Friday, March 1, 2013

Falcons sweep doubleheader 3/1

The Springfield Falcons pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in American Hockey League history Friday night at MassMutual Center, winning a game that they had trailed for 12 days.

That's being a little facetious, but you can tell the momentum from the 3-2 shootout victory in the suspended game definitely carried over into the nightcap, as the Falcons routed the Phantoms 7-2 in that one. Counting only goals that were scored Friday night, the Falcons took the doubleheader 9-2.

The reason for the doubleheader, as a reminder, is that Adirondack's Feb. 17 visit to Springfield was suspended because of an injury to Falcons forward Wade MacLeod, who had a seizure on the ice. The teams, who were shaken up by that sight, mutually made the decision to play the rest of that game tonight. They pushed the start of the regularly-scheduled game between the teams back a half hour.

In both games, the Phantoms were ultimately done in by bad starts. I know that's starting to sound like a broken record, given how many times we've said that this season, but they allowed 15 of the game's first 18 shots in both games. In the suspended game, Scott Howes scored a power-play goal to tie the game 2-2. That set up a spectacular shootout winner from Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, who beat Phantoms goaltender Cal Heeter with a 360-degree spin-o-rama for the shootout's only goal. Allen York stopped all five Phantoms he faced in the shootout to secure the win for Springfield.

In the 60-minute game that followed, the Falcons scored three goals on 15 shots in the first period. I don't think you can fault Heeter for any of them. Two of them involved Falcons standing alone in front of the net and banging the puck home, and then the third was a breakaway that involved Trent Vogelhuber making a convincing move and going to the backhander. Defense didn't help much there.

The Phantoms made some adjustments and only allowed 12 shots the rest of the game, but Springfield scored on four of them. You really have to look at the quality of those chances. The goal that made it 4-0 came after Brandon Manning fell down going for a loose puck behind the net, leaving Andrew Joudrey all alone in front. The 5-0 goal came after the Phantoms lost a puck battle along their own end wall and then Springfield came 200 feet down the ice, largely uncontested, and Audy-Marchessault sniped one home over a sliding Oliver Lauridsen from the face-off circle.

The goal that made it 6-1 in the third period was probably the only soft one of the night. Springfield, which was basically just having fun at this point, tried a no-look drop pass in the attacking zone and it worked. Audy-Marchessault found David Savard, and his shot from the goal line was tipped in by Sean Collins. Nathan Moon, uncontested in the slot, made it 7-2 on a rebound with 77 seconds left.

Curtis McElhinney made 21 saves, allowing only a power-play goal to Matthew Ford and a breakaway goal to Rob Bordson, but Springfield's offense provided enough run support that even Kurtis Blow could have picked up a win for them. This was just not a pretty night for the Phantoms.

Inevitably, teams will have nights like this -- games where things just don't go their way. The problem is that the Phantoms have already had their allotment of these during the course of the season, and they have now put themselves in a position where they can not afford to have any more of them.

What could have been a springboard eight-point weekend can now only be a five-point weekend. 

I'll be in Monsey tomorrow night for Saratoga Springs' state quarterfinal match with Suffern, so I won't be watching the Bridgeport game, but expect a brief blog update after that one any way. The word is Michael Leighton, who was assigned to Adirondack earlier today, will join the team there.

Mike Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post reports Rick DiPietro, roughed up tonight, will start.

Until next time,


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