Author Archives: kramskorner

About kramskorner

Columnist and PodCast Host for the Award Winning Horn and Bell Blog from the NoiseNation. Follow @Kram209 for news about the IronPigs, Phantoms, and SteelHawks. Also news about the Velodrome and RollerGirls.

Hockey Night in Allentown: 12/17/2014 “Senate in Session”

After two weekends of “Three-in-TwoAndAHalf” the Phantoms got two days off and now welcome the Binghamton Senators.  Here’s what you need to know about tonight’s game at the PPL Center in Downtown Allentown, PA:

The Scene at Intros:  Nicely Shows the "Hotel" Suites above the Miller Lite Loft Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The Scene at Intros: Nicely Shows the “Hotel” Suites above the Miller Lite Loft
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

LOOKING BACK:

The Phantoms gathered three of a possible six points in last weekend’s three games.  They finished strong against a rested Devils Team down-the-shore, in their second straight overtime game following the shootout win versus the Pens last Saturday at home.  Nick Cousins was the hero in the shootout, scoring the winning goal with an ankle-breaking move to an open net.  Here’s a Vine of it, if I can get it to load:

(Credit: Broad Street Hockey’s Twitter account for the Vine)

The overtime loss to the Devils in AC on Sunday saw the Phantoms come from down 1-0 to tie it at 1-1 and take a 2-1 lead within a few minutes of the opening of the third period on goals by Leier and Stortini.  While the Devils tied it at 2, the Phantoms again took the lead 3-2 on a Gordon goal.  Unfortunately, the Devils were able to tie it in the final minutes on Zepp, and push through an overtime goal.

 

TEAM REPORT:

The team comes into tonight’s game remaining in fourth place in the East Division of the Eastern Conference–one point behind tonight’s guest, Binghamton, and five behind Friday’s opponent, Hershey.  However, it’s the Conference standings which matter if we want to see playoff hockey in Allentown in 2015.  It’s way too early, but I took a peek at those standings too.  Right now the Phantoms are three points out of the playoffs.

But, there’s a lot of hockey to play, and the Phantoms have been hovering around .500 at 11-10-3-1.  However, at 7-2-2-1 they’ve only lost twice outright at home.  We’d sure like to see more consistency, and maybe an easy win or two, as the close games have been difficult for my pacemaker to handle.  It sure is exciting, though!

If you recall, the B-Sens are the top scoring team in the AHL, but lack something on defense.  The game in Binghamton 12/12 was a rather chippy affair where the Phantoms kept it close.  The Sens tough guy got tossed for fighting with both Delisle and Stortini, and the Sens got the win 3-1.  “They don’t like us, and we don’t like them,” Says Alternate Captain Zack Stortini.  They play at a feverish pace; there should be a lot of shots tonight.

The Phantoms are now second in the league in average attendance with 7,961.  Hershey leads the league with 9,225 (they have a larger arena…) and Lake Erie dropped down after drawing only 3,056 last night.

The Phantoms held their first jersey auction following the game last Saturday.  As anticipated, the Eagles-like jerseys were a hit.  Stolarz’ and Hextall’s went for over $1,000.00!  The auction was held in the club-level seating area, auctioneer-style.

 

PLAYER REPORT:

Austin Fyten may have lost some teeth in Saturday’s shootout win versus the Pens.  He was no worse for wear, and returned to the game to block a crucial shot down the stretch.  He played in Sunday’s game in Atlantic City.

Blair Jones was a late scratch for the Sunday afternoon game.  Reports are that he’s been feeling a bit under the weather–with flu-like symptoms.  Coach Terry Murray believes that Jones should be available for tonight’s game.

Robert Hagg, the 19-year-old rookie defenceman, will be loaned to the Swedish National Team for the World Junior Championships which will be held in Canada from December to January.  He’ll miss about 5 Phantoms games along the way, as he’ll  join his native Team Sweden for preparations starting December 21.  Hagg turns 20 in February.

 

Zack Stortini out for the puck drop by Phantoms' legend Bill Barber prior to a recent game. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Zack Stortini out for the puck drop by Phantoms’ legend Bill Barber prior to a recent game.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

I’d expect Jones to return tonight, and the lines to resemble last Saturday with Akeson on the top line, but with Zepp in goal–but then, could be I’m “Dazed and Confused.”  Pettersson could return to the defense, as well.

Akeson – Jones – Gordon

Leier – Cousins – Stortini

Straka – Powe – Hextall

Rosehill – Goumas – Fyten

Manning – Alt

Hagg – Delisle

Lauridsen – Flemming

Zepp

 

TONIGHT’S GAME:

Gametime:  7:05PM puck drop; 6:00PM doors open.

