SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Falcons are gearing up for a decisive Game 5 matchup against the Providence Bruins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal round of the American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs.|
Holding a 2-1 series lead heading into an April 29 Game 4, the Falcons were defeated by Providence by the final score of 6-3, setting up a win-or-go-home game on May 3 at the MassMutual Center.
The game will take place at 7 p.m. and single-game tickets for the decisive game are on sale now online at Ticketmaster.com and at the MassMutual Center box office.
In the Falcons’ Game 4 loss, the two sides combined for five power play goals – three for Springfield and two for Providence. Only three total goals were scored with the man advantage combined through the first three games of the series.
Ryan Craig, Darryl Boyce and Tim Erixon notched the tallies for the Falcons, while forward Carter Camper and defenseman Patrick McNeill assisted on all three. Camper (one goal, three assists) and McNeill (four assists) lead Springfield with four points through four games of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev scored the power-play goals for Providence, contributing to the team’s series-high six goals in the game.
After recording a 1.93 goals against average and .949 save percentage through the first three games of the series, Falcons netminder Mike McKenna made just 23 saves on 28 shots in 44:45 of action before being relieved by back-up Anton Forsberg in the third period. McKenna earned the loss, falling to 2-2 in the postseason. Forsberg stopped nine of 10 shots in 14:28, his first professional postseason action in North America.
Malcolm Subban made 31 saves on 34 shots in net for Providence, earning the victory in his first playoff appearance as a professional.
McKenna’s worst game of the series came after his best, which helped the Falcons to the 2-1 series lead. McKenna made 42 saves between the pipes for the Falcons, one shy of the team’s postseason record, set by Manny Legace on May 18, 1997 against the Hershey Bears.
Dana Tyrell’s unassisted, shorthanded goal with 2:35 remaining in the third period proved to be the difference, holding up as the game-winner.
Game 5 marks the second time the Falcons and Providence enter a game tied in the series.
After Springfield defeated Providence on the road 3-2 in Game 1 on April 23 on Andrew Joudrey’s overtime winner, the Bruins evened the series at a game apiece when Matt Fraser beat McKenna with a wrister in a second consecutive overtime game to give Providence a 2-1 win.
The Falcons will have added depth in net in Game 5 as it was announced on April 29 that goaltender Jeremy Smith was returned on loan to the team by the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
Smith, 25, went 21-14-3 in 38 games with Springfield during the 2013-14 regular season, posting a 2.78 goals-against average, .898 save percentage and one shutout. In 166 career AHL games, the Dearborn, Michigan native is 87-60-10 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and nine shutouts.
A second-round selection (54th overall) of the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Draft, Smith was signed by Columbus last summer after spending three seasons with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. His best statistical season in Milwaukee came in 2011-12 when he posted a 31-19-2 record, 2.17 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 56 appearances.
A native of Dearborn, Mich., Smith represented the United States at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championships, recording four wins and a 2.40 GAA in six tournament appearances. He won the Kelly Cup as a member of the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2009-2010, also earning ECHL Playoff MVP honors after going 9-7 with a 2.67 GAA in 17 postseason appearances.
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