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Nick Perri

Last night, New York Rangers' prospect Michael St. Croix (2011 fourth-round pick) recorded a goal and an assist in the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks in game 7 of the WHL Championship.

The Oil Kings won their first Ed Chynoweth trophy of their current franchise-era, and will head to Shawinigan, Quebec, to battle for the Memorial Cup this week.

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The Western Hockey League (WHL) Championship will conclude tonight (8pm ET) between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks, following a game 6 win by Portland on Saturday, 3-2. Portland?s victory forces a game 7 to determine which WHL club with win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and advance to the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec, next week.

Michael St. Croix, 19, hopes to become the second New York Rangers? prospect in two years to earn a trip to the Memorial Cup. Last year, goaltending prospect Scott Stajcer and the Owen Sound Attack won the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Championship, and finished third in the Memorial Cup.

St. Croix was a fourth-round pick by the Rangers at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and performed very well for the Oil Kings during the 2011-12 regular-season (his third full season with Edmonton). The 5-11, 179-pound, center recorded 45 goals and 60 assists for 105 total points in 72 games.

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After 76 regular-season games and nine playoff contests, the Connecticut Whale saw its season come to an end on Friday when the Norfolk Admirals won game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?) with the Whale, 2-1 in overtime; eliminating sixth-place Connecticut from the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Whale entered The Norfolk Scope on Friday needing a victory to force game 7, which would have taken place on Sunday. After two periods on Friday, the Whale appeared to be in the driver?s seat, heading towards a huge game 6 win. The Whale carried a 1-0 lead into period 3, and hoped that its defense and goaltender, Cam Talbot, could withstand any offensive pressure that the Admirals would create.

But that was not the case, as the Admirals took complete control of the third period starting at the opening face-off. Norfolk outshot the Whale, 18-3, in the third frame, and scored once to force overtime. In 13 minutes of overtime, the Admirals maintained their offensive pressure and outshot the Whale, 16-4. Norfolk winger Richard Panik ended the game on a breakaway goal at 13:01, scoring on Talbot after breaking past Whale defenseman Brendan Bell near the blueline. Panik?s goal was his second of the playoffs, and it provided the Admirals with the game 6 win and series win.

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On Friday, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals met for game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?), as the Whale attempted to win and force game 7.

The Whale caught a break just 41 seconds into the game, when an apparent Norfolk goal was waived-off by the officials. Originally, the call was a good goal for Admirals forward Alexandre Picard and Norfolk was going to have an early 1-0 lead. But after some discussion at center ice, the officials agreed that Picard touched the puck with a high-stick, and the goal was erased.

Nonetheless, the Whale had a poor start to the game, allowing Norfolk to control the puck for most of the opening three minutes.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals meet for game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?) tonight at 7:30pm (ET) at The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. For the Whale, game 6 is a must win, as they trail the series, 3-2, after losing on Wednesday.

Pregame notes

?in game 5 on Wednesday, the Admirals struck for four goals against Whale? goaltender Cam Talbot, en route to a 4-0 win. The Whale fired 22 shots at Jaroslav Janus, but the Admirals netminder stopped everything.

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After losing, 4-0, to Norfolk in game 5 on Wednesday, the Connecticut Whale faces elimination for the first time this post-season when their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?) resumes on Friday in Virginia with game 6 (7:30pm ET).

The Admirals made hockey look easy on Wednesday, shutting out the Whale, 4-0, and outshooting them by a margin of 14 (36-12), en route to a 3-2 series lead. Norfolk started goaltender Jaroslav Janus for the first time in the series, and the 22-year-old netminder successfully stopped each shot that the Whale fired in his direction.

Cam Talbot made his ninth-straight appearance in goal (dating back to the Whale?s final regular-season game in Syracuse on April 14), and allowed four goals on 36 shots. As expected, Talbot?s performance in game 5?along with the fact that he has started in nine-straight games for the first time in his pro career?has led to speculation that the Whale may turn to Chad Johnson for game 6, in hopes that he can save the season.

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On Wednesday, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals played game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?), at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. The teams battled for a 3-2 series lead, and in the end it was the Admirals who were victorious, 4-0.

The Admirals rode goaltender Jaroslav Janus? 22-save shutout to victory, as the 22-year-old netminder made his first appearance of the series. Janus was named the games second star for his performance.

