(photo courtesy “PennLive.com” news site)
It must be left for others to document how author Thomas Wolfe’s fictional town of Libya Hill would compare with anything to be found here in the Lehigh Valley but, this Wednesday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, a crowd of about seven or eight thousand literary aficionados will be gathering at the corner of Seventh and Hamilton Streets in order to determine exactly how much Bridgeport Sound Tigers rookie goaltender Eamon McAdam actually resembles main character George Webber in the classic 1940 novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again”.
McAdam, to review, is the 22-year-old native of Perkasie who was the third round pick (# 70 overall) of the New York Islanders at the 2013 National Hockey League Draft and is now in his first full season as a professional player after leaving Penn State last spring following the conclusion of the Nittany Lions’ 2015/16 campaign. After beginning this season and making six appearances for the Missouri Mavericks in the third tier ECHL, the relatively local product who passed on his final year of NCAA eligibility was promoted to the American Hockey League’s Sound Tigers on November 16th and has performed rather well (7 ga, 2.22 avg, .922 svpct) since that time, too. As a matter of fact, the in-form McAdam has won all seven of his starts for Bridgeport this term and would be especially motivated to remain unbeaten should he be picked to play in his home state against the Hamilton Street Heroes, or at least so says conventional wisdom.
Now, should that development materialize, it would be certainly be much to the chagrin of the loyal PPL Center patronage, who would, naturally, then have good reason to closely identify with the citizenry of Libya Hill, who, of course, were displeased with the author Webber because of things he had written about the town — his very own hometown — in a book which had been very successful.
It should be remembered that it was McAdam who, on his debut at the American Hockey League level no less, stopped all but two of 28 shots faced when the host Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-2 at Webster Bank Arena in southern Connecticut back on November 19th.
As of late, McAdam has essentially been rotating in between the pipes with Stephon Williams (11 ga, 2.71 avg, .908 svpct), the second-year pro from Minnesota State – Mankato who was the New York Islanders’ fourth round selection (# 106 overall) and appeared in 29 AHL games as a rookie for the Sound Tigers last season. The 23-year-old Williams has only one win to show in the five games he has started since McAdam was recalled and absorbed the recent loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on December 4th although it should be noted that three of the four losses in question here came against the powerhouse Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. It was Williams who appeared in Bridgeport’s last game versus WBS on December 11th so it does seem to be the turn of McAdam, who turned aside 30 shots in the Sound Tigers’ 4-3 extra time triumph over the Binghamton Senators on December 10th.
No matter whom the Bridgeport have chosen to start in goal versus Lehigh Valley this season, the Sound Tigers have already proved themselves to be something of a bogey team for the Phantoms thus far. Indeed, the New York Islanders’ AHL farm club have defeated their counterparts from the Philadelphia Flyers organization in three of four meetings this term. Furthermore, the blue collar Bridgeport Sound Tigers have also scored five goals against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in three of the four games contested between the two sides, as well, and that’s alarming.
The Sound Tigers are a big team who like to play a physically punishing style and are adept at quickly tracking back on defense in order to effectively clog passing lanes. Bridgeport will be bolstered by the return of Scott Mayfield (6’4″ 218 lbs), the former University of Denver defenseman who has now seen NHL action for the New York Islanders in each of the last four seasons running. Also featuring on the blue line for the Sound Tigers will be Ryan Pulock (6’2″ 210 lbs), the defenseman with the booming slap shot who was the first round pick (# 15 overall) of the New York Islanders at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Devon Toews (6’1″ 180 lbs), the 22-year-old rookie defenseman from Quinnipiac University who was the fourth round pick of the New York Islanders at the 2014 NHL Draft, has been something of a pleasant surprise on offense for Bridgeport with three goals and fifteen points in 24 AHL games to date.
Should McAdam get the start in goal for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Wednesday night, he would not be the first former Penn State player to ever appear at the PPL Center in Allentown. That distinction belongs to Casey Bailey, the 25-year-old right wing who netted 45 goals in 96 games for a fledgling Nittany Lions’ Division I hockey program before signing as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs and skating in six NHL games (scoring one goal) in the spring of 2015. Bailey became the first former PSU player to appear in an American Hockey League game played at the PPL Center when the Toronto Marlies met the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on October 25, 2015.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey