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Barons: Weekly Report 2/29
Set franchise attendance record Saturday night
2/29/04 - by Craig Haueter

The Barons opened the weekend home trifecta Friday night with an impressive 5-2 victory over the division-leading Hamilton Bulldogs. Jon DiSalvatore and Marcel Goc paced the Cleveland offense with two goals apiece while goalie Nolan Schaefer ran his Gund Arena record to 6-0-0 while recording 38 saves.

Both teams came out early with fast, end-to-end action. Hamilton dominated the shots on goal for the first period 16-8, but Cleveland drew first blood on a pretty play at the 8:38 mark. Forward Craig Valette skated along the side boards and waited for Marcel Goc to catch up, feeding Goc in front, who beat Bulldogs goalie Olivier Michaud with the shot. Hamilton would knot the game 1-1 four minutes later as the Bulldogs converted a power play opportunity. Barons goalie Nolan Schaefer was unable to smother a loose puck in front and Tomas Plekanec found the back of the net. The defensive play of the period came from rookie Garrett Stafford who caught Philippe Plante breaking to the goal and rode him and the puck into the corner.

Hamilton displayed relentless pressure in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. After Schaefer made point blank saves on Gordie Dwyer and Marcel Hossa earlier in the period, he finally surrendered a goal at the 13:27 mark as Philippe Plante nearly skated past the net but managed to wrap it back around the near post. Grant Stevenson had the check of the night when he laid out Eero Somervuori in open ice near the end of the period.

The final period saw the six-day break by the Barons pay off with fresher legs. The Barons offense would erupt for four goals to seal the contest. Brad Boyes started things rolling as he picked the pocket of a Hamilton defender at the blue line and shot it back toward the net. The shot was deflected to Jon DiSalvatore who beat Michaud for the goal. Tavis Hansen scored on a long shot from the right face off circle after collecting a loose puck to make it 3-2 Barons. The pass of the season took place with 3 minutes remaining as Miroslav Zalesak faked the shot and passed it behind his back to teammate Marcel Goc who rifled it home from out front, for his second goal of the game. DiSalvatore would collect his second goal of the game with just 46 seconds remaining to make the final 5-2 Cleveland. Stars of the game were: Nolan Schaefer (1), Marcel Goc (2) and Jon DiSalvatore (3).

The Barons would score the all important first goal Saturday night, the only problem was the Rochester Americans scored the next five and defeated Cleveland 5-1 in front of a franchise record 8,175 fans. Chris Taylor had four assists for the Amerks and goalie Tom Askey stopped 25 shots to help lead Rochester to victory. Jason Pominville and Milan Bartovic each got into the act with a goal and an assist each.

The chippy affair featured two separate fights between Yuri Moscevsky of the Barons and Sean McMorrow of Rochester as well as an impressive rare fight appearance by Barons forward Brad Boyes who stood toe-to-toe with Domenic Pittis. Boyes was clearly trying to pump up his teammates and challenged the Barons bench to raise their level of play by gesturing to them as he left for the locker room near the end of the second period.

The only goal for Cleveland and sole offensive highlight was Garrett Stafford's goal in the first period. Stafford waited until the Rochester defenseman slid past him and left him with a clear shot to the net. The outcome was still in doubt until Miroslav Zalesak's high sticking major 9:17 into the final period. Rochester would score two goals with Zalesak in the penalty box to silence any chances for a comeback by the Barons.

Cleveland finished their busy weekend Sunday with a 4-1 victory over their in-state rival Cincinnati. The Barons play Cincinnati seven times over their final twenty one games which will go along way in determining how the Barons will be seeded for the upcoming AHL playoffs. Third period goals by Marcel Goc, Brad Boyes and an empty net tally by Ryane Clowe broke open a 1-1 hockey game.

Barons goalie Nolan Schaefer turned in another impressive effort in goal registering his tenth win of the season while recording 19 saves. Willie Levesque started the scoring three minutes into the first period beating Ducks goalie Eddy Ferhi between the legs for his first goal of the season. Nick Smith rifled a short-handed goal top shelf past Schaefer early in the second period after a Barons turnover in their own end to tie the game and set up the Barons offensive heroics in the final period.

Barons Notes

Defenseman Doug Murray is still hobbled by a bruised knee and is not expected back until next weekend. Jim Fahey continues to rack up frequent flyer miles after being recalled to San Jose over the weekend.

The week ahead will be another busy one for the Barons at home. Tuesday, the San Antonio Rampage come to town and next weekend, the Barons host Hamilton, Rochester and Cincinnati once again-the same teams as last weekend.

Craig Valette of the Barons had a tough weekend in the facial area over the weekend. Saturday night, Craig took a stick to the face and neck area as it broke in an opponent's hands forcing treatment in the locker room. Sunday night saw Valette take a blow to the mouth loosening his dental work and later took a high stick to the face by Keith Aucoin which went uncalled. An argument ensued between Valette and Aucoin with both players getting 10-minute misconduct penalties.

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