December 26, 2012 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Springfield Falcons
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons (16-6-2-3) play three home games in four days this week, returning to the MassMutual Center from the Christmas break to host the Albany Devils on Thursday, the Connecticut Whale on Saturday, and the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday.
The Falcons ended last week with a 1-0 shutout victory in Hershey against the Bears on Saturday after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Portland Pirates on the road on Wednesday. In just his 21st start of the year on Saturday, Curtis McElhinney set a franchise record, making 19 saves to become the first goaltender in Falcons history to accumulate six shutouts in one season.
Springfield enters the 12th week of the regular season just one point behind the Syracuse Crunch with a game in hand for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Falcons lead the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by eight points for the Northeast Division's top spot.
On Thursday, the Falcons and the Devils meet up for the first of six times this season at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday's 7:00 p.m. game versus Connecticut is presented by Roncari Express Valet Parking at Bradley Airport (RoncariValet.com). 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).
On Sunday, the Falcons will hold a white sock drive at the MassMutual Center to benefit Friends of the Homeless when they play host to the Admirals, with a special start time that evening of 5:00 p.m. Springfield will attempt to sweep the season series against Norfolk, having won each of the first three meetings.
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. For more information visit FOHSpringfield.org.
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).
WEEK IN REVIEW
Portland 3, Springfield 2
Wednesday, Dec. 19
Cumberland County Civic Center
After Andy Miele scored for Portland to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead, David Savard and Ryan Johansen connected for Springfield, as the Falcons' took a 2-1 advantage through the first 20 minutes. After a scoreless second period, Springfield carried its one-goal edge into the third. Heading into Wednesday, the Falcons had been perfect when leading after two periods with a 13-0-0-0 record in that situation. A pair of quick Pirates goals late in the game reversed the Falcons' fortunes, however, as Alexandre Bolduc redirected an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot in at 14:29 while Brett Hextal snapped a puck in from the right circle just 26 seconds later at 14:55, as Portland captured a 3-2 edge. Despite heavy pressure late, the Falcons could not break through with the tying goal, suffering just their third regulation defeat on the road in 2012-2013. Making his second start of the season, Allen York set aside 29 of 32 shots in the loss.
Springfield 1, Hershey 0
Saturday, Dec. 22
Matt Calvert's shorthanded, unassisted goal at 18:24 of the opening period proved to be all the offense the Falcons needed, as Springfield held Hershey to just 19 shots in the 1-0 victory. Calvert's goal came with Springfield on its first penalty kill of the game. The third-year pro poked the puck away from Tomas Kundratek in the neutral zone to escape on a breakaway. Calvert skated in on Hershey netminder Braden Holtby and beat him to the stick side with a slick backhand, forehand deke for the game's lone tally. While setting a franchise record with his sixth shutout, Curtis McElhinney also posted his league-best 15th victory of the year. Springfield took the season series against Hershey, capturing three of four points against the Bears in 2012-2013.
Thursday, Dec. 27 - Springfield vs. Albany, MassMutual Center, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 29 - Springfield vs. Connecticut, MassMutual Center, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30 - Springfield vs. Norfolk, MassMutual Center, 5:00 p.m.
MCELHINNEY SETS RECORD
It took Curtis McElhinney only 21 games to do what no Falcon netminder had done in the club's first 18 seasons of competition in recording his sixth shutout of the year on Saturday. McElhinney, who had equaled Manny Legace's record of five shutouts (1995-1996) on Dec. 4, saw a season-low 19 shots in Hershey. The eighth-year pro is atop the league with 15 wins and six shutouts while checking in third with a .937 save percentage and a 1.38 goals-against average.
The AHL individual record for shutouts in one season is 13, posted by Jason LaBarbera in 59 outings in 2003-2004. McElhinney is also on pace to play in 59 games this season and would post approximately 17 shutouts if he continues to blank opponents at this current rate.
With six shutouts as a team, the Falcons are four shy of equaling their club mark of 10, also accomplished in 1995-1996.
ONE IS ENOUGH
Springfield registered its first 1-0 victory in over seven years and its eighth in club history on Saturday. The club's last 1-0 win came on Dec. 3, 2005 on a Jim Campbell overtime goal in Manchester.
