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Barons: Weekly Report 3/14
Zalesak return only bright spot
3/14/04 - by Craig Haueter

The Cleveland Barons continued their best efforts to back into or even avoid the Calder Cup playoffs with three losses and a tie this past week. Last night in Chicago, the Wolves scored the opening four goals of the game in a 4-2 win against the Barons. For the first time this season, Cleveland suffered back-to-back regulation losses. Even with the loss, the Barons magic number for a playoff spot was lowered to 22 points due to a St. John's loss.

Newcomer from Johnstown of the ECHL, Brent Kelly, notched his first goal with the Barons in the third period. Jon DiSalvatore later scored his 17th goal of the season from Christian Ehrhoff to cut the Chicago advantage to two goals. Dimitri Patzold took the loss in goal for Cleveland, 0-2-0 since his recall from the ECHL due to the concussion injury to Seamus Kotyk.

This week's slide into a third place tie started last Sunday evening at home with a listless 4-1 defeat at the hands of in-state rival Cincinnati. The Barons, playing their seventh game in 10 days and with a makeshift lineup, clearly were a fatigued bunch of skaters. Down 2-0 early, the Barons managed a short-handed goal by right winger Jon DiSalvatore later in the first period. However, Mighty Ducks winger Stanislov Chistov answered with a huge slap shot from the right circle less than two minutes later. Mark Popovic added an insurance goal for Cincinnati midway through the final period. Neither head coach Roy Sommer pulling Patzold after one period or Barons captain Tavis Hansen dropping the gloves with Juha Alen were able to really spark the Barons. Defensemen Matt Carkner and Robert Mulick both missed the game after sustaining injuries Saturday.

Wednesday night in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a tight checking defensive hockey game produced no goals as the Barons and Manitoba Moose met for the seventh time this season. Barons goalie Nolan Schaefer recorded the first shutout in his AHL career with 20 saves and Alex Auld set a franchise record with his 12th career shutout on a 21-save effort for Manitoba. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Jimmy Roy of the Moose was called for a high-sticking major on Doug Murray. However, the Barons were unable to score on the golden opportunity that carried over into overtime.

Despite the assignments of Miroslav Zalesak and Christian Ehrhoff to the Barons from San Jose, the offensive woes continued for Cleveland in Friday night's rematch with Manitoba at Winnipeg Arena. A three-goal second period by the Moose led to a 5-1 win over the Barons. After Brandon Reid opened the scoring for Manitoba at the 14:40 mark of period one, Zalesak announced his return to the Cleveland lineup with his 31st goal of the season on the power play one minute later. Manitoba scored three unanswered goals in the second period chasing Barons goaltender Nolan Schaefer from his net to complete the scoring. Fedor Fedorov, Sean Pronger and Brandon Reid all scored for the Moose at even strength. Dimitri Patzold entered the game in relief duty handling the final five shots on goal in the period and blanked the Moose over the final 20 minutes as well.

Barons Notes

Despite Miroslav Zalesak's brief promotion to San Jose, he remains near the top of the AHL scoring leaders tied for second at 69 points, just one point behind Eric Perrin of the Hershey Bears. Former Baron Brad Boyes, holds the fourth spot wearing the Providence Bruins sweater.

The Barons' power play ranks fourth in the AHL at 17.23% (46/267). However, their power play has clearly missed the presence of Zalesak and Boyes. Since their promotion and subsequent trade of Boyes, the Barons have converted only 1 of 21 power play chances. The penalty kill continues to plague Cleveland with the Barons ranked 26th-only Wilkes-Barre and St. John's below them in the AHL penalty kill rankings.

Tomas Plihal returned to the Barons lineup this week after missing three games with a leg injury. The injury bug continues to bite defenseman Matt Carkner who missed action all week due to a shoulder injury. Center Brent Kelly joined the Barons this week from Johnstown (ECHL). Kelly spent last season in the AHL with the now defunct Saint John Flames.

Barons Statistical Leaders

Goals: Zalesak 31, DiSalvatore 17, Hansen 15, Stafford 10, Clowe 10

Assists: Zalesak 38, Stafford 30, Rissmiller 29, Clowe 22, Goc 19

Plus/Minus: Carkner +16, Mulick +9, Clowe +9, Plihal +9, Fibiger +6

Games: Goc 66, Clowe 64, Zalesak 63, Hansen 63, Rissmiller 61

PIM: Moscevsky 143, Carkner 105, Hansen 85, Clowe 80, Zalesak 76

GAA: Kotyk 2.40, Schaefer 2.41, Patzold 3.00

SV%: Kotyk .929, Schaefer .924, Patzold .911

Wins: Kotyk 11, Schaefer 10, Patzold 8

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