By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, February 24, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Portland Pirates, 5-1, Friday night at the XL Center. Five different players scored for Connecticut, with Brendan Bell supplying the game-winning tally and Kelsey Tessier (1-1-2) and Tommy Grant (0-2-2) recording multi-point games. Chad Johnson made 26 saves, earning First Star of the game honors.
Three goals by the Whale in the second period helped to put the game out of reach, as Connecticut improved to 8-0-1-0 in its last nine games and maintained first place in the Northeast Division.
“It’s great when you can get two power-play goals on the night,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander, who was happy with his team’s specialty units and secondary scoring. “We had goals from (Andreas) Thuresson, (Jordan) Owens, a lot of different sources and I think that was important.”
The Whale took a 1-0 first period lead with 3:25 left in the opening frame, taking advantage of an extended five-on-three power-play situation. Defenseman Tim Erixon worked the puck down low to Mats Zuccarello, who found Andre Deveaux on the doorstep of Portland goaltender Justin Pogge (19 saves). Deveaux one-timed Zuccarello’s pass past Pogge for his 18th goal of the season.
Bell would increase the Whale lead to 2-0 4:04 into the second period, on a strange power-play goal. Bell’s pass across the slot went off the stick of a poke-checking Evan Bloodoff, who pushed the puck into his own net. The goal was the seventh of the season for Bell, coming unassisted.
Connecticut would not let up, as Thuresson scored to make it 3-0 just under four minutes later at 7:59. Tessier’s outlet pass from the Whale zone hit Portland defender Tyler Eckford in the neck, but the puck trickled right to the stick of Thuresson, who skated in on Pogge and scored with a nifty move.
The Whale would finish the middle frame up 4-0, as a dump-in from Chris McKelvie bounced to a fore-checking Jordan Owens, who was able to stuff the puck past the left skate of Pogge for his fifth goal of the season and the Whale’s third score of the period.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot would draw the Pirates to within 4-1 5:42 into the third period, his wrist shot beat Johnson (26 saves) high to the blocker side as Pouliot came down the slot. Andy Miele picked up the only assist on the score.
Kelsey Tessier would finish the scoring with a tap-in from the slot with 3:45 remaining in the third, as Grant recorded his second assist of the night on a nice dish from the corner. Scott Tanski also assisted on the goal.
The Whale are back in action Saturday night, when they take on I-91 rivals the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center in Springfield (7:00). Connecticut will return home this Tuesday, when they host the Worcester Sharks at the XL Center for a special 11:00 AM start time.
Tickets to all 2011-12 Whale home games, are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.
The Whale and the CT Hockey Hall of Fame will partner to hold a CT Hockey Hall of Fame night at the Whale’s home game at the XL Center Saturday, March 10 vs. the Norfolk Admirals. That night will mark the enshrinement of a new class of 2012 inductees into the CT Hockey Hall of Fame, which has adopted eight members from the storied Hartford Whalers Hall of Fame. The new inductees are: Connecticut-bred Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, ex-Hartford Whalers 56-goal scorer Blaine Stoughton, former Whalers goaltender Mike Liut, former Whalers captain Pat Verbeek, Connecticut Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack franchise icon, long-time captain and current head coach Ken Gernander, three-time Olympic medalist for Team USA and all-time NCAA women’s leading scorer Julie Chu, and one of the founders of the New England Whalers, William E. Barnes. There will be an induction ceremony before the game, which faces off at 7:00 PM on March 10, and the new inductees will also be recognized on the ice during the first intermission. Fans can take home a special souvenir of the March 10 night, as 5,000 Hall of Fame posters will be given away, courtesy of SuperCuts. There will also be a special meet-and-greet event on March 10, details of which will be announced soon. This will be the first class of inductees since 1990, and further details are available at cthockeyHOF.org.
College students can get discounted tickets to Whale weekday games with the Whale’s “Ditch the Dorms” deal. For Monday through Friday home games, students who show a valid student ID at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center can get $2 off Upper Level tickets and $5 off Lower Level seats.
Save on your tickets, and get the best seats, with a ticket plan for the Whale’s 2011-12 AHL campaign, which are on sale now. For information on season seats, mini plans and great group discounts, visit www.ctwhale.com, or call the CT Whale ticket office at (860) 728-3366 to talk with an account executive today.
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Portland Pirates 1 at Connecticut Whale 5
Friday, February 24, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Portland 0 0 1 – 1
Connecticut 1 3 1 – 5
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Deveaux 18 (Zuccarello, Erixon), 16:35 (PP). Penalties-Nightingale Ct (hooking), 6:46; Ross Por (hooking), 14:41; Eckford Por (interference), 15:29.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Bell 7 4:04 (PP). 3, Connecticut, Thuresson 12 (Tessier), 7:59. 4, Connecticut, Owens 5 (McKelvie, Grant), 18:52. Penalties-Eckford Por (tripping), 3:25; McKelvie Ct (holding), 5:07; Valentenko Ct (hooking), 5:52; Beaudoin Por (hooking), 14:33.
3rd Period-5, Portland, Pouliot 7 (Miele), 5:42. 6, Connecticut, Tessier 10 (Grant, Tanski), 16:15. Penalties-Bell Ct (delay of game), 11:15.
Shots on Goal-Portland 7-9-11-27. Connecticut 6-14-4-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 4; Connecticut 2 / 4.
Goalies-Portland, Pogge 11-12-3 (24 shots-19 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 16-10-5 (27 shots-26 saves).
Referees-T.J. Luxmore (47).
Linesmen-Marty Demers (79), Brent Colby (7).