Win in Springfield a Tonic?

The Whale badly needed something to feel good about, and they got it Saturday night, in a 4-2 win at Springfield that snapped a season-high string of three straight regulation losses.

The Whale offense had really been scuffling, shut out in seven of its previous nine periods, and the Falcons had the second-best defensive record in the league coming into the game, and had blanked Connecticut in two of the previous four meetings.  The Whale had the touch going in Saturday’s game, though, and helped themselves by doing a good job of getting pucks at the net.  They outshot Springfield by a margin of 25-14 in the first two periods and 30-25 overall, and got going with a pair of special teams goals.

The Whale power play went into the game 0/18 in the previous three games and 3/43 in the previous 11, but was 100% for Saturday’s game, getting a goal from Chad Kolarik at 12:52 of the first on their only opportunity of the game.  Kolarik also had a shorthanded goal, which came off of a two-on-one with Kris Newbury and was the result of Newbury putting a hard, low shot off of Falcon goaltender Curtis McElhinney’s pads.  McElhinney couldn’t control the rebound and it went right to Kolarik, who didn’t miss on the finish.

Chad Kolarik

Chad Kolarik

The Falcons never really recovered from giving up those two first-period scores, and it’s interesting that Kolarik and Newbury were both attempting to work their way out of the doghouse, so to speak, after seeing their ice time cut significantly, in the case of Kolarik, and eliminated almost entirely in Newbury’s case, in the last two periods of Thursday’s 3-0 home loss to Bridgeport.

Both veterans had taken a couple of first-period penalties in that game that the coaches were not happy with, and Ken Gernander & Co. were willing to take the hit to the team offense for the sake of sending a message.  Saturday was a new day and a new chance, though, and Gernander has never been one to bury guys.  Newbury and Kolarik were back on a line together in Springfield and playing in all situations, and they definitely redeemed themselves, especially Kolarik, who now leads the team in goals with 12 and is only one point behind Newbury for the Whale points lead.

Logan Pyett also scored Saturday, and he is another guy who had tasted some disappointment recently, sitting out the previous two games as a healthy scratch while the Whale gave Steven Delisle a look and Dylan McIlrath finally made his way back from his knee injury.  Pyett not only got what turned out to be the game-winner against the Falcons, he also was +3 in the game, to move into a tie with Sam Klassen for the team plus/minus lead at +3 for the year.

On the Whale’s fourth goal, to continue the theme, Tommy Grant made the play to find Christian Thomas for basically a tap-in, and Grant is another player whose ice time has waxed and waned over the course of the season, and has often found himself in strictly a fourth-line role.

So is this a harbinger of more offensive balance for the Whale and of a host of players pressuring for more ice time?  A trend like that would certainly go a long way towards reversing the recent mode that saw the club struggle to three wins in 13 games prior to the victory in Springfield.

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