CTWhale.com: Wellman A Long Way From California Roots - UMass Athletics

CTWhale.com: Wellman A Long Way From California Roots

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Former UMass hockey standout Casey Wellman, who was traded by the Minnesota Wild last Thursday to the New York Rangers, is featured today by his new team, the Connecticut Whale, on the squad's web site, CTWhale.com

Casey Wellman played several sports growing up in Brentwood, Calif., hardly a hotbed for hockey.

But Wellman got hooked on the game played on ice after his father, Brad, met several New Jersey Devils players who asked him to skate with them in Boston.

"Dad didn't know how to skate, so he was pretty upset about that," Wellman said with a smile.

But Brad, an infielder for 441 games for three major league teams over eight seasons who later managed in the Houston Astros organization, introduced Casey and his brother, Logan, to hockey, and 31/2-year-old Casey fell in love with his new endeavor.

"I have some vague memories (of his dad playing), but I was pretty young," said Wellman, whose uncle, Tom Candiotti, is a former major league pitcher known for his knuckleball. "Having pictures of a father-son game is pretty cool, but I haven't played baseball for a while. It's a great sport, but at the time, it was just a little slow, a little boring, so I stuck with hockey."

Despite his West Coast upbringing, Wellman is now surprisingly playing professionally with the Connecticut Whale, who are about 70 miles from where he competed collegiately on the East Coast. When Wellman was on his way to practice with the Houston Aeros last Thursday, he got "a pretty big surprise," a call that the Minnesota Wild had traded him to the New York Rangers.

"It was definitely pretty crazy, a bit of a shock," said Wellman, 24, acquired for center Erik Christensen, who had a two-week conditioning assignment with the Whale in mid-January, and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013. "It was tough to say goodbye because I had some good friends (in Houston), but that's the business and that's what can happen and probably won't be the last time."

Wellman quickly returned home, packed and headed for Hershey, Pa., where he met his new teammates. Whale coach Ken Gernander put Wellman on a line with All-Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and rugged Andre Deveaux, and the trio helped produce a 4-1 victory over one of the AHL's top teams, including going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against the league's top power play.

In his home debut Tuesday night, Wellman again helped on the penalty kill, played the power play and assisted on Blake Parlett's winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the Syracuse Crunch as the Whale won their third in a row after an 11-game winless streak (0-6-3-2) in January to reclaim first place in the Northeast Division from the idle Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Continue reading on CTWhale.com

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