Kris Newbury hat-trick not enough as Connecticut Whale drop season opener, 6-3 to Adirondack

Tonight, the Connecticut Whale opened their 2011-12 season with a contest against the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, New York.

First period

Just 37 seconds into the season, Whale forward Kris Newbury deflected a Tomas Kundratek shot past Phantoms’ goaltender Michael Leighton for a goal, giving Connecticut a 1-0 lead. Newbury was the Whale leading scorer last season when he recorded 61 points in 69 games.

At 9:21 into the period, following a penalty-kill by Connecticut, defenseman Oskars Bartulis slapped a shot past Whale goalie Cam Talbot, tying the game at 1-1. Brayden Schenn, 20, recorded the lone assist on the play, giving him his first point as a Phantom forward. Schenn previously played in seven AHL games with the Manchester Monarchs when he was a prospect of the LA Kings, and he scored three goals and four assists with them.

The Whale scored the third goal of the period at 12:15, when Newbury tallied his second goal of the evening on a rebound. The original shot came from veteran defenseman Jared Nightingale, and this goal gave Connecticut a 2-1 lead.

Second period

Connecticut opened the second period with a power-play advantage, and just 1:09 into the period Newbury scored his third goal of the game and gave the Whale a 3-1 lead. For Newbury, it is his first hat-trick as a Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack forward. The assists went to John Mitchell and Wade Redden. Newbury, Mitchell and Redden all had an “A” on their jerseys tonight.

At 2:53 into the period, forward Denis Hamel scored a goal for Adirondack, cutting the Whale lead to 3-2. Cullen Eddy and Mike Testwuide recorded assists on the score.

Then at 11:11, following another penalty-kill by the Whale, defenseman Kevin Marshall tied the game for the Phantoms on a slap-shot which re-directed off of Whale forward Chris McKelvie into the goal. Assists were given to Schenn and Hamel.

The Phantoms tallied their third straight goal at 17:00 into the period, when Erik Gustafsson slapped a shot past Talbot for a 4-3 lead. Shane Harper and rookie Blake Kessel received assists on the score.

Third period

The first goal of the third period was scored by the Phantoms at the 7:22 mark on the power-play. Eric Wellwood ripped a short-side past Talbot, and gave Adirondack the 5-3 lead. Garret Roe and Bartulis had the assists on the goal.

Adirondack also scored with five seconds left on an empty-net, to win the game, 6-3. The goal was scored by Testwuide, and assisted by Hamel.

Final: Phantoms 6, Whale 3

Special teams

Throughout the game the Whale received six power-play opportunities, but only converted on one of them. The power-play did look good, though, as it generated several point shots and rebounds.

The penalty-kill, led by forwards Jordan Owens and Kelsey Tessier, and defensemen T.J. Fast and Tomas Kundratek, went 5-for-6 in the game. The Whale blocked a few shots, but mostly clogged the passing lanes and forced the play to the outside—which in some cases was an advantage for the Phantoms.


Cam Talbot started in goal for the Whale, and stopped 18 of 23 shots-faced. Talbot had a strong outing overall, but allowed a few goals on odd-man rushes and re-directions. I would expect Chad Johnson to get the start Sunday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

In goal for Adirondack was veteran netminder Michael Leighton. He stopped 24 of 27 shots-faced, and was strong throughout the game. He was forced to save 11 third period shots, and received a little help from the posts late in the third period.

Notes and observations

.The top-line of Carl Hagelin-Newbury-Jonathon Audy-Marchessault was very impressive in the first and second periods, but failed to produce in the third. They accounted for 13 shots tonight, and Newbury had all three goals.

.Tommy Grant-Kelsey Tessier-Scott Tanski served as the second-line for most of the night, and they had an impressive outing. Most noticeable in the third period, this line had several strong shifts and contributed with five shots on goal.

.The third-line consisted of Ryan Bourque-Mitchell-Andreas Thuresson, and they had a good game. Bourque was very impressive in his professional debut, as his speed was outstanding and his physical play created several scoring chances. This line totaled eight shots tonight.

.The checking-line consisted of Andre Deveaux-Chris McKelvie-Jordan Owens, and although they did not record any shots on goal, most of their playing time was spent on the special teams. Deveaux played on the power-play while McKelvie and Owens were important penalty-killers.

.On defense, Jyri Niemi finished a plus-1 and played a decent game, while Kundratek and Blake Parlett had even ratings. Parlett did not have a very good game, while Kundratek was one of the teams’ best defenseman. He recorded an assist and played well on the penalty-kill.

. Redden was a minus-4, and struggled defensively for most of the game. He had a few good power-play shifts, recorded an assist, and helped to create scoring opportunities on offense. Nightingale also had an assist, but finished a minus-2 for the game. T.J. Fast was a minus-1, and had a quiet game.

 My three stars

1. Kris Newbury: Scored a hat-trick and led the Whale with six shots on goal; he also contributed to the penalty-kill.

2. Denis Hamel: Recorded a goal and two assists, and finished with two shots on net. The winger was a plus-3.

3. Brayden Schenn: In his Adirondack debut, the 20-year-old assisted twice and had two shots on goal. The center now has nine points in eight career preseason games.

Next game

As previously stated, the Whale will next play tomorrow afternoon in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton against the Penguins. It will be a 5:05 pm start.

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Hope he returns with a team- friendly contract to prove he still can do it.