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Hot goaltending makes for frustrating week
Barons salvage win to start three-in-three weekend
11/21/04 - by Craig Haueter

Solid play from Garrett Stafford and a slight edge in a battle of goaltenders, led the Cleveland Barons to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Aeros at Gund Arena Thursday night. Despite out-shooting the Aeros 47-25, The Barons held a slim 2-1 advantage right up to Patrick Rissmiller's empty net goal with 34 seconds remaining. Goalie Josh Harding kept the Aeros in the contest throughout the evening. Jim Fahey and Garrett Stafford scored the other goals for Cleveland. Dimitri Patzold recorded 24 saves, only surrendering a power play goal while Houston held a two-man advantage early in the second period. The Barons are now 4-1-1-1 when scoring the first goal. Forty-seven shots in a game represents a season high for the Barons.

Backup goalie Drew MacIntyre, making only his third appearance this season for Grand Rapids, held the Barons at bay after surrendering an early goal to Craig Valette in the first period and came up big at the end of the game to lead the Griffins to 3-2 win over Cleveland Friday night at Gund Arena. A pair of Eric Manlow power play goals in the first period gave Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead going into the second stanza. Physical play prevailed over offensive prowess in the second, as neither team managed to score in the period.

The Barons tied up the game on a power play midway through the third period, when forward Tomas Plihal scored on a textbook drop pass from Shane Joseph. Derek Meech scored the game-winner at the 14:51 mark on a fluke shot from the neutral zone on Barons goalie Nolan Schaefer. In the midst of a Barons line change, Meech carried the puck over the red line on the far side and fired the unexpected low-flying shot, grazing the right post before darting into the net.

MacIntyre was up the test in the final two minutes, stopping a Barons power play in the wake of cross checking penalty to Travis Richards of the Griffins. The final minute was especially nerve-wracking as the Barons pulled Schaefer to give them a 6th attacker and a two-man advantage.

Saturday night in an encore meeting in Grand Rapids, Matt Ellis scored two goals and Joey MacDonald made 33 saves as the Griffins defeated the Barons, 5-0. The Barons failed to score on three power play chances, including a penalty shot, and trailed 3-0 after one period of play. The Griffins scored one goal early and one goal late for a 5-0 lead after two periods. Nathan Robinson led the Griffins offense with a goal and two assists. MacDonald recorded his third shutout of the year and his franchise best 12th shutout of his career. The Barons did out-shoot Grand Rapids 33-28 in the game. Grand Rapids, AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, is now a perfect 3-0-0-0 versus Cleveland in the early season.

Barons Notes:

Grand Rapids was without arguably their best skater, left winger, Jiri Hudler, who returned Tuesday to the Czech Republic to visit his ailing father. Hudler will be absent indefinitely.

The weekend matchup with Grand Rapids represented a reunion of the Bootland brothers-Barons left winger Nick, 26, and Griffins right winger, Darryl, 23. Darryl won the points battle this time with two assists Friday night.

A pleasant sight Friday night at Gund Arena was the return of Barons defenseman Doug Murray to action after missing 11 games due to a hip injury. He contributed several of his bone-jarring checks and added an assist on Tomas Plihal's power play goal.

A quick whistle on two occasions by referee Steve Kozari cost the Barons good opportunities near the Grand Rapids net Friday night. In both instances, the puck was clearly still in the play. The second premature stop came with 37 seconds left in the game as Kozari blew the puck dead behind the net with the Barons on a power play.

The Barons will host the Second Annual Halloran Holiday Skate with the Barons on Sunday, December 5th from 1-4pm at Halloran Park in Cleveland. The entire Barons roster will take shifts skating with families throughout the day. Complimentary hot cocoa, hot dogs and popcorn will be available at the free event.

The Cleveland Barons player of the week is goaltender Nolan Schaefer. Schaefer broke out of a 0-5-0 streak in a big way. He held Manitoba, who are 4th in the league in scoring, to just two goals. In addition, Schaefer was perfect in the overtime period and stopped 4 out of 5 players to earn the Barons first shootout victory. He followed that up two nights later with a 33-save shutout at Hamilton. He also helped turn aside a 5-minute major early in the third period. In total, Schaefer was 2-0-0 with a 0.96 goals against average and a .968 save percentage.

Christian Ehrhoff, a defenseman, leads the Barons in shots with 58 on the season. Those 58 shots are second among all AHL defensemen and tied for 4th overall. Ehrhoff tied a Barons franchise record on November 6th against Hamilton with 10 shots.

Binghamton co-coach John Paddock (Ottawa) became just the third man in AHL history to earn 500 career victories with a recent shootout win over Hamilton. Paddock made his debut behind the bench with the Maine Mariners in 1982. He is the only man in AHL history to lead three different teams to Calder Cup championships (Maine, Hershey, Hartford).

Four teams are off to blazing starts in the AHL this season. Manchester (Los Angeles) is off to a 13-1-0-0 start, Philadelphia (Philadelphia) is 13-2-0-0, Edmonton (Edmonton) is 11-3-2-1 and defending champion Milwaukee (Nashville) is 11-1-1-1.

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