Town,” reverberating off the ceiling, Hainsey didn’t disappoint those who were unable to enter because of time constraints. He brought Lord Stanley to them to see it and thank them all for waiting in line for quite some time.

Hainsey’s realization of his dream just shows that anyone’s hockey odyssey from a small town can happen.

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CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON VOLUME 13

Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 13

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT Just when there seemed like there might be a lull for a bit in the heat of the summer, there comes LOTS of hockey news this week starting with the Hartford Wolf Pack rounding out the coaching staff. 

PACK NAME NEW ASSISTANT COACH

The Wolf Pack announced the hiring of Joe Mormina as the sixth assistant coach in team history.

Mormina comes to Hartford after coaching as an Assistant with Mercyhurst University Lakers (AHA) located in Erie, PA. Mormina was there for one season following his retirement as a player.

Standing 6’6, Mormina played 670 AHL games with six teams including Manchester, Albany, Adirondack, Syracuse, Rochester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where he was named Captain. He logged 31 career goals, 120 assists, 151 points, and 837 PM. Over an eleven-year professional career, he played one game in the NHL and that came with the Carolina Hurricanes. Continue reading

RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH MIKA ZIBANEJAD

RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH MIKA ZIBANEJAD

BY: The New York Rangers 

NEW YORK, July 25, 2017 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Mika Zibanejad on a five-year contract with an average annual value of $5.35 million.

          Zibanejad, 24, skated in 56 games with the Rangers this past season, registering 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 16 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2016-17, including assists per game (0.41), points per game (0.66), and faceoff win percentage (52.0%; 494-for-950), and he tied his career-high in power play goals (four). Zibanejad registered at least one point in 28 of the 56 games he played during this past season, and the Rangers posted a 33-17-6 record when he was in the lineup in 2016-17. He ranked fifth on the Rangers in points per game and tied for sixth on the team in assists per game during the past season. Zibanejad recorded 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in 18 games against Metropolitan Division opponents in 2016-17. Zibanejad also registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in the final nine games of the regular season, as well as 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his last 21 regular season contests.

          The 6-2, 215-pounder also skated in 12 games with the Rangers during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, registering two goals and seven assists for nine points, along with a plus-four rating. Zibanejad established playoff career-highs in several categories, including games played, goals, assists, points, and in plus/minus rating. He tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded assists (one), tied for second in the NHL in shorthanded points (one), and tied for third in the NHL in overtime goals (one) in the playoffs. He registered his first career overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5 of the First Round at Montreal on April 20, 2017.

          Zibanejad has skated in 337 career NHL games over parts of six seasons with the Rangers and Ottawa (2011-12 – 2016-17), registering 78 goals and 110 assists for 188 points, along with 80 penalty minutes. His points per game average has increased in every season over the course of his NHL career. Zibanejad established career-highs in games played (81), goals (21), assists (30), and points (51) during his final season with the Senators in 2015-16. He was also one of 11 NHL centers who logged at least 1,000 even strength minutes of ice time, 200 power play minutes of ice time, and 100 shorthanded minutes of ice time during the season. Zibanejad has skated in 28 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, tallying 17 points (four goals, 13 assists).

          The Huddinge, Sweden, native was originally selected by Ottawa in the first round, sixth overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WHALER ALUMNI NIGHT AT YARD GOATS

CANTLON’S CORNER:

WHALER ALUMNI NIGHT AT YARD GOATS

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTLast Saturday night, the baseball’s local entrant in the Eastern League, the Hartford Yard Goats, paid tribute to the Hartford Whalers by giving them a tribute night on their home field, Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

The Yard Goats brought in not only former Whalers but professional hockey players from Connecticut. It was a major success all the way around. Players, fans, and media members all enjoyed a well-handled event that was promoted by the team the entire week.

The Yard Goats did everything first class. There was a charity luncheon at noon. A pre-game autograph signing session, and a first pitch toss, as well as numerous videos, played throughout the park on the concourse TV screens, by the clubhouse and on the giant left field scoreboard. Of course, “Brass Bonanza” was played every time the Yard Goats scored.

One of the engineers of the event who put it together just over the past few months was former Whaler, Bob Crawford. He stayed and raised his kids in Connecticut after his playing days ended and he’s kept his pulse on hockey here. He was proud to be involved in any Whaler alumni event.                  (Bob Crawford)

“The Yard Goats have been professional about this since Day One. Having been around sports, from the playing and business side of things, this was a first-class event. We started a bit late, and we had to scramble around to get phone numbers, but once we asked guys if their schedule allowed for it, they were ready and willing to come.”

For Crawford, this is just the beginning, not the end or a one-off event.

“We talked with guys just today at the luncheon, and we’re already ready for next year. Now we’ll have the time to incorporate more players, ideas, and events surrounding this. This was meant to start something and keep the Whaler name going in this community, which you can see from this turnout, but it’s to help charities we care about and promote hockey in Connecticut. This is a very good first step to use the good things to keep this in the community and expand it.”

When asked about his favorite memory of his time playing in Hartford, Crawford didn’t hesitate, “The games with the Bruins and Canadians were always big. Watching the team, the year I got here (1983) when they were coming off a season when they were the worst team in the NHL the year before. They would rebuild and progress to become one of the better teams in the conference, and I left just before they hit their peak. It was fun to see that transformation and the community support and pride then.”

His partner, the past twenty years in developing junior hockey in Connecticut, was also a big part of this day. Dan McCarthy, who, like Crawford, is a fellow Canadian, but who recently became a US citizen, was a former pro hockey player in New Haven and Springfield. He scored four goals in his five NHL games has been very active in hockey in the state was blown away by the event.

“I have been to a few events like this. The Yard Goats went above and beyond and ran this as it’s supposed to be first class. I am not a former Whaler player but did play some pro hockey and to be a part of this was a thrill to see some guys I grew up with and played against…It was an amazing day for me.”

McCarthy and his wife Lori, who worked in minor league baseball with the New Haven Ravens, are both enthusiastic supporters of minor league sports in Connecticut. McCarthy was particularly impressed with the work of the Yards Goats’ Dean Zappalorti, who serves as the Executive Director of Corporate Partnership.

“Dean and his entire staff are to be congratulated. They did well by us, the fans and the Hartford community. To keep the Whaler name and the community thriving, its great events like this, that will help things grow for everybody in this area.” Continue reading