This week marked a slowdown in the hectic early season schedule that typifies the AHL. The Springfield Falcons had only two games this weekend. Both contests were skated on their home ice at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. I was on hand for Friday night's contest against the division leading Portland Pirates (Buffalo Sabres). This was my third Falcons game in person this season. Once again, I couldn't help but to be thoroughly pleased with the effort that this club puts out.The Pirates have a potent lineup and they beat the Falcons last Saturday night, October 16th in Portland by a score of 4-2. Midway through the first period the Pirates got on the board when Mark Parrish converted on a power play opportunity.
Approaching the 11 minute mark, the Falcons were setting up nicely when Jonathan Sigalet of the Falcons was stripped of the puck at the point, and Colin Stuart skated in all alone on Falcons' netminder David LeNeveu banging home the breakaway to make it a 2-0 lead for the visitors.
If you'll recall one of my Odds & Ends items from last week, I mentioned appearing as a guest on the Falcons radio broadcast on Friday. I climbed the stairs to the entrance area of the press box and was afforded a view of the entire MassMutual Center ice surface. Twenty five years ago, I used to sit near the top of the arena, but I didn't remember the view being this good.
While up there, "Mr. Everything" Michael Blunden connected on a sweet one timer from the left face off circle to cut the deficit to 2-1 near the end of the second session. Blunden's fifth goal of the young season came on the power play and was set up by Chad Kolarik and Jonathan Sigalet (atoning for his previous error!) In the video below, check out the third goal! Watch the hustle by Matt Calvert when hebreaks up an icing and then digs the puck out for Ben Guite to set up Chris Francis for his first pro goal! A beauty!!!
For the third period, the Falcons completely lit it up! A five goal outburst gave them a lopsided 6-2 victory. At the risk of repeating myself, the balance of this team is amazing. Yes, the top line of Tom Sestito, Michael Blunden and Chad Kolarik have earned that designation, but the other 15 skaters have also shown in the young season that they are not afraid to rush with the puck. If they do so, and are stripped the other guys take that as their cue to show some of their defensive ability. At both ends of the ice, this is a good hockey club! Further evidenced by the fact that in the six unanswered goals, a total of 13 different players figured in the scoring! Here are the final three goals:
On Saturday night, the Manchester Monarchs (LA Kings) came to Springfield. The previous Sunday in Manchester, the Falcons prevailed in a well played 3-1 win over their hosts.
This time around, the Monarchs defense reigned supreme as the netminders at both ends of the ice Jeff Zatkoff and David LeNeveu both turned in strong performances. The Falcons offense was effectively contained by Manchester. The Monarchs added an empty netter to take a 3-1 victory at "The Nest".
This week, the Falcons have several local appearances scheduled. First on Sunday the team took part in a "Rays of Hope" charity walk. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will feature Falcons skaters taking part in local youth hockey association practices. On Monday, Matt Calvert was at the Olympia with the Springfield Junior Pics. Tuesday it's Theo Ruth and Cody Goloubef visiting Holy Name Youth Hockey and Wednesday, WTM Youth Hockey will be skating on the MassMutal Cneter ice and be joined by Falcons Tyler Murovich and Michael Ratchuk.
Next weekend, the Falcons embark on a home and home with the top affiliate of the NY Rangers, the Hartford WolfPack. Former Hartford Whalers owner, Howard Baldwin has become the managing director for the WolfPack and has announced that the club will be changing their name midseason (November 27th to be exact) to the Connecticut Whale. The WolfPack's final home game as the Wolfpack will be on November 13th when they host our Springfield Falcons.