Norfolk opened the scoring at 15:15 of the first-period, on a goal by winger Alexandre Picard, his fifth of the post-season. Picard?s goal came on a wraparound attempt, as the 26-year-old forward picked-up a loose puck behind the Whale net, skated it in front and slid a shot past goaltender Cam Talbot near the left goal-post to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead. Norfolk forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie recorded an assist on the tally.

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Tonight, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals will meet for game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?) at 7pm (ET) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. Both teams will battle for an all-important 3-2 series lead tonight, after the Whale defeated Norfolk on Monday, 4-1, to even the series at 2-2.

Pregame notes

?in game 4 on Monday, the Whale beat the Admirals, 4-1, on goals by Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Scott Tanksi, Casey Wellman, and Kris Newbury. The Whale carried a 2-1 lead out of period 2, and struck for two goals in the third period to distance themselves from Norfolk. Cam Talbot made 19 saves in the win.

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When the Connecticut Whale finished its first-round playoff series with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers three weeks ago, the team?s top playoff scorers were 20-year-old right-winger Marek Hrivik and centerman Casey Wellman, who both recorded four points in the three-game round.

Now, four games into their second-round series with the Norfolk Admirals, the scoring leaders remain the same for the Whale, as Hrivik and Wellman are tied with eight points in seven total playoff contests. Hrivik?who joined the team on March 30 on an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement?leads the Whale in playoff goals with five, and Wellman?who joined the Whale on February 3 after being acquired through trade by the New York Rangers?is second on the team in goals with four.

Entering the post-season, Hrivik scored only once in eight games with the Whale. But the 6-foot-1, 197-pound, winger continues to produce in the playoffs, and is currently riding a six-game scoring-streak into game 5 on Wednesday.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals met at the XL Center on Monday for game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?). The Whale needed a win to even the series, 2-2, and a brilliant defensive effort led them to a 4-1 victory.

The first period of the tilt started off at an extremely slow pace, with only 10 total shots being fired in the first 19 minutes. Each team traded power-play chances as well, but no goals were scored on the advantages.

In the final minute of the period, however, the Whale caught a break as the normally steady Norfolk defense made a sloppy error that led to a late-Whale goal.

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Tonight, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals will meet for game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series (ECSF series ?I?) at 7pm at the XL Center in Hartford. The Whale will attempt to tie the series, 2-2, after the Admirals won game 3 on Sunday, 4-3, and took a 2-1 series lead.

Pregame notes

?in game 3, the Admirals rode a three-goal second period to victory, as they defeated the Whale, 4-3. Connecticut led early in the game, as the Whale exited the first period with a 2-1 lead, but Norfolk received goals from Alex Killorn, Trevor Smith and Mike Angelidis in period 2 en route to its victory.

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On Sunday, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals met for game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series (ECSF series ?I?) at the XL Center, as the clubs battled for the 2-1 series lead. Despite scoring first for the first time in the series?and carrying a 2-1 lead in to the second period?the Whale was unable to stop a powerful offensive surge by Norfolk in the final half of period 2. The Admirals struck for two quick goals mid-way through the second period, and one late-goal, as they topped the Whale, 4-3, in front of a Hartford crowd of 3,319.

The story of game 2 was discipline, or lack thereof, as the Whale faced 11 Norfolk power-plays. Team discipline was a major goal entering tonight?s tilt, but just 14 seconds into the game, Whale? defenseman Pavel Valentenko was called for interference and the Whale found themselves killing a penalty right away.

Luckily for the Whale, the penalty-killing tandems, led by goaltender Cam Talbot, successfully eliminated Norfolk?s opportunity to keep the game scoreless. The whistle-happy officials made another quick penalty call, sending the Whale to a power-play at 3:53 after calling Admirals? Trevor Smith for boarding.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals meet for game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series (ECSF series ?I?) at 7pm (ET) tonight, at the XL Center in Hartford. The series is knotted, 1-1, after the Admirals defeated the Whale in game 2 on Friday, 4-1.

Pregame notes

?in game 2, the Admirals struck for two early first period goals off the sticks of Alex Killorn and Mike Kostka. In the second period, the Whale cut the score to 2-1 on a goal by Andre Deveaux, but Norfolk recorded two unanswered goals later in the game to secure the 4-1 victory.

