The Springfield Falcons faced their most daunting task this weekend -- road games against three of the AHL's best teams on back-to-back-to-back nights. The Falcons passed that test with flying colors, winning all three games and improving their season record to 9-7-1.
The Falcons kicked off their weekend road trip with a 4-3 win over the Providence Bruins. Defenseman Austin Madaisky, picking up where he left off last week, opened the scoring, sending a shot from the point past former Falcon goaltender Jeremy Smith. Madaisky notched his second point of the night with an assist on Ryan Craig's third period goal. Goalie Scott Munroe stopped 31 of Providence's 34 shots to earn the win.
The next night, Anton Forsberg got the start between the pipes and put on a show, shutting out the Worcester Sharks in a 1-0 battle. The Falcons struggled offensively, getting only 16 shots on goal the whole game, but Forsberg stopped more than twice that amount with 33 saves in total. Sean Collins was awarded a penalty shot halfway through the second period, and he converted that chance for the game's only goal.
After a lackluster offensive showing against Worcester, the Falcons' offense came alive on Sunday, lighting the lamp five times to beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Lukas Sedlak put the Falcons up 2-1 in the second period, and then Dana Tyrell, in his first game since being reassigned, made it 3-1 late in the period. But the Sound Tigers came roaring back in the third, scoring two goals and tying up the game with a little over four minutes left to play.
With 96 seconds to play, Kerby Rychel scored the game-winning goal, adding to his two earlier assists. It was a much-needed breakout game for the 20-year-old winger, who had just six points in 16 games coming into the night. Another Blue Jackets 2013 first-round pick, Marko Dano, added his first point of the season for Springfield, getting the secondary assist on Rychel's game-winner.
The Falcons weren't quite done, though, as Tyrell scored his second goal of the night on an empty netter with 50 seconds to play, clinching the Falcons' third road win in as many nights.
Emotions from the back-and-forth game boiled over after Tyrell's goal, as the teams combined for 13 penalties, including 11 fighting majors and 12 game misconducts in the game's final 35 seconds. That included an all-out line brawl with just 15 seconds left to play, leaving a mess of gloves and sticks all over the Falcons' zone. All in all, the two teams combined for a staggering 206 penalty minutes.
Sunday night's incident nonwithstanding, the Falcons had their best weekend of the season, knocking off three of the AHL's best. The Falcons return home on Friday for a rematch with the Sound Tigers, and follow that up with back-to-back games against Providence.
Players to watch:
Kerby Rychel: The 2013 first-rounder broke out against the Sound Tigers on Sunday, notching three points. In his first season out of juniors, he's still getting acclimated to the pro game, but if Sunday's game is any indication, big things could be on the horizon for Rychel. Now a few weeks into his AHL career, the game may be slowing down for the 20-year-old power forward.
Anton Forsberg: Forsberg showed patience and resilience in spades, shutting out Worcester on Saturday in his first game back. He followed that up the next night with a 28-save effort against Bridgeport. With Bobrovsky back on the ice for the Blue Jackets, Forsberg will finally get consistent ice time and a chance to emerge as a solid starter.