Falcons Game 74: Vinnerborg-ed

The Springfield Falcons are still mathematically alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Mathematically, in that the Birds remain three points behind the idle Manchester Monarchs for the eighth spot after losing a 4-3 heartbreaker on Sunday afternoon in St. John's, Newfoundland. The Falcons have two games left on the regular season schedule, while the Monarchs have four to go. And then, there's the matter of the Portland Pirates, Adirondack Phantoms and Providence Bruins between Springfield and Manchester in the standings.

This was a good, well-balanced AHL game that sadly found itself ultimately decided by referee "Blind" Marcus Vinnerborg. Despite the fact that there were two teams playing a tight checking, hard hitting North American style hockey game, in the final fourteen and a half minutes of the game, the Falcons were assessed five minors and a misconduct by the Swedish referee. More after the jump:

After two well-skated periods of hockey, the IceCaps led the game 2-1. After the third period got underway, Sean Collins scored his first pro goal, showing the timing of a veteran, he deked and finally eluded goalie Eddie Pasquale for the tying goal. Ryan Garlock picked up the assist on the goal.

Following the Collins tally, the floodgates opened and it was one PK after another. St. John's capitalized on the first opportunity, with Alexandre Giroux in the box, Jason King scored his 21st to give the IceCaps the 3-2 lead.

Nineteen seconds after the go-ahead goal, it was back on the PK when David Savard was called for "delay of game - restricted area". Um, OK. The Birds killed that one off and shortly after Savard's return to the ice, Martin St. Pierre took a nice feed from Wade MacLeod. While two defenders tried to get MSP off the puck, Giroux was trailing the play on the left wing. St. Pierre found Giroux with a perfect give-and-go and Giroux didn't miss, once again tying the hockey game.

David Savard was back in the box shortly thereafter, this time on a slashing call when Eric O'Dell scored at 11:06 to give the IceCaps what turned out to be the game winning goal.

O'Dell was the IceCap who picked up the hatty last night. Today, he added two more for five goals in two days against Springfield. Something happened after the play and Vinnerborg completely overreacted, issuing Greg Amadio of Springfield and Kevin Clark of St. John's 10 minute misconducts. There was no physical contact in this situation whatsoever. Minors for unsportsmanlike conduct would have served just as well. However, with the 10 minute, Amadio, many would say Springfield's best defenseman was gone for the game. This was a purely Euro call. I can't think of too many North American refs who would have issued the ten spots for a non-physical event. Another poor call by Vinnerborg, which crippled Springfield's defense for the final nine-plus minutes of hockey.

Overlooked in this recap, Andrew Joudrey got the Falcons on the board at 7:36 of the first period. Joudrey has been playing his backside off of late, and quite frankly, it's been a lot of fun to watch him play. Assisting on his goal were Sean Collins and Ryan Garlock.

Between the pipes, Paul Dainton made his second straight start. I felt he looked sharper than he did in Saturday night's win, turning in a spectacular 15 save performance in the first period. I'd go so far as to say that he didn't look bad on any one of the St. John's goals, it's just tough as hell to kill all those penalties.

The Falcons return to The Nest for the final two games of the regular season next weekend. Friday night at 7:30, the Adirondack Phantoms come to town. Saturday night at 7PM, it's "Cam Atkinson Night" when the same St. John's IceCaps close out the regular season.

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