With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whale Fall Short In Second Round To Norfolk, Changes On The Horizon

The Whale took their best shot and they came up short, that was expected.  What wasn't expected was for them to have as good a chance as they did.  Minutes after game four the Whale had tied the series and the team had just finished a very convincing win by a score of 4-1. 
The catch to the whole series might just have been that the Whale had to play a home game in Bridgeport.  A home game that felt like anything but a home game.  The Whale lost 4-0 to the enjoyment of Admiral and Sound tiger fans that were on hand. 
It's certainly tough to win a seven game series when you only play two games at home and possibly five on the road. 

It was even possible to believe that after game five in Bridgeport that the Whale would continue to flop in game six in Norfolk but they didnt disappoint Whale fans.
The Whale took a 1-0 lead about 15 minutes into the first period when rookie stand out Jonathen Audy-Marchessault scored his fourth goal of the playoffs.  JAM also had another opportunity to score when he was awarded a penalty shot in the second period but Norfolk goalie Jaroslav Janus shut the door and stopped the attempt.  The Whale held that 1-0 lead until 10:52 of the third period when Tyler Johnson scored for Norfolk. 

With the game tied at the end of regulation the game went into OT.   It wasn't until about 13 minutes into OT that Richard Panik came down on Cam Talbot and scored the game winning, series clinching goal to put the Norfolk Admirals into the Eastern Conference Finals. 
With the loss the Whale finished their second season with a 5-4 record through nine playoff games.  Cam Talbot really took over as the primary goaltender for the Whale he only gave up 16 goals in 9 games.  The defense was not the problem for the Whale in this series it was the lack of scoring punch, and the dreadful game in Bridgeport.  
Still it was the first time that the Wolf Pack/Whale had moved past the first round of the playoffs since 2006.  It was the first time that the Whale had played Bridgeport in the playoffs and they didn't even let the Sound tigers win a game.  

The Whale took on Norfolk head on, a team that had only lost one game since February 5, 2012 and they beat them twice.  The Whale had really improved in the last few weeks of the season and added talent from Juniors and Colleges after their season was over really gave them the talent they needed to progress into the later rounds of the playoffs but it just wasn't in the cards to defeat the Admirals.  
Now the team is in the process of packing up and moving on.  There will be many roster changes coming up.  In fact it was just reported that Defenseman Pavel Valentenko has signed with a team in the Kontinental Hockey League.  The KHL is a professional league in Europe and Asia.  He will not be returning to the Whale, and there are many more that could follow.  Here are just a few names of the players who are free agents on the Whale.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Brendan Bell – unrestricted free agent
Stu Bickel – unrestricted free agent
Andre Deveaux – unrestricted free agent
Marek Hrivik – unrestricted free agent
Chad Johnson – unrestricted free agent
John Mitchell – unrestricted free agent
Steve Moses – unrestricted free agent
Randy McNaught – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Kris Newbury – unrestricted free agent
Jared Nightingale – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Jordan Owens – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Jeff Prough – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Scott Tanski – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Kelsey Tessier – unrestricted free agent (was on AHL contract)
Mike Vernace – unrestricted free agent

As you can see there could be many familar faces that are replaced next season.  I will update the roster as the team changes over the hot summer months. 

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