Like the tasty morsels left over from the big meal, here are some tidbits to get you ready for the game tonight. As good as the real thing? Probably not. But maybe good enough in their own way…
- The Phantoms got the shootout win last night at the PPL Center versus Hershey. It’s the kind of win they need to get from time-to-time: fourth string goalie, other injuries, adversity, holiday and a rival coming in. But they “Bear Down” (sorry not sorry) and get the two points–even if they do leave a leftover point on the table for the rival Bears.
- The Phantoms are 9-10-1 and vault into fifth place in the division–for now.
- Big ups to Connor Knapp this morning. He had a heck of a game, battled cramping, and gave his team a chance to win. I wasn’t there (more on that later) but it sure looked a lot better than the 17-shot/11-save effort he had in Reading last Friday when we were there. Yes, that’s 6 goals in two periods for those who thought there’d be no math. Knapp was called up from Reading just yesterday in advance of the start. Alderson was sent down.
- The Phantoms continue to play 11F/7D. Pettersson took the centerman spot on the fourth line during warm-ups (according to the Twitter feed of our friend Tony Androckitis @TonyAndrock_TCG from Highland Park Hockey), but I’m not sure the game played out that way. Interesting.
- Stolie reportedly had an MRI. On what? Nobody knows. Or, they’re not saying. I really wish they’d be more open about the injuries–in some way that doesn’t put the player at risk but lets fans know what to expect.
- And speaking of injuries: Sundher and Alt both left last night’s game and didn’t return. It’s not known if either will be available for tonight. I hate not knowing..
- I have a soft spot for the netminders, you know. It’s just–you can’t really win without a good one and they don’t get the recognition of the big “goal scorers, three stars” guys unless they pitch a shut-out.
- Big games for both Tyrell Goulbourne and Petr Straka last night, with two goals apiece. Good to see someone putting the puck in the net. Gillz had a nice fight, too, coming up an assist short of the Gordie Howe Hattie.
- With all the fighting and all, did you know that the only penalty minutes Gillz has taken this season have been connected with his fights? That’s what Bob Rotruck said on Twitter. And you know what else? Gillz isn’t out there trying to start fights, either. As far as I can tell, his fights have all been challenges from the other guy. Make no mistake, he doesn’t back down, but he’s not a head-hunter or a goon either. Effort, energy, discipline and toughness–it’s a nice combination. Sometimes it results in goals and sometimes it doesn’t–but it’s always nice to see and appreciated by the hockey fans.
- Taylor Leier did a bunch of good work to set up some goals–played real hard and had a major effect on the game first time out after coming back from the Flyers. Good to see–and production important with the loss of Cousins to said Flyers. I caught a bit of the game on video–I thought Chris Conner did important work as well.
- Oh, and Straka is leading THE WHOLE LEAGUE in goal scoring. Good for him–and good, hard work paying off–toughness in the corners and all that is resulting in pucks finding the net. He looks so much better and more consistent than last season.
- Good to see them with the orange alternates at home on a Friday! Good jerseys, good win!
- So Providence is back tonight. This will be the third game in six versus the P-Bruins. Still not a good team, the “other bears” got beat in Wilkes-Barre last night 3-0. The Phantoms beat them two times last weekend–let’s hope for a third.
- Of course, they’ll need a good game in goal. It could be Marty Ouellette if Stolie isn’t ready. No whispers about Barbie yet. But then, why would anyone update us on injuries?
- It’s autograph night. They’ll distribute the posters after the game, I’m gathering, and the players will be set up about the concourse. I hope they also distribute a map, so that folks can quickly find the line for the player(s) they really want to get. Last year, the event went fairly smoothly and was not as crowded as expected–I’m told. I’m not an autograph guy, so I wasn’t there–and won’t be tonight. Might be more crowded this year, though.
- Yeah, I’ll be missing my second game of the season and second in a row, tonight. I’m not happy about it, but some things just can’t be moved in favor of hockey. Note to family and friends: Please check the hockey schedule (and baseball, and SteelHawks, and Steel FC) before scheduling weddings and the like. Thx.
- Plenty of seats available for tonight, in the upper ends. They may go fast, though, as the holiday weekend may have folks looking for something to do and walking up. Purchase before heading downtown. Find better seats by using the secondary market, if you’re so inclined–there’s plenty of inventory there.
- Pre-purchase parking in the arena garage is sold out for this game. Use the Authority facilities.
- If I were going to the game, here’s what I’d be looking for tonight:
- Continued high-effort play by the top two lines–Brent, Gillz, Conner, Leier, et al.
- To see if Sundher and Alt can come back from injury quickly
- To see who starts in goal, and if it’s Marty, then how he looks with the start compared with the relief role the other night in Utica.
- Continued good fortune on the power play–it was in my pre-game yesterday where I told you to look for PPG opportunities versus Hershey.
- To see how the lines really shake out. Who’s out there together when you get to the third and fourth group. Is Petty playing in a D-pair, or is he taking shifts on attack? Both?
- Coming up, another “away” weekend next week–but with opportunities to view the team on the road in Wilkes-Barre and Hershey. Get in touch if you want to travel, and I’ll let you know where to reach out.
- The Phantoms return to the PPL Center on “light up the night” on Wednesday December 9.
See you at the arena–just not tonight: