LAKE ERIE 3, SYRACUSE 2
Matthew Ford snapped a 2-2 deadlock with just 2:58 left in regulation, and Lake Erie held on for a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Syracuse before 12,524 fans at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday in the front end of the teams’ throwback home-and-home opening weekend set.
The former North Division rivals, wearing uniforms which hark back to the days of the Cleveland Barons and Syracuse Stars, will meet again on Saturday night in upstate New York.
Lake Erie wound up with a final shots advantage of 38-15, but it was Syracuse which cashed in on its chances early in the tilt. Trevor Smith put the visitors on the board 9:59 into the opening stanza, and rookie Brandon McMillan made it 2-0 Crunch at 2:16 of the second frame.
The Monsters then struck for two goals in a 1:13 span to tie the game. Justin Mercier lit the lamp at 11:12 – with Ford picking up an assist – and Julian Talbot buried a loose puck in the slot at 12:25 for the equalizer.
It remained a 2-2 tie until Ford’s decisive score late in the third. Ford, who finished with 27 points (13-14-27) in 45 games for the Monsters last season, was assisted on the play by returning defenseman Travis Gawryletz and newcomer David Van der Gulik.
Goaltender Jason Bacashihua, returning to the Monsters after spending 2009-10 with Calder Cup champion Hershey, only had to stop 13 of 15 shots to earn the victory. Syracuse counterpart Timo Pielmeier made 35 stops in his AHL debut.
ABBOTSFORD 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2 (SO)
Abbotsford scored on all three of its shootout chances to rally past host Grand Rapids, 3-2, before a sellout crowd of 10,834 on opening night at Van Andel Arena.
Jon Rheault, Kris Chucko, and Staffan Kronwall notched shootout goals in succession for the Heat. Goaltender Leland Irving surrendered a pretty goal to Chris Minard in the opening round but recovered to deny each of Grand Rapids’ next three attempts.
Grand Rapids grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period on goals by rookie defenseman Brendan Smith and veteran newcomer Jamie Johnson, with an Abbotsford strike from rookie Carter Bancks wedged in between.
That 2-1 edge held until late in the third period, but Heat forward Matt Keith tied the game with just 1:19 left in regulation, with Rheault and Bancks picking up assists on the play.
BINGHAMTON 5, ADIRONDACK 1
Binghamton scored three of its five goals on the power play and rolled past visiting Adirondack by a 5-1 count on opening night at the Broome County Arena on Friday.
The Senators, whose power play ranked seventh in the AHL last season, finished 3-for-8 with the man advantage in this contest. Cody Bass, Kaspars Daugavins, and rookie Bobby Butler tallied the power play scores, while Jim O’Brien and defenseman Patrick Wiercioch converted at even strength.
SPRINGFIELD 5, PROVIDENCE 1
Goaltender Dan Taylor turned aside 38 of 39 shots in net, and Springfield used a four-goal second period to post a 5-1 opening-night win over host Providence on Friday. Both teams wore throwback uniforms, representing the Springfield Indians and Providence Reds, as part of the AHL’s 75th anniversary celebration.
Attendance at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was 10,461.
Chad Kolarik, who joined the Columbus organization midway through last season, paced the Falcons with a pair of second-period tallies, including one in the closing second of the frame.
After totaling 22 shots through the first 40 minutes, Providence came out firing in the third period and wound up with a 17-1 shots advantage in the frame. The B’s finally put one past Taylor when Kirk MacDonald scored shorthanded at the 5:46 mark.
The teams will square off for the back end of their throwback home-and-home set on Saturday in Springfield.
MANITOBA 4, PEORIA 3
Manitoba struck for a trio of third-period goals to erase a 3-1 deficit and stun host Peoria by a 4-3 count on Friday before 7,205 fans at Carver Arena.
The Moose’s comeback spoiled a spectacular Rivermen debut by former two-time Calder Cup champion Graham Mink, who recorded a hat trick by scoring on three of his six shots on the night.
Mink’s third goal of the contest gave Peoria a 3-1 advantage just 38 seconds into the third period. But Manitoba’s Victor Oreskovich (5:25) and Evan Oberg (11:15) scored to tie the game before rookie defenseman Kevin Connauton put the Moose on top with 4:13 to play.
Oberg’s goal was his second of the night, as he also opened the game’s scoring on the power play early in the first period.
Moose goaltender Tyler Weiman, a teammate of Hensick’s the past two years at Lake Erie, made the comeback stand up and finished with 30 saves in his Manitoba debut.
SAN ANTONIO 6, CHICAGO 3
Mathieu Beaudoin racked up two goals, two assists, and a plus-4 rating in his San Antonio debut, helping the Rampage to an impressive 6-3 win over visiting Chicago before 8,043 fans on opening night.
Beaudoin scored in the first and third periods as the Rampage built a 5-0 lead before Chicago’s Jamie Hunt scored a pair of power play goals 32 seconds apart in the third frame.
Rampage defenseman Garrett Stafford joined Hollweg in recording three points (1-2-3) on the night, while Mikkel Boedker and rookie rearguard Chris Summers rounded out the San Antonio offensive attack.
Stafford and Beaudoin both reached the Calder Cup Finals as teammates with Texas last season, a squad which also included current Rampage goaltender Matt Climie, who earned the win with 26 saves in his San Antonio debut on Friday.
Two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar recorded two assists in his first game back with the Wolves.