By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, February 7, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Syracuse Crunch, 3-1, Tuesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. Mats Zuccarello, Blake Parlett and Scott Tanski all scored for Connecticut, with defenseman Jeff Woywitka adding two assists. Goaltender Chad Johnson made 23 saves in winning his third straight start in the month of February.
The Whale’s victory put them two points ahead of idle Bridgeport for first place in the AHL’s Northeast Division with 53 points.
“We’re all playing together and playing well right now,” said Johnson. “We’re more conscious of the score and of what we want to do, which is to get the two points.”
The Whale struck first midway through the opening period, taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal from Zuccarello 7:31 into the frame. Zuccarello tipped Tim Erixon’s shot from the right point past Syracuse goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (25 saves) for his tenth goal of the season, with the secondary assist going to Brendan Bell.
Jean-Francois Jacques tied the game for Syracuse with 5:11 to play in the first, as he cut across the Whale slot in front of a sprawled Johnson. Jacques was able to flip the puck on the backhand up and over the Whale goaltender for his 14th goal of the season, with the assist going to highly-touted Anaheim prospect Devante Smith-Pelly.
Connecticut would retake the lead with 1:46 left in the second period with the game-winning tally, as the power-play came through for the second time in the game. Parlett’s shot from the blue line managed to fool a screened Drouin-Deslauriers for Parlett’s fourth goal of the season, putting the Whale ahead, 2-1. Woywitka and Casey Wellman would assist on the goal, Wellman notching his second assist in two games with the Whale.
Tanski would increase the Whale lead to 3-1 with 12:08 left in the third period, as he backhanded a Woywitka rebound into the Syracuse cage. Woywitka would receive his second assist of the game on the goal, Tanski’s fifth, with Jordan Owens picking up the secondary helper.
The win kept the Whale perfect in February (3-0-0-0), with tough tests coming this weekend with games in Springfield Friday, Manchester Saturday and a GEICO Connecticut Cup match with Bridgeport on Sunday.
The Whale will return home on Friday, Feb. 17, when they host the Springfield Falcons at the XL Center (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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Syracuse Crunch 1 at Connecticut Whale 3
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Syracuse 1 0 0 – 1
Connecticut 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Zuccarello 10 (Erixon, Bell), 7:31 (PP). 2, Syracuse, Jacques 14 (Smith-Pelly), 14:49. Penalties-Parlett Ct (holding), 0:57; Smaby Syr (holding), 6:53.
2nd Period-3, Connecticut, Parlett 4 (Woywitka, Wellman), 18:14 (PP). Penalties-Carle Syr (high-sticking), 5:56; Erixon Ct (cross-checking), 12:56; Brittain Syr (double minor – high-sticking), 16:26; Fraser Syr (fighting), 18:58; Deveaux Ct (fighting), 19:58.
3rd Period-4, Connecticut, Tanski 5 (Woywitka, Owens), 7:52. Penalties-Tessier Ct (holding the stick), 2:19; Newbury Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:32; Caputi Syr (slashing), 15:30; Fraser Syr (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:43; Smith-Pelly Syr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:43; Deveaux Ct (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:43.
Shots on Goal-Syracuse 7-5-12-24. Connecticut 4-12-12-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 / 4; Connecticut 2 / 6.
Goalies-Syracuse, Drouin-Deslauriers 6-8-0 (28 shots-25 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 13-9-5 (24 shots-23 saves).
Referees-T.J. Luxmore (47), Darcy Burchell (42).
Linesmen-Derek Wahl (46), Kevin Redding (16).