March 8, 2013 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Adirondack Phantoms
The Great Dane chose a fine time to notch his first goal of the season. Joining the rush from his defensive position early in the third-period, 6'6" Denmark native Oliver Lauridsen rifled a tie-breaking goal short-side on Curtis McElhinney to give Adirondack a 2-1 victory over visiting Springfield on Friday night.
The Phantoms triumphed over the top team in the league with a hard-fought effort as well as some tremendous goaltending by Michael Leighton. A late blocked shot by Andreas Lilja with mere seconds remaining during a scramble in front helped too.
Marcel Noebels scored his 7th of the year in the first period for Adirondack while Andrew Jourdrey's power-play goal just a couple minutes later would tie it at 1-1.
Leighton's first victory of the season in his second game with Adirondack was the 171st victory of his AHL career, 16th most all-time. And he beat fellow veteran goalie Curtis McElhinney who has already established a Springfield hockey record with eight shutouts this year in leading the Falcons to the top position out of 30 teams in the AHL.
Tied 1-1 in the third period, Tyler Brown accepted a chip along the right-wing wall by Eric Wellwood and started a rush into the Falcons zone. His give to Ian Slater in the high slot who smartly dished across expediently to Lauridsen on the weak-side for the opening. And "Ollie" buried it.
"I don't know, I don't score many of 'em so I don't know what to say. It's just one that squeaked in," Lauridsen said. "It's a good feeling."
"We've had a lot of trouble scoring goals this year and we have to all contribute any way we can," he continued. "If that means the D-Men jumping up into the rush whenever there's a chance then so be it. On the play I just saw we had a chance of getting an odd-man rush and jumped in there and took a pass. A lucky shot."
While the second-year pro out of St. Cloud State was more humble about his big goal, head coach Terry Murray gave appropriate credit to the big blueliner's timely offensive strike.
"We want our weak-side D especially to get up to the offensive blue-line and you get a read and see what happens," Murray said. "Slater makes a good read and he finds him. And Oliver can shoot the puck. One thing that he can do very well, he's got a hard and heavy shot whether it's a wrist-shot or a slap-shot. He scored a very important goal and it was a very nice goal. He was taking a look from the top of the circle and he knew where he wanted to put it and he put a heavy shot on it and it went in. Nice for him."
This game was for the Europeans. Both goal-scorers for Adirondack in this game hail from the other side of the pond. Marcel Noebels is from Germany and Oliver Lauridsen is from Denmark.
The game was a nice bounce-back and revenge game for the Phantoms against the very same Springfield team who handed Adirondack their worst loss of the season just one week prior back at their arena.
The win was Leighton's first since April 14, 2012 against the Worcester Sharks. He had only played in one game with Philadelphia this year before suffering an injury in practice and then being sent to the Phantoms last week to work back into game-shape. He certainly looked to be 100% game-shape and ready in this one with a number of really nice saves.
Harry Zolnierczyk played his first game with the Phantoms in about a month and looked very good in his return to the team. His speed generated a couple of opportunities including a near-breakaway t the end of the second period that was thwarted when McElhinney anticipated and just barely won the race for the free puck bouncing well away from the goal.
Zolnierczyk also showed he wasn't going to back down from his physicality in his first game returning from a four-game suspension for a hit on Mike Lundin of Ottawa last week. His very first shift he dealt a hard and thunderous check into Jonathon Audy-Marchessault along the glass at the zamboni-door between the benches.
Newcomer Mitch Wahl, acquired two weeks ago in a trade for Mike Testwuide, earned his first point with Adirondack when he assisted on Marcel Noebels' goal in the first period. Wahl on the left-wing boards on the power play found Matthew Ford behind the goal-line who nicely found Noebels with the opening in the right circle for the tally.
Adirondack improves to 22-30-4 with the victory. The Falcons fall to 34-15-7 with the loss in their first visit to Glens Falls this season. Springfield will return to the North County on April 12th and again on April 20th in the Phantoms' last home game of the season.
The Phantoms out-shot Springfield 34-32. The Phantoms went 1-for-4 on the power play. Springfield was 1-for-3.
Adirondack concludes their homestand Saturday night at 7:00 against the Connecticut Whale, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers on Phantoms T-Shirt Night for the first 2,500 fans. It is Adirondack's last home-game for two weeks. The Phantoms will depart for a seven-game road-trip through six different cities on a grand AHL tour following Saturday's game. Call the Phantoms for tickets at 518-480-3355.