Whale Notebook: One step forward, one step back
by Michael Rappaport/Correspondent
The Connecticut Whale continued their Jekyll and Hyde season with two games this weekend. After losing four of their previous five, the Whale traveled to Manchester on Friday night for a matchup with the Monarchs.
Thirteen days prior, the Whale were embarrassed in a 9-2 loss in Manchester, and looked for revenge with Cam Talbot in net. Connecticut got off to a quick start in the contest. Marek Hrivik scored his third goal of the year to put the Whale up 1-0, and Kris Newbury’s ninth goal of the year less than five minutes later gave Connecticut a two-goal cushion heading into the first intermission.
Talbot kept the Whale lead at two throughout most of the second period. After stopping 15 shots in the opening frame, Connecticut’s netminder made 20 saves in the middle period. However, Manchester captain Marc-Andre Cliche scored two goals in a span of 46 seconds to tie the game at two.
However, the Whale stole the momentum right back before the second intermission. With 24 seconds remaining in the period, Kelsey Tessier scored his third goal of the season to give Connecticut a 3-2 lead.
In the third period, Chris Kreider ended his long scoring drought. After failing to register a point in 11 consecutive games, the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2009 scored his fifth goal of the campaign to extend the Whale lead to two. With less than a minute remaining, and Manchester’s net empty, Newbury picked up his second goal of the game, and the Whale skated away with a 5-2 win. In addition to the offense, Talbot finished the night with 39 saves.
Looking to build off of their win the night before, the Whale hosted the Providence Bruins on Saturday night. After a scoreless first period, Connecticut got on the board early in the second.
Chad Kolarik scored his tenth goal of the campaign 4:44 into the middle frame to give the Whale a 1-0 lead. Providence evened the score with 7:54 remaining in the period, as Jamie Tardif scored a power play goal, his 15th tally of the year overall, to tie the game.
The 1-1 tie held up into the third, as Talbot and Bruins’ netminder Michael Hutchinson were unrelenting. But as the Whale were only 6:02 away from getting the game to overtime, Providence’s Chris Bourque beat Talbot to give the Bruins a one-goal lead.
Connecticut pulled Talbot for an extra attacker, but Christian Hanson sealed the Bruins’ victory with an empty-net goal.
STATS OF THE WEEK
• Newbury and Kolarik are tied for the team lead in goals with 10.
• Talbot stopped 59 of 63 shots in the two games (.937 save percentage).
• J.T. Miller left the team to represent Team USA in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
• Hrivik registered a goal and two assists in the two games.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Marek Hrivik has flown under the radar for most of the season, but he has been one of the most consistent forwards for the Whale. The 21-year-old rookie has improved his offensive output in December, registering seven points in Connecticut’s ten games.
In 26 games this season, the Zilina, Slovakia native has three goals and 15 assists. Hrivik’s 15 assists are tied for fifth in the AHL among rookies.
The Whale play three games this week. Connecticut plays a home-and-home series against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Wednesday and Thursday, with the first contest in Bridgeport. On Saturday night, the Whale travel to Springfield to play the Falcons.