Tickets:  Good seats are still available–some as close as the fifth row, and some in the Morning Call Club as well.  Purchase through PPLCenter.com with the new “pick your seats” option!

Broadcast:  TV: SECTV-2; RADIO:  AM-1470 “The Fox”; Arena Radio: FM 89.9

Pregame:  TV: 6:30PM live from Chickie’s and Pete’s.  Radio:  Bob Rotruck on AM-1470 at 6:20PM.  NoiseNation:  Crabby Ale Drinking Contest starting at 4PM at Chickie’s and Pete’s, exact location TBA.

Promotion: Happy Hour $2 Coors Light Drafts at the Coors Light Bar behind section 108, from 6PM until the start of the second period;

 

3

Akeson, Straka and Pettersson: Set for the face off. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Phantoms come right back on Friday night for another division tilt versus the Hershey Bears.  It’s also another T-Shirt night, as Phantoms “ugly sweater” T-Shirts will be given away to all in attendance who have seats, and fit into a size XL.  I’m kidding about that, but you get my drift.  Here’s what they look like:

"Ugly T-Shirt" to be given away Friday

“Ugly T-Shirt” to be given away Friday

Following Friday’s game, the Phantoms will head to Hartford for a late-Saturday-afternoon game prior to their Christmas break.  They’ll return to action on the 26th versus Hershey, in Hershey, and return to the PPL Center on Saturday, December 27 for “post-game photo night.”

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

PS:  Just kidding about the drinking contest.  Maybe.

 

 

 

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Hockey Night in Allentown: 12/13/2014 “Are You Ready for Some FOOTBALL?!?”

It’s another Saturday Night, and another Hockey Night in Allentown–this time with a football twist.  Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the Penguins and Phantoms at the PPL Center tonight.

Stolarz.  Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Stolarz. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

 

Looking Back:

In last weekend’s “three-in-three” the Phantoms came out soft up in Wilkes Barre against a Penguins team who had their roster ravaged by injuries and call-ups.  Some credited a hard-charging Pens team, but quotes from a befuddled Terry Murray told another story:  Poor play by the Phantoms.  The Spirits came out last Saturday in Allentown with increased intensity. A chippy start to the game with the Sound Tigers demonstrated a renewed intensity.  Unfortunately the team squandered a one-goal lead in the third period and finished by losing the shootout.  A rematch the next afternoon in Connecticut brought victory as Jason Akeson erupted for four points on the day–2 goals and 2 assists–in the 5-3 win.

Last Saturday was the inaugural “Teddy Toss” at the PeoPLe Center.  The Phantoms collected some 1,700 stuffed toys for the Valley Youth House.  Contrast it with the 17 THOUSAND they got in Hershey on the same night, and we have some work to do, folks!  Nevertheless, a neat idea and a good cause.  Here’s Cheryl’s video from our game:

 

Last night in Binghamton (“Bimington” is how they say it where I grew up…) the Phantoms began this weekend’s three-game marathon with a tilt versus the number one scoring offense in the AHL.  The B-Sens’ scoring prowess showed as they took 40-shots on our veteran net-minder, Zepp.  Many of the shots must have looked like “Tangerines” though as he was able to stop 37 of them.  The wraiths were able to take 35 themselves, though.  Unfortunately only an early Stortini put-back made it in, and the game result was a 3-1 loss.  There were a couple fights last night, and the game was a bit “chippy” at times.  Stortini put the beat down on one Sens player who was then ejected (his second fight of the game) to add insult to his injury.  It will be interesting to see if there are any “rematches” when the Sens come to town on Wednesday.

The Phantoms now go from facing the league’s best scoring offense to the league’s best scoring defense as the rival Penguins arrive at the PPL Center.  The Baby Pens pummeled the Sound Tigers 4-1 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, last night.

 

Team Update:

The roster has been relatively stable of late with Jesper Pettersson receiving a couple of healthy scratches on the defensive side, and Jay Rosehill getting a couple breaks on the offensive side.  However, both were back in the lineup last night.  Jason Akeson was moved to the second line with Cousins and Straka.  Akeson had that big afternoon last Sunday, but was quiet last night.  I expect Zepp to take the Pens to the “Gallow’s Pole” in goal tonight, with Stolarz getting the start down-the-shore tomorrow.  In Philly, veteran Centerman Ryan White has been cleared for contact and could be sent to Allentown for some “warm up” games.  Absent that, it could be Chris VandeVelde, whom we haven’t seen since the opening game.  With the arrival of a forward, we might expect Derek Mathers to return to Reading, although AHL roster rules do not require it, such as in baseball.

