“Four out of five dentists surveyed recommended playing hockey.”
Weekend before last, the Phantoms put a beating on Rochester and lost in overtime to the Devils. Then they set out on the road for four–three last weekend and one Wednesday night.
Last weekend began and ended with quality wins over an over-matched Providence team up in Rhode Island. Sandwiched in between was a narrow loss to Hartford in a game in which the Phantoms should have come out stronger at the beginning. Wednesday night the Hamilton Street Heroes made the Thanksgiving-eve run up to Utica, NY and got their butts kicked 7-1. Insult and Injury? Stolie may have gotten injured–had to leave after the first period with the team down 1-0; however, Morin gave a beat down to an unsuspecting Comet who challenged him.
Morin Fight (caution: blood)
In all, the Phantoms went 2-2 on their four game road swing–not good enough to gain any serious ground in the standings.
The Phantoms are 8-10-1 on the season, second to last place in the division. But, a two-game win streak will help them reach .500–so let’s Rise Up! at home this weekend!
The Phantoms HOME power play is a middling 15th out of 30.
The Phantoms HOME penalty kill is 25th of 30–not great, to be sure, but improving.
Attendance at the PPL Center ranks us 4th in the league–our two opponents this weekend are above us in their own home attendance, Hershey and Providence.
Tuesday afternoon, forward Colin McDonald was recalled to the Flyers. For the Phantoms, that is one less “veteran” to account for in the lineup, and may allow forward Jay Rosehill or defenceman Matt Lashoff to see more ice time. Last night, Lashoff dressed as the seventh defenceman.
Early this morning, reports have centerman Nick Cousins headed to the Flyers in exchange for winger Taylor Leier.
Blue-liner Shayne Gostisbehere has been playing well with the Fly-guys, but there is speculation that he could return to the Phantoms at some point to continue work on his defense and provide cap room for the returning Mark Streit, once healthy.
Veteran Net-minder Jason LaBarbera is battling an injury of some sort, and did not make the trip to New England last weekend. Marty Ouellette has been backing up, and Stoli has been playing full time, until his suspected injury Wednesday night. Note that Stolie’s increased playing time is coinciding with our recent strong play–save Wednesday. Reading has signed a backup to Connor Knapp, so speculation is that LaBarbera could be out for a while.
Defenceman Christian Marti was taken hard to the boards last Friday and did not return for the remainder of last weekend. Due to the veteran roster rules, Jesper Pettersson was recalled from Reading to play in that spot, rather than Lashoff.
Attacker Kevin Sundher has been battling a nagging injury ever since he scored twice in Providence the other night. He returned to the lineup Wednesday night in Utica.
AHL Leaders: Goals
Shore (Texas) 13
Straka (Lehigh Valley) 12
Wilson (WBS) 11
Shinkaruk (Utica) 11
AHL Leaders: Points
Nylander (Toronto) 23
3 Tied at 20
2 Tied at 19
Cousins (Phantoms) 18 (with 2 others)
AHL Leaders: Goalies (>9 games)
Budaj (Ontario) 1.40 GAA
Sparks (Toronto) 1.90
Danis (Albany) 1.91
Stolarz (Phantoms) 1.96
Here’s what the lines looked like Wednesday night in Utica, they went 11F/7D, and just as d.E. told me–it’s a strategy and not a quirk to get Marti on the ice. Pettersson was a starting D-man and not an attacker:
18 Martel – 37 Brent – 16 Palushaj
24 Straka – 25 Cousins – 22 Conner
12 Goulbourne – 11 Sundher – 10 Rankin
17 Goumas – 27 Padakin
47 MacDonald – 8 Pettersson
3 Morin – 2 Alt
5 Drewiske – 4 Hagg
The Royals are home for all three days this weekend after dropping both ends of a home-and-home with Elmira last weekend, and a tough 1-0 loss Wednesday night in Wheeling. They’re hovering in the middle of the division standings with Manchester and Elmira–well ahead of Norfolk and behind Adirondack.
The Hershey Bears come to town riding a white-board-winning streak after beating up on Portland, Rochester and Providence. They’re currently in third place in the Atlantic Division, behind Wilkes Barre and Bridgeport.
Hershey’s ROAD power play is 25th. Their ROAD penalty kill is 26th.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Doors Open: 6:00PM
Tickets and Parking: Seats still remain for this game, although with the holiday weekend there may be a significant walk-up, so I’d secure seats before you head downtown tonight. Also due to the holiday, there are many choices on the secondary market as well. Pre-purchase passes for the arena garage are still available as of this writing–otherwise use the parking authority facilities.
Broadcast: On video via Service Electric TV-2 or AHL-Live online package. Audio via AM-1470 or phantomshockey.com. Use the IHeartRadio App on mobile. In the arena listen to FM 89.9 for the real-time call.
Promo: It’s “Go and Grow” day at the PPL Center. Last year we got T-Shirts, but this year not so much.
There will be a 69 News and the Salvation Army will be conducting a coat drive at the entrances. Bring your new or gently used coats to donate for area children in need.
Pregame: On the way to the arena, listen to the pregame show starting at 6:20PM. In Chickie’s the TV pre-game goes on the air at 6:30PM–good luck hearing the show, though. Tonight is likely to be busy downtown, I’d arrive well before 5PM to assure a table at your favorite pre-game meal location.
My pregame meal reviews have come to a grinding halt thanks to a dearth of adventuresome game companions. Look for a return to this topic here in December.
What To Watch
- Watch to see how the Phantoms stack up against better quality competition
- Watch to see if the Phantoms come out strong at the beginning of the game. Several games this year I’ve heard “We came out flat” as post-game quotes. That’s unacceptable at the PPL Center!
- Watch to see how Taylor Leier plays after coming back from the Flyers.
- Watch Petr Straka. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now, and might have a chip on his shoulder following Colin McDonald’s recent recall to the Flyers. His goal streak was broken, but let’s see if he gets another started.
- Watch for roster moves today regarding the goaltenders. If Stolie can’t go, and LaBarbera’s not available, then Connor Knapp will get the call from Reading, and Marty Ouellette will get the start. If Stolie needs a break, Marty could get the start.
- Look for the Phantoms to get a Power Play Goal!
- Watch for fans carrying white boards. You know what I’m talking about.
- Watch to see if the Phantoms can play some decent defense–regardless of who starts in goal, we’re going to need some decent defense tonight.
Back at it tomorrow night, right here at the PPL Center, as Providence comes to town for the third matchup in six games. It’s post-game autograph night and poster night! Then the Phantoms go on the road until Wednesday, December 9. However, there are a couple road-trip opportunities coming up:
Friday, December 4: There’s a group going up to Wilkes Barre. George Scheller may have an extra ticket (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact Brandon or Alex in the WBS-Pens ticket office for tix near the “Phantoms Group.” 570-208-5418 is the number I was given. Friday night tickets are $14. This trip does not include transportation.
Saturday, December 5: The “Phan Club” is running an official visit to Hershey–complete with bus trip and the works. Click here for further details–seats are extremely limited, 12 remaining as of this writing. The trip started as “Phan Club Only” but may be available to the general public if free seats remain. Contact the Phan Club for further information.
See you at the arena,