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According to a report from Howlings,?Connecticut Whale forward Andre Deveaux will not be suspended by the AHL despite receiving a game-misconduct on Friday for physical abuse of an official. At ?6:08 of the third period on Friday, Deveaux fought Norfolk's Brendan Segal and was given 27 penalty-minutes on the play (29 total penalty-minutes in the game). Deveaux scored the lone Whale goal in their 4-1 loss on Friday to the Admirals.

Game 3 of the series will be played on Sunday at 7pm (ET) at the XL Center. The series is tied 1-1.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals met for game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series (ECSF series ?I?) on Friday, as the Whale attempted to take a 2-0 series lead back to Hartford.

Norfolk opened the scoring early in period 1, on a goal scored by Alex Killorn at the three-minute mark. Killorn was situated in front of Whale goaltender Cam Talbot when he received a pass from Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who had retrieved the loose puck behind Connecticut?s goal. ?Killorn quickly snapped the puck past Talbot, giving the Admirals a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Keith Aulie also assisted on Killorn?s second goal of the playoffs.

The Whale tried desperately to answer back, firing 13 shots in the period, most of which came on three power-play opportunities. But Admirals goaltender Dustin Tokarski stifled the Whale throughout period 1, stopping each shot to keep his club in the lead.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals will meet for game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Series (ECSF series ?I?) on Friday at 7:30pm (ET) at The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. Connecticut took game 1, 3-2, on an overtime goal by Andreas Thuresson.

Pregame notes

?in game 1, the Whale and Admirals combined for four goals in the first period, then battled into overtime tied 2-2. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Marek Hrivik scored for the Whale during regulation, while Ondrej Palat and Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored for Norfolk. At the 2:53 mark of overtime, Thuresson scored the game-winning goal for Connecticut, giving the Whale a 1-0 series lead.

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Tonight marks the opening of the 2012 Western Hockey League (WHL) Championship (Ed Chynoweth Cup), and New York Rangers? prospect Michael St. Croix and the Edmonton Oil Kings will host the Portland Winterhawks for game 1.

St. Croix, 19, enters the finals with five goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games. The 2011 fourth-round pick is coming off a huge season production-wise, during which he collected 45 goals and 60 assists for 105 points in 72 games.

If Edmonton wins the finals, they will advance to the 2012 Memorial Cup. Last year, Rangers? prospect Scott Stajcer and the Owen Sound Attack won the OHL Championship, and finished third in the 2011 Memorial Cup.

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On Wednesday, the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals opened their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series (ECSF series ?I?) at The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. An exuberant Norfolk crowd of 3,223 was treated to an overtime thriller, as the Whale and Admirals battled hard through three periods, tied at 2-2.

Overtime didn?t last long, however, as the Whale received a lucky-bounce just three minutes in to win the game 3-2, and take a 1-0 series lead.

The scoring began at 5:43 of the first-period, when Norfolk?s Ondrej Palat recorded his first goal of the playoffs to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead. Palat was situated to the right of Whale? goaltender Cam Talbot, and found a loose rebound which he quickly snapped into Connecticut?s goal. Brandon Segal and Trevor Smith assisted on the score.

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The Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals kick-off their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Series (ECSF Series ?I?) on Wednesday at 7:15pm (ET), with game 1 being played at The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. The Whale is coming off a three-game sweep over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in round 1, while Norfolk advanced with a game 4 win over the Manchester Monarchs.

Pregame notes

?the Whale finished its first-round series with three-straight wins; starting with back-to-back 3-0 victories in games 1 and 2, and finishing with a 4-3 overtime win in game 3.

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In case you missed it from earlier today...the Connecticut Whale has added defenseman Dylan McIlrath to its roster through re-assignment by the New York Rangers.

McIlrath, 20, was the Rangers'?first-round pick in 2010 (10th overall). He played in 52 regular-season games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL this season, scoring three goals and 20 assists, while amassing 127 penalty-minutes and a plus-7 rating. During the post-season, he appeared in 14 games with Moose Jaw and recorded six assists.

