Fresno Falcons 2004-05 Season Recap
Fresno, Calif. - A never-say-die attitude and the best goaltending tandem in team history highlighted a 2004-05 regular season during which the Fresno Falcons racked up the second most wins in the team's 10-year professional history and finished in fifth place in the ECHL's West Division, four points shy of making the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Falcons finished the season with a record of 39-25-8 and 86 points. The 39 wins are second only to the 44 victories the club amassed during the 2000-01 West Coast Hockey League campaign. It is little consolation for finishing out of the top four places in the West, but Fresno earned the distinction of having the best record in ECHL history for a team that did not qualify for the post-season.
Fresno's season-ending 5-4 overtime victory against the second-place Long Beach Ice Dogs this past Saturday featured a dramatic three-goal comeback capped by Sam Ftorek's overtime winner 3:12 into the extra session. Never giving up in the face of a third period deficit became the hallmark of this year's team, which came from behind when trailing after two periods a league-high 11 times.
Goaltenders Brett Jaeger and Jamie Hodson were the backbone of the club this season by combining for 37 of the team's 39 victories and establishing new all-time Falcons records for goals against average and save percentage. Jaeger's 2.49 goals against average smashed the old mark set by David Mitchell (2.91) during the 2000-01 season, and both he and Hodson bettered Terry Friesen's 90.6% save percentage from the same season. Jaeger stopped 92.7% of the shots he faced this year, while Hodson stopped 91.7%. Both goaltenders made 58 saves during a single game this season, which stood as the league high until Augusta's Matus Kostur stood on his head to make 62 saves on Apr. 8.
Jaeger, a rookie who entered training camp without a contract and had to make the club on a tryout, finished with a record of 19-9-6 and achieved the longest shutout streak in team history when he did not allow a goal for 166:52 from Feb. 15 - Feb. 20, besting the previous mark set by Friesen in 2000-01 by nearly an entire 60 minutes. He was named the Sun National Bank ECHL Saver of the Month for February by going 5-0-2 with a 1.05 goals against average and 97.1% save percentage.
Hodson carried the load during the month of January when the Falcons made their largest jump in the standings. He started eight of the 10 games during Fresno's season-high 10-game unbeaten streak to begin the New Year and completed the month with a 9-2-0 record, a 2.30 goals against average and a 93.3% save percentage. The former third round draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs finished the season tied for first in the league with six shootout wins and garnered Reebok Hockey ECHL Saver of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 10 - 16.
Other notable individual achievements included Shaun Sutter's 15 power play goals, which tied him for the ECHL lead and were the third most in Falcons history. Sutter led the Falcons with 26 goals this year, one more than captain Dan Tessier, who led the team in points with 59 (25g-34a). Tessier was named a starter for the National Conference at the 2005 ECHL All-Star Game, tied the Fresno all-time record with four short-handed goals this season and finished second all-time with six game-winning tallies. Charles Simard led the Falcons with 38 assists and finished tied for fifth in the league scoring race among defensemen with 45 points.
The Falcons are currently accepting season ticket renewals for the 2005-06 regular season, which will include tickets to the 2006 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition presented by Bud Light. Current season ticket holders have until May 2 to renew their same seats or relocate their seats for next year. After the May 2 deadline, new season ticket holders may begin purchasing ticket packages and current season ticket holders will no longer be able to guarantee their desired seat location. For more information, please call the Falcons offices at (559) 485-PUCK (7825).
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