Hamilton, Ontario, February 11, 2011 – Devin DiDiomete’s goal with 1:13 remaining in the third period, his first career AHL game-winner, gave the Connecticut Whale a 3-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday night at Copps Coliseum.

CT WhaleThe win represented a strong rebound by the Whale from their previous game, a 9-2 loss Wednesday in Toronto to the Marlies that tied franchise records for most goals-against and largest margin of defeat.

Tim Kennedy started the winning play for the Whale in the defensive zone, taking the puck away from Tim Conboy to break up a Hamilton rush.  Kennedy moved the puck to Chad Kolarik, who carried it into the Bulldog zone on right wing before returning it to Kennedy in the slot.  Kennedy jammed it toward the net, and it went off of DiDiomete’s skate at the left side of the crease and underneath Hamilton goaltender Curtis Sanford.  The goal was DiDiomete’s sixth of the season.

That came after the Bulldogs had tied the game at two at 4:43 of the third, on a goal by Ryan Russell.

Dale Weise and Brodie Dupont had a goal and an assist each for the Whale, and Dov Grumet-Morris made 29 saves to get the win and improve to 2-2-0 with Connecticut.  Frederic St. Denis scored the other Hamilton goal, and Sanford made 26 saves.

The win improved the Whale’s record to 25-22-2-5 for 57 points on the year, but remained one point behind the third-place Worcester Sharks in the Atlantic Division, after Worcester beat Springfield 5-0 in Springfield.

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Hamilton outshot the Whale 19-9 in the first period, but it was Connecticut that came out of the session with a 2-1 lead.  That was a stark contrast to Wednesday’s loss, in which the Whale trailed 5-0 after one.

All the offense in the first came in the opening 3:22, and the Whale scored on the very first shift, almost right off the opening faceoff.  After Hamilton won the opening draw, Dupont knocked the puck away from Conboy and fed Weise, who worked his way up the slot and ripped a shot past Sanford’s catching glove.

Hamilton tied it only 1:23 later, in a delayed penalty situation.  Brett Festerling handed the puck to St. Denis at the right point, and with Dustin Boyd screening, St. Denis’ one-timer got past Grumet-Morris.  The goal was only St. Denis’ second in 50 games on the year.

The Whale responded to that at 3:22, just seven seconds into the game’s first power play.  Weise stole the puck from Festerling in the left-wing corner and found Kris Newbury in the slot.  Instead of shooting, Newbury passed to Dupont at the left-wing side of the crease, and Dupont had an empty net in which to deposit his 10th goal of the season.

After that early burst, the scoring calmed down quickly, and there wouldn’t be another goal scored for a full two periods, until Russell’s goal at 4:43 of the third, after the Whale had failed to take advantage of 1:03 of five-on-three power play earlier in the period.  Russell blocked a shot attempt from the right point by Jared Nightingale and took off with the loose puck on a breakaway.  Russell cut across from left to right and got a backhander past Grumet-Morris’ left pad.

The win stopped a run of five straight losses in the all-time series with Hamilton for the Whale, which had been 0-4-0-1 against the Bulldogs since a 3-2 win November 16, 2007 in Hartford.  It was also only the second-ever win for the franchise in Hamilton, upping the all-time record at Copps Coliseum to 2-2-1-1 in six visits.

The Whale continue their current stretch of seven out of eight games, and 10 out of 12, on the road Sunday at 4:05 PM in Providence (WTIC HD-2, www.ctwhale.com, www.wtic.com), in a preview of the Harvest-Properties.com Whale Bowl outdoor game at Rentschler Field February 19.

Connecticut Whale 3 at Hamilton Bulldogs 2
Friday, February 11, 2011 – Copps Coliseum

Connecticut 2 0 1 – 3
Hamilton 1 0 1 – 2

1st Period-1, Connecticut, Weise 12 (Dupont), 0:10. 2, Hamilton, St. Denis 2 (Festerling, Palushaj), 1:33. 3, Connecticut, Dupont 10 (Newbury, Weise), 3:22 (PP). Penalties-Carle Ham (slashing), 3:15; Kundratek Ct (interference), 6:45.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Weise Ct (kneeing), 3:15; Russell Ham (hooking), 13:03; Nightingale Ct (roughing), 17:18; Bonneau Ham (roughing), 17:18; Palushaj Ham (boarding), 19:27.

3rd Period-4, Hamilton, Russell 8   4:43. 5, Connecticut, DiDiomete 6 (Kennedy, Kolarik), 18:47. Penalties-Festerling Ham (delay of game), 0:24; Wyman Ham (tripping), 9:12.

Shots on Goal-Connecticut 9-10-10-29. Hamilton 19-6-6-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 5; Hamilton 0 / 2.
Goalies-Connecticut, Grumet-Morris 2-2-0 (31 shots-29 saves). Hamilton, Sanford 19-12-1 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (41).
Linesmen-Jesse Wilmot (19), Matt Traub (88).