McIlrath made his pro-debut with the Whale last season, playing in two regular-season games and registering seven penalty-minutes and a minus-1 rating. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound, blueliner will join the Whale in time for the second-round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, which begin on Wednesday in Norfolk for the Whale. Next season is expected to be McIlrath's first full pro-season, and he will likely spend it in a Whale' uniform.

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According to the NY Post, 20-year-old Connecticut Whale forward Marek Hrivik is gaining interest from NHL clubs, including the New York Rangers. Hrivik joined the Whale on an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement on March 30, and made his pro debut the next day in a game against the Adirondack Phantoms.

Hrivik appeared in eight regular-season games with the Whale, scoring a goal and totaling 19 shots while playing on a line with Casey Wellman and fellow rookie Steve Moses. Hrivik was a first-round playoff hero for the Whale, scoring four goals in three games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He leads the Whale in playoff goals and is tied for the team lead in points entering round 2.

The Slovakian-winger played three seasons in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats before joining the Whale, and he amassed 93 goals, 111 assists and 204 points in 179 games played with Moncton. Hrivik has already attended two NHL training camps, but has yet to sign a deal. In 2010, Hrivik was invited to the Columbus Blue Jackets? camp, and in 2011 he received an invite from the Phoenix Coyotes.

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The Connecticut Whale was the first 2012 Calder Cup Playoff team to advance this post-season, completing a three-game sweep over first-round opponent Bridgeport on Sunday with a 4-3 overtime win. Connecticut finally learned its Eastern Conference Semi-Final opponent on Friday, when the first-place Norfolk Admirals defeated the Manchester Monarchs to win their series (3-1), and the second-place St. John?s IceCaps beat the Syracuse Crunch to finish their series (3-1).

Connecticut and Norfolk will begin their best-of-7 series on Wednesday, May 2, when the Admirals host the Whale at 7:15pm (ET). Game 2 will be played on Friday, May 4, in Norfolk at 7:30pm, and games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Sunday, May 6, and Monday, May 7; both to played in Hartford at 7pm. If necessary, game 5 will take place in Bridgeport (Whale home game) on Wednesday, May 9, at 7pm. Game 6, if necessary, will be played in Norfolk on Friday, May 11, at 7:30pm, and a game 7 would take place in Norfolk on Sunday, May 13, at 5pm.

During the regular-season, the Whale and Admirals met four times and all four battles resulted in Norfolk victories. The first and second of the four games were played in Norfolk on January 13 and 14. The Admirals won, 3-1 and 4-2. On January 21, the Whale hosted Norfolk for the first time, and despite a strong effort by the hosts, Norfolk skated away with a 5-4 shootout win. Then on March 10, the Whale lost to Norfolk, 3-1, on home ice to conclude the season-series.

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On Friday, two of the three remaining Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series finished, with the first-place Norfolk Admirals and second-place Saint John?s IceCaps moving on to round 2. The Connecticut Whale, who became the first playoff team to reach the second-round with an overtime win on Sunday, will play the Admirals in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals (ECSF); beginning with game 1 on Wednesday.

Here is the full schedule according to the Admirals:

Game 1: Wednesday, May 2?7:15pm (ET) at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia

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The Connecticut Whale ensured its spot in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday (game 3), against first-round opponent, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Connecticut isn?t expected to begin its second-round series until the middle of next week, and there is a chance that the Whale may not learn who its round 2 opponent is until Saturday.

However, there is also the possibility that Friday wraps-up the first-round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, with each game being a possible elimination game. All four active series will play tomorrow, including the three remaining Eastern Conference Quarterfinal battles.

The Whale has four different round 2 scenarios, and can play the Norfolk Admirals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Hershey Bears, or Syracuse Crunch.

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The two remaining New York Rangers? prospects in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) playoffs are battling head-to-head in the Western Leagues? (WHL) Eastern Conference Championship.

Michael St. Croix (2011 fourth-round pick) and the Edmonton Oil Kings continue to roll-on in the playoffs, having won 11 straight post-season match-ups and over 20 straight games dating back to the regular season. The Oil Kings lead Dylan McIlrath (2010 first-round pick?10th overall) and the Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-0, in the series, and an Edmonton win tonight closes that series in four games.

