Last Saturday night was the third largest crowd in Hartford AHL history. Last night was the smallest crowd of the season. The announced 1,887 cheered loud for the Whale especially when the Whale woke up late in the third.
The small crowd was loud especially when Andrew Carrol and Alexander Urbom clashed behind the net. You can watch it by clicking here
Jason Missiaen got the start but gave up two goals within the first 5:17 of the first period. He was pulled in favor of Cam Talbot who shut the door on the Devils only allowing one goal the rest of regulation and over time.
The Devils were looking to walk away with this game. It wasn’t until half way through the third period that they finally spoiled Keith Kinkaid’s bid for a shut out.
A bouncing puck in front of the net was inadvertently kicked in by an Albany defender.
Originally the goal was credited to Nick Palmeri who was starting his first game for the Whale after being acquired in a Ranger trade earlier in the week. After further review the goal was given to Whale top scorer Kris Newbury. It was Newbury’s sixteenth goal.
A few minutes later forward Andrew Yogan and Kinkaid came together behind the net. Yogan mostly avoided Kinkaid but Kinkaid went down anyway leaving the net completely open as he struggled to get up. Noticing the opportunity, Whale defenseman Mike Vernace quickly took the puck in wristed it into the empty net. Kinkaid complained but got no sympathy from the referee or from the Hartford crowd looking on.
With 3:36 left in the game Kris Newbury hand cuffed the Whale by taking a cross checking penalty immediately off a face in the Devils zone. The cross check appeared personal and wasn’t something that was going to help the team tie the game up. The Whale was now down by one and short handed for the next two minutes.
Seconds after the penalty to Newbury, Kelsey Tessier picked up the puck and carried it over the blue line as he skated in on Kinkaid and the Devils net. Tessier’s shot beat Kinkaid and tied the game. They game went to over time and eventually to a shoot out. In the shoot out the Whale could not score on Kinkaid, all five attempts failed. Two goals were scored on Talbot and the Devils won the game.
The Whale’s next two games will be up in St. Johns where they will take on the Ice Caps. They have never beaten the Ice Caps but will get two chances, one Saturday and one on Sunday.
The XL Center bids are public enough that we know that securing an AHL team is a requirement of the bid. Having an AHL team in Hartford has been disclosed in the Hartford Courant as a requirement for any and every bid. This may explain why there needed to be an extension on the decision. The C.R.D.A had expected to announce a winner in January but now the decision has stretched into February.
The bidders will have to secure a new lease with an AHL club. One would guess that AEG will go after the Rangers and try to keep them in Hartford. If AEG doesn’t get the Rangers their choices would appear slim to win.
Global Spectrum owns an AHL team, the Adirondack Phantoms. However they can’t move the Phantoms to Hartford for more than one year as they are currently building a new arena for the Phantoms in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Global Spectrum has other options for the AHL but they would probably have to clear them with the state and city.
The Capital Region Sports and Entertainment Group which is run by local businesses including the Bushnell appear to have no shot at getting a team. Jeff Jacobs latest column even went so far as to call the group “out” of the running for the XL Center. It was rumored that they had looked into getting a team, even an ECHL team. If they can not secure an AHL team then the C.R.D.A., Capital Region Development Authority, will not be able to grant them the XL Center contract.
The winner of the bid is expected to be announced tomorrow but that does not mean the C.R.D.A will disappear. They will terminate the contract should the winner of the bid ever lose an AHL tenant from the building.
It is a great feeling when you realize your local and state government is listening. Having the AHL guaranteed is the right move. Letting the NHL walk away sixteen years ago was a mistake that most people were hoping the state would not repeat.