FALCONS BEAT SHARKS IN SHOOTOUT
By: Sean Seifert
January 6, 2012 – The Springfield Falcons kicked off the new year with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Worcester Sharks on Friday night at the MassMutual Center. The Falcons rallied back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to finish off the Sharks 2-0 in the shootout. Cam Atkinson collected two goals in regulation, one in the shootout and also earned his first fighting major en route to the Falcons’ 15th win of the year.
Falcons’ head coach Rob Riley says the game could not have been closer. “It was a tough gut-wrenching game right down to the wire,” said Riley.
In the first period of play, Springfield put Worcester goaltender Tyson Sexsmith to the test. The Sharks faced three Springfield power plays and 13 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. Aaron Bogosian sent a shot past Sexsmith at 16:50 to light the lamp for an apparent goal, but the puck found iron and officials waved off the early celebrations to keep the teams level.
Sexsmith was challenged by three breakaway attempts in the opening period, eventually conceding a late goal to Atkinson on a breakaway. At 17:34, Atkinson split two Worcester defensemen at the center dot to burst toward his first goal of the game. The Falcons rounded out their impressive first period allowing just four shots on goal and holding onto a 1-0 advantage.
The Sharks managed to slow Springfield’s momentum in the second period. John McCarthy put Worcester on the board at 15:04, beating Falcons’ goaltender Manny Legace on the power play. Shortly after tying the game, the Sharks built a lead with Matt Irwin sending one past Legace at 16:08. With the period ready to expire, Matt Calvert pushed the puck up the ice and into Sexsmith to light the lamp for Springfield, but officials waved off the goal to end the second stanza with the Falcons trailing the Sharks 2-1.
In the third period, the Falcons came roaring back. On the power play, Atkinson knocked home a rebound off a shot from Tomas Kubalik at 5:34 for his 17th goal of the season to level the scoring at 2-2. At 14:51, Calvert redirected a shot from Dane Byers, lifting the Falcons to a 3-2 lead. Worcester managed the equalizer at 18:19 when Jack Combs sent a slap-shot past Legace to force overtime.
Riley says his team left everything out there in the third period. “We were a desperate team,” said Riley. “In the third period we had guys blocking shots that don’t normally block shots, and we were totally committed to finding a way to win the game.”
The overtime finished scoreless, leading the Falcons to their second shootout in three games. Atkinson and Kubalik found the net in the shootout, while Legace stopped all four shooters, to give the Falcons the 4-3 win.
“We had the whole team binding together tonight,” said Atkinson.
The Falcons continue their busy weekend tomorrow night with a 7 pm puck drop in Hartford for the first game of a home and home series against the Whale. The Falcons have yet to solve Connecticut this season, dropping all five of their meetings. The Falcons will host the Whale this Sunday at the MassMutual Center at 3 pm.
Alexandre Giroux - Martin St. Pierre - Cam Atkinson
Dane Byers - Chad Costello - Matt Calvert
Wade MacLeod- Andrew Joudrey - Tomas Kubalik
Aaron Bogosian - Ryan Garlock - Tim Spencer
Brett Lebda - Theo Ruth
Dalton Prout - Brent Regner
Patrick Cullity - Anton Blomqvist
Not dressed: Adam Mair (Injured), Nick Holden (Injured), Nick Drazenovic (Injured), Cody Bass (Injured), Cody Goloubef (Injured), Mike Thomas
Worcester Sharks 3 at Springfield Falcons 4 (SO) - Status: Final SO
Friday, January 6, 2012 - MassMutual Center
Worcester 0 2 1 0 - 3
Springfield 1 0 2 0 - 4
1st Period-1, Springfield, Atkinson 16 (Giroux, Legace), 18:34. Penalties-St. Pierre Spr (hooking), 4:23; Mashinter Wor (roughing), 6:30; Acolatse Wor (high-sticking), 9:18; Doherty Wor (hooking), 13:42.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, McCarthy 9 (Irwin, Combs), 15:04 (PP). 3, Worcester, Irwin 8 (Reid, Connolly), 16:08. Penalties-Bourret Wor (high-sticking), 5:04; Garlock Spr (hooking), 8:39; Costello Spr (goaltender interference), 14:13; Pelech Wor (slashing), 19:54.
3rd Period-4, Springfield, Atkinson 17 (Kubalik, Regner), 5:34 (PP). 5, Springfield, Calvert 4 (Byers), 14:51. 6, Worcester, Combs 6 19:19. Penalties-Combs Wor (kneeing), 3:27; Del Monte Wor (roughing), 5:04; Prout Spr (delay of game), 6:56; Kubalik Spr (holding), 17:12.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Reid Wor (delay of game), 1:52; Sullivan Wor (fighting), 4:30; Atkinson Spr (fighting), 4:30.
Shootout - Worcester 0 (Combs NG, Connolly NG, Mashinter NG, McCarthy NG), Springfield 2 (Regner NG, Giroux NG, Atkinson G, Kubalik G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 4-15-8-2-0-29. Springfield 13-7-10-7-1-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Springfield 1 / 8.
