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POSTED ON Saturday, 10.13.2012 / 8:15 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

8:20 A.M. -- Good morning from sunny (and chilly) Springfield!

It was a lengthy drive yesterday with a couple of stops along the way - I can be high-maintenance when it comes to meal time - but BlueJackets.com and JacketsTV have safely arrived in the land of the Falcons.

We're about an hour away from the Falcons' morning skate, where we'll report with photos, lineups, injury news (if applicable), and get to talk to some of the players as they prepare for what should an exciting opening night at MassMutual Center.

Here's what we do know as the first official Falcons game day begins...

St. John's is a pretty good team, and got even better when the Winnipeg Jets assigned Alex Burmistrov to the IceCaps prior to the NHL work stoppage. They upgraded in goal over the summer with former Springfield netminder Mark Dekanich, and will undoubtedly be a stern opponent to kick off the 2012-13 campaign.


Follow today's Game Day blog by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Friday, 10.12.2012 / 2:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

FALCONS OPEN SEASON WITH WEEKEND SET

In many ways, this is a fresh start for the Springfield Falcons that begins on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center.

There’s a new voice behind the bench in Brad Larsen. The club is equipped with a young, dynamic roster that features some of the Blue Jackets top prospects. They will be sporting sharp new third jerseys for the first time in franchise history when the puck drops, and there’s a sense of “together” that has been fostered from the changes.

Falcons president and GM Bruce Landon was quick to credit Chris MacFarland and the hockey operations staff in Columbus for a productive offseason, which yielded the signing of a new starting goaltender (Curtis McElhinney) and one of the soon-to-be offensive mainstays of the club (Jonathan Audy-Marchessault).

The progression of prospects within the Blue Jackets system has turned a deep group of defensemen into management’s biggest decision. Will Weber is ready for the pro ranks after a taste last season,Austin Madaisky has made the jump from the WHL and Tim Erixon joins the organization after a certain significant trade with the New York Rangers.

Sure, the American Hockey League is going to be as strong as it has possibly ever been this season, but that shouldn’t diminish the Falcons’ chances to contend – both within their division and within their conference.


Continue reading this story by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Thursday, 10.11.2012 / 4:35 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

I remember hearing the praise for Boone Jenner when the Blue Jackets drafted him in 2011, but you can sometimes fall guilty to believing everything that's said about players when they’re picked.

“He works hard, he competes, he’s a good team guy.” Those words are tossed around like world peace at a beauty pageant and after a while, you wonder if people are just reading off a teleprompter.

But there are certain players that embody everything you hear about them, and when NHL teams get their hands on one, it’s awfully tough to pry them away.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and his staff have a lot to look forward to with the now 19-year-old captain of the Oshawa Generals – who are the Ontario Hockey League’s first-place team and on quite a roll at home.

Jenner is also the league’s leading scorer with 16 points in his first seven games, and has put a young Generals squad on his back in the early going.


Continue reading our conversation with Jeff Marek here >>

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.10.2012 / 11:45 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

What do you get when Stinger and his Blue Jackets pals hang out at Nationwide Arena? In this case, it's a party that was "Gangnam Style" from the start.

There are plenty of CBJ cameos in this parody video, can you spot them all? Comment and let us know what you think!

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.10.2012 / 10:10 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

NOTE: This is the weekly column of BlueJackets.com writer Rob Mixer. Follow Rob on Twitter by clicking here, and be sure to check out his regular updates on the CBJ Today blog.

Thankfully, I stopped doing the "Gangnam Style" dance at my desk long enough to write this column.

And I hope you now have that horrifying mental image wiped out. My apologies.

Ahem.

In just a few days, the Springfield Falcons are beginning a new chapter.

There is a lot to look forward to. Brad Larsen heads up a young, energized coaching staff that shares a lot of the same beliefs and philosophies as Todd Richards' staff in Columbus. The Falcons coaches have all played in the American Hockey League, and are fully aware of what their players are going to experience on and off the ice.

Blue Jackets fans will be paying close attention to this intriguing group of players, in large part due to the number of familiar names that occupy the roster: Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, John Moore, Matt Calvert, David Savard, and a host of others are going to be key contributors to any success the Falcons enjoy.


Continue reading this story by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.08.2012 / 12:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

It's probably a bit premature to label an early-October hockey game as a "heavyweight showdown," but Friday night's matchup between Oshawa and Kingston had all the makings of a must-see.

On one hand, there were the surprising Frontenacs, picked by many to occupy the lower regions of the Ontario Hockey League standings and struggle to win on a consistent basis. Then you have the Generals, a talent-laden club that is looking to finally steer the ship in the right direction and compete for a championship.

Two different paths and two unique situations, but they had a thread of commonality on Friday: both teams wanted to win the game and continue their torrid October paces in the OHL.

General Motors Centre in Oshawa was the place to be: a couple of hockey clubs playing very well on a big holiday weekend in Canada with plenty of emotion in the building.

And it was quite the hockey game to marry with the atmosphere.


Continue reading this story by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.08.2012 / 10:00 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

After a self-proclaimed "chaotic" loss to the Providence Bruins last week to open the preseason, Brad Larsen said his main concern was making sure that everyone was on the same page.

