October 28, 2011

AHL Journal: Good first impression by Macias

by Dan Hickling

Springfield Falcons defenseman Ray Macias (photo: Dan Hickling photo)

There were no promises made to defenseman Ray Macias when he hooked on with the Springfield Falcons.

Nothing long-term, anyway.

Just the chance for him to show that he's too good to play in the ECHL, and still good enough to be thought of as an NHL hopeful. All the while filling a void – and a temporary one at that – on the Birds' blue line.

Macias, who is another of the burgeoning “Gretzky Generation” Californians (Long Beach, Calif.) making a mark in pro hockey, has bounced around a bit – from Johnston to Lake Erie to Colorado and back – during his four previous pro seasons, all of it in the Avalanche system.

The two parties parted ways after last season, leaving Macias without an AHL gig when the season started. Instead, he landed back in the ECHL with Reading, but after two games with the Royals, and with manpower shortages on defense in both Columbus and Springfield, the Falcons came calling, albeit with one of those temp-job PTO contracts.

Nonetheless, Macias has played like a first-rounder in his three games to date, notching three points (1-2-3) and registering a plus-three (which instantly put him in the team lead in that department).

“He's had a real good three games,” said Falcons coach Rob Riley. “Every game, he's been plus-one. He gets a goal. Plays smart. He's a good-looking player.”

His only shot on goal as a Falcon found the back of the net and helped the Birds snap a three-game skid with Wednesday's 2-1 win at Manchester.

“I had a great opportunity here,” said Macias. “I came in, just worked hard and played my game. They gave me a great opportunity and I'm just taking the most out of it. Hopefully I can stick here.”

That may be a problem, even as well as he's been playing.

Highly-regarded defense prospect David Savard rejoined the Falcons, on Wednesday, after starting the season up top. Theo Ruth, another young Blue Jacket D-man, is set to return from injury.

And, with James Wisniewski about to finish his eight-game NHL banishment with Columbus, former first-rounder John Moore – who pocketed his first NHL goal in Tuesday's win over Detroit – could also be on his way back to Springfield.

But those are issues Macias can't control.

All he can do is make sure each shift is as good as the last one and hope for the best. And the best may be straight ahead.

Around the AHL

The Portland Pirates were loaded with veteran defensemen and short on experienced point-getters. And with the Bucs in a bit of an early-season funk, a move was clearly called for, and made, by the parent Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes hooked up with the Montreal Canadiens to bring in established center/wing Brock Trotter from the Hamilton Bulldogs for defenseman Garrett Stafford (ex-UNH). Trotter was reunited with another former Hab hopeful, Kyle Chipchura, although the two have yet to skate together as Bucs. … Springfield named veteran winger Dane Byers as its captain just prior to the game in Manchester. Byers, who is in his second tour of duty with the Falcons, had previously captained the old Hartford Wolf Pack. Others wearing the “C” among the AHL's New England contingent are Jeremy Colliton (Bridgeport), Dean Arsene (Portland), Marc-Andre Cliché (Manchester), Trent Whitfield (Providence) and Mike Moore (Worcester) … Manchester takes a five-game losing streak into this weekend's play. It is the longest skid in the team's 11 year history.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.