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Disapointing opening weekend
Grand Rapids & Manitoba spoil start of the season
10/18/04 - by Craig Haueter

Despite the labor stoppage in the NHL, the American Hockey League raised the curtain on their 69th season this week. The Cleveland Barons stumbled out of the blocks with a shootout loss in Grand Rapids Friday night by a count of 3-2, followed by a 6-4 loss back home Saturday night at National City Rink at Gund Arena in the home opener at the hands of the Manitoba Moose.

Friday night, Tomas Plihal and Scott Dobben scored the Barons goals, both coming in the first period. The Barons employed a new checking scheme to begin the 2004-05 campaign that included high energy skating and relentless offensive pressure. After a scoreless overtime period, the Barons and Griffins participated in the new shootout format implemented in the AHL to eliminate ties. Marcel Goc and Shane Joseph converted the first two shootout opportunities for the Barons, but Grand Rapids won the shootout with Nathan Robinson converting the third shootout goal of the evening for Grand Rapids.

Penalties made the difference in the home opener Saturday night against Manitoba in front of 6,967 fans. Five of the two teams’ 10 goals were scored on power plays, and the Moose earned a pivotal goal from a penalty shot in the second period. Marcel Goc scored a pair of goals for Cleveland (0-1-0-1) and Tomas Plihal added his 2nd goal in as many nights. Jason King led the Moose in scoring with a hat trick.

Barons Notes

Opening night roster: (Defense) Jim Fahey, Doug Murray, Josh Gorges, Christian Ehrhoff, Greg Labenski, Tim Conboy; (Forwards) Riley Armstrong, Craig Valette, Shane Joseph, Josh Prudden, Nick Bootland, Patrick Rissmiller, Tomas Plihal, Ryane Clowe, Aaron Gill, Scott Dobben, Marcel Goc; (Goalies) Dimitri Patzold, Nolan Schaefer.

Missing in action: Matt Carkner (suspension), Garrett Stafford (suspension), Grant Stevenson (eye infection), Mike Hoffman (healthy scratch), Glenn Olson (healthy scratch), Milan Michalek (injured), Scott Ford (injured).

Marcel Goc kept a nice goal streak going Saturday night. Going back to the end of last season, Goc has scored at least one goal in the last 6 home games, the longest current streak in the AHL.

The Barons return to action Wednesday night (October 20) when they host the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville farm team), the reigning Calder Cup Champions.

The average age of a player on an AHL opening-night roster was 23 years, 8 months. That figure is 10 months younger than the average AHL player on opening night in 2003. Providence’s (Boston) Patrice Bergeron, who turned 19 in July, is currently the youngest player in the league.

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