Falcons' 1-0 wins:
Dec. 22, 2012 at Hershey
Dec. 3, 2005 at Manchester (OT)
Nov. 29, 2003 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Oct. 29, 2003 vs. Norfolk (OT)
Jan. 31, 2003 vs. Portland
Nov. 30, 2001 vs. Bridgeport
Nov. 7, 2001 vs. Norfolk
Nov. 24, 1996 at Baltimore
Brad Larsen enters this week with a chance to represent the Eastern Conference as its head coach at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, which will take place on Monday, Jan. 28 in Providence. The head coach of the team with the best points percentage in each conference after play ends on Dec. 31 will be named that conference's head coach for the All-Star Classic. The Falcons and Larsen (.685) trail only the Binghamton Senators and Luke Richardson (.700) for the Eastern Conference's top points percentage heading into the week. The Senators play four games before the calendar hits 2013, hosting Syracuse on Wednesday, heading to Albany on Friday and Rochester on Saturday, and then taking on St. John's at home on Monday. If Springfield has the conference's best points percentage after play ends on Dec. 31, Larsen would become the first Falcons head coach to serve in that capacity at the AHL All-Star Classic. Falcons assistant coach Jared Bednar represented the Peoria Rivermen as a co-coach for the Western Conference at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic.
ATKINSON'S STREAK ENDS
Cam Atkinson's point streak ended at nine games on Saturday. Atkinson posted seven goals and seven assists as he collected the longest point streak by a Falcon in 2012-2013 and the third-longest in the AHL this season. Both he and Nick Drazenovic also had their eight-game road point streaks cease on Saturday, falling one contest shy of equaling Syracuse's Ondrej Palat and Peoria's Jaren Schwartz for the longest road point streak in the league this season.
Atkinson's Springfield-bests of 30 points and 15 goals are tied for third and fourth in the league, respectively.
ALSO NEAR THE TOP
Although he did not collect a point on the week, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault is sixth in the league with a Falcon-leading 19 assists. Atkinson's five game-winning goals are tied for first in the AHL. He is tied for eighth in the league with 94 shots. John Moore's +14 rating is tied for fourth in the league. David Savard is tied for eighth among AHL blue-liners with 20 points and is tied for fourth among defensemen with 17 assists.
BUSY ROAD STRETCH COMES TO CLOSE
The Falcons finished off a stretch Saturday in which they played 12 of their last 16 games on the road. Springfield's away mark of 10-3-1-0 (.750) is tied for the second-best road record in the league. The club will be looking for its first home victory since Nov. 11 this week. Springfield is 0-2-1-1 in its last four contests at The Nest.
The Falcons' +29 goal differential (90 to 61) leads the AHL, +6 ahead of second-place Syracuse. Springfield is fifth in the league on offense at 3.33 goals/game and is second on defense at 2.26 goals/game.
SEARCHING FOR POWER
Springfield went scoreless on 14 power-play opportunities in its two games last week, including nine on Saturday. The Falcons have scored one time on 27 man-advantage situations in their last five games. Springfield is now eighth in the league on the power play at 18.4%.
RETURNING THE FAVOR
The Falcons responded to their own power-play struggles last week by giving their opponents difficulties of their own on the advantage. Springfield was successful on each of its nine penalty kills over the two games and scored its fifth shorthanded goal of the season Saturday. The Falcons are eighth in the league on the penalty kill at 85.8%.
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.
NOMINATE A HERO AMONG US
Throughout the season, fans can submit a nomination for TD Bank's "Heroes Among Us" program. Nominees can include teachers, doctors, firefighters, community volunteers, and other individuals you think deserve to be honored at a Falcons game. For more information and to nominate, click here.
TOWER SQUARE STORE REMAINS OPEN
The Falcons announced last week that the Tower Square location of the Falcons Nest Pro Shop will remain open after the holidays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday and Thursday.
The Tower Square venue, located at 1500 Main St. in downtown Springfield, gives fans a chance to browse a wide variety of Falcons merchandise and ticket packages in a popular downtown location.
Fans can continue to shop for all Falcons gear and ticket packages at the primary home of the Falcons Nest Pro Shop, located inside the team office at 45 Falcons Way, during normal business hours or online by clicking here. The Falcons Nest Pro Shop moves to the MassMutual Center concourse behind section 27 during all home games.
The 45 Falcons Way location will be closed on Monday, Dec. 31 and Tuesday, Jan. 1 for New Years.
TOWER SQUARE STORE HOURS
Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FALCONS NEST PRO SHOP AT 45 FALCONS WAY STORE HOURS
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.