This past weekend, the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons were on the road for three consecutive games. Friday night they were in Providence to take on the Bruins for the third time in their first four games of the season. Saturday night it was up to Portland, ME to take on the Pirates (Buffalo Sabres). The weekend wrapped up in Manchester, NH with the club's third game in less than 48 hours as the Falcons clashed with the Monarchs (LA Kings).
The AHL does not use a balanced schedule among all 30 clubs; so if you follow my posts here during the season, you will get used to seeing some of these team names frequently as the Falcons play 10 games with each of their divisional rivals.
Any Falcons fan had to be pleased with the effort that this year's club put forth this weekend. Consistency was the key, as a balanced game both offensively and defensively saw the Falcons go 2-1-0 for the weekend. Friday night was a shootout win over the B's, Saturday night a 4-2 loss to the undefeated (at the time)Pirates. Sunday, I was on hand in Manchester for what was the best two way game I've seen a Springfield club play in at least a decade. Here's a look at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH:
Even though it's over 10 years old now, the city of Manchester did a beautiful job with this place, as that area used to be a rundown strip mall!
Items of note from the weekend:
The offense which had been dominated by Tom Sestito and Michael Blunden on opening weekend, enjoyed a really balanced attack as several Falcons scored their first goals of the season:
Trevor Frischmon, Cody Goloubef and Tyler Murovich all notched their first goals of the season on Sunday, while Nick Holden (called up today by CBJ!) tallied his first on Saturday against Portland.
The defense was steady, allowing just one goal in Providence and Manchester. Solid effort on Sunday by Dan Taylor in goal. Taylor was deservedly voted as the game's #1 star in his former home building. Before the season, Taylor wasn't even mentioned in talk of goaltenders for the Falcons this year. Plans had been for Gustaf Wesslau to be the #1, and David LeNeveu was signed to offer a dependable backup as well as somebody who was seasoned in the ways of the "A" to offer stability. Now, at this point in the young season, Dan Taylor has played some terrific goal each time out. There'll be a big decision forthcoming when Wesslau comes off the injured list.
Speaking specifically to Sunday's game, the tone was set just after the two minute mark of the first period when Falcons enforcer, Kyle Neuber squared off with Monarchs tough guy, Justin Johnson. This was indeed a battle of the heavyweights as you can see:
I'm not sure where Neuber fits into the Jackets overall plan, but I have yet to see this guy back away from anybody. It's hard to believe that he won't at some point fit in as a role player. Kyle also showed some offensive prowess as he made a nice set up on the first goal Sunday! I also want to mention here that if you'd like to see the highlights of goals or fights, you can get them at the Falcons website. Just go into the "Press Box" and look at the game recaps, the videos are all embedded in the stories.
The Verizon Wireless arena in Manchester is a terrific facility to see a hockey game. This was my first trip there, even though the Monarchs have been in the "A" for 10 years now. I'm curious about the way attendance is reported though, as the "official" attendance was listed as 2609. Visually, there weren't even 1000 people in the arena for the contest. Not trying to bash here, as the Monarchs nearly sold out the building the night before for their home opener (9000+).
Odds & Ends: If you recall those throwback jerseys from my post last week, the AHL and the Falcons are now auctioning the jerseys on eBay. Starting bids on the Falcons site are $250 and on the AHL site $275. The AHL site also has throwbacks from other clubs available as well. Last but not least, for those of you who are totally bored, if you want to stream the audio of this coming Friday's Falcons game (7:30PM Eastern time), I will be a guest during the second intermission. Falcons' broadcaster Mike Kelly and I will be talking a little bit about the history of hockey in Springfield and the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society.