Lines and Pairings from Last Night:

Leier  –  Jones  –  Stortini

Akeson  –  Cousins  –  Straka

Powe  –  Goumas  –  Gordon

Rosehill  –  Fyten  –  Hextall

Manning  –  Alt

Hagg  –  Delisle

Lauridsen  –  Pettersson

Zepp

The Mighty Zepp Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The Mighty Zepp
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

TODAY’S GAME:

Time:  Puck drops at 7:05PM; Gates open at 6:00PM

Broadcast:  TV2 and FMZ69 for local TV; AHL online package for internet video; 1470AM for radio; IHeartRadio.com for internet audio; 89.9FM in the building.

Tickets:  This game is expected to be a sellout.  Standing Room Only tickets are already available via the PPLCenter.com web site.  They don’t usually make them available until most seats have sold.

Promo:  It’s FOOTBALL NIGHT as the Phantoms host a “Tailgate Party” to support the Eagles who face the much-hated Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia tomorrow.  The “Go Birds” theme will feature guest appearances by former Eagles Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Baldinger.  Baldinger was born in Pittsburgh and also played for the Cowboys, so if you have a chance, check his loyalty during the game ;)  Trotter is from Texas, but after years in the NFC East, I can’t imagine he has any affinity for the Cowboys.  The Eagles’ Cheerleaders will also be in attendance (memo to Jimmy T and our buddy Jared…).  Although the event is promoted as an “appearance” I imagine all will be available for autographs and photos for those interested.  The Phantoms will also wear special “Eagles” themed jerseys which will be auctioned off after the game.

Go-Birds_Jersey1-300x150

I’ve been asked several times about the mechanism of the auction.  I do not know.  However, if I have to guess I’d suppose it will be the clipboard method used in IronPigs days of yore.  (Watch out for blocking and pen stealing.)  When the Phantoms had an auction in Philadelphia last year, this is the method they used.

There will be a “Mr Rooter Puck Toss” after the game.  Toss some pucks onto the ice for a chance to win prizes!  I imagine pucks will be available for purchase about the concourse.

The Hot Dog promo continues: watch for a special sticker on your carton for the chance to win a prize.

 

What to Watch For At the Game:

  • Watch for the Phantoms to attempt to duplicate the energy they displayed last night in Binghamton.
  • Watch to see if the second line of Akeson-Cousins-Straka can get anything going.  They were quiet on the scoreboard last night.
  • Watch to see how much those jerseys go for.  I’ll be interested to find out.  I bet it will be A LOT.  Watch for fights to break out near the clipboard tables.  Maybe fasten your fight strap…
  • Watch for that Leblond dude from Scranton (Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, or PL3) to get into a fight with Stortini
  • For WBS, forwards Bobby Farnham and Bryan Rust were called up to the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night, while Forward Jason Megna was send back to WBS.  Megna should be in the game tonight.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Coming Up:

  • The Spirits head back to AC to face a well-rested Albany team as they complete their three-in-three tomorrow afternoon.
  • Wednesday Night is another Hockey Night in Allentown as the B-Sens arrive for Hanukkah Night.
  • Next Friday is another home game, and T-Shirt giveaway, on “Ugly Sweater Night” with the Hershey Bears in town.
"Ugly T-Shirt" to be given away Friday

“Ugly T-Shirt” to be given away Friday

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

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Lehigh Valley Professional Sports: Holiday Wishbook

Do you remember the Sears Christmas Wishbook?  Boy, I sure do.  I don’t remember exactly when it was delivered each year, but between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had that thing all but memorized.  Page by page, I knew the cool stuff and what was on my list.  I don’t remember ever GETTING any of it, but I remember I wanted stuff.

There’s no real Wishbook anymore, though.  The Wild West of the internet has replaced the old Wishbook tradition.  Heck, we’ve got stores open on Thanksgiving Day now, and overnight delivery and all of that.  It’s quite a change from 1981.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still want stuff.  I’ve learned by now I probably won’t get everything on my list.  I know it’s the season of giving, but I’ve already spent all my money on season ticket packages.  So, this is a list of the stuff I want from my sports teams:

SteelHawks:

I’ve given up on my wish for a green field–just like those walkie talkies I never got.  So instead, I wish for a home playoff game.   The SteelHawks have been in the playoffs the past two seasons–even made the championship last year–but we haven’t had a home playoff game yet.  It’s just the thing the ‘Hawks need to solidify their place in the Lehigh Valley Sports-scape.  With the move to the PPL Center Arena in Allentown, the SteelHawks will be attracting new fans, and hopefully creating the same exciting atmosphere we had in Bethlehem–and more.  I think a home playoff game (or two? I’m getting greedy…) is just what we need.  It would be easy for me to just put “winning” for each and every wish, but here, specifically, home playoffs.

