Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kellen and Connor Jones off to Oklahoma City

No surprise here. Kellen was an Edmonton draft pick, essentially getting the rights to Connor in one swoop. The twins signed an amateur tryout contract with Oklahoma City of the AHL, and should see action as the Barons push for the final playoff spot in the Western Division. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming New Haven West. The Joneses join Yale grads Andrew Miller and Mark Arcobello on the Barons' roster. Oklahoma City is short-handed, due in part to a shoulder injury that may sideline Arcobello until the playoffs, according to reports in the Edmonton Journal. Kellen and Connor will have standard AHL contracts next season.

I've written enough about these two to fill a book over the last four years, but here and here and here are the ones which best summarize exactly what kind of quality kids from quality families they are.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Nine Hockey East games on Quinnipiac's 2014-15 schedule

Quinnipiac's schedule for next season will feature at least nine games against Hockey East competition, with another possible in the yet-to-be named tournament at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena.

Rand Pecknold didn't have dates for his non-league games, but the Bobcats have lined up two-game, home-and-away series set with UMass Lowell, Merrimack and Massachusetts. Northeastern will be at Hamden for two games and UConn for one. Another potential date with UConn could come at the Dec. 27-28 tournament in Bridgeport, a tournament field that also includes Sacred Heart and Union. The Bobcats final non-conference game is at home with Bentley.

Formerly known as the UConn Hockey Classic, the new event is expected to undergo a name change. Coaches are supporting the Tim Taylor Cup for the annual event, which will continue to take place between Christmas and New Year's. UConn, Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac have committed for the next several years. The hope is that Yale will eventually join to make it an all-Connecticut field. Yale has had conversations with representatives of Webster Bank Arena, which took over the tournament from UConn, and is studying it for future schedules.

Looking ahead: Yale schedule for 2014-15

Yale has their schedule complete for next season and it will be very similar to the one it just played. On the non-league slate, there are return games with Merrimack, Holy Cross and Vermont as well as the Rivalry on Ice against Harvard at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty Invitational will again include Princeton, though Brown and Dartmouth have been replaced this year by UConn and Merrimack. The Russian Red Stars exhibition is back for the fifth straight season. One notable change is RIT coming to New Haven on Nov. 29, replacing Sacred Heart.

Other notes: the Canadian exhibition still hasn't been booked, though the date is solid, and the travel-partner series against Brown in January will be in New Haven on Saturday the 17th and in Providence on Sunday the 18th.

Here's Yale's full schedule for next season. All dates are tentative and can still be moved at this point.


25: vs. Canadian university TBA (exhibition)
31: vs. Princeton at Liberty Invitational, Prudential Center, Newark N.J.

1: vs. UConn or Merrimack at Liberty Invitational, Newark, N.J.
7: Clarkson
8: St. Lawrence
14: at Dartmouth
15: at Harvard
21: at Cornell
22: at Colgate
29: Rochester Institute of Technology

5: RPI
6: Union
27: Russian Red Stars (exhibition)
30: at Holy Cross

3: Vermont
10: "Rivalry on Ice" vs. Harvard at Madison Square Garden (non-conference)
13: at Merrimack
17: Brown
18: at Brown
23: at St. Lawrence
24: at Clarkson
30: Princeton
31: Quinnipiac

6: Harvard
7: Dartmouth
13: at Union
14: at RPI
20: at Quinnipiac
21: at Princeton
27: Colgate
28: Cornell

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bryce Van Brabant leaving Quinnipiac for Calgary Flames

Bryce Van Brabant, a bruising junior forward at Quinnipiac, will forgo his senior season to sign an NHL contract with the Calgary Flames, the Register has learned.  The deal is for the maximum allowable rookie salary under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It will also send him directly to the NHL.

Calgary is at Ottawa Sunday evening, and Van Brabant will meet the club there. But his debut is expected to come later in the week. The Flames are at Toronto on Tuesday, at Tampa Bay on Thursday and at Carolina on Friday. Several teams showed heavy interest and at least one other club, the Chicago Blackhawks, was prepared to send Van Brabant directly to the NHL, according to sources.

Representatives from Calgary and Chicago were among those present at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport Friday night when Quinnipiac lost to Providence in the opener of the NCAA East Regional.

Van Brabant will become the first Quinnipiac alum to appear in an NHL game. Goaltender Eric Hartzell dressed for the Penguins shortly after signing last April but did not play. In Calgary, he joins Yale’s Kenny Agostino, a forward signed two weeks ago who also jumped straight from college to the NHL.

