Falcons Gms 16 & 17: 22 Hours, 2 Games, 1 Point
The Falcons wrapped up a weekend three-in-three with a double dip at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Saturday night's game with the Manchester Monarchs saw the Birds fall 4-3 in a shootout, while Sunday afternoon Springfield dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to the Connecticut Whale.
Penalty troubles again got the Falcons in trouble on Saturday. An early power play goal by Ryan Johansen was quickly offset when the Birds gave the Manchester Monarchs three power plays. Like Friday night in Portland, the Monarchs cashed in on all three opportunities to take a 3-1 lead into the locker room after one period.
Jake Hansen pulled the Falcons to within one when he scored his first pro goal at 8:21 of the second. The goal was pure motivation as he literally forced the puck under Monarchs goalie Peter Mannino.
Cam Atkinson fired a laser past Mannino to even the score 3-3 at 13:12 of the third period. The power play marker was set up just perfectly by Nick Drazenovic and David Savard.
Manchester outshot the Falcons 3-0 in the OT session before outscoring Springy 3-1 in the shootout.
Springfield was back on the MassMutual Center ice just 17 hours later, this time hosting the Connecticut Whale.
Paul Dainton drew the starting assignment to close out the weekend. Matt Gilroy gave him a rude awakening at 2:23 of the first period, when he connected for his sixth goal of the season.
Sean Collins, rapidly turning into a Falcons mainstay, evened the score at 6:29 on assists from Ryan Johansen and JAM.
The Whale weren't through though, as Marek Hrivik picked up his first goal of the season to give Connecticut a 2-1 lead. Former Falcon Chad Kolarik and perpetual Falcons nemesis Blake Parlett assisted.
The action in this game was fast paced, for the most part from start to finish. That's something that you can't always count on at the finish of a 3-in-3 weekend.
Also, in fairness to AHL officiating, the two ref system was in place today. Unlike the last few times, there were not an abundance of penalties called. In fact, there were several infractions that went ignored. Good job today to Chris Ciamaga and Graham Skilliter. They let the boys play!
Collins scored his second of the afternoon at 15:11 of the second period. It was the first multi-goal came of Sean's career. He was nicely set up this time by David Savard and once again, JAM.
The only two penalties of the third period were whistled against the Whale. On both occasions, the Falcons power play was very strong, with several great scoring chances. Unable to cash in, due in part to some timely saves by Jason Missiaen in the Connecticut goal, the game remained deadlocked at two.
While I was pondering the reality of a third consecutive overtime game, Ryan Bourque took a feed from Kelsey Tessier. Although the play started out very ordinarily, it ended abruptly when Bourque from a deep angle on the left wing flung a wrister at Paully D.
I didn't have the perfect angle, and it appeared that while Dainton was trying to get to the post, the puck went under his right arm and into the net for a heartbreaker of a goal with just over 15 seconds remaining in regulation. And just that quickly, an almost certain point, possibly two, became zero.
Saturday's Three Stars:
1 - Marc-Andre Cliche (MAN)
2 - Cam Atkinson
3 - Jake Hansen
Sunday's Three Stars:
1 - Ryan Bourque (CT)
2 - Sean Collins
3 - Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
The team will really have to take a look at these games and figure out what needs to improve (fewer penalties, seeing the play, capitalizing on opportunities, taking the play to the opponent). I expect Coach Larsen and staff will be at The Nest late tonight and again early tomorrow to work on these things.
Springfield returns to action next Saturday when Manchester pays a return visit for a 7PM game.