Velodrome:

People keep telling me what a great time it is at the Velodrome in Trexlertown on summer Friday nights.  But, for some reason, I still haven’t been.  So from the Velodrome, I wish for an invitation, and good weather on Friday nights.   No, they don’t need to personally invite me–they don’t owe me anything.  But, they should keep on plugging away, advertising, and letting people know what a great time it is.  Excellent food and drink options are just what I need–and they’ve got it!  It’s the cycling capital of the United States, and it’s two miles from my door.  I have no more excuses.  This one is on my New Year’s Resolution list as well:  I’ve got to get there this summer!  You should too.

Phantoms:

For the Phantoms I wish good health.  There are a bunch of young and highly-regarded players on the team, and we’ve already experienced some injuries with Gostisbehere, Hextall and Alt.

From the Phantoms I wish for competitive and action-packed games to kick off their inaugural season in the Lehigh Valley.  Just a few night’s ago, both Mrs. Kram and NoiseNation Dan attended their first-ever hockey games.  Both enjoyed it and said that they’d be back.  It was a 3-2 win for the Phantoms.  I’m not so sure both would feel that way would it have been a 5-0 loss.  We’ve already had a bunch of good home games; I hope they continue.

IronPigs:

The IronPigs are like that rich Aunt who can afford to buy you whatever you want.  Will she?  That’s another matter.  But in this case, we’ve already seen the IronPigs invest in their stadium and invest in their brand in the past.  We’ve seen new seating areas, tiki bars, whole new uniforms sets and other cool stuff.  And, we’ve gotten a little kicker–in the form of loaded ticket credit–as season ticket holders.  It’s all good.  What could I possibly want?  I wish for a new scoreboard.  I know it’s a luxury.  We have a perfectly good, working, scoreboard right now.  But technology moves forward.  Big gorgeous boards in Philly, Reading, and Moosic–not to mention 7th and Hamilton–have passed Coca Cola Park by.  As the number one destination in minor league baseball over the past several years, the park–and the fans–deserve the best new scoreboard Aunt Kurt can afford.  And while we’re wishing for stuff, let’s hire an additional intern who’s only job is to get replays up on that new board so that we can see what the heck just happened.

What do YOU wish for, from our professional franchises?  Leave your wishes in the comments section, and I’ll make sure they get to the proper “Santas.”

 

See you at the North Pole,

@Kram209

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Hockey Night in Allentown: 12/6/2014 “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”

Everything you need to know to get you ready for the hockey game tonight at the PPL Center in Allentown.  It’s the Bridgeport Sound Tigers versus YOUR Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

..

“If you go down to the [arena] today
You’re sure of a big surprise.”

–Anne Murray “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”

..

Looking Back:

The Phantoms got a much-needed win versus the last-place Norfolk Admirals last weekend thanks to Blair Jones’ “Gordie Howe” Hat Trick (goal, assist, fight).  In fact, Jones had two goals in the 4-3 Phantoms victory.  Taylor Leier had a goal, continuing his scoring streak and team lead, and Brandon Manning had a couple assists, continuing his points streak.

Last night, the Phantoms  got their collective butts kicked by a roster-depleted Baby Penguins team.  For two periods, they couldn’t control the puck, couldn’t fore-check, couldn’t clear the zone, and descended into sloppy play in front of returning goalie Rob Zepp.  He was pulled, but the problems went much deeper.  Brett Hextall managed a goal in the 5-1 drubbing in Wilkes Barre.

Team Report: 

We’ve reached the (“No Quarter”) quarter-turn with the games last weekend.  At this point, I don’t feel it’s prudent to start handing out grades on individual players or units–the sample size is relatively small and I’m armed only with the powers of observation during home games and very little hockey experience.  There are a couple things of note, however:

  • Home record: 6-2-2, Road record: 3-7-0-0; 9-9-2 is good for 20 points and fourth place.  We have a .500 hockey team right now; they play better at home.  Hopefully, the talent we have will help us climb the ranks as we go forward.
  • Taylor Leier is tied for 7th in the league in Power Play goals
  • Brandon Manning is tied for 12th in the league in Power Play Assists
  • Jay Rosehill is 10th in the league in penalty minutes
  • Phantoms are 12th (out of 30) in Power Play percentage
  • Phantoms are 25th (out of 30) in Penalty Kill
  • In the entire Eastern Conference, the Phantoms are second only to Syracuse in Penalty Minutes per game

Martin Ouellette (G) was sent back to Reading on Thursday, portending the return of starting goalie Rob Zepp who should be ready to “Bring it on Home” this weekend, after suffering a lower body (probably an “Achillies (Last Stand)” wouldn’t you think?) injury a week ago Wednesday during warmups.

