Falcons Game 76: The End

The 2011-2012 Springfield Falcons season drew to a close on Saturday night at The Nest in Springfield. A blend of rookies and established players combined to beat the Atlantic Division champion St. John's IceCaps 3-1 on "Cam Atkinson Night".

Manny Legace drew the start from coach Rob Riley. Manny didn't see a lot of action early on, but was steadfast when he needed to be. Boasting a lineup with seven "kids" in it, anything could happen for the Birds. It was a familiar name though, possibly in his last game as a Falcon, that got the scoring started. Midway through the first period, Brent Regner carried the biscuit in toward IceCaps goalie David Aebischer. A split second before being too close to the cage, he spied Alexandre Giroux to his left. Firing a backhand pass, the veteran took it, cut left and deposited the puck for his 28th goal of the season to give the Falcons the lead.

With so many rookies skating for Springfield, it was likely that we would see them involved in the scoring. For the second consecutive night, one would register his first pro goal. Daniel New, prep school teammate of Cam Atkinson, followed up his first assist on Friday night with a nice unassisted marker at 4:44 of the second period.

With a play stoppage at 9:18, Manny Legace skated to the Falcons bench, surrendering the Falcons net to rookie Mike Clemente. This was in the works earlier, Manny was humble in thanking the organization for the chance to play one more game, but he thought it was equally important to give Clemente the chance to shine one more time. And shine he did!

It didn't go unnoticed that the new recruits got more than their share of ice time as the game drew long. At 12:48 of the third period, Boone Jenner notched his first pro goal with assists to Jake Hansen and Sean Collins. The lead, now 3-0, looked insurmountable. The remaining question was could Clemente finish off the shutout for his second in four weeks?

Increasing the difficulty, Aaron Bogosian was called on a double minor for roughing at 16:48. The PK did its usually strong job, but with just a minute and a quarter to go, the Falcons collapsed deep, allowing the IceCaps one too many passes. Eric O'Dell scored his 12th of the season, breaking the shutout bid. O'Dell was a Falcons killer last week in the Maritimes, scoring five goals in the two games. He'll be eagerly awaiting next year's AHL schedule, so he can plan around Falcons games.

Saturday's Three Stars:
1 - Mike Clemente
2 - Manny Legace
3 - Daniel New

I'll be back soon with the Falcons season recap. One final thought, with the win, the Falcons ended up with their highest win total since 1997-98. While this season was supposed to be "our year", every single bad break that affected the Jackets also affected the Falcons. When the Falcons weren't shorthanded due to the situations in Columbus, they suffered injuries of their own. There were lots of injuries and not of a minor nature. Concussions. Broken bones. Surgeries. All that, and a roster that by the time all was said and done saw 52 different players used.

And it was the club's most wins in fourteen years? Then there's just one thing to say.

Thank you Falcons and see you at The Nest in October!

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