St. Croix, 19, has 1-2-3 in the three-games against Moose Jaw, and 4-7-11 in 11 total post-season games. During the regular season, St. Croix unloaded 45 goals and 60 assists for 105 points in 72 games. He continues to be a force upfront for Edmonton, and could lead his club to a WHL championship and possibly the Memorial Cup.

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On Sunday, the Connecticut Whale defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, on an overtime goal scored by forward Casey Wellman. The goal not only propelled the Whale to a game 3 victory, but also provided them with win No.3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, giving Connecticut a first-round sweep.

Cam Talbot was the winning goaltender in each of the three first-round tilts, recording a 3-0-0 record, two shutouts, 127 saves (on 130 shots), a .92 goals-against-average, and a spectacular .977 save-percentage. Although the first-round is still in action, it is pretty much a guarantee that Talbot, 24, enters the Eastern Conference Semi-Final?s leading all goaltenders in most?if not each?of the category?s mentioned above.

Talbot?s appearances in the opening-round shouldn?t have come as a surprise to anyone who follows the Whale, having witnessed the success that the 6-foot-3, 200-pound; Caledonia, Ontario, native had in the final months of the regular season. Chad Johnson, the No.1 goaltender for most of the year, struggled late in the season, opening the opportunity for Talbot to start.

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The Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers opened their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (ECQF series ?C?) on Thursday with game 1 in Bridgeport, and finished the series on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford on an overtime goal by Whale? forward, Casey Wellman.

?I saw (Redden) with the puck, and I called for it,? said Wellman after game 3. ?I was excited because I was open, so he made a pass and luckily I was able to put it in?we?re just happy to advance.?

Game 3 was the final, and longest, game of the series. It began with first period goals by Whale? forward Marek Hrivik, and Sound Tigers forward Justin Dibenedetto. Bridgeport?s first period goal was its first goal of the entire series, snapping a 139:44 shutout streak for Connecticut?s goaltender Cam Talbot.

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The Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers met for game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (ECQF Series ?C?) at the XL Center on Sunday, as the Whale attempted to sweep its GEICO CT Cup rivals.

Early in the first period, the Whale received a 5-on-3 power-play after Sound Tigers? Matt Donovan and Blair Riley took back-to-back minor-penalties. The Whale took advantage of the power-play with a goal at 6:11 of period 1, scored by rookie Marek Hrivik. The play started on a keep-in by defenseman Mike Vernace, who controlled the puck at the blueline and quickly passed off to Casey Wellman. Wellman sent a pass to Hrivik, who finished the play by sending a hard wrist-shot over the blocker-side of Bridgeport?s goaltender, Kevin Poulin.

For Hrivik, it was his third goal of the post-season as he gave the Whale an early 1-0 lead.

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The Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers will meet for game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series (ECQF Series ?C?), tonight at 5pm (ET) at the XL Center in Hartford. The Whale has taken games 1 and 2 of the series by the score of 3-0, and will attempt to sweep the Sound Tigers today.

Pregame notes

?after defeating the Sound Tigers, 3-0, in game 1 on Thursday, the Whale repeated its performance on Saturday (game 2), beating Bridgeport once again by the score of 3-0. In game 2, the Whale received goals from rookies Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Marek Hrivik (2), while Cam Talbot pitched his second consecutive playoff shutout; stopping all 41 Bridgeport shots.

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The Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers met for game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series tonight, and it was another shutout effort by goaltender Cam Talbot that brought the Whale to victory.

Unlike in game 1?when the first goal was scored early in period 3?the first lead of game 2 was taken at 5:31 of the first period, when Whale? rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored his first professional playoff goal. Audy-Marchessault intercepted an errant pass by Bridgeport defenseman Jon Landry, fired a shot on goaltender Kevin Poulin and netted his rebound to give the Whale an early 1-0 lead.

Minutes before Audy-Marchessault?s goal, the Whale had successfully taken care of an early 5-on-3 penalty-kill. The Whale received three power-plays throughout the duration of period 1, but failed to convert on any of the advantages.

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The Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers will meet for game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series (ECQF Series ?C?), tonight at 7pm (ET) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Connecticut took game 1 of the best-of-five series on Thursday, 3-0, and holds the 1-0 lead in the series.