Coach Terry Murray reportedly called out Robert Hagg following one of last weekend’s games.  He questioned his mental approach and intensity on the ice.  It’s an interesting tactic for the veteran coach to take with a player who’s among the youngest on the team at only 19 years old.  I’m not sure I have any particular comment here, other than that it’s something to watch, he’s young, and maybe a lot coming at him living in the US full time now and with the injuries to Gostisbehere and Alt leaving things a bit in flux on the blue line.

Tonight’s Game:

The Sound Tigers arrive having lost in Hershey last night 3-6, also in the midst of a “Three-in-three.”  We’ll play in Bridgeport Connecticut tomorrow afternoon to close out the weekend.  The Sound Tigers are in fourth place in the Northeast Division, playing about .500 hockey over the past ten games.  They are the affiliate of the New York Islanders.  Perhaps it’s a good chance for the Phantoms to shake off last night’s debacle.

Game Time:  7:05PM, Gates 6:00PM.

Bonus Hockey:  Doors Open at 1PM for a 2PM tilt between Lehigh and Lafayette Ice Hockey Teams!  Your ticket to the Phantoms game will be needed to get in, but there is no additional charge.  Enter through the Air Products gate!

Broadcast:  TV2/69FMZ/AM1470/Arena: 89.9FM

Broadcast Note:  Tomorrow’s game in Bridgeport will be broadcast on 790-WAEB.  3PM gametime.

Tickets:  Plenty of tickets remain as of Friday afternoon, but they are going fast.  NEW!  The web site has been updated to allow you to choose your seats!  Check it out!  It worked fine for tonight’s game, but didn’t work for the any of the other events or concerts I attempted.  Still, it’s a start.

Promotions:   Tonight’s game is chock full of promotions!  First, there will be a Teddy Bear Toss!  What the heck is that?  Well, at the first Phantoms goal, everyone will toss a new or gently used bear or stuffed animal on the ice as a donation to Valley Youth House.  If you like, you can purchase a suitable item at the Phantoms store, I’m sure.  See below for YouTube versions of other teams’ experience.  If you’re sitting behind the net or not within throwing distance, adjust accordingly.

Second, it’s Ledgend’s Night with Bill Barber.  The two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Hockey Hall of Famer, and first coach of the Phantoms will be on hand to sign autographs behind section 112 from 6:00PM until 6:45PM.  Each fan will receive a collector’s poster!

barber poster

Finally, the Lucky Dog promotion continues:  If your hot dog carton contains the “lucky dog” sticker, present it at Fan Services for a prize!

What To Watch For:

  • Watch for the Phantoms to continue to cut down on HITS.  HITS is Holding, Interference, Tripping, and Slashing.  Sloppy penalties have been a problem, although it seems to be a bit better of late.  As the long hockey weekend wears on, we’ll see if they can continue to resist such play.  In last night’s game, some of the penalties felt like they were frustration-based with the way the game was going, more than sloppy, as I listened to the radio broadcast and followed on Twitter.
  • Watch to see if the Phantoms can respond to what happened last night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  Look for them to start fast in the game.  Have your bear ready!
  • Watch to see how Zepp/Stolarz looks in the goal.  The alternate will almost certainly start tomorrow in Connecticut.
  • Watch to see who is paired with Hagg, and how he responds to the public challenge from his coach.
  • Watch to see if the Power Play units can continue to be successful.  Taylor Leier has been deadly of late, and much of the credit goes to Zach Stortini.  The big dude has been parking himself in front of the goalie to open up corner chances on the man-advantage.  It’s a good plan which has been working lately.
  • Watch to see Jason Akeson get more involved.  Just like Blair Jones, having come from the Flyers without a ton of playing time, the fresh legs are good but the rhythm can be off a bit.  I look for Akeson to get a couple of goals this weekend.

Coming Up:

The Phantoms will complete the “three-in-three” tomorrow with a rematch in Bridgeport, CT.  The 3PM matinee should test the mettle of both teams–tune in and listen if you’re not busy watching football.  Friday, the Phantoms will be in Binghamton, NY (just 2hrs 15mins up I-81 from Allentown) before returning to face the Penguins again on Saturday December 13.  The Phantoms will wear “Philadelphia Eagles”-like jerseys for that game, which will be auctioned off following the game.  It will be interesting to hear how the first arena jersey auction goes–and what the prices are.  Following next Saturday’s game, the Phantoms will head back down-the-shore to face the Albany Devils on the Boardwalk once again.

