Seven short days ago, even the most ardent fan of the Springfield Falcons might have given up on their team. A four game losing streak, each game just a little worse than the one before. Goaltending, the most reliable commodity the club has had this season, suddenly went cold. The defense wasn't defending. The offense was well...offensive.
Then in an unpredictable turn of player movements last Monday, the team seemed to sense the gravity of the season potentially slipping away. Paul Dainton saw his first action in the Falcons goal since October. The defense was rock solid. The offense once again found their scoring touch. A Wednesday night win in Worcester set the gears in motion. Then on Friday, it was off to Portland, ME for another showdown with the Pirates. Dainton earned the game's #1 Star as the Falcons made it two in a row with a 3-2 win. The momentum had clearly shifted the Falcons way and they had the opportunity on Saturday to put it to the test when they travelled to Hartford to take on their I-91 rivals, the Connecticut Whale. The Whale, going into that game, were 0 for 2012, dropping all 10 games they've played in the new year. The Falcons once again turned in a great defensive effort in subduing the Whale 2-1 to finish the week with a three game winning streak.
The streak vaulted the Falcons in the standings. In fact, if it were not for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers going 10-0-1 in their last 11 games, the Falcons would only be two points out of the division lead. As it is though, the Falcons are just four points behind the Sound Tigers. Conference-wise, the Birds are just two points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
This week, the standings look like this:
AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 1/30/12):
The return of Paul Dainton to the Falcons couldn't have come at a better time. Dainton had bounced back and forth between the Falcons and the Chicago Express, had most recently settled in, on loan, to the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Paul came back to Springfield, ready to play.
Another player who had a good week was Maksim Mayorov. At times over the past two seasons, Maks has had some difficulty getting on track. This week, he showed some great speed, as well as scoring. If he can keep that pace going over the next two months, the remainder of the season will be very interesting.
Falcons Individual Stats:
|Martin St. Pierre||C||42||8||32||40||+4||36|
|Ryan Russell X||C||30||9||6||15||0||15|
|Tomas Kubalik X||RW||27||8||6||14||-3||22|
|Brett Lebda X||D||26||1||9||10||0||18|
|Nick Holden X||D||25||3||6||9||-2||14|
|Mike Thomas X||RW||25||1||3||4||-6||16|
|Ray Macias X||D||3||1||2||3||+3||0|
|Patrick Cullity (with Springfield)||D||14||0||2||2||+3||10|
|Greg Amadio (with Springfield)||D||4||0||0||0||-4||7|
|John Moore X||D||5||1||1||2||-2||2|
|Manny Legace (with Springfield)||G||25||0||2||2||0||0|
|Oliver Gabriel X||LW||11||1||0||1||-5||0|
|Brett Motherwell X||D||2||0||1||1||-1||2|
|Chaz Johnson X||RW||1||0||0||0||0||4|
|Darcy Campbell X||D||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|Chad Costello X||F||4||0||0||0||-1||2|
|Allen York X||G||5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Paul Dainton X||G||6||0||0||0||0||2|
|Danny Taylor X||G||10||0||0||0||0||0|
"X" indicates no longer with team
Paul Dainton was the story this week. A record of 3-0-0, a GAA of 1.67 and a .947 save percentage.
Transactions This Week:
Jan 23: Dane Byers recalled by Columbus
Jan 23: Paul Dainton recalled from Reading (ECHL)
Jan 24: Trevor Bruess released from PTO
Jan 24: Brett Motherwell released from PTO
Jan 24: Allen York reassigned by Columbus, from Chicago (ECHL)
Jan 24: Tomas Kubalik returned by Columbus
Jan 25: Dane Byers returned by Columbus
After the All-Star break, the Falcons return to action on Friday night. They will be completing a five game road trip, one on which so far they are 3-1. The Birds return to The Nest on Saturday night, when they play the first of two games with the Norfolk Admirals. The second game with the Admirals will take place on Sunday afternoon.