Pregame notes

?game 1 saw the Whale strike for three third period goals, leading to the 3-0 win. Kelsey Tessier, Jordan Owens and Ryan Bourque scored the goals, while goaltender Cam Talbot made 42 saves to record his first professional playoff shutout and win.

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The Connecticut Whale announced that forward J.T. Miller has been added to the roster through re-assignment by the New York Rangers, who drafted Miller 15th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Miller,19, scored 25 goals and 37 assists for 62 points in 61 games this year with the OHL's Plymouth Whalers.

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In a tight, spirited battle between the Connecticut Whale and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal?s series was decided by starting goaltenders Cam Talbot (Whale) and Kevin Poulin (Sound Tigers), who kept the series opener scoreless through the first two periods.

The first period included four power-play chances (three for Bridgeport; one for Connecticut) and 20 total shots-on-goal, but finished without a score. Period 2 saw just one Bridgeport power-play washed off, while Talbot and Poulin made a combined 28 stops (15 for Talbot; 13 for Poulin) to keep the score at 0-0.

Finally, the silence was broken by Whale forward Kelsey Tessier, when he scored the series? first goal at 1:03 of the third frame.

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The Connecticut Whale has announced the signing of defenseman Samuel Noreau to an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement.

Noreau, 19, was selected during the fifth-round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound, blueliner scored five goals and 17 points, along with 92 penalty-minutes in 58 games with Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL this season.

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The sixth-place Connecticut Whale (36-26-7-7, 86 points) and third-place Bridgeport Sound Tigers (41-26-3-6, 91 points?Northeast Division Champions) begin their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at 7pm (ET) on Thursday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. During the regular-season, the Whale and Sound Tigers met 10 times for the GEICO CT Cup series. Bridgeport won the season-series with six wins, including five home victories. The last time these teams met, the result was a 4-3 overtime win for the Sound Tigers.

Pregame notes

?the Whale finished its regular-season on a three-game losing skid, including a 2-1 shootout loss to the Syracuse Crunch on April 14?their final regular-season tilt.

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The Connecticut Whale completed its 76 game regular-season on Saturday, losing to the Syracuse Crunch in a shootout, 2-1. Connecticut?s season isn?t over, though, with its 2012 playoff season beginning on Thursday in Bridgeport with game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (ECQF). The Whale clinched the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference?as well as a first-round date with the Sound Tigers?after losing to the Manchester Monarchs, 5-4, in a shootout on Friday. Bridgeport clinched the Northeast Division title?and third-place spot in the Eastern Conference?on the same day.

Read the rest of the playoff preview here.

Thomas, Hrivik and Moses record firsts

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The Connecticut Whale completed its 76 game regular-season on Saturday, losing to the Syracuse Crunch in a shootout, 2-1. Connecticut?s season isn?t over, though, with its 2012 playoff season beginning on Thursday in Bridgeport with game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (ECQF). The Whale clinched the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference?as well as a first-round date with the Sound Tigers?after losing to the Manchester Monarchs, 5-4, in a shootout on Friday. Bridgeport clinched the Northeast Division title?and third-place spot in the Eastern Conference?on the same day.

As mentioned, the series will begin on Thursday (April 19) at 7pm (ET) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, and game 2 will be played on Saturday (April 21) at the same time and place. Game 3 will be played at 5pm on Sunday (April 22) at the XL Center in Hartford, and if necessary game 4 will be played on Wednesday (April 25) in Hartford at 7pm. If a game 5 is necessary, it will be played in Bridgeport at 7pm on Saturday (April 28).

The Whale finished its season with a record of 36-26-7-7 (86 points), while Bridgeport finished with a record of 41-26-3-6 (91 points). The Northeast Division rivals are very familiar with each other, having met 10 times during the regular-season. Bridgeport won six of the 10 meetings, including all five home games.

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The Connecticut Whale concluded its 2011-12 regular season with a game in Syracuse, NY, against the Crunch. It was a goaltenders duel until the very end between Connecticut?s Cam Talbot (37 saves) and Syracuse?s Iiro Tarkki (43 saves), but four extra saves in the shootout sent two points to the Crunch?s record, as they won 2-1.