Teddy Bear Toss:

Hershey:

One More:

Advanced Strategy:  If you’re sitting down front, you may want to be ready to “re-throw” a bunch of them.  Or, just get up and go get a beer.  There’s going to be some extra clean-up time involved, take the opportunity to use the rest room, gets some refreshments, and the like.  If someone gets good video of ours tonight, please send it along and I’ll post it.  Golly I hope we score, otherwise I guess just throw them on the ice at the conclusion of the game.

 

See you at the area (eventually),

@Kram209

 

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Hockey Night in Allentown: 11/29/2014 “Sick Again”

“Hours, hours, and the moments in between…”

–Led Zeppelin, “Sick Again”

——

Andrew Gordon and Rob Zepp Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Andrew Gordon and Rob Zepp
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Team Update:  

Maybe not a fair title, but rock solid veteran goalie Rob “Zepper” Zepp sustained a “lower body” injury during warm-ups Wednesday night and became a late injury scratch with rookie prospect Anthony Stolarz taking over netminding duties.  Zepp remained dressed for the game, but afterwards we learned that he was not available to back up Stolarz.  It would have been a player taking over in the case of a “Stolie” injury.  Manning?  Hextall?!?  One can only speculate.

In any case, Stolarz will be the “every night” goalie for now, and first-year pro Martin Ouellette was called up from Reading for support.  Zepp’s injury is said to be about a “7 day” term–or much shorter than Ten Years Gone.

Defenceman Mark Alt returned to action in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to Springfield.  I thought he looked a bit rusty, but his continued presence should aid the Phantoms defense as well as special teams units.

24-year old winger Jason Akeson  is back with the Phantoms after passing through waivers from the Flyers on Friday.  His presence should help in the offensive end.  He scored 24 goals to go along with 40 assists last year in 70 games with the Phantoms.  He was in the lineup last night in Atlantic City.   In turn, Brandon Alderson was reassigned to Reading.  Alderson’s been a decent AHL player over the past season and a half, but I felt he was one of the players guilty of taking too many “sloppy” penalties of late.  Perhaps a couple of games in Reading getting “back to basics” and he’ll return to form for the Phantoms.

Brett Hextall instigated some end-of-game extracurriculars last night in the down-the-shore game, which may result in his suspension for tonight.  That will obviously impact the lines.  Alderson could return, I suppose, if they want an extra.  Things in a bit of flux with players coming and going, so it will be interesting to see what tonight holds.  I’d love to post the lines each “Hockey Night” post, but it seems they don’t usually announce them until I’m in the arena.  Another note from last night:  Jesper Pettersson had the night off.  The young Swede hadn’t had his name mentioned much lately, but for a defenceman, sometimes that’s a good thing.  At any rate, here’s what the lines and pairings looked like last night:

Leier  –  Jones  –  Stortini

Straka  –  Cousins  –  Gordon

Akeson  –  Powe  –  Hextall

Rosehill  –  Goumas  –  Fyten

Manning  –  Delisle

Alt  –  Hagg

Lauridsen  –  Flemming

Stolarz

 

Looking Back / Standings:

The Phantoms played some uninspired hockey in front of Stolie Wednesday night and dug themselves into a 3-0 hole against one of the top teams in the AHL, Springfield.  Junior and I bailed at the second intermission, only to have the team come back without us.  Goals by “Diesel” Delisle and Taylor Leier brought the Phantoms to within 3-2, but ultimately they fell short.  Both goals were Power Play goals, which is nice to see.  That unit had been struggling of late.  The late surge seemed to be fueled at least partially by Manning’s two tussles.

Friday night in Atlantic City, a pro-Phantoms crowd, for an Albany Devils “home” game saw the Phantoms again dig a 3-0 hole.  This time all in the first period as they were also losing on shots 14-6.  Stolie was lifted for newcomer Martin Ouellette after the first, and the Phantoms rallied.  Alas, it was too little too late as the wraiths succumbed to the lucifers 4-2.  They led on shots over the last two periods, combined 23-12, but only a power-play goal by 20 year-old Taylor Leier–the new team leader–and a tally by Petr Straka found the back of the net in the 4-2 loss.

The Phantoms drop to fourth place in the East with a record of 8-8-2 and 18 points.  The Baby Pens still lead the division with 24 points, but have played three more games.

 

Tonight’s Game:

The Norfolk Admirals are in town for an East Division battle.  The Admirals are in last place in the East Division.

