FALCONS WEEKLY NOTES: DEC. 10
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (14-4-1-3) swept the St. John's IceCaps on the road this past Friday and Saturday to take over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference standings and capture the league's best points percentage of .727 entering the 10th week of the 2012-2013 AHL season. Curtis McElhinney added two more wins for a league-leading total of 13 while Cam Atkinson produced three goals on the weekend for a team-best 13, putting the second-year pro into a tie for third in the AHL in that category. The Falcons finish their four-game road stretch this Friday in Providence against the Bruins, return home to host the St. John's IceCaps on Saturday, and then take on the Monarchs in Manchester on Sunday, as Springfield plays its fourth three-in-three sequence of the season.
Saturday's home game has a special start time of 7:30 p.m. Fans can win a free bicycle courtesy of Gus Coelho Auto Repair at 442 Holyoke St. in Ludlow as part of "Cycle Saturday" at the MassMutual Center. Santa Claus will also be venturing down from the North Pole to meet and greet Falcons fans at the game.
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).
Click here for the Falcons' individual statistics.
Click here for the AHL standings.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Springfield 5, St. John's 3
Mile One Centre
Friday, Dec. 7
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Trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes, the Falcons clicked off three-straight goals to grab a 3-1 advantage entering the third period. Ryan Craig, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, and Nick Drazenovic all scored in the middle stanza, as Springfield held a two-goal edge after two. The Falcons, who entered the game 10-0-0-0 when leading entering the third, saw their cushion disappear, as Kevin Clark and Ray Sawada scored for the IceCaps to draw even, 3-3. Atkinson broke through with the go-ahead goal, punching in a rebound off a Dalton Prout shot with 4:06 remaining in regulation, giving Springfield a 4-3 lead. He then wristed in an empty netter with under a minute left to seal the game, 5-3, capping off a four-point night (2g-2a). McElhinney set aside 33 of St. John's 36 shots for his 12th win in 17 starts.
Springfield 4, St. John's 2
Mile One Centre
Saturday, Dec. 8
Click here for the box score.
Click here for the highlights.
Following a scoreless opening frame, the Falcons built a 2-0 lead on two early second-period strikes by Matt Calvert and Tomas Kubalik. After Maxime Macenauer chipped in a rebound off a Paul Postma drive, Atkinson struck once again, batting in a puck on the doorstep off a turnover forced by Drazenovic, providing the Falcons with another 3-1 advantage through 40 minutes. Postma drove a puck by McElhinney with 5:54 remaining in the game, creating a tense 3-2 contest. Ryan Johansen iced the game with 26 seconds to go with an empty-net tally for the 4-2 final. McElhinney posted 46 saves, a career high for the eighth-year pro.
Friday, Dec. 14, Springfield at Providence, Dunkin Donuts Center, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 15, Springfield vs. St. John's, MassMutual Center, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 16, Springfield at Manchester, Verizon Wireless Aena, 3:00 p.m.
With wins in 14 and points in 18 of their first 22 games, the Falcons are performing at a franchise-record clip. Springfield is on pace to win 48 games, which would beat the previous mark of 45 victories set in 1997-1998. The Falcons are also on pace to earn 110 points, which would shatter the current record of 100, accomplished in 1995-1996. Springfield set those two records during 80-game seasons before the schedule was shortened to 76 contests in 2011-2012. Additionally, the Falcons are on pace to lose just 14 games in regulation, eight fewer than the franchise low of 22 in 1995-1996.
ROAD RECORDS ON THE LINE THIS FRIDAY
Springfield, which leads the league in away action with a record of 8-1-1-0 (.850), can match a pair of club road records on Friday in Providence. Having taken points in each of their last seven road games (6-0-1-0), the Falcons can tie their club record of an eight-game away point streak, accomplished twice in team history. Springfield took points in eight-straight road games from Apr. 10 to Nov. 5, 2005 (5-0-3) and also from Jan. 19 to Feb. 18, 1996 (5-0-3). The Falcons can also equal their franchise-best five-game road winning streak, originally set from Nov. 19 to Dec. 7, 2005, after having secured victories in four-consecutive away appearances.
The success on the road for the Falcons marks a turnaround for a club which has seen limited progress away from the MassMutual Center in its history. Springfield has had a .500 or better road campaign two times in its first 18 years (1995-1996, 17-17-6; 1997-1998, 21-15-4). The Falcons have, for the most part, dominated in away action this year, falling just one time in regulation on Nov. 14 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Springfield has outscored teams 46 to 23 on the road for a +23 goal margin, +6 better in that department than the second-place Charlotte Checkers.
FIGHTING FOR FOUR
For the 12th time since last accomplishing the feat, the Falcons will attempt to win a fourth-straight game within the same season (home and away) this Friday. Springfield has lost in each of its 11 prior bids at achieving four-consecutive wins since last doing it from Dec. 23 to 30, 2006. The Falcons have won three-straight contests three times this season, falling in their first two attempts at a four-game winning streak on Oct. 20 to Providence and Nov. 14 to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
SUCCEEDING AT BOTH ENDS
The Falcons remain second in the league in offense and defense, scoring at 3.59 goals/game while allowing 2.14 goals/game. Springfield's +32 goal differential (79 to 47) is the highest in the league, nearly twice better than the Syracuse Crunch (+17), who check in second in the AHL in that category.
ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR MCELHINNEY
Less than a week after tying a Falcons single-season franchise record with his fifth shutout, Curtis McElhinney set a career-high for saves in one game, stopping 46 shots in Saturday's win against St. John's, with 33 coming in the final two periods of the victory. His previous single-game high was 44 saves, set on Nov. 25, 2011 with the Portland Pirates against the Worcester Sharks. McElhinney's NHL career best is 42 stops, accomplished with the Anaheim Ducks on Apr. 9, 2010 versus the St. Louis Blues. Having already garnered honors of CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for October and CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 11, McElhinney continues to dazzle in a career year. McElhinney's 13 wins, five shutouts, and 533 saves are the most in the AHL, while his .940 save percentage is third, and his 1.92 goals-against average is fourth.
Cam Atkinson had five points (3g-2a) in the two victories over the IceCaps this past weekend. Atkinson tied a season and career high with four points (2g-2a) Friday while also adding a goal on Saturday. The Greenwich, Conn. native has game-winning goals in three-straight contests for a league lead of five in that category. Atkinson is tied for third in the league with a team-best 13 goals and is even with Jonathan Audy-Marchessault for fifth in the league with a Falcon-high 25 points. Atkinson has goals in four-straight games and is on a five-game point streak (5g-4a).
CAREER NIGHT FOR JOHANSEN
Ryan Johansen set a career high on Saturday with three points (1g-2a). Johansen, whose mother is from Newfoundland, assisted on Springfield's first two goals and then notched the clinching tally with under a minute left in the 4-2 win.
PRODUCTIVE WEEKEND FOR 'JAM'
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault had four points on the weekend (1g-3a), including a goal and two assists on Friday. As mentioned above, Audy-Marchessault is tied for the team lead with Atkinson at 25 points (7g-18a). His 18 assists are the third most by any AHL skater.
CRAIG, ATKINSON DEADLOCKED
Ryan Craig scored his 45th-career goal in a Springfield sweater on Friday night, putting him three ahead of Atkinson at the time. Atkinson responded by scoring three goals over the two games to tie Craig and Norm Milley for ninth in Falcons history with 45 tallies.
FREEZING THE ICECAPS
The Falcons upped their record to 6-1-0-0 all-time against the IceCaps with the pair of victories on the weekend.
Springfield has power-play goals in five-straight games and has registered at least one conversion on the man advantage in 18 of 22 contests this season. The Falcons check in fourth in the league on the power play at 21.9% (25/114).
PENALTY KILL STREAK SNAPPED
The Falcons allowed an opposing power-play goal on Saturday for the first time in six games (Nov. 24). Springfield had killed off 24-straight shorthanded situations before Maxime Macenauer connected in the second period. The Falcons are eighth in the league on the penalty kill at 85.7% (102/119).
GET YOUR HOLIDAY HAT TRICK PACKAGE TODAY!
Fans can purchase the Dunkin Donuts Holiday Hat Trick Package now through Dec. 30.
The package, an $80 value for only $40, includes two Falcons flex tickets (good for use at any Springfield home game during the remainder of the 2012-2013 season), two hats, and two $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards. This limited-time offer, which comes packaged in a Dunkin Donuts Munchkins container, makes for a great holiday gift for friends and family.
Fans can purchase this package at the F.L. Roberts Fan Relations Center, online at the team store by clicking here, or by calling the Falcons team offices at (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
WHITE SOCK DRIVE ON DEC. 30
The Falcons will hold a white sock drive at the MassMutual Center to benefit Friends of the Homeless when they play host to the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday, Dec. 30, with a special start time that evening of 5:00 p.m.
Fans are asked to bring new and packaged white socks to this event to donate to the male guests of Friends of the Homeless, the largest adult emergency shelter in Western Mass. Friends of the Homeless will accept the donations at a table in the concourse behind section 1 during the game. Started in 1988, Friends of the Homeless provides shelter for approximately 1,200 non-violent people annually and works to find permanent housing solutions for its guests.
Immediately following the contest, the Falcons will hold a free postgame skate on the MassMutual Center ice. Fans are encouraged to register to participate during the game at the F.L. Roberts Golden Nozzle Fan Relations Center and must bring their own skates.
ENTER NOW TO WIN SPRING TRAINING GETAWAY PACKAGE
Falcons fans and AAA members can enter to win the "Spring Training Getaway presented by AAA Pioneer Valley" now through Thursday, Jan. 10.
Fans can win a trip to see the Boston Red Sox compete in spring training action in Fort Myers, Fla. by entering at any of the five AAA Pioneer Valley locations or online at AAA.com/Promo. Five contestants will be selected from the entries to participate in an intermission drawing by Wally the Green Monster on Red Sox Night presented by AAA Pioneer Valley on Saturday, Jan. 19, when the Falcons host the Albany Devils at the MassMutual Center.
The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip to Fort Myers, which includes two roundtrip airline tickets, a two-night hotel stay, and two tickets to two Red Sox spring training games.