Melissa Samoskevich will add spark to playoff-bound Whale

Connecticut Whale

When the Connecticut Whale left for Lake Placid, one of their best players had to stay behind.

With the restart slated for Boston at the end of the month, the Whale have new life; they originally departed the Lake Placid season due to concerns of Covid exposure, and before the season was postponed, it appeared they were out of the mix.

Instead, the new structure has the Whale in the semi-finals, and they’ll get a boost in the form of the long-awaited debut of Melissa Samoskevich.

“My goal is to help the team however I need to,” said the 23-year-old forward. “Whatever that’s like, if they need me as a scorer or a playmaker, I just want to do what I can and be the best teammate and hockey player I can be.”

Samoskevich was the second overall pick in 2018, but she went to Sweden before a brief stint in the PWHPA. After deeming neither of those were a fit, she signed with the Whale in June with every intention of playing.

Then, Penn State came calling, and it was impossible to pass up.

The Whale would wait a little longer.

“This great opportunity just popped up,” she said. “I ended up getting this job and taking it so it was unfortunate I had to move away from my commitment with the Whale. It was a tough situation because I did make a commitment, so now I feel like I can play so it’s my duty to hold up my end of the bargain.”

[MORE: NWHL to finish 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs March 26-27]

With the season revived, Samoskevich said she felt a duty to be there for the Whale. Her Nittany Lions weren’t advancing to the NCAA tournament, and even if they went all the way, she said she felt she’d find a way to make it work.

So now she plans on being at the practices for the next couple of weeks until the Whale will hit the ice in Boston looking for their first ever Isobel Cup.

“I’ve been doing what I can, it’s tough with Covid,” said Samoskevich. “I was able to get on the ice with (Penn State) and sometimes be an extra skater at practice, which has been fun. It’s helped me as a coach, too, to be on the ice with them. I’ve been doing that and in the gym and will get some ice team with the team soon.”

Samoskevich has been all over, from starring as a 50-goal scorer in high school with Shattuck St. Mary’s to being an offensive threat at Quinnipiac with her now-Whale teammates Abbie Ives and Mckenzie Lancaster, then she went to Sweden for eight games before returning home.

Once overseas, Samoskevich, who has spent time with Team USA during the Four Nations Cup as well, realized she wanted to be home. She finished up her season with the PWHPA before wanting to give the NWHL a shot.

Having already been drafted by the Whale, they welcomed her, looking for a spark to their offense. Without her at Lake Placid, the Whale had some of the most success they ever have as a franchise, earning a semi-final berth before all the madness ensued there.

Adding a scorer of Samoskevich’s caliber is just more firepower for when the Whale deal with the Minnesota Whitecaps in the semi-finals, and she’s all in and ready to contribute.

“I’m just really excited to see everybody,” she said. “I’m ready to compete again.”

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.