Just .002 in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division standings separate Saturday night’s contestants at the PPL Center. Although the 2015/16 AHL season is really only roughly one-third of the way complete for either the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Springfield Falcons, the simple fact of the matter is that every single game really will make a difference in the end. Phantoms supporters should not be fooled by a December calendar date for, indeed, THESE are the times that try Calder Cup playoff teams’ souls.
The Springfield Falcons make the long bus ride southward from western Massachusetts in a most jubilant mood having staged a rapid fire third-period rally to beat the visiting Binghamton Senators 4-3 on Friday night and stop a four-game losing streak in the process. Springfield left wing Lucas Lessio, the third-year pro who was the 2nd round pick (# 56 overall) of the Arizona Coyotes at the 2011 NHL Draft, leveled the contest less than a minute after Binghamton had grabbed an early third period lead and then Falcons star center Dustin Jeffrey, the 27-year-old former Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospect who finished in a tie for seventh place on the AHL scoring chart last season, struck for the winner barely more than a minute and a half later. German rookie netminder Niklas Treutle, the rather surprising off-season signing from EHC Red Bull Munich, made 29 saves in his ninth AHL start and claimed his fifth victory in the process.
Speaking of goaltenders, it should be most interesting to see whom visiting Springfield tap to face the Hamilton Street Heroes in Allentown on Saturday night. To review recent history, Springfield opened this new season with no fewer than four puck tamers on the active AHL roster. And even after rookie pro Marek Langhamer, the 21-year-old who was the starter for the Czech Republic at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships two seasons ago, was sent to the Rapid City Rush of the East Coast Hockey League, unorthodox Springfield still continued on with a netminding trio for a considerable period of time before Tyler Beskorowany, the fairly well-traveled 25-year-old Canadian who spent last season in Germany with Deutsche Eishockey Liga club EG Duesseldorf, was finally sent out on loan to the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals on November 17th.
Beskorowany (2 ga, 3.55 avg, .885 svpct), who was unconvincing in his two starts for Springfield this fall, was ultimately released from his AHL contract on December 3rd so that he could returned to the D.E.L. and sign with the Nuremburg Ice Tigers. In the meantime, the Arizona Coyotes summoned the Falcons’ de facto first string goaltender this fall, Louis Domingue (13 ga, 2.55 avg, .919 svpct), the 23-year-old Quebec native who is in his third year as a professional, back to the NHL on Friday. Accordingly, Langhamer has been promoted from the ECHL, where he has been in very good form for Rapid City (8 ga, 2.23 avg, .935 svpct).
Treutle (9 ga, 2.79 avg, .919 svpct) will, in all likelihood, make his tenth start of the season for Springfield on Saturday night in Allentown. The undrafted 24-year-old has really only ever played one game for the German national team in his career but is adjusting to the North American professional game at a steady pace. Treutle has already posted two shutouts, which include the 41-save performance against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers as well as the 36-save effort opposite the Hartford Wolf Pack, and is the only Falcons goaltender with a winning record (five wins, four losses) this season.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey