The AHL has long been recognized for its bus-league "qualities". Very little of the glamour that abounds at the major league level is afforded to those who have yet to make it to the bigs. Saturday night in Norfolk, VA, the Springfield Falcons completed their longest bus trip of the season defeating the Norfolk Admirals 5-2 to sweep the defending Calder Cup champs in a weekend series at the Norfolk Scope arena.
Especially noteworthy in this one was the fact that the Birds maintained their cool demeanor while the Ads reacted to their own frustration as the clock counted down in the third period.
Springfield rediscovered their ability to control the flow of play in the first period when they outshot Norfolk 15-9. Igor Bobkov kept his club in the game, only surrendering one goal in the frame; to Dalton Smith of the Falcons. Smitty's second of the campaign was assisted by Dalton Prout and Tim Spencer who picked up his first point of the season in this, his second game.
Smith's tally was countered by Norfolk's Chris "Don't Call Me Matt" Wagner, who notched his second of the season to knot the score at 1-1.
With time running out in the opening period, John Moore picked up his second marker of the season to give Springfield a 2-1 lead. The goal came on the power play. Originally, the goal was credited to Tomas Kubalik who created a picture perfect screen in front of Bobkov. Later, Kubie's name was erased and Moore was given the score on assists from JAM and Ryan Johansen.
Tim Erixon opened the second period scoring when he cut in deep on Bobkov and converted for his 4th goal. JAM and Kubalik were credited with the helpers on the goal. This was a play where I felt once again, Erixon established himself as the premier Springfield D-Man when it comes to offensive ability. Erixon had snuck in from the point and was actually positioned where the center might have otherwise been when he scored the Falcons third goal.
Not ready to give up on this one, Peter Holland brought the Ads back within one when he scored his seventh goal at 8:49 of the middle stanza.
In net, Paul Dainton came up big repeatedly for the Falcons and the game was 3-2 in favor of Springfield with 20 minutes remaining.
The third period was similar to Friday night's when the Admirals peppered Curtis McElhinney with 20 shots on goal. Tonight, Paully D withstood the attack by Norfolk, as they managed 14 shots on goal in the third period.
As the Falcons continued to hold onto their one goal lead, Nick Holden moved the puck in over the blue line late in the third period. Holden let a sweet blast go from the high slot that Bobkov never saw. Nick's first goal of the season opened up the Falcons lead to 4-2.
After Holden's goal, the Admirals could take no more. Patrick Maroon, Brandon McMillan, Kyle Palmieri and Devante Smith-Pelly all received misconducts for abuse of officials.
Norfolk was on a power play when Jake Hansen was off for roughing in the latter stages of the third period. Coach Trent Yawney thought that the time was right to pull his netminder in the hopes of a magical comeback.
Capitalizing on a miscue, David Savard picked up the puck and blasted one into the empty cage for the Falcons extra insurance marker and the eventual final score of 5-2.
Tonight's Three Stars:
1 - Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
2 - Paul Dainton
3 - Peter Holland
Out of necessity, coach Brad Larsen has started to give some other players a look. Banged up and out of the lineup are names like Greg Amadio, Allen York, Cody Bass, Cody Goloubef and Ryan Russell. Will Weber was playing in just his second game since his ECHL recall, and he left the game in the second period, not to return. We'll have to wait and see what the lineup looks like next weekend.
The Falcons embarked on the nine hour bus ride back to Springfield after the game. Their next game, the final one of this four game road trip, is next Friday night in Portland, ME when they take on the Pirates.