Falcons Game 30: Crunched in Syracuse

The Springfield Falcons got back to business on a cold Wednesday night in Syracuse, NY falling to the Crunch by a score of 5-2. Two empty net goals in the final minute plus might leave the impression of a lopsided contest. This one was anything but that.

The Falcons were listless for much of the first half of the opening stanza. The Crunch dominated during that time, in which they netted two goals, taking a 2-0 lead. Crunch goal scorers were Peter Holland, notching his ninth of the season at 9:15. Patrick Maroon connected for his 13th on the power play at 10:56.

The Maroon goal seemed to ignite the Falcons somewhat, and the remainder of the first period was more equitable. The Falcons enjoyed a 5 on 3 power play at the end of the first period. The power play unit, featuring Martin St. Pierre, Cam Atkinson and Alexandre Giroux relentlessy attacked the Syracuse cage. However, Crunch netminder Iiro Tarkki was equal to the task and the first period drew to a close with the Falcons trailing the Crunch 2-0.

After the 5 on 3 ended, Brandon McMillan scored his fourth of the season, extending the Crunch lead to three goals.

This game was played with two referees. In my casual observations of these games, the two referee system in the AHL typically results in more penalties than usual. Vouching for my theory, there were three separate 5 on 3 power plays issued by the team of Dave Lewis and Chris Brown.

The second one of the game couldn't have come at a better time for Springfield. With the Crunch two men down, coach Rob Riley wisely used his 30 second timeout. Just 22 seconds later, Tomas Kubalik got the Falcons on the board with his sixth tally of the season. He was assisted by Alexandre Giroux and David Savard.

The goal by Kubalik brought a marked change to the Falcons and at this point, the Falcons were seemingly in control of the game, despite trailing 3-1 after two periods.

That momentum shift continued into the final period. Giroux joined some elite company in his AHL career when he fired a patented Giroux blast in from the high slot for his tenth marker of the season and 350th of his career. He is just the tenth player in league history to attain 350 goals. Maksim Mayorov picked up the assist to close the gap to 3-2.

The remainder of the final stanza looked much more like Falcons hockey. Tarkki made all the key saves for the Crunch down the stretch, maintaining the 3-2 lead.

Manny Legace, starting his eighth consecutive game for Springfield was pulled with 1:45 to go in regulation. Peter Holland quickly found the empty cage for the Crunch. Boldly, Legace stayed on the bench after the faceoff. Unfortunately, the Crunch won the draw at center ice and Nicolas Deschamps took full advantage, icing the cake just 10 seconds later.

Other than a spotty first period, the Falcons played a decent game. But, like the Blue Jackets, 40 good minutes seldom wins games. The Falcons return home to the MassMutual Center on Friday night when they host the Providence Bruins at 7:30.

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