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Barons sweep opponents this week
Win streak at four games
12/20/04 - by Craig Haueter

The Cleveland Barons entered the week short-handed due to injuries to Marcel Goc (wrist) and Tomas Plihal (shoulder) and a 2-game suspension for defenseman Garrett Stafford. They ended the week having swept St. John's, San Antonio and Grand Rapids and seemingly gaining a great deal of team chemistry. The Barons have impressed onlookers recently with their heightened energy level and physical play as well. Patrick Rissmiller was the offensive leader this week registering 2 goals and 2 assists. Rookie Josh Prudden scored the game-winning goal in all three games. Ryane Clowe (0-3) and Shane Joseph (1-2) each added three points. Goalie Nolan Schaefer picked up a pair of wins, including his fourth career shutout and second of the season Saturday night in Grand Rapids. Schaefer has recorded his four shutouts in 41 career AHL games. He's tied with Vesa Toskala for the franchise lead. Toskala gained his in 111 games.

Cleveland 4, St. John's 2

Tuesday night at Gund Arena, Patrick Rissmiller scored two goals for his 100th and 101st AHL career points and the Barons defense took care of the rest in a 4-2 Cleveland victory. The Barons kept coming and finally got some breaks in the form of three goals in a span of 2:49 late in the third period after Matt Stajan scored early in the third period to give St. John's a 2-1 lead. Then came the Barons' scoring spree, courtesy of Grant Stevenson's wrister at 13:29, Josh Prudden's wraparound at 15:52 and Rissmiller's slap shot at 16:18. Prudden broke the tie by stealing a soft chip-back and wrapping the puck past a flat-footed Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

Two days earlier, the Barons scored four goals in the third period. The margin against St. John's could have been even more decisive. Five Barons shots banged off the posts. The Maple Leafs pulled in front, 1-0 with a power play goal in the first period. Jason MacDonald beat Nolan Schaefer, snapping the Barons's streak of penalty kills at 21. The Barons finally broke through at 11:39 of the second period on a Rissmiller deflection of Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the left. Barons defenseman Matt Carkner set a franchise record by playing in his 197th game. He had been tied with Miroslav Zalesak. Stars of the game were: Grant Stevenson #3, Josh Prudden #2 & Patrick Rissmiller #1.

Cleveland 3, San Antonio 2

Dimitri Patzold stopped 20 shots as the Barons defeated the San Antonio Rampage Friday night at Gund Arena. Cleveland's Grant Stevenson scored the first goal of the game, a power play goal at 3:53 of the first period. The goal was assisted by Tim Conboy and Doug Murray, who returned from injury after missing 20 of the previous 21 games. San Antonio responded with a power play strike of their own by Juraj Kolnik exactly two minutes later. San Antonio took the lead 14:25 into the first period when Josh Olson netted his second goal of the season. Conboy scored his first professional goal at 11:40 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2.

The Barons dominated the middle period out-shooting San Antonio 19-10. The Barons took the lead in the third period off a power play goal by center Josh Prudden to secure the victory. With a two-point night, Patrick Rissmiller surpassed Chad Wiseman on the Barons all-time scoring list into second place (103 pts). Miroslav Zalesak is currently the all-time Barons leading scorer with 166 points. Rampage goalie Travis Scott was a bit more generous in this game than the last time Scott faced the Barons. Back on March 2nd, Scott made a whopping 55 saves as San Antonio posted a shutout victory in overtime. Friday night, Scott saved 43 of 46 shots and took the loss. Stars of the game were: Patrick Rissmiller #3, Grant Stevenson #2 & Doug Murray #1.

Cleveland 2, Grand Rapids 0

Josh Prudden scored his third consecutive game-winning goal and Nolan Schaefer made all 28 saves at Grand Rapids Saturday night for a 2-0 win. The victory was the Barons fourth straight, which is their longest winning streak of the season. Prudden gave the Barons a first period 1-0 lead on a great individual effort when after being tripped up skating in alone on Griffins' goaltender Joey MacDonald, he stayed with the play and scored while laying on his stomach. The Barons netted an insurance goal with 2:55 remaining in the game when Shane Joseph stole a puck in the offensive zone and started a give-and-go with Ryane Clowe for the 2-0 final margin of victory. Clowe returned the feed set up Joseph for his sixth goal of the season. Prudden's third consecutive game-winning goal for the Barons set a franchise record.

Barons Notes

The Barons have signed right winger Mike Hoffman to a standard AHL contract. Hoffman, 24, began the season with the Barons on a professional try-out agreement. The 6-6, 245-pound forward split the 2003-04 season between Worcester (AHL) and Peoria (ECHL). The Scituate, MA native played collegiate hockey with the University of Connecticut. His 76 penalty minutes lead the team as do his 11 major penalties.

The Barons' game against the Syracuse Crunch scheduled for March 27th in Syracuse will now be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on January 12th. Nationwide Arena is home to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Crunch's NHL affiliate. The contest will mark the first of eight between the Barons and the Crunch this season.

Left winger Jason Jaffray joined the Barons this week, fresh from the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. He even has some history with some of the Barons going back to his PeeWee days where he played with Shane Joseph in Brooks, Alberta. Jaffray and Joseph have teamed up with Grant Stevenson to form the "Alberta Line", named as such since Stevenson is also an Alberta native. Tomas Plihal and also acquainted with Jaffray since they were teammates in the Western Hockey League as members of Kootenay in 2001-02. Jaffray was recalled briefly in 2002-03 by Norfolk and last year for 5 games by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Jaffray hit the ground running in his debut Tuesday night recording an assist.

Defenseman Greg Labenski was recalled Tuesday from Kalamazoo of the UHL. Labenski had appeared in 8 games for the Barons this season before being reassigned. Labenski was recalled due to the suspension of Garrett Stafford, who missed two games due to his incidental high-stick on the Mighty Ducks Chris Kunitz.

Nobody ever accused Garrett Stafford of not being tough. The legend continued last Sunday when Stafford returned from a broken nose and gashed lip suffered in a hard check to register two assists.

Defenseman Doug Murray was noticeably wincing late in the game Friday night and was icing his injured hip after the game. Murray was held out of the game Saturday night in Grand Rapids as a precaution.

The Cleveland Barons Player of the Week is goaltender Dimitri Patzold. Patzold was victorious in his only appearance last week, snapping a three-game losing streak for the Barons. He was close to a shutout, but a fluke goal with less than two minutes left in the game dissolved those hopes. In all, Patzold stopped 38 shots against Cincinnati.

Coach Roy Sommer was so pleased with his club's physicality against Cincinnati last Sunday night that he cancelled practice for the non-injured players on Monday.

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