Alex Whelan has ‘more to prove’ in Year 3 with Wolf Pack
August 15, 2022 – American Hockey League (AHL) – Hartford Wolf Pack Press Release
Forward Alex Whelan was one of many stories to emerge from the Hartford Wolf Pack’s 2021-22 season. A native of Ramsey, New Jersey, Whelan played in 62 of the club’s 72 games in his first full season of professional hockey. He emerged as a strength for the club, so much so that the team opted to re-sign him ahead of AHL free agency earlier this summer.
What many might forget, however, is how this story began. After a competitive training camp, Whelan was not on the roster on opening night. Whelan was instead loaned to the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, where he was scheduled to start the season. Hours before the Oct. 15 puck drop, however, the New York Rangers recalled forward Greg McKegg. After the three out of three weekend to open the season, Whelan was called back from his loan and never looked back. He would appear in 62 of the club’s remaining 69 matches.
“When I got sent to Jacksonville, obviously I was upset,” Whelan said of looking back on the season. “When I got there, I was kind of excited about hockey. I tried to use it as a way to build my confidence and try new things, whereas in camp at Hartford I was gripping the stick too tight and trying to overall it was a great experience for me, and I was able to use that to take my game to the next level when I came back to Hartford.
Whelan used that experience to propel him to a strong first full pro season. After playing just ten games in the shortened 2020-21 season, Whelan has carved out a role as a trusted depth player, racking up 16 points (8 g, 8 a) in the process. His game not only caught the attention of his coaches, but also of general manager Ryan Martin.
“Alex went to Jacksonville to start the year and got called up shortly after the season started and worked his way up the team,” Martin said when asked to re-sign. Whelan and fellow countryman Cristiano DiGiacinto. “Those two guys were two-thirds of what I thought was a really good fourth line down the stretch. I think it was important to keep those guys in the mix, to reward them not just for being part of the team, but to become what I would say are everyday players at the American Hockey League level.”
Whelan’s stretch ride didn’t just catch Martin’s eye, either. His last streak of games, especially last weekend, helped inspire confidence that Whalen says can only help him heading into the new season. Whelan had four points (3 g, 1 a) in a pair of wins to end the season on April 23-24.
“The last few games have definitely given me confidence,” admitted Whelan. “I felt I had more to prove all season, so finishing the season on a high was important for me. I want to use that to take my game to the next level this coming season.”
Taking his game to the next level in 2022-23 includes things on both a personal and team level, according to the Quinnipiac product. That’s why he wanted to return for a third season with the only team he’s ever known at the AHL level.
“I wanted to come back to Hartford because I feel like I have more to prove here,” Whelan proclaimed. “I really feel like as a team we were better than the way we played at the end of the season, and as an individual there were times when I felt that I could have contributed more on the scoresheet.”
Those feelings are helping to fuel the fire for Whelan, who isn’t the only one feeling some sentiment among the players slated to return to Hartford this fall.
“I would say there is unfinished business in terms of team and individual success,” admitted Whelan. “The goals for the coming season for our team will certainly not just be to make the playoffs, but hopefully to pursue a deep run in the playoffs.”
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