At the Frozen Four last April, Van Brabant, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger, caught the eye of NHL scouts. This summer, the native of Morinville, Alberta attended developmental camps in Edmonton and Calgary.  He impressed many in the Flames organization, including Brian Burke, the team’s general manager.

Several other NHL teams spent considerable time scouting Van Brabant this winter. Always a physical presence, it was his breakout offensive season that sparked frenzy amongst NHL personnel. He entered the season with nine career goals; his 15 this year ranked third on the Bobcats. He also led the team in penalty minutes.

Van Brabant’s departure means Quinnipiac loses five of its top eight scorers next season. Senior forwards Connor and Kellen Jones and Jordan Samuels-Thomas are expected to sign professional contracts soon. Kellen Jones (Edmonton) and Samuels-Thomas (Winnipeg) have previously been drafted. Connor Jones is expected to join his twin brother in the Oilers organization. Defenseman Zach Tolkinen (19 assists, 22 points) also graduates.

Forward Matthew Peca, whose NHL rights belong to Tampa Bay, stated earlier this winter he plans to return to Quinnipiac for his senior season.


Friday, March 28, 2014

NCAA East Regional, Quinnipiac vs. Providence, live blog

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Practice day in Bridgeport

Four teams, four practices, four press conferences. Some notes and quotes from a day spent at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
  • Ticket sales have been swift, but there are still plenty remaining. Vermont, Providence, Union and Quinnipiac all took its allotment of 400 tickets, Union and Quinnipiac asked for more. As of Thursday morning, roughly 6,200 had been sold in a building that seats around 8,500 for hockey. A potential Union-Quinnipiac final would be best case for a packed house on Saturday.
  • ESPN dictates game times, and Bridgeport got the short end of the stick with 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. puck drops on Friday. No question that will affect Friday sales and will certainly keep actual attendance down for the early game Friday.
  • The Union coaching connection in the East Regional is impressive. Rick Bennett took over for Nate Leaman, who took over for Kevin Sneddon. All three are coaching here this weekend. Ben Barr, a former Union assistant, joined Leaman at Providence. Quinnipiac assistant Bill Riga arrived from Union six years ago.
  • Jon Gillies made a season-high 45 saves back in November when Providence played Quinnipiac to a 3-3 tie in Hamden. He said the reason the Bobcats had so many shots was that he left too many rebounds that night. "Quinnipiac is four lines deep," Gillies said. "You have to be aware. Their top two lines have as much skill as anyone in college hockey. Our d-core and our commitment to defense, I think we'll be able to handle them just fine."
  • Vermont assistant Kyle Wallack is familiar with Connecticut hockey. The West Hartford native coached at UConn, Quinnipiac and Yale, including two trips to the East Regional with the Bulldogs in 2009 and 2011.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Terry Jones Sr., grandfather of twins you may know, talks old-time New Haven hockey

Must admit, few things bring me as much joy as talking about the old New Haven Blades. Sure, the team folded and the New Haven Arena torn down before I was even born. But the memories remain fond and fresh of those who experienced the Blades, and the stories are almost unbelievable.

Terry Jones Sr., the grandfather of Kellen and Connor Jones, grew up playing hockey in Winnipeg and has lived in Canada for all but two of his 68 years. Those two years in the U.S. were spent in New Haven as a pro hockey player with the Blades. I finally got a chance to speak with Terry for a story in today's Register.

His stories are wonderful. He remembers the dingy locker room of the Arena, post-game gatherings at the old Arena Grille run by Billy Cal, the wild games and crazy personalities. The Blades and the old Eastern Hockey League were straight out of "Slap Shot"...fact is, much of the movie is based on the league and many of the characters in the film played for the Blades. Like Blades penalty minute king Blake Ball, who appears in Slap Shot as Gilmour Tuttle, wrested from his retirement running a donut shot in Mile 40 Saskatchewan to play for the Federal League championship. Ball (appearing below in his Slap Shot role) was a teammate of Terry Jones during his two seasons in New Haven.

We'll get you straightened out...

Here are a few other stories about the Blades and the old New Haven Arena worth your time. Like the final game in franchise history, when goalie Jim Armstrong saw a Syracuse hometown ref punch his New Haven teammate and took matters in his own hands. Armstrong, it should be noted, retired from pro hockey and became head coach at Quinnipiac for many years. And here's one about the Blades that paints a real picture of how games were constantly on the brink of chaos.

It's amazing that 40 years later, the Blades are still vivid in the minds of those who were there. Connor and Kellen Jones told me they've been approached by fans with Blades' programs from the late 60s that featured their grandfather. For most of us living around here, who've watched teams like the Nighthawks, Beast and even baseball's Ravens come and go, it's a sad reminder of what a great minor league sports town this used to be. At least the memories live on...