By Brian Ring
Hershey, PA, February 4, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Hershey Bears, 4-1, Saturday night at the Giant Center to win their second straight game. Tommy Grant scored twice for the Whale and goaltender Chad Johnson made 39 saves in the victory.
The win, coupled with Bridgeport’s loss to Manchester, moved the Whale back into a share of first place in the Northeast Division with 51 points.
“Johnson had a good game in net, we got a power-play goal, we got some secondary scoring with Tommy Grant getting two, there were a lot of things in our favor tonight,” said Whale head coach Gernander.
The two teams played exactly 16 minutes of scoreless hockey before Grant gave the Whale a 1-0 lead in the opening period. Grant carried the puck down the left wing boards, snapping a shot that squeaked under the left arm of Bears’ goaltender Dany Sabourin (17 saves). Grant’s goal, his fourth of the season, was assisted by Scott Tanski and Jared Nightingale.
Hershey, however, would tie the game right back up just 1:19 later, as former Whale Tomas Kundratek’s shot from the point was tipped past Chad Johnson by Cody Eakin. Boyd Kane also registered an assist on the score, the eighth of the year for Eakin.
The Whale would retake the lead on the power-play 12:10 into the second period, as Kris Newbury shot a puck up and over Sabourin for his team-leading 17th goal, the eventual game-winner. Newbury was fed by Mats Zuccarello on the back-hand below the right faceoff circle, leaving the Whale veteran with an open chance. Tim Erixon also assisted on the play.
Andre Deveaux would extend the Whale advantage to 3-1 just 1:22 later, as he converted a nifty three-way passing play between himself, Casey Wellman and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. Audy-Marchessault’s pass found a wide-open Deveaux as the trio crossed into the Hershey zone, with Deveaux promptly depositing the puck into the top right corner of the cage. It was the first Whale point for Wellman, who was making his Whale debut after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
Grant would strike again to provide the game’s final tally, his second of the night, with 6:10 remaining in the third period. Kelsey Tessier won a draw to the right of Sabourin straight to Grant, who shot and scored for the first multi-goal game of his professional career and a 4-1 Whale lead.
“We got contributions from everyone and it was a good team win,” said Gernander.
The Whale will now return home on Tuesday, when they host the Syracuse Crunch in their only visit to the XL Center this season (7:00 PM).
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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Connecticut Whale 4 at Hershey Bears 1
Saturday, February 4, 2012 – Giant Center
Connecticut 1 2 1 – 4
Hershey 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Grant 4 (Tanski, Nightingale), 16:00. 2, Hershey, Eakin 8 (Kundratek, Kane), 17:19. Penalties-Rechlicz Her (boarding), 3:03.
2nd Period-3, Connecticut, Newbury 17 (Zuccarello, Erixon), 12:10 (PP). 4, Connecticut, Deveaux 13 (Wellman, Audy-Marchessault), 13:32. Penalties-Miskovic Her (interference), 11:17; Parlett Ct (tripping), 15:49; Woywitka Ct (slashing), 19:18; Tessier Ct (roughing), 19:53; Bourque Her (roughing), 19:53.
3rd Period-5, Connecticut, Grant 5 (Tessier), 13:50. Penalties-Klassen Ct (hooking), 2:28; Bourque Ct (tripping), 8:58; Mitchell Her (elbowing), 11:20; Mink Her (tripping), 14:10; Bell Ct (interference), 17:14.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 10-7-4-21. Hershey 13-14-13-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 4; Hershey 0 / 5.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 12-9-5 (40 shots-39 saves). Hershey, Sabourin 10-7-2 (21 shots-17 saves).
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (24).
Linesmen-Jud Ritter (34), Bob Goodman (90).