MCELHINNEY SETS FRANCHISE RECORD WITH SIXTH SHUTOUT
Hershey, Pa. - Goaltender Curtis McElhinney set a Springfield Falcons franchise record on Saturday night at the Giant Center, recording his sixth shutout of the season in the club's 1-0 victory over the Hershey Bears.
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McElhinney made 19 saves to capture the milestone and Matt Calvert scored the contest's only goal, as the Falcons (16-6-2-3) blanked the Bears (14-13-1-1) for the first time in 42 all-time meetings.
Calvert's goal came with Springfield on its first penalty kill of the game in the opening frame. The third-year pro poked the puck away from Tomas Kundratek in the neutral zone to escape on a shorthanded breakaway. Calvert skated in on Hershey netminder Braden Holtby and beat him to the stick side with a slick backhand, forehand deke at 18:24 to provide Springfield with the only offense it would require.
Springfield limited Hershey's chances throughout the entire game, and the Bears' 19 shots were the fewest by a Falcons opponent this season.
When tested, McElhinney (15-3-2) was up to the challenge. His stretching save on an unmarked Boyd Kane at the side of the net in the third period with the Bears on the power play was perhaps the most critical of the game. In just his 21st start of the season, McElhinney was perfect once again to break the tie with Manny Legace, who originally set the Falcon standard with five shutouts in 37 appearances in 1995-1996.
Holtby (11-9-1) turned aside 29 of 30 shots.
McElhinney added to an already-lengthy 2012-2013 resume on Saturday. The eighth-year pro was the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for October and the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 11. McElhinney now has 21-career shutouts, including 19 in the AHL, and is one away of equaling his single-season record of seven, accomplished in 2006-2007 with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.
With its first 1-0 victory since Dec. 3, 2005 in Manchester, Springfield increased its Northeast Division lead to eight points over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers while pulling to within a point of the Syracuse Crunch for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Falcons return home for three games next week, welcoming the Albany Devils to town on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. before hosting the Connecticut Whale on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.
Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
McElhinney's 15 wins and six shutouts are the most in the AHL...Calvert's shorthanded goal was Springfield's fifth of the season and first since Nov. 30 in Manchester (Ryan Craig)...Five different players have scored Springfield's shorthanded goals this year...Craig and Andrew Joudrey, both former Hershey Bears, were in Springfield's lineup...Cam Atkinson's point streak ended at nine games (7g-7a)...His nine-game point streak was tied for the third-longest in the AHL in 2012-2013...Atkinson and Nick Drazenovic were held without a goal or an assist on the road for the first time in nine contests, falling a game short of equaling the longest road point streak in the AHL this season...Springfield was 0/9 on the power play and was 5/5 on the penalty kill...The Falcons improved to 15-19-8 all-time against the Bears...The Falcons are now 14-1-0-0 when leading after two periods, while the Bears dropped to 0-11-0-0 when trailing entering the third