Even though many of his regular players were out of the lineup that night, Larsen didn't like some of the systematic and structural mistakes made by the Falcons. But headed into this past weekend with more practice time under their belts (and a lineup that more closely resembled what we may see on opening night), Springfield had a chance to fine-tune the engines a couple more times.

Their preseason finale weekend consisted of a Friday night contest against the Worcester Sharks at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, followed up by a home-ice tilt with Providence on Saturday.

Both games featured various different storylines, but there was one constant: Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was on fire, scoring five goals on the weekend including a hat trick in Friday night's 4-3 win over the Sharks. He seemed to be around every loose puck, and converted on a few nice set-ups from line mate Ryan Johansen, as well.


Continue reading this story by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Friday, 10.05.2012 / 10:00 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


WHAT: Springfield Falcons (0-1-0) vs. Worcester Sharks (1-0-0)

WHERE: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Mass.

WHEN: Tonight, 7 p.m.

RADIO: n/a

TV: n/a


RUNDOWN

Yes, it was the first exhibition game -- but that doesn't mean Falcons coach Brad Larsen should lower his expectations. He made no bones about it when talking about the 4-1 loss to Providence on Wednesday night. He told Mike Kelly on FalconsTV that some of his players showed that they are picking up the details on their structure and style of play, but other plays haven't yet displayed that they're up to speed.

Will those things come along as more games are played and familiarity develops among the group? Absolutely, but time's running short as the preseason winds down and the regular-season opener looms in just a week's time. Springfield will use tonight's exhibition contest vs. Worcester as another tuneup; the Sharks are a solid club that won their preseason opener and have been bolstered by some assignments from the parent club.

The Falcons are expected to ice a more experienced lineup than they did Wednesday night against Providence, meaning more of the "regular" players should see some ice time. That could mean we'll see some possible line combinations put together as well as defense pairs, which is typically the case during home-ice preseason games.

One caveat is the back-to-back set that begins with tonight's game. Tomorrow is another home game, so Larsen can be selective with the lineup.

Without question, Larsen's primary focus tonight will be evaluating the progress of the group and particularly those he's going to rely on this year. He told me earlier this week that he and assistants Nolan Pratt and Jared Bednar have spent training camp making sure that their style of play is implemented and everyone's on the same page -- and they plan on using the remainder of the preseason schedule to figure out who needs more time to do so.


WHAT TO WATCH

I'll be keeping an eye on the guys who Springfield is counting on to be impact players: Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, John Moore, Dalton Smith and others. While it's a preseason game, this is still an important opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff and earn a spot high in the Falcons lineup.

Also of interest: how they line up. Who will play with who? Which tandem will form some instant chemistry as a defense pairing? Exhibition season is when some of those questions get answered, and it will be fun to see them play out.


ROSTER

Here is the Falcons lineup for tonight's game:

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Ryan Craig - Andrew Joudrey - Cody Bass

Sean Collins - Michael Chaput - Jake Hansen

Dalton Smith - Nathan Moon - Tim Spencer


Nick Holden
- Austin Madaisky

John Moore - Cody Goloubef

Greg Amadio - Will Weber


Paul Dainton

Mike Clemente

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POSTED ON Thursday, 10.04.2012 / 11:00 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The weekend before Canadian Thanksgiving is always a busy time in junior hockey, and it's no different for Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner.

Both players have been off to impressive starts with their clubs in Everett and Oshawa, but it's a double bonus for Jenner because the Generals are currently the first-place team in the OHL's East Division -- and have the best point total in the entire league.

Murray and the Silvertips are off to a slow start in the standings, but the Blue Jackets' first-round pick (2012) has not missed a beat despite getting a late start on training camp. The 19-year-old defenseman has put up four points (one goal, three assists) for a club that has struggled mightily in the offensive end of the rink lately, while playing upwards of 25 minutes a night on the blueline.

That's his game, though: an all-around defenseman that moves the puck of trouble and shuts down opponents with excellent positioning. Not flashy, not overly exciting -- but at the end of the night, you know the kid has done his job.


Continue reading this story by clicking here >>

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.03.2012 / 1:55 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

WHAT: Springfield Falcons (0-0-0) vs. Providence Bruins (0-0-0)

WHERE: New England Sports Center, Marlborough, Mass.

WHEN: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.

RADIO: n/a

TV: n/a


RUNDOWN
The Springfield Falcons have unveiled a brand-new slogan for the 2012-13 season: "Hatched and Hungry," and it fits the team perfectly. Last season, the Falcons saw the development of several prominent youngsters take a promising step forward as the club got a taste of a late-season playoff run.

Ultimately, they came up short and weren't able to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs, but there was a sense of optimism born in the strong showings by their key players. Cam Atkinson had a stellar campaign, scoring 29 goals and participating in the AHL All-Star weekend before being promoted to the Blue Jackets later in the year. David Savard was a force on the blueline and the team's veterans were solid, dependable resources for the kids.

Most of that group returns for the 2012-13 season, but there's a new look behind the bench. After serving as an assistant coach for two seasons, 35-year-old Brad Larsen is now the Falcons head coach and has spent training camp trying to implement a hard-working, honest culture around the club. Larsen hired Jared Bednar, former head coach of the Peoria Rivermen, to join him as an assistant alongside Nolan Pratt, who had a 16-year playing career of his own.


Continue reading this story (and see tonight's roster) by clicking here >>

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