Falcons Game 24: Monarchs Upend Falcons 3-2

The Manchester Monarchs made a deflected goal by first year pro Rob Mignardi stand tall as they edged the Springfield Falcons 3-2 on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

Mignardi let fly a one timer from the left side that was redirected and eluded Manny Legace at 3:53 of the third period.

Just three weeks ago, the Falcons were sitting on a 10-7 record. Their recent tailspin now has the Birds with a 11-12-1 mark.

Once again, the Falcons played a good hockey game. They ended up outshooting Manchester on the night 35-23. With the exception of last Saturday night's game against Connecticut, the Falcons have played well enough to win every time out.

Saturday night, Jeff Zatkoff of Manchester was the difference. His 33 saves earning him Third Star honors for the game. Zatkoff managed to blank the Falcons in the opening frame. His toughest challenge came when Cody Bass went in on a breakaway. In the next sequence, it appeared that the breakaway stop energized the Monarchs.

Marc-Andre Cliche passed to winger David Meckler. As Meckler powered into the Falcons zone, he found perpetual Falcons nemesis Richard Clune in front of the net for the tip in and the 1-0 Monarchs lead.

Early in the second period, the Monarchs Thomas Hickey was in the box for interference. During the Falcons power play, Dwight King was deep in the Manchester zone. He fired a tape to tape pass to Patrick Mullen, who along with Ray Kaunisto, turned it into a 2 on 1 break. Mullen fired a laser of a wrister from the high slot, clearly beating Legace top shelf with the shorty, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.

As is the case in a 2-0 game, the next goal would be huge. One more for the Monarchs and the game is blown open. One by the Falcons and it's anybody's game.

Cam Atkinson, working on the power play, turned it into anybody's game when he notched his 11th goal of the season. The play started with David Savard getting the puck to Ryan Russell at the right point. Russell moved in and sent a wrist shot toward the Manchester cage. Zatkoff made the save, closing the five hole quickly. The puck dropped down between his feet, and Atkinson was perched at the left side of the crease. He dove and swatted at the puck at the same time, cutting the Manchester lead to 2-1.

By the end of two periods, the Falcons had built a 24-16 advantage in shots on goal.

Three and a half minutes after the Mignardi goal gave the Monarchs a 3-1 lead, Cam Atkinson carried the puck across the Manchester blue line. Approaching the high slot, he made a drop pass that Martin St. Pierre teed up and blasted a cannon of a shot past Zatkoff, bringing the Falcons back within one at 3-2.

After the third period exchange, the Falcons defense shut down the Monarchs at every opportunity, while the visitors did the same to the Falcons.

In the last minute, the Falcons launched a furious offensive. Matt Calvert nearly tied the game with just two seconds left on the clock, but it was not meant to be.

Saturday Night's Three Stars
1. Patrick Mullen
2. Cam Atkinson
3. Jeff Zatkoff

The Falcons played a good game; some would argue that they outplayed the team that currently checks in at 5th in the Eastern Conference. They will have only a few hours to recover and refocus, when they take back to the ice this afternoon at 3PM for a matinee with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

A special attraction today will be Boston Bruins tough guy, Shawn Thornton, who will be signing autographs from 3-4PM. Doors open, and the line forms at 1PM. Game time is 3PM this afternoon at The Nest.

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