By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, February 18, 2012 - The Whale defeated the Worcester Sharks, 3-1, Saturday night at the XL Center before a crowd of 9,166, the second-largest of the season. Connecticut won for the seventh time in their last eight games overall (7-0-1-0).
The Whale scored three times in the third period to come from behind and beat the Sharks, with Kris Newbury’s game-winning tally coming at the 9:49 mark of the frame.
“[The Whale] stuck with it and once they got the quick one (an Andreas Thuresson goal, the Whale’s first of the game), they got a little momentum and got the second one,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “It just seemed to pick up from there.”
The teams played a scoreless first period, despite the Sharks outshooting the Whale by a 14-6 margin. Cam Talbot (37 saves), making his first start for the Whale since Jan. 28, was solid in keeping the visitors off the board. The Whale’s Casey Wellman may have had the best chance of the period as he narrowly missed putting the puck past Sharks goaltender Tyson Sexsmith (35 saves) as he came through the crease.
Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau would provide the first lead of the game at 6:59 of the second period, as he managed to get a second touch on a bouncing puck to redirect it past Talbot. The goal was the second of the season for Bonneau, assisted by Matt Irwin and Marek Viedensky.
The Whale outshot the Sharks, 19-12, in the second period, but they could not get anything past Sexsmith, even on two excellent one-time chances by Jonathan Audy-Marchessault.
Connecticut would finally solve Sexsmith 6:59 into the third period, as Tommy Grant’s shot deflected off of the pads of the Worcester netminder and onto the stick of Thuresson, who buried the rebound to tie the game at one. Wade Redden picked up the secondary assist in his first game back in the Whale lineup since Dec. 17.
Kris Newbury would give the Whale a quick 2-1 lead less than a minute later at 9:49, as he finished off an excellent passing play between himself and Andre Deveaux. Newbury and Deveaux exchanged several passes entering the Sharks’ end, enabling Newbury to bury his 19th of the season past Sexsmith for the game-winner.
Casey Wellman would ice the game with a bizarre empty net goal with under a minute to play, as he was hauled down before he could shoot on the vacated Sharks’ cage.
Connecticut will finish the week’s slate Sunday afternoon in Providence, when they face the Bruins (4:05 PM) looking for a perfect six-point weekend. The Whale’s next home game at the XL Center is this Friday night, February 24 vs. the Portland Pirates at 7:00.
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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Worcester Sharks 1 at Connecticut Whale 3
Saturday, February 18, 2012 - XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Worcester 0 1 0 - 1
Connecticut 0 0 3 - 3
1st Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Del Monte Wor (slashing), 10:03; Pelech Wor (fighting), 14:42; Nightingale Ct (fighting), 14:42.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Bonneau 2 (Irwin, Viedensky), 6:59. Penalties-Sexsmith Wor (roughing), 2:08; Newbury Ct (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:45; Moon Wor (hooking), 16:35.
3rd Period-2, Connecticut, Thuresson 11 (Grant, Redden), 8:52. 3, Connecticut, Newbury 19 (Deveaux), 9:49. 4, Connecticut, Wellman 17 19:23 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-12-9-35. Connecticut 6-19-13-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 2; Connecticut 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Sexsmith 10-9-5 (37 shots-35 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 11-11-0 (35 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (43).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Jim Briggs (83).