Silence of the Falcons

By Doug Manners

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts – If you happen to stumble upon the Springfield Falcons’ offense, kindly inform head coach Marty McSorley. The Falcons, losers of three straight at home, are having a mighty difficult time finding the back of the net.

After scoring just one goal in three of their last four games, the Falcons (15-19-1-0) dropped a goose egg on the scoreboard tonight in a 3-0 American Hockey League loss to the Worcester IceCats (18-13-5-1) in front of 3,870 at the Springfield Civic Center. The Falcons don’t skate on Civic Center ice for another game until January 17, when they open a home-and-home series with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The Falcons wasted ten power plays and over 16 minutes of man advantage time during the course of the game. In comparison, the IceCats only had two power plays that totaled for just under three minutes.

The first period was scoreless, with Worcester holding a 7-5 advantage in shots. But the middle frame belonged to Eric Nickulas, who scored a goal and made a smart play to set-up another one. The former Providence Bruin raced into the Springfield zone on a two-on-one breakaway and snapped a shot from the right faceoff dot that sailed over the outstretched glove of Patrick DesRochers. The goal, which came at 4:53, marked Nickulas’ seventh of the season.

Less than four minutes later, the IceCats went ahead 2-0 during a delayed penalty against the Falcons. Once again, Nickulas had control of the puck on a two-on-one rush, but this time he elected not to shoot. Instead, Nickulas waited patiently in the left faceoff circle and dished the puck back to Marc Brown, the trailer in the play. A wide-open Brown waltzed right down main street with the puck, beating DesRochers in the low slot.

A third period goal by the IceCats at the five-minute mark put Springfield in a 3-0 hole. Jason Dawe took a centering pass from Mark Rycroft and tipped it past DesRochers.

The Falcons put 18 shots-on-goal over the final 20 minutes, but Worcester goalie Curtis Sanford was unbeatable. One night after recording his first AHL assist, the third-year professional picked up his first career AHL shutout with a 32-save performance. Sanford also took home first star of the game honors. Patrick DesRochers, making his first home start since October, was a victim of several defensive lapses and no offensive output. He finished with 31 saves and dropped to 2-4.

Springfield begins a stretch of seven consecutive road games tomorrow afternoon in a rematch with the IceCats. Game time is 4:05 P.M. from the Centrum Centre.

Falcon Facts: Peter Fabus, Michael Schutte, and Shane Willis didn’t dress for the Falcons…Worcester has outscored the Falcons 14-5 in three games this season…The Falcons are 2-11 in their last 13 games overall against the IceCats…