Whale’ forwards Hrivik, Moses and Thomas reach rookie milestones in final week of the regular season

“It’s definitely a huge weight off my back,” said Christian Thomas after Friday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Manchester, during which the former second-round selection of the New York Rangers recorded his first professional goal, assist and points. “Getting that first one is always nice, but hopefully I can get some more.”

Thomas, 19, wasn’t the only player to register his first pro goal on Friday, as 22-year-old winger Steve Moses beat Thomas to the milestone one period earlier. Moses, who scored twice against the Monarchs, had a similar reaction to the exciting feat.

“It feels good,” he said after game. “The first couple of games I had a lot of chances but couldn’t get a bounce…it was nice to finally get a few bounces tonight and get on the board.”

Moses’ first goal came at 5:25 of the second period, when the 5-foot-9, 170-pound, forward drove Manchester’s net and buried a Casey Wellman rebound. Moses explained after the game that many of his goals generally come in the form of rebounds and by crashing the net.

“I try to get to the front of the net and create some opportunities,” he said. “Casey (Wellman) and Marek (Hrivik) were able to create some good chances tonight and I was able to finish them off.”

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CT Whale Weekend Review: Playoff picture update; Hrivik debuts; More

The Connecticut Whale played three times over the weekend, winning once and losing twice (once in overtime).

On Friday, the Whale hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and lost 3-0. Chad Johnson played for just 9:01 of the game before allowing three goals on 13 shots, and being pulled from the net. Cam Talbot made 18 saves in relief.

Then on Saturday, the Whale hosted the Adirondack Phantoms and defeated them 3-0. Talbot improved his shutout streak to 110:59, stopping all 26 shots-against; earning his third shutout of the season and 13th win. Forward Kelsey Tessier scored twice in the win, while Casey Wellman added a goal and an assist.

Connecticut hosted the Providence Bruins on Sunday, and lost 3-2 in overtime on a goal scored with just 2.1 seconds remaining. Talbot’s shutout streak was snapped at 145:35 (minutes: seconds), but he still provided the Whale with a solid 28 save effort. Kris Newbury had a goal and an assist in the game, and rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault added helpers on both goals. Wade Redden also scored in the overtime loss.

The Whale’s record now looks like 34-24-7-5 (80 points), and they are seated second in the Northeast Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. They need six points to clinch a playoff berth with six games remaining in their regular season.

“(Right now) everyone is watching the standings for points, and it becomes more important to win games,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander said following Saturday’s win. “At this point our margin of error is such that you’re not afforded mistakes,” he added on the playoff topic after Sunday’s game.

The Whale will play another three games this weekend, beginning with a home game on Friday at 7pm (ET) against the Manchester Monarchs. Then on Saturday, the Whale visits the Penguins for a 7:05pm puck-drop, followed by a 5pm game in Hershey against the Bears on Sunday.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (83 points; first in the Northeast) play three times week, with home games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Adirondack (72 points; third in the Northeast) will play three times this weekend, while both Springfield (72 points; fourth in the Northeast) and Albany (71 points; fifth in the Northeast) play once mid-week, and twice over the weekend.

If the Whale can win all three of its games this weekend, then a playoff berth will be clinched. Depending on how the teams mentioned above, along with the Portland Pirates, perform during the week, Connecticut’s road to the playoffs may become easier and quicker.

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Rangers prospect report 12/8 to 12/14 (On Brandon Halverson, Richard Nejezchleb and others)

RangersThe Rangers have sent through the following report on their prospects for the time period of 12/8 to 12/14:

Three Stars of the Week:

1) Richard Nejezchleb, RW, Tri-City Americans (WHL) – Nejezchleb tallied four points (two goals, two assists) in the Americans’ four games this past week. He notched a goal in Tri-City’s 4-3 shootout loss to Everett on Dec. 9 and recorded two points (one goal, one assist), including the game-winning goal, in the Americans’ 4-0 victory over Seattle on Dec. 12.

The Rangers’ fifth round pick (122nd overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in 13 of 17 WHL games this season and in 11 of 15 games since he joined the Americans. With goals in each of Tri-City’s first two games this past week, Nejezchleb extended his goal streak to three games, tying a WHL career-high.

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Stats/Watch: Wolf Pack beat Sound Tigers 5-4 in OT

The Wolf Pack beat the Sound Tigers 5-4 in OT yesterday:

  • Mat Bodie: nothing on scoresheet
  • Conor Allen: minus one, 1 shot
  •  Ryan Malone: minus one, 3 shots
  • Henrik Tallinder: 1 assist, plus 2, 1 shot
  • Dylan McIlrath: 1 assist, plus 2, 2 shots
  • Ryan Bourque: 2 goals, 1 assist, plus 2, 3 shots, tripping penalty
  • Marek Hrivik: minus one, hooking penalty
  • Chris Bourque: minus one, 1 shot
  • Chris Mueller: 1 goal, 2 assists, plus one, 4 shots, goalie interference
  • Oscar Lindberg: 1 assist, 6 shots, tripping penalty
  • Michael Kostka: minus one, 1 shot
  • Ryan Haggerty: 2 assists, 1 shot

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Stats: Wolf Pack beat Sharks 5-3 (Ryan Haggerty and Oscar Lindberg score)

The Wolf Pack beat the Sharks 5-3 on Wednesday:

  • Mat Bodie: minus one
  • Conor Allen: 1 goal, plus 4, 1 shot, interference penalty
  • Ryan Malone: 1 assist, plus one, 3 shots
  • Dylan McIlrath: minus one, 1 shot
  • Ryan Bourque: 1 shot, tripping penalty
  • Marek Hrivik: 2 assists, plus one, 1 shot
  • Chris Bourque: 1 goal, 1 assist, plus one, 4 shots
  • Chris Mueller: nothing on scoresheet
  • Oscar Lindberg: 1 goal, plus one, 5 shots, tripping penalty
  • Michael Kostka: 1 goal, 1 assist, plus 4, 4 shots
  • Ryan Haggerty: 1 goal, 4 shots

Danny Kristo missed the game for the second straight night.

Brandon Mersky was at the game and sent the following observations:

  • Oscar Lindberg worked hard, had another strong game and scored a goal.
  • Mat Bodie is willing to block shots and play physical
  • Conor Allen was strong on defense all game and fired a “bullet” from the point for his goal

Stats/Watch: Wolf Pack beat Albany 3-2

The Wolf Pack beat the Albany Devils 3-2 last night:

  • Mat Bodie: 1 shot
  • Conor Allen: 1 assist, minus one, 3 shots
  • Ryan Malone: 1 assist, plus one, 3 shots
  • Henrik Tallinder: minus one, 1 shot
  • Dylan McIlrath: minus one, 2 shots, tripping penalty
  • Ryan Bourque: minus one, 2 shots
  • Marek Hrivik: 2 assists, 2 shots
  • Chris Bourque: 2 goals, plus one, 5 shots, roughing and tripping penalties
  • Chris Mueller: minus one, 3 shots
  • Oscar Lindberg: 1 shot, high sticking penalty
  • Michael Kostka: nothing on scoresheet
  • Ryan Haggerty: 1 assist, 2 shots

Danny Kristo was out with a lower body injury that is not believed to be serious. (Bob Crawford)

Brandon Mersky was at the game sent in the following thoughts:

  • Ryan Malone made some nice defensive plays
  • Oscar Lindberg played a strong two-way game and a scout said he could be a third-line center in the NHL

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