Goalies-Worcester, Sexsmith 8-6-4 (37 shots-34 saves). Springfield, Legace 8-11-1 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (40).
Linesmen-Kevin Redding (16), Brent Colby (7).
GAME PREVIEW – The Springfield Falcons and Worcester Sharks meet for the firth time this season when they get together on Friday night at the MassMutual Center starting at 7:30 pm. The Falcons are 2-1-1-0 against the Sharks this season including a mark of 1-1 at The Nest.
The Falcons head into tonight’s action starting a busy stretch of three games in three days with home contests against the Sharks on Friday and back on home ice again on Sunday against the Connecticut Whale. Springfield will visit Hartford on Saturday evening as part of a home and home series with the Whale.
The Sharks head into Springfield looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Worcester will also play three games in three days this weekend as they return home to host Providence on Saturday and Portland on Sunday.
RUSSELL RECALLED BY BLUE JACKETS: The Falcons announced on Friday that forward Ryan Russell has been recalled by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Russell will join the Blue Jackets in Los Angeles for their game on Saturday against the Kings. Russell has nine goals and six assists for 15 points in 30 games with Springfield this year. He is third on the Falcons in goals and second in game-winning goals this year with two.
YORK JOINS CHICAGO EXPRESS, LEGACE INKS AHL DEAL: The Falcons announced on Wednesday that goaltender Allen York has been assigned to the ECHL’s Chicago Express by the Columbus Blue Jackets. York has spent time with the Express, Falcons and Blue Jackets this season. The Falcons also released Wednesday that goaltender Manny Legace has been signed to a standard AHL player’s contract. Legace has started 10 straight games for the Falcons and he is 11th in the league in goals against average at 2.34.
ATKINSON NAMED TO ALL-STAR TEAM: The Falcons announced Wednesday that forward Cam Atkinson has been named to the Eastern Conference roster and will represent the Falcons at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic. This year’s event will be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey from January 29-30.
Atkinson is in his first full season of pro hockey and leads the Falcons in goals with 15 in 30 games this year. The Greenwich, CT native is second on the Falcons in scoring this year with 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points, and he leads the club in power play goals with eight. Atkinson is also currently sixth in the league in rookie scoring.
Atkinson started the 2011-12 campaign with the Columbus Blue Jackets and scored his first National Hockey League goal on October 10, 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks. Atkinson began his pro career with the Falcons at the end of last season making his debut on April 1, 2011 scoring the game-winning goal against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Prior to turning pro, Atkinson played three seasons for the Boston College Eagles where he was a 2011 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate hockey player. He led Boston College in goals (31) and scoring with 52 points during the 2010-11 season, his second consecutive 30-goal campaign.
Atkinson won a National Championship with Boston College and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player during the 2009-10 season. He was also named the team’s recipient of the Outstanding Freshman Award with Boston College in 2008-09.
FALCONS TEAM TIDBITS
• Tomas Kubalik has four goals in his last four games played.
• Maksim Mayorov is on a four-game scoring streak having collected two goals and two assists in that span.
• Springfield is currently 4th in the league in shorthanded goals with five.
• 50% of Springfield's games this year have been one-goal games. The Falcons are 6-8-1-1 in one goal games this year.
• 12 of Springfield's 18 home games this year have been one goal games.
WORCESTER ALL-STARS: The Sharks had defenseman Matt Irwin and goaltender Tyson Sexsmith named to the AHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team this week.
Irwin has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 27 games played and leads the team in power play markers with six. Irwin leads all AHL blueliners in power play goals this year and also leads all league defensemen in game-winning goals with three.
Sexsmith is currently second in the AHL in goal against average at 1.98. He has a record of 8-6-3 on the season with the league’s fifth best save percentage at .927.
WINGELS UP TO SAN JOSE, BOURRET SIGNED TO PTO: San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced Thursday that the club has recalled forward Tommy Wingels from the Worcester Sharks, the team’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Wingels is second on Worcester in scoring and first in goals, posting 13 goals, eight assists for 21 points in 29 games. He was named American Hockey League period ending Dec. 18, 2011 after recording four goals, two assists and a plus-6 rating
In eight career NHL games, all with San Jose, Wingels has posted one assist and four penalty minutes.
In addition, the Worcester Sharks announced the signing of forward Alex Bourret to a player tryout agreement from Wichita in the Central Hockey League.
Bourret had recorded 39 points (13-26-39) in 27 games and 82 penalty minutes with Wichita this season. He was named the CHL Player of the Month for December with 23 points (9-14-23) in 14 games and will represent the Thunder at the 2012 CHL All-Star Game.
In 170 career AHL games with Chicago, Hartford, and San Antonio, Bourret has posted 97 points (28-69-97) and 180 penalty minutes. The 25-year-old native from Drummondville, PQ was originally drafted by Atlanta in the first round (16th overall) in the 2005 NHL Draft. Alex will wear number 22 with the Worcester Sharks.