Connecticut Whale Hockey Players and Staff Tour USS Hartford
GROTON, Conn. – Connecticut Whale professional hockey players traded time on the ice for time spent aboard a Los Angeles Class submarine when they participated in a tour aboard USS Hartford (SSN 768) on Feb. 29 in Groton.
Chief of the Boat Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Eric Mathley coordinated the visit with the American Hockey League team. “Today’s visit by both the players and staff of Connecticut Whale is a great opportunity for our boat and crew to connect with our namesake city,” said Mathley.
Connecticut Whale players Chris McKelvie and Jeff Prough were accompanied by Frank Berrian III, and Joshua Doyon during the visit to Naval Submarine Base New London. Berrian serves as the community relations director for the Connecticut Whale Hockey Club and reflected on the tie the hockey team has with both USS Hartford and submarines.
“Hockey started in Hartford in 1974 with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association,” said Berrian. “In 1979 the team merged with the National Hockey League and became the Hartford Whalers.”
Berrian added 17 years later in 1996, the owner of the team moved the Whalers to North Carolina renaming them the Carolina Hurricanes. The following year, the New York Rangers moved their minor league team from Binghamton, NY to Hartford, Conn., calling them the Hartford Wolf Pack.
“The name Wolf Pack was chosen because of Connecticut being home to the Submarine Base. In fact their mascot was named Sonar,” said Berrian.
Lena Blanch, Naval Submarine Base New London Public Affairs, worked with the Hartford Wolf Pack to gain permission from the U.S. Navy to use the USS Seawolf logo in the late 90s.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to work with the team and introduce them to the U.S. Navy,” said Blanch. “Life has a way of coming full circle and today’s visit is a great way to introduce new players to the Navy.”
Berrian added that in 2010 the sport team’s name was rebranded to become the Connecticut Whale. The team is currently tied for first place in their division and third in the Eastern Conference.
Berrian, who lives in Colchester, Conn., serves as the assistant coach of the hockey team at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. His wife is a librarian at the Academy.
“I have spent many days on the campus of the Academy watching submarines cruise up the Thames River,” said Berrian. “Today’s visit is a great opportunity for my teammates to meet the crew of the Hartford.”
For pictures of the visit, check out our Flickr set.