The Connecticut Whale faced off against the Adirondack Phantoms this evening at the Madison Square Garden Training Center, and picked up their first win of the preseason.
Throughout the first period, the Whale were caught flatfooted quite a bit in their own end, but they were able to weather the hard forecheck by the Phantoms. The Whale added on to their slow start by taking their fair share of penalties, which gave the Phantoms multiple opportunities to capitalize. However, the Phantoms were unable to capitalize on their chances, and we headed into the first intermission with a tie game.
One player that stood out to me this period was Chris Kreider. He got off to a quick start, and was throwing his body around quite a bit. Earlier on in the first, Kreider laid two solid checks in the offensive zone, which led to some scoring chances. He also had a chance of his own earlier in the second period as he broke in on a partial breakaway. We saw a lot of physicality out of Kreider early on during the playoffs last year, and it seems as if he's worked to complete his game a bit more.
The Whale were able to turn it around in the second period, and got back on the offensive zone attack. After a failed 5-on-3 attempt midway through the second, Andrew Yogan got the Whale on the board with a rebound in front. Kyle Jean was the key contributor to this goal as he danced around a Phantom defenseman at the blue line, which later led to the goal. J.T. Miller and Kyle Jean both picked up the assists on Yogan's goal.
Following the goal from Yogan, the Whale found themselves down two men of their own, as they took a string of penalties in their own end. Brayden Schenn would capitalize on the ensuing power play as he absolutely sniped home a shot from the high slot. Jason Missiaen had no chance.
Speaking of Missiaen, he had a solid game tonight as he stood tall in between the pipes. For a tall guy like Missiaen, lateral movement is usually a weak point. However, he made some fantastic saves tonight including a string of saves on a chance in front of his crease, in the second period. Overall a solid effort from him tonight.
The third period was more of the same, as both teams went back and forth with their fair share of chances. With about nine minutes remaining in the third period, J.T. Miller was hauled down on a breakaway, and was awarded a penalty shot.
Miller made a series of nifty moves, but was denied to keep the score tied at 1-1. Kyle Jean kept up his impressive performance, and was an absolutely hound on the puck all game long. He also has a nice set of moves under his sleeve, and danced around a few players tonight.
The Whale went back on the attack with under a minute to play in the game, and Chad Kolarik picked up a rebound in front with just 30 seconds to go. Kolarik roofed it over the sprawling Phantoms goaltender, and put the Whale up 2-1. Off the ensuing faceoff, Chris Kreider jumped out and blew past the defender, and slipped it into the empty net, to put the game away.
The Whale picked up their first win of the preseason tonight, and will be in Worcester tomorrow night for their final game. The Whale will open up their regular season against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday at the XL Center.