“Like a blazing comet,
I’ve traversed infinite nights,
Interstellar spaces of the imagination,
Following a rousing win on Wednesday night at the PPL Center–a 7-2 beat-down of the lowly Senators–the Phantoms ran into one of the most difficult things that exists in hockey: a hot goalie. Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Portland Pirates was one of the greatest athletic performances I’ve ever seen in person. The Phantoms played with gusto. They attacked and attacked. They out-shot the Pirates 46-22. They made quality shots and had good looks at the goal. For the most part, they followed up shots and tried to capitalize on rebounds. Nothing doing. Portland Goalie Mike McKenna was the whole story in the 3-1 loss (last goal on empty net). Despite the fact that he was an AHL All Star (substitute for the nicked up Penguin, Matt Murray) there was no telling that he would be quite so hot. Yes, Bob Rotruck shared on the radio that McKenna had been something of a “Phantom Killer” in the past, but in the two games last weekend–both Portland losses–McKenna got pulled in the first one and lost the second as well. That’s hockey sometimes, I guess.
Jason LaBarbera was in net for the Phantoms and played well, only allowing two goals. Chris Conner got the lone tally against the All Star McKenna.
It was an exciting game and I was proud of our team’s performance despite the loss. Hopefully, they can get right back after it tonight as the Utica Comets make their first appearance in Allentown. Read this guest post previewing the Utica Comets.
- Injured players remain Kevin Sundher, Tim Brent, and Michael Parks.
- Jay Rosehill remains a nightly scratch. He was suffering from an injury at one point, but is now reportedly healthy.
- Nick Cousins remains with the Flyers.
- Robert Hagg was a healthy scratch last night as Coach Gordon has been rotating healthy scratches with fellow defencemen Lamarche and Comrie. Look for one of those two–or possibly Marti–to receive the healthy rest tonight.
- Padakin was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row as the Phantoms continue to roll with 11F/7D
- LaBarbera got the start last night as Stolie was only back in town for 24 hours or so prior to the game. Barbs had fared well last time out against Portland. It’s a bit of evidence that the coaches are doing everything they can to get us wins and work toward the goal of making the playoffs for the first time in several years.
- Petr Straka returned to play on Wednesday following his knee injury in January. Last night he got top-two line minutes.
The Royals won in Norfolk last night, and return home to face Adirondack tonight and tomorrow. Tomorrow’s game is at 4PM, and while tonight is the “pink in the rink” event with the jersey auction and all that, tomorrow is “couples day” if you’re looking for something to do on Valentine’s Day.
If you didn’t do it above, I’m going to give you another shot: Go read Nina’s preview for the Utica Comets first visit to the PPL Center.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Doors: 5:30PM (remember, earlier Saturday doors)
Tickets and Parking: Last night’s game eventually went SRO as I had thought it would. Tonight could be even bigger turnout considering the promotion. I would advise pre-ordering tickets before you go downtown. Last night I chose a deck over a lot for parking; my theory was that it could be slightly warmer in there and that being under cover had some advantages.
Media Kit and Rosters: Utica 2-13-2016
Broadcast: In addition to Service Electric TV-2, the hockey portion of tonight’s game will also be broadcast on Channel 69. Radio broadcast: AM-1470, FM-89.9 (arena only), IHeartRadio Mobile, Phantomshockey.com
Promotion: Photos with players after the game. I believe last season this took place on the ice–at least some of it–so that’s kinda cool. Bring your camera and your phone and your kiddos! I believe the players may sign autographs for you, too, but please be courteous if others are waiting.
Pregame: Pregame TV broadcast is live from Chickie’s and Pete’s at 6:30PM, and available on Service Electric only. Radio broadcast for your trip downtown starts at 6:20PM or so.
Pregame meal tonight at the Hamilton. I haven’t been back yet this season, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to that whiskey list too–just trying not to get too out of control before I stumble across the street to the game. 😉
What to Watch
- There may be a scenario where LaBarbera starts in goal again tonight, but most likely this will be the return of Stolarz–since he was away at All Stars and in Philly. Because the Flyers never saw fit to give him any playing time (to be fair, Mason’s playing well) he’s been off for a while. Watch to see if he’s sharp.
- Martel’s been a little quiet–I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a goal tonight.
- Let’s see how Straka’s knee responds on back-to-back nights. If you see him ready for “top 6” minutes again, I’d look for him to get on the scoreboard as well. I thought he looked fine last night–not great–but everything was kind of colored by McKenna’s performance in net for Portland.
- I though Goumas played well last night, using his speed to create plays and showing some toughness along the boards. However, I think he may have lost the puck behind the net on one of the Portland goals, too. Keep an eye on him tonight.
- Palushaj has been quiet since he returned from injury. I did see him take part in some of the shoot-fest last night. Watch to see if the veteran can force the issue and get on the board again tonight. He did have the lone goal in Hershey last weekend.
- Even if you’re not the picture and autograph type, stop by and say hello to McDonald an MacDonald tonight after the game. Thank them for playing so well for us. When healthy, they’ve been our two most consistent players.
After three games this week in four days, the Phantoms get a bit of respite before a 3/3 next weekend. We’re back at the PPL Center on Friday Springfield and Saturday for Bridgeport before the Phantoms hit the road for a Sunday rematch up in Springfield next weekend. Friday is Youth T-Shirt Day.
See you at the arena,