MANCHESTER, NH – Nick Drazenovic’s goal in the first overtime period on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena gave the Springfield Falcons (3-1) a dramatic 4-3 comeback win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and a 3-1 best-of-five series victory over the Manchester Monarchs (1-3).
The Falcons fought back from a two-goal deficit in the second period before winning in sudden death for the third time in as many tries in the series and clinching a berth in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 1997.
Springfield will face either the Hershey Bears or the Syracuse Crunch in the next round. The Falcons will host Game 1 of the series at the MassMutual Center on either Friday, May 10 or Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m. depending on the outcome of Hershey and Providence’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Springfield’s exact series schedule will be announced, when available, on FalconsAHL.com.
Tickets for the Eastern Conference Semifinals go on sale on Monday, May 6 at 9 a.m. at the MassMutual Center Box Office, or through Ticketmaster.com.
The Falcons captured early momentum with a goal in the opening stages of the contest, but let in a pair of quick tallies later in the period and trailed after the first.
Andrew Joudrey fed a puck to the right circle for Cody Bass, who flicked a shot toward Manchester goaltender Martin Jones. Blake Parlett deflected Bass’ shot in front, rerouting the puck by Jones at 1:40, as Springfield grabbed a 1-0 lead.
Manchester capitalized twice in transition to take a 2-1 advantage. Colton Yellow Horn finished off a two-on-one centering pass from Jordan Weal at 8:33, while Linden Vey planted a snap shot on a four-on-two rush over the glove of Springfield netminder Curtis McElhinney at 10:27, putting the Monarchs on top for the first time.
The Monarchs appeared to take control of the game by converting on a Falcons turnover at 5:17 of the second. Nick Deslauriers took possession of the puck at center ice and skated in on McElhinney. Deslauriers dropped the puck back, and Linden Vey fired a shot in at the top of the crease, as Manchester went up, 3-1.
Springfield fought back with a pair of game-altering goals to close out the second, as Boone Jenner and Michael Chaput each registered their first-career Calder Cup Playoff tallies.
The Falcons closed to within one after Drazenovic stole a puck in Manchester’s end. Jenner corralled a pass on the end boards from Drazenovic, twirled around two Monarchs to get on net, and slid his chance by Jones at 13:35 to make it 3-2.
Minutes later, Chaput, Ryan Craig, and Spencer Machacek chipped away at a loose puck on the doorstep as Jones struggled to control the rebound. Chaput charged the net, spotted the free puck, and jammed it in at 18:24 to tie the contest, 3-3.
The clubs traded chances in the third, with the Falcons peppering Jones early before the Monarchs countered with late opportunities on McElhinney. A final Manchester rush at the end of regulation was foiled by Springfield, sending the contest to the extra session.
Springfield, which won Games 1 and 2 of the series at home last weekend with sudden-death strikes from Bass, scored again in the extra session to garner its first series win since the 2003 Eastern Conference Qualifying Round.
Bass moved a puck to Jenner, who fed it immediately to Drazenovic at center ice to start an odd-man rush. Drazenovic darted to the left circle and sealed the series by delivering a wrister over Jones’ glove at 8:06.
McElhinney (3-1) blanked the Monarchs over the final 42 minutes of the game and made 37 saves on 40 shots.
Jones (1-3) allowed four goals on 41 attempts.
Springfield heads to the conference semifinals for the third time in team history. The Falcons fell in their first appearance to Portland in 1996, but responded by beating Providence in 1997.
All four games of the series were decided by one goal. Springfield has won seven of its last eight one-goal decisions dating back to Apr. 12…The Falcons are now 9-3 all-time in Calder Cup Playoff overtime games…Drazenovic’s goal was the second of his postseason career, and first in overtime…The Falcons went to overtime three times in a series for the first time in franchise history…Manchester lost in the first round to the eventual Calder Cup champion in each of the last three playoffs
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