WHALE WHACK FALCONS – HARD

Brian RingBY: Brian Ring

Hartford, CT, October 23, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Springfield Falcons, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at the XL Center, completing a sweep of their set of three games in three days. The Whale beat Springfield for the second consecutive night, after winning 2-1 at the MassMutual Center Saturday night.

The Whale scored three goals in the second period to open the game up, and rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault earned First-Star honors with a goal and two assists on the night.

“It’s key to find your team identity,” said Whale goaltender Chad Johnson after the game. “This weekend we sort of found it in all the games. This weekend, the guys and the lines really relied on each other and trusted each other and stuck together to get the two points.”

The Whale took the lead at 16:35 of the first period, when former Harford Whalers draft pick and Springfield goaltender Manny Legace (27 saves) failed to cover up a Jyri Niemi attempt. Audy-Marchessault picked up the loose puck from beside Legace and put it over the Falcons’ netminder for Audy-Marchessault’s second goal in as many games.

Connecticut managed to escape the period with their lead intact, despite taking three first period penalties.

Blake Parlett extended the Whale lead to 2-0 at 4:01 of the second period on a power play, stuffing a Carl Hagelin chance past Legace for his first goal of the season.

Connecticut struck again just 32 seconds later, when Andreas Thuresson beat Legace to make it a 3-0 game. Tommy Grant and Audy-Marchessault assisted on the goal, giving Audy-Marchessault his first multi-point professional game.

Grant put the Whale ahead 4-0 at 13:24 of the period, as Connecticut struck again on the power-play, this time with Dane Byers in the box. Grant’s initial bid was turned-away by Legace, but Audy-Marchessault picked up another rebound and fed Grant for an easy one-timer.  Stu Bickel also added an assist on the goal.

The Falcons finally got on the board at 14:33 of the third period to close the Whale lead to 4-1, when Greenwich, CT native Cam Atkinson scored his second of the season on a one-time shot against Johnson (27 saves), with the assists going to Martin St. Pierre and Cody Goloubef. That was all the offense the Falcons could muster against Johnson, who kept the Whale steady throughout the night and helped the team’s penalty-kill manage a perfect 7-for-7 performance. Connecticut also withstood a pair of Falcons five-on-three chances.

“I thought we played well through the whole game, we took some penalties but it’s going to happen during a game,” said Johnson. “I thought we did a good job of killing them. It gives your team momentum when you can get through those situations.”

The Whale will now take to the road for three straight games, heading to Glens Falls, NY Friday to take on the Adirondack Phantoms (7:00) and then to Worcester to face the Sharks Saturday (7:05). Connecticut will meet the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in school-day action next Wednesday in Bridgeport (11:00 AM) before finally returning home to host the new St. John’s IceCaps on Friday, Nov. 4 (7:00).

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