The Phantoms are headed in the right direction–winning-wise and geographically–as they head towards home with a stop at Casey Place in Wilkes-Barre to try to spoil the Little Pens home opener.
“And my [skates] were slashed and I almost crashed, But the [ref] had mercy
So we have learned that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms under the tutelage of first-year head coach Scott Gordon are, indeed, quite capable of going on the road and winning a hockey game against an inferior divisional opponent that they really ought to beat to begin with. And that is fabulous news because, hey, when you haven’t qualified for the Calder Cup playoffs in seemingly half of forever, you gotta start somewhere..Next on the agenda is another exciting Commonwealth Collision with a rather formidable Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins team (also under the direction of a new coach this season) that should be motivated to give a strong performance in their 2015/16 AHL Home Opener. The Baby Penguins started out well enough with an overtime win over the Providence Bruins but were then stopped in their tracks by the high-flying Bridgeport Sound Tigers (who have won their first four games on the trot)..As was not the case for the Phantoms’ final pre-season exhibition contest at the PPL Center roughly a fortnight ago, the Penguins will be icing their A team featuring no fewer than eight players who tallied at least 10 goals in the American Hockey League last season. Last season’s scoring leader Conor Sheary (58 ga, 20 go, 45 pts), the second-year pro from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, has registered eleven shots on goal in his first two games of this new season but is still looking to light the lamp for the first time this fall. High end veteran free agent signing Kael Mouillierat, the 28-year-old center who had 24 goals and 50 points in 69 AHL games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, is still searching for a first goal on behalf of his new employers..Wilkes-Barre Scranton can be expected to start last season’s rookie sensation Matt Murray (40 ga, 1.58 avg, .941 svpct) between the pipes. The tall but skinny 21-year-old, who did not appear for the Penguins in the exhibition game against the Phantoms at the PPL Center, had a spectacular game (40 saves) opposite the P-Bruins in the opener and was not bad against the Sound Tigers, either. Ironically enough, Murray’s save percentage after two games this fall is exactly the same as it was last season so the Phantoms better bring their good scoring sticks to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza..Just exactly who will start in goal for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms remains to be seen but der Eishockeyzuschauer is all in favor of letting Anthony Stolarz, who did some nice things in the victory over the Springfield Falcons on Friday night, continue. In stark contrast, Kram believes that the visitors should go with the veteran Jason LaBarbera, who is back in the fold after spending a few days with the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this week. Conventional wisdom does seem to favor LaBarbera, the 35-year-old who has far more professional experience including 187 career games in the crack National Hockey League..Whether or not the small but skillful Danick Martel is in the line-up for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this afternoon is something to keep track of..An intra-state battle can always be expected to generate at least a few sparks on the ice and so it is interesting to note that the rival Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins have added notorious thug Tom Sestito, the 28-year-old enforcer who has already amassed 1,321 penalty minutes in only 395 games as a professional in the NHL and AHL. The physically imposing Sestito (6’5″ 228 lbs) was, of course, with the Philadelphia Flyers organization from late February of 2011 until early March of 2013 and could be looking to settle some old scores. Naturally, Lehigh Valley Phantoms enforcer Jay Rosehill (6’3″ 215 lbs) stands at the ready.
- Indeed, from a development standpoint, it seems like a good idea to keep “Barbie” sharp–they didn’t send him back from Philly for him to ride the bench. Marty Ouellette could have done that. And indeed, media reports this morning have Barbie in net.
- When Murray went on his historic run last season, it was Barbie’s records he was breaking/challenging.
- Still, if this was the playoffs, I’d keep Stolie in there. He had another good game last night.
- Team wore the regular road-blacks last night–as last season with the orange accents.
- Shame to hear that Martel was injured–he left after blocking a shot. If he can’t go, it will most likely mean the first start for the “diminutive defenseman” Jesper Pettersson–perhaps in an offensive role.
- “Petey” had two goals last season–both scored against Matt Murray. I say he “owns” him. 😉
- The Captain, Colin McDonald, was said to be injured “not as bad as we thought.” Now, it’s “out a few weeks.” How bad did they THINK it was? Maybe pretty bad. Still no details. Hope he’s OK.
- There will be a small contingent of Phantoms Phans in the house–if my Facebook feed is any indication.
- I’m not worried about Sestito. “Rosie jumps a little higher.”
Up next: AT Providence for the start of a “home and home” on Friday.
See you at the arena–next Saturday,