Valentenko’s late goal pushes Whale past Phantoms, 3-2

Tonight, a depleted Connecticut Whale team hosted a depleted Adirondack Phantoms team in their final games before the Christmas Break. In an exciting finish, the Whale was victorious over their division rivals, 3-2.

Adirondack struck first with an early at 4:07 of the first period. Mike Testwuide scored his third of the year to give his club the 1-0 lead, with assists going to Andrew Rowe and Tyler Brown. The Whale answered back with a goal at 16:19 to tie the game at 1-1. As their power-play expired, veteran Andre Deveaux raised a backhand shot over the left-arm of Phantoms’ goalie Jason Bacashihua for his seventh tally of the season. Assists went to Kris Newbury and Brendan Bell.

Shots for the first frame were 11-6 Phantoms, and both teams were 0-for-1 on their power-play opportunities.

It was the Whale who scored first in the second period, when Jeff Prough scored his first goal with the team at 8:28 on the power-play. Bell recorded his second assist of the night, and Pavel Valentenko also received an assist on the goal which gave the Whale a 2-1 lead.

Only 2:34 later, at 10:52, the Phantoms tied the game on a goal by Ty McGinn (his fifth of the season) making it a 2-2 game. Jason Akeson and Garret Roe were credited with the assists on the goal. Shots for the period were 11-8 for Adirondack.

The third period was extremely close throughout the 20 minutes, but it was the Whale who scored the only goal of the frame to get a 3-2 victory. Pavel Valentenko scored his third goal of the season on a booming shot from the point, giving the Whale their lead with just 16.2 seconds remaining in regulation. Newbury, who won the offensive-zone face-off, got an assist, as did Bell; his third of the game.

Connecticut led in third period shots, 13-7, but Adirondack led for the game, 29-27. The Whale victory gives them a six point lead in the Northeast Division over the Phantoms heading into Christmas Break. They remain the third place team in the Eastern Conference with 38 points (17-8-4).

Final score: Whale 3, Phantoms 2

Game notes

The Whale was missing key forwards including Kelsey Tessier, Mats Zuccarello and Aaron Voros; and defenseman Wade Redden in this contest due to injuries. Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon were also key players missing from the line-up because of a recall to the NHL (New York Rangers) earlier in the week.

With that, the first-line of Newbury, Deveaux and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault received plenty of ice-time, and scored two of the three goals.

Jordan Owens, Andreas Thuresson and Francois Bouchard made up the second forward combination, and although they did not score, it was one of the hardest working trios tonight. Prough, who scored once, had another strong performance with the Whale, as did rookie Ryan Bourque.

On defense, obviously Bell had one of his best games of the year, collecting three assists. Blake Parlett, minus-1, and Lee Baldwin, minus-2, were the only rearguards not to finish with an even rating. In his season debut with the Whale, Sam Klassen was an even-rating and played a solid game.

Chad Johnson stopped 27-of-29 shots faced, and helped kill-off both penalty-kills. His effort sends him into the break with 10 wins on the season in 19 appearances.

The three stars of the game were: 1. Valentenko (game-winning goal), 2. Bell (0-3-3, plus-2 and three shots on goal), and 3. Testwuide (1-0-1, four shots for Adirondack).

Next game

The Whale is off for four days, and returns to action on Monday, December 26 when they travel to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers for a 7 pm (ET) game. Then on Tuesday (27th), they host the Albany Devils at 7 pm (ET).

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