By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, December 21, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Adirondack Phantoms, 3-2, Wednesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The Whale received a late game-winner from defenseman Pavel Valentenko, as well as three assists from Brendan Bell. Kris Newbury assisted on two of the Whale’s goals.
The win pushed the Whale (17-8-1-3, 38 points) to five points ahead of their closest competition in the Northeast Division, the Albany Devils, and six points ahead of Adirondack.
“It was a good way to finish up, it’s almost an elongated segment before you leave for the break,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “It’s nice to finish the game with a big goal and a win.”
“It’s a gritty game and good teams find ways to win when they’re shorthanded,” said Bell. “I guess we’re a good team.”
Mike Testwuide had put the Phantoms up 1-0 at 4:07 of the first period, finishing off a nifty
passing play with Tyler Brown and Tye McGinn. The tic-tac-toe passing left Testwuide open for an easy put in to the left of Whale goaltender Chad Johnson (27 saves), as Testwuide deposited his third goal of the season.
The Whale tied it up with 3:41 remaining in the period, as Andre Deveaux backhanded a shot past Phantoms goaltender Jason Bacashihua (24 saves). Newbury fed a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Deveaux from the half-boards, with Bell setting up the play. The goal was Deveaux’s seventh of the season.
Jeff Prough gave the Whale a brief 2-1 advantage with his first goal for Connecticut at 8:28 of the second. Valentenko’s shot was blocked but kicked off of Bacashihua, and Prough was in position to put home the rebound. Bell recorded his second assist of the game on the score.
McGinn tied it back up for the Phantoms at the 10:52 mark of the second, as Jason Akeson wheeled around and passed the puck across the slot to the waiting forward. Akeson had received a pass from Garrett Roe before weaving through the Whale defense and sending a quality pass to McGinn, who shot it past Johnson.
The game remained tied through the rest of the frame and into the waning moments of the third period, before the Whale scored the eventual game-winner in dramatic fashion.
A clean face-off win by Newbury sent the puck to Bell at the point, and he fed it over to Valentenko. Valentenko’s blast from the blue line got past Bacashihua, and the Whale took a 3-2 lead with just 16 seconds left in the third period.
“It was a good, heavy shot,” said Gernander. “It was great.”
The Whale will return to action after the holiday with a rare Monday tilt against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport (7:00). Tuesday, Connecticut will be home to host the Albany Devils for the first time this season at XL Center (7:00).
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Adirondack Phantoms 2 at Connecticut Whale 3
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Adirondack 1 1 0 – 2
Connecticut 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Testwuide 3 (Brown, Rowe), 4:07. 2, Connecticut, Deveaux 7 (Newbury, Bell), 16:19. Penalties-Prough Ct (tripping), 11:48; Eddy Adk (boarding), 14:16.
2nd Period-3, Connecticut, Prough 1 (Valentenko, Bell), 8:28 (PP). 4, Adirondack, McGinn 5 (Akeson, Roe), 10:52. Penalties-Jancevski Adk (tripping), 6:45.
3rd Period-5, Connecticut, Valentenko 3 (Bell, Newbury), 19:43. Penalties-Bouchard Ct (hooking), 11:27; Brown Adk (hooking), 16:38.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 11-11-7-29. Connecticut 6-8-13-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 2; Connecticut 1 / 3.
Goalies-Adirondack, Bacashihua 4-3-1 (27 shots-24 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 10-4-3 (29 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10), Jon McIsaac (39).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Derek Wahl (46).