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POST GAME: Falcons 4, IceCaps 2

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

MassMutual Center | Springfield, MA
Attendance: 6,151

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- There were a few things that Falcons head coach Brad Larsen liked about tonight's season-opening win, but first and foremost, his team never sagged in the face of adversity.

With an electric crowd on hand at the MassMutual Center and the budding excitement of a new chapter prevalent throughout, the Falcons were hot out of the gates and put the visitors back on their heels. But despite holding a heavy advantage in shots on goal, Springfield found itself in an early hole.

A cross-checking penalty to Dalton Prout gave the IceCaps a power play chance they would indeed cash in on, thanks to a nifty goal from Carl Klingberg just over eight minutes in.

But the counterpunch was what propeled the Falcons into the catbird seat.

In what was a theme for the IceCaps in tonight's game, Will O'Neill sat in the box for a careless roughing infraction late in the first period. It gave the Falcons' (potentially) explosive power-play unit a chance to operate, and though the execution was by no means surgical, the result tied the game.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault came away with a loose puck at the half-wall and zipped a pass back to Tim Erixon at the center point. Rather than catch the pass and make a play, Erixon ripped a one-timer on goal and captain Ryan Craig got a big chunk to pull Springfield even at 1-1.

The Falcons caught St. John's napping in the opening seconds of the second period and Tomas Kubalik pounced. A bad line change gave Kubalik and Matt Calvert a 2-on-1 break, and despite being hooked feverishly from behind, Calvert cashed the puck far-post just 19 seconds in.

Dalton Smith's first professional goal - set up by Michael Chaput's first professional assist - was the eventual game-winner and it was a beauty. Sean Collins sprung the puck free to Smith, who danced off the end line and backhanded the puck behind IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale with 6:36 left in the second.

Momentum rested with the Falcons for good after they killed a 62-second 5-on-3 in the third period, and even though the IceCaps clawed within 3-2 with 11:03 left, it never felt as if the visiting side was going to draw level.

Some of the players said the team's response to an early deficit helped set the tone for the game, but  the defining juncture came early in the final period.

It was right there for the IceCaps -- they were down two goals to start the third and were handed over a minute's worth of 5-on-3 time, but the Falcons came up large. Andrew Joudrey, Cody Bass and Dalton Prout were excellent in denying any quality chances for St. John's on the two-man advantage, and Curtis McElhinney stood tall and helped his teammates with a key whistle to slow things down.

Larsen said it gave the bench a jolt and a little more swagger, which played a role in being able to shrug off a messy goal that made it a 3-2 game minutes later.

1. Tomas Kubalik (goal)
2. Matt Calvert (goal, assist)
3. Tim Erixon (two assists)

vs. Adirondack Phantoms
Sunday, 3 p.m.
MassMutual Center | Springfield, MA
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