Whale Win Over Springfield
Come from behind after slow start to win. Falcons now winless in 11
Wolf Pack Sink Springfield… Again
By Gerry Cantlon
It wasn’t pretty, clean or textbook,but the Connecticut Whale found another way to come from behind and knock off the Springfield Falcons 3-1 before an announced crowd of 3.071 at XL Center.
The hero was AHL Star Jeremy Williams who made a dazzling play to setup the game winning goal by John Mitchell his second game winning goal since being acquired from the Toronto Maple leafs and now both against Springfield.
Williams weaved his way over, under, sideways down through the Falcons top line consisting of former Hartford Wolf Pack captain Greg Moore, leading scorer Czech rookie Tomas Kubalik and veteran Trevor Smith recently acquired from Anaheim.
Williams had the presence of mind to find Mitchell in the high slot 30 feet out as he was falling to the ice. Williams was initially looking for NHL veteran defenseman Wade Redden, who created the faceoff play that got things rolling for the winning goal. But Mitchell his best friend intervened, putting the shot between the legs of Falcons goalie Paul Dainton, making his AHL debut after four years at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“I kind of blacked out there,” joked a smiling Williams said of his of his game winning play that harkened back to the days of Guy Lafleur or Mike Bossy. “Redden said on the faceoff play we were going to with him going down the wall me popping out (to cover the point). It ended up happening three or four times on one shift where he played forward and I played defense. It was fortunate play where I found some room.
“A blind squirrel even finds a nut once in a while because that’s the most inconsistent part of my game. Sometimes I can see the holes, and sometimes I can’t. Fortunately I was able to have a little bit of vision there. I thought Reds (Redden) was coming down and tried to move it over to him, but Mitch (Mitchell) ended up going into the spot was Reds was. I putted where I wanted, but Mitchell stepped up.”
Williams preferred a Doug Gilmour reference growing up as a Leafs fans.
Mitchell a longtime friend of Williams was going to shoot, so he was going to go to the front of the net and wait for either a rebound or deflection. Williams got tangled up in the last of a series of dipsy-doodle moves, Mitchell went to the net figuring he was going to pass to Redden. But with Redden having moved up, Mitchell planned to cover the point so he could backcheck if needed. But the puck popped loose, and Mitchell got off a clean shot.
“I just wanted to grab the puck, turn and shoot it as quickly as I could,” said Mitchell. “That works out a lot of the time. Even in the NHL, goals are scored like that where guys just turn and shoot as quick as they can to surprise the goalie. That’s exactly what happened, but we have to be ready from the drop of the puck and be ready for the full 60 minutes. Desperation has kicked in, and the boys have responded well. That’s a bonus, but we want to go in ready from the get-go because that’s what it’s going to take to win games in the playoffs.”
For a second game in a row the team slept walked through the first half of the game and very fortunate they didn’t encounter a team that could really shoot consistently well.
“We came out slow, but they came out hard and played very well and enthusiastically,” said Whale goalie Dov Grumet-Morris, who extended his AHL career-high winning streak to six games with 25 saves, including a game-save off Moore with 4:09 left. “They certainly dominated the first half of the game, then we started to play in spurts and got some momentum at the end of the second period against a goalie who played an outstanding game and we were fortunate to have a great third period.”
The playoff race got even tighter with the win for the Whale. The strong finish enabled the Whale to improve to and have won six in a row against the Falcons (30-37-2-3), who are on a 0-11-1-0 slide winless in March since trade deadline movement of Tom Sestitio and former Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers . The Falcons were challenging for their first playoff berth since 2005 before the the annual Falcon swoon dating to a 4-1 victory over Portland on Feb. 27 and their only point in the slump came March 5 in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Whale,
Story added on 25th March 2011 at 20:34 GMT
Story submitted by: Gerry Cantlon.