First things first, congratulations to Whale star Kris Newbury for being named AHL Player Of The Week for the week ending January 1. The Whale leading scorer, Newbury was sensational last week with eight points in four games as the Whale continued their hot play and increased their Northeast Division lead to seven points over Adirondack.
Since the last Weekly Whale, the Whale have continued their stellar play at the XL Center and a little bit of shakiness on the road. The week started with a 3-2 loss to I-95 rivals the Bridgeport Tigers on Monday. Tuesday the Whale returned home the next night to face Albany in a pivotal divisional battle. With a special deal for students the XL Center was really rocking before one of the biggest crowds of the season on Tuesday.
After jumping to an early lead, the Whale got themselves in trouble by taking a ton of penalties. While they did surrender a goal on a lengthy 5 on 3, giving up only one goal was a successful effort given the magnitude and length of the penalty kill and the Whale ended up with a 3-2 victory.
On Friday the Whale traveled to the curiously spelled city of Worcester where their road struggles continued as they lost a tight match to the Sharks 4-3. More fun was to be had Saturday.
New Years Eve was quite the day for Hartford and the XL Center as not only were the Whale back home in Hartford for a special five o'clock start time, but the UConn men played a game at the XL Center at noon. While it's commonplace for hockey/basketball games to happen on back to back nights, the same day turnover with just a couple hours in between is quite a feat. Check out this awesome video of a dedicated XL Center staff changing the venue from basketball to ice hockey in just a couple of hours.
A huge home crowd packed the XL Center at night to celebrate the holidays in a battle against I-91 rivals Springfield. While the Falcons took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after the first period, the Whale really poured it on and dominated the rest of the game to take a 5-2 victory and start New Years Eve off right for the XL Center faithful.
Big news was made New Years Day as it was announced that the Rangers had waived sometime star/all the time aggravator Sean Avery and it appeared that he would be returning to the Whale. Avery officially returned to the lineup on Monday to center a line with Ryan Bourque and Aaron Voros as the Whale traveled to Portland, Maine to take on the Pirates.
The Whale had a 2-0 lead after the first period and a 3-1 lead after the second, but penalties bit them again as Whale defenders were tasked with killing a 5 on 3 at the end of the game and gave up the tying goal to end regulation at 4-4. Portland scored in the overtime period for the victory as the Whale road struggles continue.
The Whale are still comfortably in first and playing awesome at the XL Center. This week sees them travel to face the defending Calder champions Binghamton on Friday and return home Saturday to to continue the I-91 rivalry with Springfield. Get tickets and caught up with all Whale news at their official site. See you there!