FALCONS REFUSE TO BE DENIED, EARN POINT
Worcester, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (19-9-3-3) rallied from one-goal deficits three times on Friday night at the DCU Center, tying the game in the final minute to guarantee themselves a point before submitting to the Worcester Sharks (19-13-1-2) in overtime, 4-3.
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As a result of its resiliency, Springfield extended its Northeast Division lead to six points over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
With the teams skating four-on-four, Freddie Hamilton put the Sharks on the board, taking a puck in the neutral zone, cutting around a Falcon defenseman to the slot, and snapping a shot by Springfield netminder Curtis McElhinney at 6:05 of the first to give Worcester a 1-0 lead.
McElhinney kept the Falcons within a goal in the final minute of the first after a breakdown in Springfield's end led to an unmarked Jon Matsumoto receiving the puck in the slot. The eighth-year pro deflected Matsumoto's shot, and the Sharks took their 1-0 advantage into the first intermission.
Worcester goaltender Harri Sateri kept Springfield scoreless despite heavy pressure by the Falcons in the opening stages of the second period. The Falcons cracked Sateri, however, at 6:00 of the middle frame, when Tomas Kubalik tipped a centering feed from Michael Chaput through Sateri's pads, tying the game, 1-1.
The Sharks reclaimed their edge at 15:48 of the second. Denny Urban corralled a puck off of a face-off along the left-wing boards and shot it off a deflection past McElhinney, as Worcester stepped back in front, 2-1.
The Falcons made up the one-goal difference again in the third. Playing in his first game going down with an injury on Nov. 11, Cody Goloubef set up Jonathan Audy-Marchessault in the right circle. Audy-Marchessault fired a puck off Sateri's right pad, but Ryan Johansen slammed in the rebound from the slot at 6:28, evening the contest, 2-2.
The Sharks went on their third power play near the halfway point of the final stanza and snatched the lead once more. Urban's right-point drive changed directions off of a Springfield stick and skipped by McElhinney at 9:55, as Worcester jumped ahead, 3-2.
Springfield went on a late power play, pulled McElhinney for a six-on-four advantage with the clock winding down in regulation, and broke through in the final minute for the equalizer. Tim Erixon's shot from the left point was stopped by Sateri, but Kubalik backhanded the rebound by the goaltender's stick and into the net at 19:02, pushing the game to overtime, 3-3.
Nick Petrecki hammered a puck past McElhinney's glove from the top of the left circle at 4:18 of the sudden-death period, as Worcester prevailed, 4-3.
McElhinney (17-6-2) stopped 22 of 26 shots. Sateri (7-7-1) set aside 25 of Springfield's 28 bids.
Springfield returns home to the MassMutual Center to host Providence on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Comcast is the presenting sponsor of Saturday's game. 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 (GusAutoRepair.net).
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).
Goloubef returned to the line-up after missing the last 22 games with an injury...Jake Hansen saw his first action after being a healthy scratch for the last seven games...The Falcons have lost six sudden-death overtime decisions since their last win on Nov. 16, 2011 against Worcester...Kubalik posted his first two-goal game since Mar. 10, 2012...The Falcons have forced overtime in the final minute of regulation twice this season (Dec. 15, St. John's, 3-2 OTL)...Springfield has just one win in seven post-regulation appearances (Dec. 16, Manchester, 3-2 SOW)...Ryan Craig's five-game point streak (4g-1a) ended...The Falcons are 1-7-1-1 when trailing after two periods