Game Time:  7:05PM,  Doors: 6:00PM

Broadcast:  TV2, FMZ69, 1470AM, IHearRadio.com

PreGame:   6:20PM Radio, 6:30PM TV2, 5:00PM NoiseNation Pre-Game dinner/discussion at Chickie’s and Pete’s with Kram209, DiPro, and Kram III.

Program:  I think we’re on a new program recently.  Perhaps check out a new copy if you haven’t in the past few games.  They are $2.

Promotion:   Poster giveaway (all fans) and post-game autograph session.  Players will be available on the concourse following the game for 30-45 minutes of autographs.  (I believe league rules state that the team cannot keep the players for more than 45 minutes following the game.  It’s unclear if this includes time for them to shower and report to the concourse.  One report said “30 minutes” for the autograph session.  We’ll see.  Leave it for the kiddos, please.  I mean, unless Nick Cousins wants to sign my jersey.)

Tickets:    As of Friday lunch, good seats still available.  However, I do expect it to be near a sellout for seats.  Thus far, it appears that they put “SRO” tickets on sale only after all the seats have sold, and you may have to contact the ticket office directly (by phone or in person) to acquire them until the web site gets updated.  Ultimately, I’m not sure if they’ve they’ve really had to turn folks away yet, so a trip downtown reasonably early to purchase tickets at the window seems to be a safe option–without real fear of being turned away.  At least that’s my perception at this juncture.

 

What to Watch For:

Watch for lines that combine youth and experience, strength and speed.  Watch for the team to come out HOT, as continued uninspired play early in games won’t be tolerated.  Watch for continued development of the Power Play units.  Watch for sloppy-type penalties, or lack thereof.  Watch to see how Stolarz responds to becoming the regular goalie, and how he responds to getting yanked last night.  Watch for Pettersson to return to the lineup.  Watch to see if Hexy gets suspended.  Watch to see if Akeson can get us a goal tonight.

 

Coming Up:

The ghost-ish ones have their second “3-in-3″ next weekend.  They’ll start in Wilkes-Barre Friday night, home/away for Bridgeport on Saturday at PPL and Sunday afternoon in Connecticut.  Any crazy fans out there?  The Friday night game is only an hour or so away and the Bridgeport 3PM game is only 2hrs and 45mins away–and you don’t even have to worry about getting lost in the woods of Rhode Island!

 

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

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Hockey Night in Allentown: 11/26/2014 “Giving Thanks”

“Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the [hockey] is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go”


     –Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

—–

In the United States, this is the weekend we pause to give thanks.  And, to go shopping.  So I thought I’d depart from my usual Game Day post format to list some of the things I’m thankful for, as it applies to the Phantoms in particular, on this coming day of giving thanks.

  1. I’m thankful for snow removal.  Once upon a time, long ago and far away, I lived in Erie, PA.  That winter it snowed every darn day.  I know, because I didn’t have a garage and I had to brush off my car.  But you wouldn’t know from the roads:  Those folks out there know how to clear snow, and they have the equipment and budget to do it.  I didn’t miss a day of work.  So here’s to the plow guys!  Get that snow off the roads so that I can make it to the game tonight.  And, make it home, optimally.
  2. I’m thankful for weather.com.  Even before Erie, there was a time before the internet.  A time when I couldn’t get cable TV and lived too far from anywhere to even get a newspaper delivered. The weather was available on broadcast TV during the 6PM news and the 11PM news.  That’s it.  Maybe the radio if you’re desperate.  Now I’m refreshing my weather.com app constantly to prepare for the game tonight.  I thought this would only happen during IronPigs season…
  3. I’m thankful for Jim and Rob Brooks.   There were a lot of moving parts and a lot of planets that aligned to bring hockey to Allentown.  It didn’t all happen perfectly–and some of it was a bit shady.  But, it happened.  It took the Brooks brothers to have the vision to purchase the team long before there was an arena or financing or anything guaranteed.  You did it fellas. Thank you.
  4. I’m thankful for the Miller Lite Loft.   It’s really cool up there.  Wait.  On second thought.  Never mind.  Don’t ever go up there; I don’t want it to get too crowded.
  5. I’m thankful for the downtown Police presence.  There was an article in the newspaper last weekend about all the overtime the City of Allentown is paying for the Police coverage for the arena events.  I hope they’re not tempted to cut back.  I haven’t talked to anyone who has felt unsafe attending these events.  Security in the arena zone needs to remain a top priority.  Hey, they’ve got all those parking fees, right?  Hire a couple extra guys and keep up the good work.
  6. I’m thankful for Service Electric.   I don’t have the exact algebra on the deal, but I have a feeling that having every IronPigs home game and every Phantoms home game and every SteelHawks home game on Cable TV is a factor in the success of these teams.  I think it’s great for generating awareness and support in the community.  And this is coming from a DirecTV guy.
  7. I’m thankful for fighting in hockey.   I’m not a hockey purist.  Far from it.  But I’ve seen it in person now:  Fighting helps the players police themselves. A fight can fire up a crowd or fire up a team or a little of both.  Far worse injuries could happen if the players didn’t have the opportunity to settle differences via legal fisticuffs.  It’s a deterrent to cheap hits and dirty play, too.
  8. I’m thankful for authentic jerseys.   I’m less and less willing to wear replica jerseys these days.  They’re cheaply made, and overpriced.  I’ll pay  a little extra and get the real McCoy.  I guess I’m thankful for EBay too, in this department, as a source of authentic Phantoms gear (C’mon team store.  You can do it!)
  9. I’m thankful for season ticket holder discounts.   We should pay less for our tickets, and we do.  That’s the way it’ meant to be.  It’s like a magazine subscription, you know…  Anyway, thankful for the “love” from the teams, Phantoms here as well as SteelHawks and the now annual loaded ticket credit from the IronPigs.
  10. I’m thankful for friends and family.   I love going to the games and I love the competition on the field (ice).  But having folks to visit with and share it with makes it just that much better.  It’s great seeing some familiar faces from the IronPigs about the arena, but we’re making new friends as well.  The arena is young, but we’re making it our own, Allentown, slowly (?) but surely.  I’m thankful for all  the folks involved.

