With as many as eight regulars out of the lineup and three big games ahead, it could have been a whole different story for the Birds. Missing from the lineup at one time or another this weekend were: Adam Mair, Maksim Mayorov, Nick Holden, Nick Drazenovic, Cody Bass, Cody Goloubef, Steven Delisle and Cam Atkinson. Those, coupled with the emergency recalls of Ryan Russell and Tomas Kubalik have gotten the Falcons into a bind.
The Falcons instead made the most of what they had and won all three of their games this weekend. First was Friday night in Springfield against the Worcester Sharks. A close game went through 65 minutes tied, before Cam Atkinson scored the game winner in a shootout.
Saturday night in Hartford, Mark Dekanich made his long awaited debut. Once again, 65 minutes were not enough to find a winner. Dekanich came up big in the shootout, while Brent Regner and Matt Calvert scored for Springfield for the shootout victory.
Sunday afternoon back at The Nest, the Falcons hosted the Whale. The Falcons, with something to prove having lost their first five games of the season against their Interstate 91 rivals, played one of their best games of the season, making it two in a row against Connecticut. Cam Atkinson, for the second time this weekend was the game's #1 star as the Falcons defeated the Whale 4-2.
In my estimation, this was the first weekend of the season where, despite some truly shabby officiating, the Falcons persevered and ultimately saw their work pay off as they took all six of a possible six points in the standings.
This week, the standings look like this:
AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 1/8/12):
Saying that Cam Atkinson has emerged as the heart and soul of this hockey club would appear to be an understatement. A huge one. Atkinson was the #1 star of the game Friday night, when he scored two goals in regulation time, then added the shootout winner. During the game he was slashed on the hand and subsequently missed Saturday night's game in Hartford. Giving Cam the respect he deserves, he laced 'em up and went out to take warmups before deciding that he couldn't get a good feel on his stick and sat out the game. He was back in the lineup on Sunday and once again became a one man wrecking crew against the Whale. Adding another two goals, bringing his team leading total to 19, Atkinson added another #1 star of the game award to his growing collection.
Not to be lost in the Atkinson accolades, Matt Calvert showed a lot of what got him promoted to the parent Blue Jackets last season. Calvert had goals in all three games, adding an assist in Saturday's tilt. He then followed that up with the game winner in the shootout, earning Springfield's first win over the Whale this season.
I mentioned Dalton Prout's progress last week. His improved play continued this week. Still, in his rookie season he can get a little overzealous from time to time, something which will usually see him on the receiving end of a penalty. Sunday, he added two solid assists on blasts from the blue line.
Falcons Individual Stats:
|Martin St. Pierre||C||33||7||25||32||+7||30|
|Ryan Russell X||C||30||9||6||15||0||15|
|Tomas Kubalik X||RW||24||7||4||11||-4||20|
|David Savard X||D||23||2||9||11||+1||22|
|Ray Macias X||D||3||1||2||3||+3||0|
|John Moore X||D||5||1||1||2||-2||2|
|Manny Legace (with Springfield)||G||21||0||2||2||0||0|
|Oliver Gabriel X||LW||11||1||0||1||-5||0|
|Patrick Cullity (with Springfield)||D||7||0||0||0||0||4|
|Chaz Johnson X||RW||1||0||0||0||0||4|
|Darcy Campbell X||D||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|Paul Dainton X||G||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Allen York X||G||5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Danny Taylor X||G||10||0||0||0||0||0|
Manny Legace checks in at 10th best goalie in the AHL. Legace's goals against average is 2.35, with a .919 save percentage. Manny's streak of 11 straight starts came to an end Saturday night when Mark Dekanich took to the ice in the Falcons cage.
Transactions This Week:
Jan 2: Mike Thomas (RW) recalled from Chicago Express
Jan 4: Allen York (G) assigned to Chicago Express
Jan 4: Manny Legace (G) released from PTO, signed to standard player's contract
Jan 6: Ryan Russell (C) recalled by Columbus Blue Jackets
Jan 7: Steven Delisle (D) assigned from Chicago Express
Jan 8: Tomas Kubalik (RW) recalled by Columbus Blue Jackets
I mentioned earlier the players who were out of the lineup for part or all of the weekend. Some good news; Nick Drazenovic may return to the ice from a concussion this coming weekend. Nick has been sidelined since November 27th.
Also, Chris D'Alvise, who skated effectively for Springfield last season, is getting close to returning. Dally suffered a concussion when he went head first into the boards on the first day of Blue Jackets camp last September.
The week ahead for the Falcons features another three games in three days next weekend. Friday, the Falcons host the Portland Pirates at 7:30PM. The home and home set with Portland concludes Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, ME. The weekend concludes Sunday afternoon back at The Nest when the Falcons host the Providence Bruins. Sunday is Team Poster/Autograph day. The annual team poster will be given to fans, with the whole roster available to sign them after the game.