Where do you possibly begin with a recap of a game like this? The Springfield Falcons crushed, steamrolled and humiliated the Connecticut Whale 10-2 tonight at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. So while we're in a goal scoring frame of mind, I'll start 24 hours ago. The 3rd & 4th grade soccer team that I have been helping out went 6-1-1 in a day long tournament yesterday. Included in the mix, my boys, Jacob and Joshua scored their first-ever career goals - Jacob's a game winner, Joshua's a game tying tally. Obviously, there's something there about goal scoring and western Massachusetts (way to go guys!)...
Meanwhile, in Hartford Tim Erixon got this one started early against his former club. Just 3:54 into the opening period, Erixon followed the play deep into the Connecticut zone.
With JAM back at Erixon's point position, JAM wristed a 50 footer toward the Connecticut cage. Tomas Kubalik got a stick on it just enough to thwart Cam Talbot's bid for the save. Erixon was all alone at the other side of the net and knocked the loose puck under Talbot for the early Falcons lead.
It was only natural that Jonathan Audy-Marchessault picked up the next tally, giving Springfield a 2-0 lead. After Erixon and Dalton Prout dished along the blueline, Erixon fed JAM with a crisp pass as JAM cut to his right and undressed Talbot for his fourth marker of the season.
Cam Talbot's night was complete after surrendering a goal to Nick Drazenovic at 12:16. Drazenovic was at the right side of the Whale net, similar to Erixon's position on the first goal when he drove the puck home for his third of the season, giving the Birds the 3-0 lead. Assisting, as they did on the second goal, were Erixon and Prout.
Curtis McElhinney, despite the somewhat lopsided 3-0 score, was busy in the Falcons net, turning away all 12 Connecticut shots he faced. Springfield posted 13 shots on the Whale net in the period.
Former New York Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers henchman Micheal Haley squared off with rookie Dalton Smith. Smith picked up his first five hard fought PIMs on the season with this one. Smith wisely held on for as long as possible until Haley fell on top of him.
Ryan Johansen increased the lead to four when he notched his fourth goal as a member of the Falcons. Nick Holden set up the goal. Each of RyJo's goals as a Falcon are just a little sweeter than the one before. Johansen is showing poise and control on the ice and believe me, this will only bode well once the Jackets resume play.
Tomas Kubalik joined the scoring parade on a nifty feed from Matt Calvert. Kubie's third of the season increased the lead to five. Kubalik is another player whose maturity is starting to show and he also looks like he could be very comfortable in a Columbus sweater.
Johansen gave the Birds their first six goal margin of the season when he added his second of the night. JAM added his second assist of the night on the play and things were looking mighty rosy.
The biggest remaining question as the middle stanza was winding down, was if C-Mac might add shutout #3 in the balance. Tommy Grant answered that one just 24 seconds after Johansen's goal, getting Connecticut on the board.
After Matt Gilroy closed the deficit to four, Andrew Joudrey, Cam Atkinson and Michael Chaput all lit the lamp for the Falcons building the lead to 9-2. Drazenovic added a PPG with just 1:36 remaining, giving the Falcons something to talk about on the short ride home from the capital of Connecticut.
While the Falcons played a genuinely good game tonight, the Whale goaltending was just not ready to play tonight. After Talbot was yanked in the first period, Jason Missiaen came on in relief. No doubt his biggest relief is knowing that this game mercifully came to an end.
Tonight's Three Stars:
2-Cam Atkinson (hey, he's from CT!)
In conclusion, the Falcons came to Hartford tonight to kick ass and chew gum. Apparently, they were all out of gum. The two clubs meet in a rematch next Friday night at 7PM at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.