November 26, 2013

AHL Journal: Falcons soaring on backs of keepers

By Mike Miccoli

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Springfield Falcons are cementing themselves as a legitimate threat in the AHL's Eastern Conference. It certainly helps when the Falcons’ goaltending duo of Jeremy Smith and Mike McKenna play as consistently well as they have been lately.

Smith and McKenna have been stingy in goal, allowing a combined 36 goals between them – the fewest of any AHL team. This past weekend, Springfield allowed three goals in their three straight victories that included a shutout for McKenna over the Hartford Wolfpack.

The Falcons have only allowed four or more goals once in their 17 games, which shows dedication to the defensive systems and structure that Head Coach Brad Larsen has put into place.

This weekend's upcoming game against the Eastern Conference best Manchester Monarchs should be a good test for Springfield to put their winning streak on the line. The Monarchs have played three more games than the Falcons and are known for their goal scoring. With either Smith or McKenna ready to go, the Falcons are looking to become the best in the East early on.

News and Notes

-      It doesn't get much better than scoring a goal in your first NHL season. Even better? Scoring a goal on your first shot, in your first ever game. It's what happened to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) when he was called-up by the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week. Gibbons scored on his first shot for Pittsburgh and added an assist in Monday's win over the Anaheim Ducks. Gibbons was also in the lineup when Pittsburgh came to play Gibbons' hometown Boston Bruins on Monday night.

-      The Bridgeport Sound Tigers contrasted the Springfield Falcons’ winning streak, losing all three of their games this past weekend.  Although each game was decided by one goal, including two shootout losses against the Providence Bruins and Worcester Sharks, the Sound Tigers extended their losing streak to six. With another three games on tap for Thanksgiving weekend, Bridgeport will look to get out of the basement of the Eastern Conference. 

-      Winger Scott Sabourin is providing a much-needed scoring touch for a Manchester Monarchs club that has seen many of their players move up to Los Angeles. Sabourin contributed on the score-sheet in all three of the Monarchs’ games this weekend, scoring four goals and recording one assist. His third goal of the weekend, and second of the night, came against the Providence Bruins late in the third period of Saturday’s game, breaking the tie and clinching the win for Manchester.  


The Week Ahead


Wednesday, November 27:

Portland Pirates @ Hartford Wolfpack (7 p.m.)


Friday, November 29:

Hartford Wolfpack @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (7 p.m.)

Springfield Falcons @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)

Worcester Sharks @ Portland Pirates (7 p.m.)

Providence Bruins @ Norfolk Admirals (7:30 p.m.)


Saturday, November 30:

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Albany Devils (5 p.m.)

Manchester Monarchs @ Hartford Wolfpack (7 p.m.)

Portland Pirates @ Springfield Falcons (7 p.m.)

Providence Bruins @ Norfolk Admirals (7:15 p.m.)


Sunday, December 1:

Manchester Monarchs @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3 p.m.)

Providence Bruins @ Hershey Bears (5 p.m.)

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli