There was no Ghost, but a “skeleton crew” as blue line depletion reached critical mass last night. The Hartford Wolf Pack spoiled the Phantom’s day-late Halloween party 4-2, before 8,114 at the PPL Center.
The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on the big screen as we entered. I enjoyed it very much.
While we’re still learning about hockey around here (ie broken sticks), there are some things that we are familiar with: We’re familiar with the ultimate team aspect of the game. Ask any hockey player about his great game, and he’ll immediately credit his teammates. Ask about a loss, and he won’t make excuses or point fingers. It’s refreshing in a day when basketball players worry about their shoe contracts and football players get tackled heading for the end zone whilst preening for the big screen.
So it was no surprise to read the quotes coming out of the Phantoms’ locker room last night. There were no excuses, just “We need to play better” and “I need to give better effort.” No mention of the fact that they’ve been left with barely enough players to play a game. And they have.
Defenceman Steven (“Diesel”) Delisle was a late injury scratch after morning skate yesterday, which left the Phantoms with only two and a half pairs on defense, and the minimum on offense. They dressed a “skeleton crew” of only 17 skaters. It caught up with them in the third period last night as a 1-1 game in the second period turned into a 4-1 game in the third, prior to a late Nick Cousins goal which brought the game to it’s end 4-2. The Phantoms tried to get a replacement, but it was too late, as Shayne Gostisbehere was still in Florida (sitting in the press box next to new Flyer Carlo Colaiacovo to watch the Flyers lose to the Panthers 2-1. Mark Alt is still injured (and will be until around Thanksgiving) and Brandon Manning is still with the Flyers, where he logged only 9 minutes on the ice. Meanwhile, the Reading Royals were in Wheeling, WV last night to face the Nailers, and were also a bit short on the blue line with Adam Comrie’s injury.
The Phantoms got an early goal from Kevin Goumas out in front of the net, and held the 1-0 lead into the second period. However, the Rangers affiliate did control play most of the first stanza. They didn’t seem to be able to generate a cogent offensive plan, though, even into the second where they tied it 1-1. They did get their shots–leading Lehigh Valley the whole way–it just didn’t look terribly impressive. Even in the third, where they exploded for 3 tallies, it was breakaways and breakdowns that did it. To the Phantom’s credit, in light of the quantity-over-quality shot-fest versus the Pens the other day, they did seem to put together some quality chances. Just, not many. And what they did get were stifled by quality goalie play from the Hartford net-minder.
One other thing: We’ve seen a fair few Hershey and Penguin jerseys at recent rivalry games, but the fans have been good and respectful, as far as I could tell. I did encounter a few highly-obnoxious Ranger fans on my way out. Memo to them: It’s not the real Rangers. Also, get yourself a Wolf Pack jersey before you go crowing about your team’s mighty victory.
The big fight last night was Derek Mathers versus Hartford’s Nick Tarnasky. I had it Mathers 10-9 on my card, but it might not have been that close. Evidence:
While he didn’t make it to Pennsylvania to play hockey, it was made official on the transactions page: Shayne (“Ghost”) Gostisbehere was “loaned” to the Phantoms from the Flyers. With Vinny Lecavalier’s activation, and we have to assume Colaiacovo will be activated soon as well, perhaps we’ll get Ghost and Manning on the bus to New England by Tuesday. The Phantoms will play Wednesday in Worcester (Sharks, 5-2-1), Friday in Manchester (Kings, 4-3-0), and Saturday in Portland (Arizona Coyotes 4-5-0) before a return to Pennsylvania the following week. They’ll be in Wilkes Barre for a Friday night tilt 11/14 with the Baby Pens. The next home game will be 11/15 versus the Toronto Marlies (Leafs).
I was going to take a picture, but I was up to my elbows in butter and Crabby Ale before I knew what was happening: Chickie’s and Pete’s is now fully functional with the installation and approval of the steamer hood. I can report that the King Crabs were excellent, and served piping hot with crab-spiced butter sauce–really super, if a little pricey at $28.
It wasn’t widely publicized, but we stayed after the game for some free hockey as the Army Black Knights were in town to take on Muhlenberg. Army dominated shots about 20-1 in the first period and lead on the scoreboard 2-0 as we left at the first intermission. Final results are not available at press time.
I wish they’d have notified fans about this game a little more: I think more folks would have stayed if there had been more than a quick announcement before the game and a quick one after. All of the concessions were closed and we were herded by ushers and curtains into sections 107-103. There was no re-entry available from Chickie’s and Pete’s, and the only exit open was the Air Products gate. However, it was still fun to watch, and the presence of the Muhlenberg pep band and hockey parents gave it a different feel as well.
Of Ushers and Arena Rules
Still some growing pains around the arena as fans, ushers and staff begin to learn and comply with rules and etiquette.
- Due to the difference in the liquor license, wine and liquor cannot be removed from the Miller Lite Loft bar to the main seating areas. However, it can be removed into the suite areas. And they’ve finally stopped giving out glass up there, although that can be taken into the suite area as well.
- I know it’s tough in a crowded minor-league arena with many novice hockey fans, but it is common sense: Don’t move around when the puck is in play. We’ve been through this with baseball and many still don’t get it there, so I’m not hopeful. Unless there’s an emergency, don’t get up during game play, and preferably not until between periods.
- If you are up, you’ll have to wait for a stoppage in play before you return to your seats. The ushers should stop you at the top of the stairs (up for upper bowl, down for lower bowl). The ushers are still learning, too, so don’t get angry with them.
- You know what’s more annoying than folks in and out of the aisles during game play? Other people constantly screaming about it–and kicking my chair while they do it. Let the usher know; let the usher-manager know. Then, stop kicking the chairs!
- And while the arena and ushers need to do a better job of controlling this stuff, they could also do a better job of letting the fans know what is expected of them. One quick announcement before the game might not be enough. I think most folks would be more than happy to comply with the rules if they knew what they were, and didn’t have to be corrected. With less correcting to do, the ushers will do a better and more polite job. Not all will comply, of course. But having to be told just makes it more difficult on everyone. We’ll do more on this soon.
Cheryl was in the house last night, so you know I’ve got a bunch of her photos to share–all done with “point-and-shoot” due to arena photography restrictions:
See you November 15,