WHAT: Springfield Falcons (0-0-0) vs. Providence Bruins (0-0-0)
WHERE: New England Sports Center, Marlborough, Mass.
WHEN: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
The Springfield Falcons have unveiled a brand-new slogan for the 2012-13 season: "Hatched and Hungry," and it fits the team perfectly. Last season, the Falcons saw the development of several prominent youngsters take a promising step forward as the club got a taste of a late-season playoff run.
Ultimately, they came up short and weren't able to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs, but there was a sense of optimism born in the strong showings by their key players. Cam Atkinson had a stellar campaign, scoring 29 goals and participating in the AHL All-Star weekend before being promoted to the Blue Jackets later in the year. David Savard was a force on the blueline and the team's veterans were solid, dependable resources for the kids.
Most of that group returns for the 2012-13 season, but there's a new look behind the bench. After serving as an assistant coach for two seasons, 35-year-old Brad Larsen is now the Falcons head coach and has spent training camp trying to implement a hard-working, honest culture around the club. Larsen hired Jared Bednar, former head coach of the Peoria Rivermen, to join him as an assistant alongside Nolan Pratt, who had a 16-year playing career of his own.
Listening to Larsen and some of his players speak, it's obvious that this is a hungry group. They're ready to get going and compete for a Calder Cup championship, and they have some added talent to start the year which should make them an even stronger club.
Ryan Johansen, John Moore, Tim Erixon and Atkinson will be joining the Falcons upon assignment from the Blue Jackets last month, bolstering the forward group and adding to an already-stacked defense corps.
WHAT TO WATCH
It's the first preseason game, and as Larsen said earlier this week, he expects some chaos in the early going. The Falcons lineup tonight will be an inexperienced one; Larsen wants to make sure everyone gets a chance to play exhibition games, and with a back-to-back coming this weekend, this is a chance to work all players into the game.
Something to keep an eye on would be the pro debut of Michael Chaput, who is coming off a Memorial Cup championship with the Shawinigan Cataractes. He's a two-way center that can both make plays and finish them off, so it will be interesting to see who he pairs with to start things off.
Here is the Springfield roster for tonight's game...
Forwards: Dan Gendur, Nick Drazenovic, Matt Calvert, Jake Hansen, Patrick Kennedy, Michael Chaput, Tomas Kubalik, Dalton Smith, Nathan Moon, Don Maloney, Trent Vogelhuber, Wade MacLeod
Defense: Will Weber, Greg Amadio, Theo Ruth, Cody Goloubef, Austin Madaisky, Anton Blomqvist
Goaltenders: Mike Clemente, Curtis McElhinney