On New Years Eve the Whale beat the Springfield Falcons 5-2. At that time the Whale had a record of 19-9-2-3 and they were clearly ahead in the Northeast Division. Now their record is 19-15-4-5 and after being winless in ten games, winless in January and winless in 2012 it makes you wonder a bit. Is it a 2012 jinx? Is it because of the unseasonably warm winter? Is it that Sean Avery brought bad luck when he was assigned to the Connecticut Whale on the night of the Whale’s last victory?
Sean Avery played last night, well he played some. The Whale was down 1-0 on a first period goal by Wilkes Barre/Scranton center Ryan Craig and the Whale was looking to tie the game but was struggling offensively and could not generate many shots. Then early in the second period Ryan Bourque sends a long flip pass behind the Penguin’s defense. Sean Avery takes the pass and crosses over the blueline in alone on Penguin’s goalie Brad Thiesson. Avery doesnt deke the puck or even slide it to his back hand he simply fired a wrister right by Thiesson like the net was empty. The 4,163 in attendance jump up to the playing of Brass Bonanza and the Whale has tied the game at one a piece.
As Avery turns to his left after the goal, Penguins defenseman Joey Mormina who was in pursuit bumps into Avery as they both turn to thier left. It looked like Avery was auditioning for the remake of ‘Slap Shot’ as he just scored and is now attacking Joey Mormina for bumping him after the play. The altercation brings all skaters into the corner and every referee and linesman in to untangle the mess. In the end Avery stands alone as the only penalized player. He recieved a double major for roughing and a ten minute misconduct. Avery picked up 14 penalty minutes just like that. Avery sat on the bench next to Cam Talbot the rest of the game after serving his misconduct penalty. He never stepped on the ice again.
The Whale would have to try to win being down a skater. There play did not seem rushed or urgent. I thought that was a good sign that they are not trying to do too much. At the same time they do still look a little lost on plays in their own zone. Once the Whale crossed over the offensive zone the Penguins formed a line and could force a turnover, Theisson was not pressured that much and the Whale only had 22 shots on goal all game..
After a goal by Penguin defenseman Robert Burtuzzo and a goal from Whale rookie sensation Jonathen Audy Marchessault, the game was tied at 2 a piece. In the defensive zone Chad Johnson performed wild acrobatics to keep the game tied in the third period. Johnson stopped 35 of 37 shots and a barrage of them came at 5:40 of the third period. Johnson certainly played well enough for the Whale to win. In two games against the Penguin’s from Scranton the Johnson has stopped all but 2 of their 78 shots.
The game moved on into overtime and like true Whale fashion a penalty would be called against the Whale leading to a Penguin power play in sudden death overtime. Ryan Bourque was called for hooking. The Whale eventually lost on that power play with 53 seconds left in over time.
The Whale have lost 10 games straight. They have earned 5 points in this 10 game losing streak. They are now no longer in first place, the Bridgeport Soundtigers tied them with 47 points. Yes, I said the Bridgeport Soundtigers. The division is extremely tight again. The Whale and Bridgeport are tied for first place and the Springfield Falcons are in last place with 43 points.
Tonight is a televised game on WCCT. The game is against those neighbors from the north the Springfield Falcons. The game can also be heard on 106.9 WCCC.