Falcons Advance, Defeat Monarchs in OT

The Springfield Falcons clinched their opening round series against the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday night with a 4-3 overtime win. The Falcons took the series three games to one and in doing so, won all three games in overtime. Nick Drazenovic was the Game 4 hero as the Birds now await their second round opponent.

The Falcons jumped out to an early lead when Blake Parlett scored his second goal of the series on assists from Cody Bass and Andrew Joudrey.

In short order, the Monarchs stormed back. Goals from Colton Yellow Horn and Linden Vey gave the Monarchs a one goal advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Nick Deslauriers split the D. Curtis McElhinney came sliding way out to challenge. With Mac away from the cage, Linden Vey hit the empty net for his second of the night and a 3-1 Monarchs lead.

In a span of about three minutes, the Falcons dominated the offensive zone play. First on a power play, Ryan Johansen made a sweet "thread the needle" type of play in front of Martin Jones, who despite RyJo's best efforts rejected his bid.

With the Falcons continuing to apply pressure, Boone Jenner, Nick Drazenovic and Parlett all tested Jones, unsuccessfully.

At 13:35, Jenner made a quick turn around below the goal line. Boone undressed David Meckler and Derek Forbort, quickly flicking one past Jones. This goal was a beauty and couldn't have come at a better time. Springfield closed the gap to 3-2.

With a minute and a half remaining in the second period, there was total chaos at the Monarchs crease. Ryan Craig, Spencer Machacek and Michael Chaput all had some solid whacks at the loose puck. Finally, Chaput banged it home to knot the score, 3-3.

The third period was exactly what you would have expected. Fast paced, end to end action. It definitely had the look of playoff hockey. Through it all, as has been the case for the whole series, Jones and C-Mac were outstanding.

There was a big push by the Monarchs with about four minutes to go in regulation. Manchester defenseman David Kolomatis drove a big blast. He was foiled on the bid by McElhinney. The Monarchs continued to apply pressure.

As time continued to wind down, the Falcons combination of Craig, Chaput and Machacek returned the favor continuing to storm the seemingly impenetrable Jones who kept the score deadlocked, 3-3.

In the late stages, one of the linesmen appeared to call Manchester for too many men on the ice. Then a the long conference took place and ultimately, the ref's decided that playing with the extra guy was not such a bad idea after all!

Brad Larsen went crazy. And he had every right to do so.

In the closing seconds, C-Mac was simply enormous. As the clock wound down, he was definitely the difference. Savard followed with a huge shot block. Manchester was pressing in the Falcons zone, playing with the intensity of a club on the brink of elimination. At the final buzzer, a Monarch slashed Joudrey and Bass stepped right in. Did they really want Bass mad going into OT?

Some potentially bad news early in the overtime. Spencer Machacek was injured and did not return. He skated off with some assistance and hopefully some rest this week will help.

The combination of Craig, Bass and Chaput was hot. Bass made a nice dish to Chaput at the hash marks, and was robbed on the one timer by Jones.

Cody Bass was double shifting at this point, taking his shift and the injured Machacek's.

A quick break out saw Bass find Boone Jenner. Jenner and Drazenovic streaked toward the Manchester net on a two on one. Boone put the puck right on Draz's blade and just that quickly, it was all over. Game. Set. Match.

Game Four's Three Stars:
1 - Nick Drazenovic
2 - Linden Vey
3 - Curtis McElhinney


Drazenovic's first goal of the playoffs couldn't have come at a better time. Coming into Game Four, Draz had only recorded one assist, but had skated strongly and was part of many terrific scoring bids. More than anything else, Martin Jones was the reason that he hadn't been on the scoresheet more often.

Vey played well for the Monarchs, trying to jumpstart their offense. C-Mac was outstanding in the Falcons net, yet again. Final shots on goal in the game favored Springfield, 41-40.

This was a tremendous team win by the Falcons. Once the Monarchs opened up the 3-1 lead, there was never any quit in the Falcons. The character and work ethic that they have exhibited all season took over and slowly but surely, they continued to work hard and apply pressure. They were opportunistic and earned victory in this series.

Springfield's second round opponent has not yet been determined. We do know that it will either be the Hershey Bears (if the Bears eliminate Providence), or the Syracuse Crunch (if the Baby B's come back to eliminate Hershey). In any event, the opponent will be difficult. If it's the Bears, they would have gotten there by defeating the league's #1 team in the regular season. If it's the Crunch, I keep going back to what an AHL exec told me in February: "The road to the Calder Cup goes through Syracuse." Despite some changes down the stretch, the Crunch are an outstanding hockey club, eliminating the Portland Pirates in three straight games.

The Eastern Conference semi-finals for the Falcons will start either next Friday or Saturday at The Nest.

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