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Barons split weekend set, fall to 6th place
Clowe scores goal in both games
12/5/04 - by Craig Haueter

The rookie-laden Barons quest for a weekend sweep over struggling Utah and Hamilton at Gund Arena fell apart Saturday afternoon as the Hamilton Bulldogs, backed by 4 unanswered goals, were victorious over Cleveland 4-1. It marked the first victory of the season for Bulldogs goaltender, Dan Ellis, as he broke a string of nine consecutive losses. The Barons were coming off a dramatic 16-round shootout victory, 3-2, Friday night over Utah.

The Barons capitalized early Saturday on a power play goal by Ryane Clowe, his 4th of the season, just 5:56 into the game. Clowe hammered one in off a Garrett Stafford shot from the point. The beleaguered Barons penalty killing unit survived three power play efforts by Hamilton in the opening period. Cleveland goalie Dimitri Patzold looked dominating, stopping all 11 shots by the Bulldogs. In the second period, the Barons penalty kill came up big again denying the Bulldogs on a 5-minute major penalty to Josh Prudden for boarding. Prudden earned a game misconduct for his efforts as well. Andrei Kostitsyn would even the score 1-1 nearly 14 minutes into the period on a shot that deflected off the pad of Patzold and into the net.

Hamilton came out and started the third period with a bang. Chris Higgins started and finished a 3-on-0 breakaway, with a goal that trickled through the legs of Patzold. Michael Lambert struck ten minutes later to push the Hamilton advantage to 3-1. Marc-Andre Thinel would add an empty net tally with just 31 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.

Friday night, the 4-13-0-1 Utah Grizzlies came to town and took the Barons to a shootout before falling in the 16th round on a Garrett Stafford goal. The game set a record for most rounds in a shootout in AHL history, surpassing the record set minutes earlier when Lowell defeated Hartford 1-0 in a 13-round shootout. Stafford's goal was the culmination of what had been a superb goaltender battle between Nolan Schaefer of the Barons and David LeNeveu of the Grizzlies.

The first period featured fierce offensive pressure from the Barons, as they kept the puck in the Utah zone for nearly the entire period. Utah did not get their first shot on goal until nearly the midpoint of the period. A Matt Carkner turnover in his own zone led to a bad bounce shot by Fredrik Sjostrom past a screened Nolan Schaefer.

The Barons' Patrick Rissmiller found the back of the net at 11:27 of the second, with assists from Marcel Goc and Matt Carkner to tie the game at one. The Barons' momentum propelled them into a three-on-one textbook play as a perfect pass floated from Jim Fahey to Shane Joseph and finally to Ryane Clowe, who scored on LeNeveu to give the Barons a 2-1 lead. After a late penalty to Grant Stevenson, Utah's Jarrod Skalde scored a six-on-four goal to tie the game. After a conservative overtime, the teams entered a five-player shootout.

After Utah's Peter White scored in the fifth round, Christian Ehrhoff answered to tie the shootout for the Barons and send the game into a sudden-death shootout. After three more scoreless rounds, Utah's Erik Westrum and the Barons' Garrett Stafford each earned goals. Both goaltenders denied all the shooters for six more rounds, until Stafford scored once more to win the game. The Barons out-shot Utah in the game 41-22.

Barons Notes:

Barons forward Grant Stephenson had a rough weekend. Friday night inside of two minutes to play with the Barons leading 2-1, Stevenson said a magic word or two to referee Terry Koharski, who slapped him with a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. After Skalde's goal to tie the game, Stevenson received a 10-minute game misconduct for abuse of officials and was sent to the locker room. Prior to the game Saturday, Stephenson was optioned to Johnstown of the ECHL. Projected as an important piece this season, Stevenson has just two goals and six assists in 19 games.

The Barons have a unique promotion for Saturday afternoon games at Gund Arena. Called 'Baby Day", all children 2-and-under receive free admission and anyone bringing a child 2-and-under will receive a free $16 ticket.

The Cleveland Barons Player of the Week is left winger Tomas Plihal. Plihal recorded goals in back-to-back games to start the week. In three games, Plihal registered 3 points on 2 goals and 1 assist. He was even (+/-) for the week and posted 8 shots on net.

With just 22 games played this season, Cleveland has already been involved in 4 shootouts, earning a mark of 2-2. Ironically, all four games that have ended in a shootout for the Barons have resulted in a 3-2 score.

Barons head coach Roy Sommer is now the longest tenured coach in the Cleveland sporting world. Sommer took the baton from Butch Davis who resigned from the Cleveland Browns earlier this week. This is Sommer's fourth season in Cleveland, and his seventh as the coach of the Sharks top development affiliate.

There are several statistics that can be used to gauge the status of a team's development. For the inconsistent Barons, two glaring weaknesses stand out. The Barons rank 25th in the AHL in the goals against category, surrendering 3.09 goals per game. On the penalty kill, the Barons rank dead last (28th) with a penalty kill rate of only 75.96%.

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