See you at the arena, with boots on….

@Kram209

PS:

Oh yeah, there’s a hockey game tonight.  Snow or shine, I suppose.  Be safe.  But, $2.00 Coors Light drafts from 6PM until the end of the second intermission.  Also, you win a prize if your hot dog carton has a “lucky dog” sticker on it.  Game is same Bat Time and same Bat Channel.  Springfield is in town.  They’re supposed to be good.

“We come from the land of the ice and snow…”–Rob Zepp in goal tonight.  Also, Mark Alt might be back; he’s been cleared for contact and practicing all week.  Look for the Phantoms to try and get their power play back on track.  If it’s a small crowd, let’s all get loud just the same, OK?  Go Phantoms!  “Valhalla, I am coming!”  –Led Zeppelin

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Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

Phantoms + Snow

We’ve had plenty of experience around here with “IronPigs + Rain.”  By now, we know the rain policy, the rain date rules, and the strategies to use on days where the weather may play a role, and so on.

But what about snow, huh?  How about if it’s snowing like crazy, will the Phantoms cancel the game tonight?

The truth is, I don’t really know.  But, I can take a really good guess (and, I can update this post once we get something “official” as to policy.)  Worcester at Portland has already been canceled for tonight…

  1. The game will be on.  Right up until it’s not.  If you ask or call or look online, everything will say that the game is ON 100%.  Then, they’ll cancel it if they decide to, later.  And they probably won’t.  Just like the IronPigs, canceling doesn’t really help anybody:  rescheduling is extremely difficult and they’ll avoid it at all  costs.  They’ll also want to avoid:  costs.  Hotel rooms and travel for another trip will be considered.
  2. “But, how am I gonna know?”  The internet is your friend.  Especially social media.  Follow the Phantoms on Twitter and Facebook, and refresh the web page before you leave.  That will be quicker than trying to get through to the staff on the phone.
  3. “What will be the factors in the decision?”  One of the biggest factors is the opposing team:  if they’re in town already–along with the officials–then the game will likely be played, fans or not.  It may also will have to do with the roads and the government.  If the State or the City declares a “State of Emergency” or imposes travel restrictions, that could be a factor.  Springfield is in town for tonight’s game, already, so I’m assuming that they’ll play.
  4. “When will they make it up if it’s canceled?  Will they play a double-header?”  Trying to play two hockey games in one day would be insane–but a web search will reveal that individuals have done it.  I believe this is Springfield’s only visit to Allentown this season.  I suppose they could possibly tack on a game when they’re near by playing Hershey or Wilkes-Barre or something.  The truth is, though, they don’t usually cancel if they can help it, so there’s no clear precedent.

Hope this helps.  I’ll update this post at some point in the future.  I imagine IronPigs employees who now work for the Phantoms are either smiling knowingly, or resigned to a day of answering phones with, “Hi, thank you for calling the Phantoms.  The game tonight is still on.”

Be careful driving–leave a little extra time, and I’ll

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

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Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey, PPL Center Arena