If you are a Hartford hockey fan you can feel it in the air. Hockey is close by. A few weeks of waiting sometimes will go by quickly. At the same time the momentum of information you crave on a new hockey season can also feel like it's moving as fast as molasses in January. Hartford is no different in that feeling of anticipation and interest.
The Hartford hockey landscape is always changing but this season is laid and hammered out. The team returns to their original brand,originated in 1997, The Hartford Wolf Pack. There will be some familiar faces on the team and there will be interest on who are the new kids on the Trumbull Street block and what their abilities can do this season.
As Hartford begins its 38th season of professional hockey the mood turns to stability as there are no contracts for the building or the team hanging over the city’s and fan's heads. The New York Rangers have a three year lease with an option for two one year leases down the road. The building contract is secure with Global Spectrum at the helm for ten years. They will handle all of the maintenance of the XL and work on capturing the best attractions for the cities entertainment hub.
Last year the team, which was branded the Connecticut Whale, had a disappointing end to the season. The team fell two points short of tying for the last playoff spot. They finished 3-6-1-0 in their last ten games. Over the entire season the team scored 213 goals. That is an average of 2.80 a game but they allowed 222 goals, which was an average of 2.92 a game.
The defense of the team suffered through stretches last year and it looks like this year that changes in the roster will be made to improve the teams defensive play.
Today is special because it is the opening day of Hartford Wolf Pack training camp. The roster has begun to fill. Here is the short list on who has been sent down to be on the team.
Ryan Bourque is back. The scrappy, tough forward had 15 points in 53 games last year. This will be his third season with the team.
Kyle Jean is back after a rookie season in the AHL. Jean is a promising prospect. He is expected to grow this season and increase his play on the ice. Jean is 6'4" inches and over 200lbs. He could easily turn into a key player for this team. Jean in 73 games last year amassed 23 points including 9 goals.
Jason Missiaen, the mountain of a goalie is back in Hartford. Missiaen started off the season very shaky last year. If you remember Cam Talbot barely got any rest from starting so many games. Missiaen turned his season around. He even began to challenge Talbot for the starting job at the end of the season. Missiaen finished up his rookie campaign in the AHL with a 10-8-1-2 record. He had a .906 save percentage with a 3.07 goals against average. Missiaen will probably begin the season as the Wolf Pack back up but there is always room for improvement within an AHL roster.
Several players are still working on trying to win a spot on the New York Rangers roster. Cam Talbot who will most likely be the Wolf Pack starting goal tender is still with the Rangers camp. Same can be said with Stu Bickel and Dylan McIlrath who are two of the Wolf Pack’s toughest defenseman. All are hoping for a job with the big club.
The season opener is still a few weeks away but the preseason schedule is upon us now. You can start watching Hartford hockey next week as the Wolf Pack will play a few pre season matchups.
HARTFORD WOLF PACK PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Wed. Sept. 25 - WORCESTER - CHAMPIONS SKATING CENTER, CROMWELL, CT, 7:00
Thur. Sept. 26 - ALBANY - XL CENTER, 7:00
Fri. Sept. 27 - at Springfield - MassMutual Center, 7:00
Sun. Sept. 29 - SPRINGFIELD - ISC OF CT, SIMSBURY, CT, 2:00