Falcons clinch Northest Division, home ice for playoffs
SPRINGFIELD – Upon the Albany Devils’ 4-3 loss to the Adirondack Phantoms on April 6, the Springfield Falcons clinched their second consecutive Northeast Division championship.
With the division title in hand, the Falcons have secured home-ice advantage in the opening round of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Springfield’s opening round playoff schedule will be announced when available. The American Hockey League’s regular season ends on April 20.
Playoff plans are available by calling a Falcons sales representative at (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
The Falcons host their final two home games of the regular season this weekend – April 11 at 7: p.m. versus the Portland Pirates and April 12 at 7 p.m. versus the Hershey Bears – before visiting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on April 13 at 3 p.m.
The Falcons earned four of six possible points last week, defeating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on April 1 and splitting a weekend series with the St. John’s IceCaps. The Falcons clinched a playoff berth with the win on April 4 prior ti sealing their second consecutive division championship on April 6.
Through 71 games, the Falcons currently rank second in the Eastern Conference in wins (44), point total (94) and points percentage (.662), just one win, two points and .019 behind the first-place Manchester Monarchs with one game in hand.
The Falcons are on pace to break franchise records for most wins (45), most points (100) and best points percentage (.651) in a single season. The record for most points in a season was accomplished by the 1995-96 Falcons team that played a total of 80 regular-season games. The most points in a 76-game regular season was done by the 2012-13 Falcons, recording 99 points. The most wins in a single season in the team’s 20-year history is 45, done in 1997-08 and 2012-13. This year’s club is slated to record 100 points, 47 wins and a .662 points percentage.
The Falcons have already set a new franchise record for the most consecutive road wins, winning seven straight tilts away from the MassMutual Center, spanning from March 8 to April 4. Previously, the Falcons had never won more than five straight road games, done from Nov. 19 to Dec. 7, 2005. The Falcons matched another franchise record with an eight-game road point streak earlier this season, spanning from Dec. 8, 2013 to Jan. 7. The team had not accomplished that feat since the 2004-05 campaign. Springfield is 23-9-1-2 away from the MassMutual Center this season.
The Falcons defeated Bridgeport by the final score of 3-1 at Webster Bank Arena on April 1. Rookie goaltender Anton Forsberg earned his first pro victory in North America, making 25 saves on 26 shots. Marko Dano, in only his third game with the Falcons, scored his first pro goal in North America on a wrist shot from the high slot. Jake Hansen and Cody Bass also found the back of the net for Springfield.
In a wild, high-scoring affair on April 4, the Falcons defeated the St. John’s IceCaps by the final score of 8-7 in overtime, clinching the team’s second consecutive playoff berth.
Sean Collins netted the game-winning goal 2:50 into the extra frame, while forward Jack Skille registered five points and four goals, including an extra-attacker score that tied the game at 7-7 with 17 seconds left in regulation. Skille became only the fourth player in franchise history to score four goals in a single regular-season game, joining the company of Daniel Briere, Grant Potulny and Chad Wiseman.
Springfield’s five-game win streak was snapped the following night in St. John’s, as the IceCaps defeated the Falcons, 3-1. John Albert scored twice to lead St. John’s, while Patrick McNeill scored the lone Springfield tally with a slap shot from the right-wing point at 15:27 of the third period.
Skille was recalled by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Springfield’s NHL affiliate, on April 7. The former first-round selection of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2005 NHL Draft has appeared in 12 games for Columbus this season, totaling four goals, four penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating. In 190 career NHL games, the Madison, Wis., native has amassed 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) and 77 penalty minutes between Columbus, Chicago and the Florida Panthers.
In 22 games with the Falcons this season, Skille has registered 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists), nine penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating.
T.J. Tynan, a third-round (66th overall) selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2011 NHL Draft, signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Springfield Falcons on April 7.
Tynan recently finished a four-year career at the University of Notre Dame, where he led the team in scoring three times. Over 164 games, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound centerman totaled 161 points (54 goals, 107 assists) and 132 penalty minutes. Tynan, who led Notre Dame to CCHA Conference title and was named tournament MVP, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets Tuesday, April 1.