AHL Game Night 10/7: Falcons at Wolf Pack

Bolt Prospects will be live blogging the game watching on the B2 Networks webcast. SPR-3 HFD-2 Final [b]First Period[/b] 1. SPR- Smaby, (Milley) 2. SPR- Milley, (Keller, Jones) [b]Second Period[/b] 3. SPR- Delmore, (Kvapil, O'Brien)(PP) 4. HFD- Degon, (Montoya)(PP) [b]Third Period[/b] 5. HFD- Jessiman, (Immonen) Sean Burke will reportedly start this game for the Falcons. Sylvain Dufresne and Zdenek Blatny are out with work visa issues. [url=darren-reid]Darren Reid[/url] and [url=jonathan-boutin]Jonathan Boutin[/url] are out with undisclosed lower body injuries. [url=andre-deveaux]Andre Deveaux[/url] and [url=jay-rosehill]Jay Rosehill[/url] are healthy scratches. Starters: Healey/Aulin/[url=marek-kvapil]Kvapil[/url] [url=andy-rogers]Rogers[/url]/Delmore Burke [i][b]1st Period Notes[/b] Not a terribly good period for the Falcons even though they got a 2-0 lead going into the locker room. Not much continuity from the forwards which, I suspect, is a function of Blatny and Reid being out. Smaby's goal was really a soft goal for Al Montoya to give up. Justin Keller and Norm Milley were trying to disrupt one of Hartford's defenders in the left wing corner which led to a soft clear. Smaby picked it off and sent a slow wrister towards the net that found its way in for his first professional goal. Milley's goal also came on a seemingly non threatening play where a long soft point shot hit a body and dropped to Milley in the slot who finished for the 2-0 lead. The young defensemen seemed to be struggling a bit, whether its nerves or rust. Smaby, in particular, had some bad clears. Egener looks active, showing his mobility, and only had one bad clear. Sean Burke looked pretty sharp, although Hartford did ring one post on a point shot. Keller, who got a wrap from some WHL fans as a perimeter player, is finishing his checks so far in this game. Jones, you can tell, is the type of player who will be the straw that stirs the drink as a playmaker. Aulin is a very tricky stickhandler. For those wondering about the Fritz/Purinton fight: Fritz got his right hand free at first and lended one or two good shots before Purinton hugged and then crawled up Fritz's back as Fritz seemed a little distracted by the linesmen who tried to step in. Purinton then landed some right handed rabbit punches to the back of Fritz's head before sneaking in a left upper cut to Fritz's chin as the linesmen stepped in again. You could call it a draw, maybe a soft win for Purinton although he did it on the cheap and dirty. Ivan Baranka had a cheap shot elbow to Eric Healey's chin at the final buzzer for the first. I expect retaliation. Lineup: Healey/Aulin/Kvapil Milley/Jones/Keller Hrdel/Cavanaugh/Spina Fritz/Henrich Rogers/Delmore Smaby/O'Brien Egener/Waugh Burke Ramo[/i] [i][b]2nd Period Notes[/b] Delmore did what Delmore does on the power play taking a feed at the right point on the power play from O'Brien, stepping around a sprawled out Hartford penalty killer and then snapping a shot past Montoya to make it 3-0. That's Andy Delmore. At this level he's a guy who can beat you by himself on the power play. The Hartford goal came on a partial breakaway where the Falcons were caught making a bad change for the second time in about a minute in the second half of the second period. Burke beaten cleanly one on one from a snap shot in the mid slot. Bad mistake and Egener and Smaby got a talking to from Stirling. That said, Egener is looking like a guy ready to take another step in his development. He's shown more aggression stepping up into the play than I've ever seen from him tonight. Still haven't seen the nasty physical edge he had in junior, however. How much does Stirling think of Blair Jones? Jones is playing point on the second power play unit as a rookie. Henrich is being used exclusively on the power play as a big body in front of the net on the second unit and doesn't look half bad in that limited role. Dan Cavanaugh nearly got a fourth goal for the Falcons shorthanded stripping a Hartford d-man at the point and getting a partial breakaway that Montoya stopped. Neither team looks terribly together offensively, but the Falcons defensive zone coverage looks a little loose and down two goals I expect Hartford to come out and throw everything including the kitchen sink at Springfield in the final frame.[/i] [i][b]3rd Period Notes[/b] As expected, the Wolf Pack threw everything they had at the Falcons, hitting a post and a cross bar and getting a Hugh Jessiman goal to fall just short in their comeback bid. Eric Healey was outstanding in the third period showing a lot of hustle and a lot of smarts. He didn't show up in the scoresheet tonight, but the Falcons don't win this game without Healey, or Cavanaugh for that matter. David Spina was also excellent. The veterans played like veterans tonight and the young players a little less so, although almost all of them showed something tonight. Who does Steve Stirling trust protecting a 1 goal lead in the final minute? Milley/Cavanaugh/Healey up front and O'Brien/Egener on the blueline. Egener, in particular, had a strong game in my opinion. He was active offensively early and as the game got tighter late he used his mobility to get to loose pucks and his size and strength to win several battles in the corners. He really looks to be turning the corner in his young career. Andy Rogers was quietly solid tonight. He didn't look nervous and had a pretty good game. No huge mistakes that I can recall, and he showed me he has another gear when he needs to get on his horse and track down loose pucks. Smaby, on the other hand, never fully settled down in this game. He needs a little more experience so he can settle down and play his game. My only big disappointment was how little involvement Marek Kvapil had in the game. Here's a guy who should be looking at a 60-70 point season in the AHL this year, in my opinion, and with the exception of one power play he did next to nothing. All in all, an excellent win with two of the team's best players in Blatny and Reid out on the road in a hostile environment. Three Stars: 1. SPR- Norm Milley 2. SPR- Sean Burke 3. HFD- Marvin Degon [/i]

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Good Review of Falcons Game

Western Canada Fan - Thanks for providing a comprehensive review of Saturday night's game. It appears that this year's edition will have better everything - goaltending, solid D, some offensive firepower and sound leadership. Also, from the recent Republican article, the players are happy about coming to the rink and Steve Sterling is a progressive, mentoring type coach. The CBA changed the game and smarter coaches are the key to development.

Still Early

It's hard to judge without Blatny or Reid in the lineup. Blatny forms one half of the top line with Kvapil and Reid is the team's best checking liner IMO. Top to bottom this team has more talent and depth than last year, but I'm not so sure their best players are more talented than last year's. Last year they had Craig and Artyukhin and Ranger to start the year. The prospects that took their places on this year's roster aren't as dominating now as those guys were a year ago. The X factor will be Stirling's coaching and yes, the attitude seems much more positive in Springfield right now.

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