The Falcons ended their recent four game skid with a convincing 4-2 victory over the Worcester Sharks on Wednesday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.
The game was noteworthy in that the Falcons goaltending situation had taken quite a twist the day before, with both Manny Legace and Mark Dekanich falling victim to injury. Starting in net for the Falcons was Paul Dainton, whose last action for the Falcons was on October 13th. Dainton had been on loan to the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Behind Dainton was Allen York, called up from Chicago of the ECHL.
In the opening period, Dainton was guilty of a miscue when he was handling the puck behind the net. In an instant, it was on the stick of Mike Connolly who buried the biscuit while Paul tried to get back in position. It was a power play goal and given the Falcons misfortunes over the past 10 days, Falcons fans had to groan at yet another opponent netting the first goal of the game.
Alexandre Giroux really stepped up for the Birds in this game. Seven minutes into the second period, Dane Byers was moving the puck down the right half wall, and put an amazing backhand pass out to the front of the Sharks net. Giroux was gliding in, perfect timing, perfect position and tapped in the one timer to get the Falcons on the board. Patrick Cullity picked up the other assist on the goal.
I mentioned last week that I have difficulty in figuring out how a scoring machine like Giroux is left so open, so often. Five minutes into the third period, the play was a mixed bag behind the Worcester net when all of a sudden, the puck came out to a wide open Giroux in the high slot who fired a wrister past Harri Sateri, giving the Falcons their first lead in a game in nearly two weeks. Cullity and Nick Drazenovic picked up the helpers on the goal.
Three minutes later, Dane Byers extended the Falcons lead to two when he fired one from the left face off circle that Sateri never saw. Big credit to Andrew Joudrey and the Matt Calvert like hustle of Maksim Mayorov to set up the play. I've never seen Maks show that kind of speed!
With the score 3-1, a penalty shot was called when Teddy Ruth brought down the Sharks Brandon Mashinter. This, like so many penalty shot calls this season, could have just as easily been called a hooking minor, as the players were side by side and the "clean breakaway" factor was a little gray. On the PS, Dainton had ice water in his veins and gave Mashinter a glimpse of five hole, but closed it quickly, rejecting the bid and more importantly, maintaining the two goal lead.
Late in the period, Tomas Kubalik tipped in a David Savard blast from the blue line, opening the game up to a 4-1 score. Martin St. Pierre started the puck movement on the power play. The Sharks took offense to Kubalik and started some rough housing after the goal, but the only penalties to come of it were a roughing call on Kubalik and a cross checking call on Brian O'Hanley of the Sharks.
The final minute saw plenty of fireworks. Alex Giroux, who like Martin St. Pierre, was taking a beating away from the play, finally had enough and was boxed for slashing and roughing. The Springfield bench took one here also for unsportsmanlike conduct. Worcester's only penalty was to Curt Gogol for roughing. Although the deficit was three goals, the Sharks still pulled Sateri for another skater and with the 5 on 3 advantage, managed to pot one with just six seconds remaining.
Wednesday's Three Stars
1 - Alexandre Giroux
2 - Paul Dainton
3 - Dane Byers
This was a very satisfying 60 minutes of hockey by the Falcons. The Birds will be back on the road Friday night in Portland, ME with a 7PM faceoff.