By Brian Ring

CROMWELL, CONN., October 2, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Worcester Sharks, 3-2, in their preseason finale Sunday afternoon at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, Conn.

CT WhaleScott Tanski, T.J. Fast and Chris McKelvie all scored for the Whale, who improved to 2-2 in exhibition games this season. The game provided a final look for the Whale coaching staff as they evaluate players headed into a week where final cuts will be made in the New York Rangers organization.

“The farther you go down in training camp, the harder the decisions are,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “These guys are the ones that are right there, and it’s the most minute of difference between the guys that go and the guys that stay. But unfortunately it’s not an unlimited roster.”

Tanski scored first for the Whale, as he tallied his third goal of the preseason just 43 seconds into the first period against Worcester goaltender Thomas Heemskerk (28 saves).

Worcester tied the game 6:39 into the second period, as Ryan Del Monte connected with James Livingston for the equalizer. Whale goaltender Cam Talbot (28 saves), who had a strong afternoon, was screened on a scrum in front of the net, leading to the scoring play.

“I thought [Talbot] played a real strong game tonight,” said Gernander. “There was some saves that were not necessarily easy saves through traffic, with people crashing the net, and I thought he fought hard to find pucks and to make the save.”

The Whale retook the lead 9:49 into the second, as Fast’s shot from the point got past Heemskerk for a 2-1 Connecticut advantage. Kelsey Tessier earned the only assist on the goal, which came on the power-play with the Sharks’ Ben Guite in the box for holding.

Connecticut extended their lead to 3-1 when McKelvie shoveled a rebound past Heemskerk with 5:41 remaining in the second. Jason Wilson recorded the lone assist.

The Sharks closed their deficit to a goal when Mike Connolly scored with just over five minutes to go in the third period. Taylor Doherty assisted on the goal, as it was a deflection of his shot by Connolly which beat Talbot for the score. It had appeared that it may have been touched by a Worcester high stick, but  the goal stood to make it a 3-2 final.

The Whale will begin their regular season slate on Oct. 8, as they start out on the road with a game against the Adirondack Phantoms (7:00 pm). Connecticut will then head to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to take on the Penguins on Sunday (5:00 pm). The Whale will host their home opener at the XL Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, when they face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (7:00 pm).

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Worcester Sharks 2 at Connecticut Whale 3
Sunday, October 2, 2011 – Champions Skating Center

Worcester 0 1 1 – 2
Connecticut 1 2 0 – 3

1st Period-1, Connecticut, Tanski 3   0:43. Penalties-Audy-Marchessault Ct (high-sticking), 4:13; served by Connolly Ct (bench minor – too many men), 8:18; Moon Wor (cross-checking), 16:11; Bonneau Wor (hooking), 17:44.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Livingston 1 (Del Monte), 6:39. 3, Connecticut, Fast 1 (Tessier), 9:49 (PP). 4, Connecticut, McKelvie 1 (Wilson), 14:19. Penalties-Pelech Wor (elbowing), 2:29; Perdicaro Wor (fighting), 6:39; Nightingale Ct (fighting), 6:39; Guite Wor (holding), 8:22; Bonneau Wor (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:09.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Connolly 1 (Doherty), 14:53 (PP). Penalties-Grant Ct (hooking), 5:28; Tanski Ct (high-sticking), 9:47; Pelech Wor (interference), 12:35; Deveaux Ct (slashing), 14:00.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 11-9-10-30. Connecticut 14-14-3-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Connecticut 1 / 7.
Goalies-Worcester, Heemskerk 0-1-0 (31 shots-28 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 2-1-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Mark Lemelin (41).
Linesmen-Rich Patry (52), Bob St. Lawrence (10).