Atkinson Comes through Late, Boosts Falcons by IceCaps
St. John's, Newfoundland - Cam Atkinson scored two late goals on Friday night at the Mile One Centre, helping the Springfield Falcons (13-4-1-3) withstand a third-period rally by the St. John's IceCaps (11-11-0-1) and emerge with a 5-3 victory.
Despite having to hold off the IceCaps late in the game, the Falcons faced an early deficit in the contest. Kael Mouillierat, signed by St. John's to a PTO one day earlier, jammed in a rebound on the doorstep off a long shot by Paul Postma just 2:22 into the first period, putting St. John's up 1-0.
The Falcons burst through in the second period with three momentum-altering tallies to seize a two-goal lead.
Just moments into its second power-play opportunity of the game, Springfield evened the score. Atkinson fired a puck off the end boards that ricocheted to Ryan Craig at the side of the net. Craig took the puck while falling down and flipped it past St. John's goaltender Eddie Pasquale, tying the game at 2:51, 1-1.
With the Falcons back in their end, Dalton Prout threw a long feed to center ice for Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. The puck bounced to Audy-Marchessault, who skated toward Pasquale by himself, deked the goaltender, and backhanded it in at 14:25, giving Springfield its first lead, 2-1.
Nick Drazenovic broke in on a three-on-one rush, skated to the left circle, faked a pass to Atkinson, and drove the puck under the crossbar at 15:53 for a 3-1 Falcons lead.
Springfield, which was 10-0-0-0 when leading after two periods heading into the game, saw its two-goal cushion disappear in the final frame.
After an IceCaps' face-off win, Kevin Clark finished off a rebound created by a Dean Arsene shot, flicking the puck past Falcons goaltender Curtis McElhinney 2:44 into period, making it a one-goal contest, 3-2.
The IceCaps, who pressured Springfield consistently in the third and outshot the Falcons 16-6 in the frame, capitalized at 13:31 to tie the game, 3-3. Zach Redmond launched a hail-mary pass from his end and connected with Ray Sawada at the Falcons' blue line. Sawada skated in alone and backhanded a puck past McElhinney for the equalizer.
Atkinson broke through with the first of his two late conversions to steer the Falcons back in front. Prout blasted a puck from the right circle that caromed off of Pasquale, and Atkinson tucked the rebound in at the right post with a backhand, lifting Springfield ahead at 15:54, 4-3.
McElhinney withstood a late charge by the IceCaps to preserve Springfield's narrow edge. With the net empty in the final minute, Atkinson chipped a puck off the boards to himself, broke free into the IceCaps' end, and wristed a shot in at 19:11, sealing the contest, 5-3.
In stopping 33 shots, McElhinney (12-2-2) captured his league-leading 12th win of the year. Pasquale (6-8-1) permitted five goals on Springfield's 28 bids.
Springfield, which entered the game tied with the Syracuse Crunch for first place in the Eastern Conference, took sole possession of the top spot at the time of publication. Syracuse, however, was leading the Hamilton Bulldogs, 3-1, after the second period in a game that began 90 minutes after the Falcons' contest started.
The Falcons and IceCaps close out their two-game set on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. (ET). Springfield returns home on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. to host St. John's at the MassMutual Center.
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).
Atkinson posted his second four-point outing (2g-2a) on the season in the win...He became the first Falcon to register goals in three-straight games this season...Atkinson's team-leading 12 goals placed him into a tie for third in the AHL upon the conclusion of the game...He moved into 11th all-time in Falcons history with 44 goals...Atkinson has points in four-straight games (3-3)...Craig jumped into a tie for ninth place in Falcons history with Norm Milley with his 45th goal in a Springfield sweater...He has a four-game point streak (4g-1a)...The Falcons are a league-best 7-1-1-0 (.833) on the road this season and have taken points in each of their last six away contests (5-0-1-0)...Springfield has scored five goals in each of its last five road games and has a 42-21 goals advantage in away action this year...The Falcons were six-for-six on the penalty kill in the game and have killed off each of their last 23 short-handed situations dating back to Nov. 24...Springfield has been perfect on the penalty kill in five-consecutive contests...The Falcons have power-play goals in 17 of their 21 games...Drazenovic extended his point streak to four games (1g-3a) with his second-period goal...Atkinson was fourth in the league with 24 points (12g-12a) while Audy-Marchessault was tied for fifth with 23 points (7g-16a) at the final horn...The game-winning goal was Atkinson's team-leading fourth of the year and put him into a tie with Charlotte's Zach Boychuk for the league lead in that department...The Falcons' have a +30 goal differential to lead the AHL
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