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Barons: Weekly Report
Cleveland hits all-star break in 2nd place
2/9/04 - by Craig Haueter

While Miroslav Zalesak and rookie Garrett Stafford head off to the AHL All-Star game Monday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the rest of the Barons earn a well-deserved rest as they focus on the stretch drive remaining as they pursue a coveted playoff berth.

The Barons played two games at home this week, splitting a pair of contests with the Manitoba Moose, top affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Thursday night, a lack of legitimate scoring chances led to a 5-2 loss to Manitoba. The Barons managed only two shots in the first period – a season-low for any period. Right winger Fedor Fedorov notched a hat trick for the Moose. Fedorov is the younger brother of NHL veteran Sergei of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. After spotting Manitoba a 1-0 lead after the first period, Tavis Hansen quickly knotted the score 1-1 just 56 seconds into the middle period.

Fedorov’s first two goals later in the period pushed the Moose back out in front 3-1 after two periods. Milan Michalek got the Cleveland fans excited for the moment with a third period goal at the 15:18 mark to narrow the Manitoba lead to 3-2. However, a pair of empty net goals by Brandon Reid and Fedor Fedorov extinguished any further comeback aspirations by the Barons. Seamus Kotyk took the loss in net for Cleveland. For Manitoba, the win marked just their second road win in its last eleven chances.

The Barons again proved their resilience on Saturday afternoon, defeating Manitoba by a score of 5-1. Powered by three third period goals, the Barons have yet to lose two consecutive games in regulation. The Barons are now 14-0-1-2 following a loss. Cleveland also took advantage of a tired bunch of Moose, which had traveled to Rochester after the game in Cleveland Thursday for a game Friday night. The first period started out very chippy, as both teams picked up a combined 56 minutes in penalties. Feeding off the superb goaltending of Nolan Schaefer, the Barons converted a power play chance to lead 1-0 just over 8 minutes into the contest as Grant Stevenson fired a shot from the point that was deflected through the pads of Moose goalie Tyler Moss by Milan Michalek. However, the Moose would tie the game with nearly four minutes left in the period.

Taking advantage of their second 5-on-3 power play chance of the period, Jason King received a back door pass to beat Schaefer. Cleveland dominated play in the second period, out-shooting Manitoba by a margin of 16-6. The Barons kept pouring it on offensively and were finally rewarded late in the period as Brad Boyes roofed it over the shoulder of Moss to put Cleveland up 2-1. Third period goals by Marcel Goc, Ryane Clowe and the second goal of the contest by Boyes put the game well out of reach. Schaefer earned first star honors by recording 25 saves, including several kick-saves while it was still a one-goal game. Schaefer moved to 4-0 with a 1.25 GAA in four home starts.

Take note

Despite their impressive overall 24-17-4-5 (57 points) record at the all-star break, the Barons have one of the AHL’s more puzzling story lines going at home, where their record is only 11-11-1-2. Pundits have suggested that the Barons take a bus ride around Northeast Ohio prior to each home game at Gund Arena.

What started out as just a holding minor penalty for Manitoba’s Tyler Bouck Saturday got a lot more complicated. Bouck’s continued verbal abuse of referee Craig Spada on his way to the penalty box in the first period earned him additional penalty time including abuse of officials and eventually being tossed from the game. On his way back to the dressing room, Bouck slammed his stick on the concrete floor to complete the tirade.

A positive sign for the Barons and their defense in the pair of games against Manitoba was the penalty kill. The Moose only converted two of twelve power play chances. Coming into this week, the Barons penalty kill was ranked 26th in the AHL (80.71%).

The Barons Player of the Week (1/25-1/31) is right wing Miroslav Zalesak. On the week, Zalesak recorded 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points in 3 games. Zalesak posted a +3 plus/minus rating to bump his season total to +9. Garrett Stafford is the Barons Rookie of the Month for January. On the month, Stafford scored 16 points on 3 goals and 13 assists. Stafford helped the Barons reach seven games over .500 for the first time in franchise history. His +7 plus/minus rating led the Barons for January.

The Springfield Falcons of the AHL recently announced that the club has signed a three-year affiliation agreement with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning starting next season. This agreement ends Springfield’s long affiliation with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Miroslav Zalesak of the Barons continues to lead the AHL in scoring (26G, 33A). Brad Boyes is tied for fifth (21G, 27A). Zalesak and Boyes also have recorded 16 and 13 multi-point games respectively.

Through 50 games this season, four Barons have played in all 50 games—Miroslav Zalesak, Brad Boyes, Marcel Goc and Doug Murray. At the all-star break, 28 different position players and 4 goalies have played in at least one game for the Barons. This includes current Sharks Niko Dimitrakos, Todd Harvey and Christian Ehrhoff. If you need a great trivia question, there have been three goalies who dressed for the Barons but did not get into a game—Chris Houle, Cory Campbell and Greg Hewitt.

Defenseman Jesse Fibiger missed the games with Manitoba to join the Canadian National Team to compete in the Davos Cup in Switzerland. Matt Carkner (4 games) and Yuri Moscevsky (8 games) have been scratches of late due to nagging injuries and illness. Garrett Stafford and Milan Michalek both left Saturday’s game with unspecified injuries. Michalek is assigned to Cleveland after returning from an early season knee injury.

This week’s schedule has the Barons returning to action Thursday night at home versus the San Antonio Rampage. Next Saturday night, the Barons travel to Utah to faceoff against the Grizzlies.

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