“Hours, hours, and the moments in between…”
–Led Zeppelin, “Sick Again”
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
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.
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.
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,