“I saw the ruins once the smoke cleared
(Once upon returning home)”
Two full weeks is much too long for the team to be away this time of the season, in my opinion. I’ve been missing the hockey! Then again, if you’ve seen Reading’s massive roadie, I suppose this isn’t too bad.
The Phantoms return from five straight games on the road–and 10 possible standings points–having gone 3-2 and collected six of the points. This after gathering only 2 of 6 points in the first three games at home. Let’s review the games since they’ve been away:
- 5-1 win in Hartford. Wolfpack can’t handle scoring blitz.
- 5-4 loss in Bridgeport. Battle back from 2-goal deficits twice but fall short. Shaky goaltending perhaps, as well. Bridgeport has a solid, if unspectacular, hard-working club.
- 3-2 loss in Hershey. Ill-advised turnovers in our own zone create too many opportunities for rival Bears.
- Back in Hartford again for a mid-week morning game on Wednesday, the Phantoms won 4-0. Stolie with the shutout; Brennan with the star-worthy performance.
- Then last night in Providence against the struggling P-Bruins. Stolie again in goal for a 4-2 win which saw the return of Scotty Laughts. He added an empty net goal.
The Ed Snider throwback jersey auction concluded last Sunday. Here’s what happened.
|3||Bridgeport Sound Tigers||9||6||3||0||0||12||0.667||29||23||2-0-0-0||6-3-0-0||173|
|5||Lehigh Valley Phantoms||8||4||3||1||0||9||0.563||29||23||2-0-0-0||4-3-1-0||100|
|6||Hartford Wolf Pack||9||3||5||1||0||7||0.389||26||38||0-3-1-0||3-5-1-0||111|
It’s early, so some good hockey will go a long way towards “rising up” in the standings. The key is to not get mired in the bottom and have to dig out of a huge hole.
Power Play: 8th
Penalty Kill: 20th
In Philadelphia, F Boyd Gordon is injured and now on IR, F Michael Raffl returned Thursday night, and F Chris VandeVelde had a baby. D Andrew MacDonald is out a week as well.
F Danick Martel was injured on a knee-knee hit, but is expected to be available tonight.
D Sam Morin was heavily penalized in the Hershey game, but narrowly avoided suspension.
F Scott Laughton was loaned to the Phantoms temporarily on a “conditioning assignment.” Those can last as many as 14 days (or 6 games, in this case) but Scotty tells radio voice Bob Rotruck that he’ll be with us for two games: Last night and tonight, presumably–but not definitely. He’ll be #49 in your program.
Phantoms Points Leaders
Phantoms Goals Leaders
Stolarz: 4-2, 2.18 GAA, .932
Lyon: 0-1, 4.97 GAA, .855
Phantoms AHL Leaders
- Weal 2nd in Points
- Brennan 10th in Points
- Weal 3rd in Assists
- Brennan 7th in Assists
- Martel 5th in Shot %
- Zengerle 10th in Shot %
Lines From Last Night
10 Carey 21 Miele 13 McDonald
23 Leier 40 Weal 22 Conner
49 Laughton 7 Zengerle 16 Aube-Kubel
14 Knight 9 Bardreau 19 Fazleev
43 Brennan 44 Willcox
3 Morin 6 Sanheim
4 Hagg 8 O’Neill
You could see Martel slot in somewhere tonight, and Goulbourne too if they want some toughness for Springfield.
The Royals remain away on a mammoth swing through the Western United States. With last night’s 6-3 win, they now have a record of 5-2-0-1 and sit in second place in the standings. They’ll finally return home next Saturday.
Springfield Thunderbirds return to town. Since taking an opening night beating from the Hamilton Street Heroes, the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers have risen to 3rd in the Power Rankings (Phantoms are 27th) with a 5-2 record before last night’s 3-2 OT loss against the Hershey Bears at home. They’ll head back home for Binghamton tomorrow. A change in goalies seems to be at work in the Thunderbirds’ surge. With McKenna taking the loss last night, we’ll likely see the better goalie, Berra from Switzerland, tonight.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Doors: 5:30PM Saturday Opening
Tickets and Parking: Tickets for this game are going fast with mostly upper level available as of this writing. Seats are available on the secondary market as well. VIP Package is available once again for some of these games, check here for availability.
IMPORTANT Parking Note: No credit cards at many of the facilities whilst they make upgrades. Bring cash, gold, frankincense or myrrh–but they prefer cash and you’re only getting $2 bills for change, regardless. Or pre-pay for a pass online.
New Security Procedures: The new metal detectors have been installed. Here’s a statement from the arena about the new procedures, if you haven’t seen it:
To help ensure your safety, PPL Center will now require all guests to pass through metal detectors upon entry to events. Guests will not be asked to remove jackets, shoes, belts, watches or coins; but cell phones, keys and cameras must be set in designated bins before passing through the metal detectors.
To expedite the screening process, fans are encouraged to leave non-essential items at home or in their vehicles. Bags larger than 12″x6″x12″ are not permitted into PPL Center.
Media Kit: springfield-11-05-16
Broadcast Information: TV2 on Service Electric; Radio on 1470-AM this week, although normally weekend games on 790-AM this is an exception. Mobile on the IHeartRadio version of 1470 (or 790). Web link via PhantomsHockey.com. Live in the arena on FM 89.9. [Protip: keep 1470 and 790 programmed on your radio, and check each as needed.]
Promotions: “80’s Night” — Fans – be sure to dress in your best 80s attire for all kinds of retro fun!
At the jersey auction table tonight: O’Neill, Miele, Zengerle
PreGame/PostGame: Two weeks ago I did my pre-game inside the arena with the early gates, which was still kind of expensive. Tonight I’m planning to check out “99 Bottles” as long as I can get downtown in time to get a table–or at least a seat at the bar. I’ve heard good things. If you’re headed down just for the game, listen to the radio pregame starting at 6:20. If you’re home watching on TV, or hanging out in Chickie’s, then watch the TV pregame starting at 6:30.
Other stuff going on downtown today/tonight:
- Brewery tours and sampling at Allentown BrewWorks starting at 1PM.
- Any time after 2PM (reservations required) enjoy “High Tea” at the Dime
- “Elgar’s Enigma Variations” tonight at Symphony Hall concurrently with the game
What To Watch
- Watch the defenders. Can they be responsible in their own zone? Are they making good decisions when coming up to support the attack? Are they leaving the goalie “out to dry?” Do the pairings make sense, with a stay-at-home defender in each group?
- Watch the goalie; tonight I’m thinking it will be Stolarz again. Can he make a big stop when necessary if the blue line breaks down? He’s been playing well, so I say ride the hot hand right now and show Lyon he’ll have to earn his playing time.
- Watch Bow-Tie Ben. I’m sure he’s got some good stuff planned for us for 80’s night–although I’m not sure he was alive for much of the 80’s, the whippersnapper.
- Watch meLVin. I’ve purposely not written about this, but it’s becoming hard to ignore. Does he look more comfortable? Has he mastered the four-wheeler yet? Can he try skating yet? It bears watching. How much popcorn can he consume? Does he even remember the ’80s?
- Despite the beatdown we gave them on opening night, Springfield might be good. Watch to see who’s in goal for them, and if we can get a lead early and hold it.
- Watch to see how Laughton looks. Remembering his stint here in 2014-15, he took over a couple games, but he also disappeared for games at a time, sometimes.
- Watch for people abandoning those collector’s cups after the game–an easy way to collect without paying the big bucks. It’s unclear how you enter for the prize pack–uploading a photo to the FB page, I presume. It’s also not mentioned if perhaps refills are discounted? That would be nice, right?
- Watch special teams: Springfield is near the bottom in both Power Play and Penalty Kill. The Phantoms Power Play has been coming on of late, and the PK has been victimized mostly by a couple of 5-on-3 fiascoes. This should be an area where the Phantoms have an advantage tonight–although neither team is among the leaders in taking penalties.
- So that means officiating is a thing to watch: If they call a closer game, that might be to the Phantoms’ advantage.
After tonight, the Phantoms are off until next weekend. On Friday they’ll start a dreaded “3-in-2 1/2” up in Utica, then home again on Saturday for Toronto, then another Sunday afternoon affair in Hershey.
After next Saturday’s home game, we’re home again a week from Wednesday for our first tilt with the Penguins on the 16th. Mark your calendar for some mid-week raucousness to get the season series with the Pens off to a good start. Do the Pens still own the PPL Center, even now?
See you at the arena,
Cover Photo by Cheryl Pursell