Syracuse opened the scoring at 12:56 of the first period, on a goal by forward Riley Holzapfel?his 16th of the season. The play started with Crunch winger Kyle Palmieri carrying the puck into the offensive zone, and firing a wide-angled shot at Whale goaltender Talbot. Palmieri?s shot bounced off Talbot and found a trailing Holzapfel in the slot, and the centerman buried his opportunity in an open net to give his club the 1-0 lead.

The Whale pushed back, and fired 19 shots at Syracuse?s Tarkki during the first period. Tarkki turned away each chance to preserve the Crunch?s 1-0 lead.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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?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.?

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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Following Friday?s 5-4 shootout loss to the Manchester Monarchs, the Connecticut Whale announced the winners of five team awards.

The first award, Gorman Community Service Award, was given to center Kelsey Tessier for his outstanding work on and off the ice. Tessier also won the Seventh Man award for his terrific all-around effort this season.

?He?s a kid who has worked all year, he hasn?t got a lot of that offensive ice-time but he?s been a steady two-way player,? said Whale? head coach Ken Gernander after the game. ?He has done a lot for the team as a player that doesn?t get a lot of attention for goal scoring, but he?s done his job for us.?

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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The Connecticut Whale (36-26-7-6, 85 points) concludes its 76 game regular-season tonight, when it visits the Syracuse Crunch (35-29-5-5, 80 points) for a 7:30pm tilt. It will be the final of two meetings between the Eastern Conference clubs this regular-season. The Whale defeated Syracuse in the only other meeting this season, 3-1, on February 7.

Post-game notes

?the Whale is coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to the Manchester Monarchs on Friday, during which the Whale received a two-goal performance from rookie Steve Moses, along with goals from Christian Thomas (his first) and Kris Newbury (his 25th). Chad Johnson made 34 stops in the loss.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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The Connecticut Whale hosted the Manchester Monarchs tonight in its final home game of the 2011-12 regular season. Connecticut finally found its offense, scoring four times in the game, but an early Manchester lead eventually boosted them to a 5-4 win.

Manchester jumped to its early two-goal lead on first period tallies by defenseman Jake Muzzin (7th), and leading-scorer Justin Azevedo (26th). Muzzin?s goal was recorded at the 5:36 mark of period 1, as the blueliner fired a shot wide of Whale? goaltender Chad Johnson, but a lucky bounce off the end boards sent the puck back at Johnson and into Connecticut?s net. Azevedo?s unassisted goal was scored at 7:48, when the centerman stole the puck from behind the Whale net, found space in front of Johnson and lifted a shot past the goaltender for a 2-0 lead.

The Whale battled back after the goals against, and fired 17 shots at Monarch? goaltender Martin Jones, while creating four odd-man rushes and one power-play opportunity during the period.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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On Friday, the Connecticut Whale (36-26-7-5, 84 points) hosts the Manchester Monarchs (36-32-2-3, 77 points) at 7pm for its final home game of the 2011-12 regular-season. It will be the sixth and final meeting of the regular-season between the Whale and Monarchs, and each of the previous five meetings have gone to the Whale. Last Friday, the Whale defeated Manchester in overtime, 2-1.

Pregame notes

?the Whale is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Portland Pirates on Wednesday, during which Marek Hrivik recorded his first pro goal?and point?and Cam Talbot made 25 saves. The Whale power-play was 0-for-4 in the loss, and its penalty-killing was 4-for-5.

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Last night was a busy one for the New York Rangers prospects playing in the Canadian Junior Hockey League?s, as one prospect became a champion; two prospects advanced in their playoffs, one was eliminated, and another is staring at a tied series.

British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL)

In the BCHL, Rangers? prospect Steven Fogarty, 18, and the Penticton Vees became 2012 Fred Page Cup champions after defeating the Powell River Kings, 3-2, on Wednesday; sweeping the final series. Fogarty, a third-round pick of the Rangers in 2011, has four goals and three assists in 15 playoff games. Penticton now advances to the Doyle Cup, where they will oppose the champions of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

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The scoring struggles continue?

Tonight, the Connecticut Whale visited the Portland Pirates in hopes of earning two points and climbing within a win of the Northeast Division lead. Unfortunately for the Whale, who was playing its fourth game in six days, scoring struggles that had troubled them over the weekend continued into tonight?s tilt, as they lost 2-1 to goaltender Peter Mannino and the Pirates.

Connecticut fired 35 shots at Mannino, who was acquired by Portland from the Saint John?s IceCaps at the AHL trading deadline, but the veteran netminder successfully turned away 34 of the Whale attempts while earning his 11th win of the season. The Whale has scored only four goals in its last four games, despite the additions of a few young forwards and the use of several different line combinations.

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From the Connecticut Whale via press release:

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The Connecticut Whale (36-25-7-5, 84 points) returns to action on Wednesday when it visits the Portland Pirates (34-30-4-5, 77 points) for a 6:30pm (ET) match-up. It will be the eighth and final meeting of the regular season between the Whale and Pirates, and the Whale has won three of the seven meetings thus far. The last time these clubs faced-off was on March 23, and the result was a 4-1 Portland win.

Pregame notes

?the Whale is entering Wednesday?s match-up following a 1-0 win over the Hershey Bears on Sunday. Pavel Valentenko scored the Whale? goal, his fifth of the season, and Cam Talbot made 24 saves to earn his 14th win and fourth shutout of the year.

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The Connecticut Whale has recalled six players from the Greenville Road Warriors, who were eliminated from the ECHL playoffs last week. Forwards Chris McKelvie, Jason Wilson, Jeff Prough, along with defenseman Blake Parlett and Lee Baldwin, and goaltender Jason Missiaen have all been recalled.

McKelvie, 27, played in 38 games with the Whale, scoring two goals and three assists before joining the Road Warriors in March. McKelvie scored three goals and two assists in 11 regular season games with Greenville, and he also added a goal and an assist in three playoff games.

Wilson, 21, is in his first pro season, and scored four goals and 14 points in 56 games with Greenville. He also amassed 102 penalty-minutes. In the playoffs, Wilson played one game and did not record any points or penalty-minutes.

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The Connecticut Whale concluded its final three-game weekend of the 2011-12 season with games against the Manchester Monarchs, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears. The Whale triumphed over Manchester on Friday and Hershey on Sunday, but was shutout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second of the three-games. Despite the loss to the Penguins, the Whale still clinched a playoff berth due to an Adirondack Phantoms to the Rochester Americans on Sunday.

On Friday, the weekend began with a 2-1 overtime win at home against Manchester. Goals were scored in the first period by Whale? rookie Ryan Bourque (6) and Monarchs? rookie Linden Vey (18), and the overtime winner was provided by Casey Wellman (23) at 1:16 of the extra frame. Chad Johnson played in goal for the Whale, stopping 32 shots while earning his 22nd win of the season.

Saturday, the Whale allowed a first period goal to Penguins? rookie Simon Despres (5), and two early second period goals to Bryan Lerg (26) at :49 and Geoff Walker (18) at 5:18 while on the power-play, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won, 3-0. Scott Munroe was the Penguin? netminder, and he made 27 saves in the win. It was Munroe?s third shutout against the Whale this season. Johnson played in goal for the Whale, and allowed three goals on 27 shots.

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The Connecticut Whale concluded its three-game weekend tonight by visiting the Hershey Bears. In a search for offense, the Whale coaching staff worked together to build a new look to its offensive combinations for tonight?s tilt. Unfortunately for the Whale, the line swapping did not fix its scoring struggles, as the team fired only 26 shots-on-goal and scored just once in the game. However, the Whale still figured out a way to stump a powerful Hershey offense, and defeated the Bears, 1-0.

Cam Talbot was selected as the starting goaltender for the Whale tonight, and for the second time in three starts, the 24-year-old netminder stopped every shot that was sent his way. Talbot made 24 saves as he led the Whale past Hershey, and earned his 14th win of the season and fourth shutout. Talbot was rewarded with the games first star for his efforts, and the Whale win?combined with an Adirondack Phantoms loss?clinched a spot in the 2012 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Whale opened the scoring at 7:59 of period 2, following a scoreless first period, on a goal by defenseman Pavel Valentenko. After rookie forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault won the face-off to the right of Bears goaltender Dany Sabourin, Casey Wellman collected the puck and slid a pass to Valentenko who was waiting at the blueline. Valentenko then fired a cannon of a shot past Sabourin for his fifth goal of the season, giving the Whale a 1-0 lead, which the team carried with them into the third frame.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri
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