“A good ice hockey player is someone who has good communication skills, is willing to listen and willing to try new things. It’s a very technical game and not that easy to pick up. It’s a lot of fun but you just have to be patient.”
The Phantoms won their third straight game Wednesday night at the PPL Center–and third straight at home, to boot. The win came by an 8-6 tally after the Phantoms did their best job to try to give the game away by being prodigal with the 5-1 advantage they had built. Alas, a tie game 5-5 began the contest anew–one in witch the Hamilton Street Heroes prevailed after important late-game goals by Brennan, Fazleev and Bardreau.
Blue-liner Robert Hagg had a very strong game–not at all unusual for him this season as he seems to have taken a step forward. However, the player who impressed me most in the contest was forward Mark Zengerle. Early in the the evening, he took the puck near the top of the circle, and while his teammates settled into the zone and the Sound Tigers scrambled to set up their defense, he easily could have cranked out a shot or made a fancy pass to a teammate who wasn’t in position to really do anything with it. Instead, he saw he wasn’t being covered well and walked the puck in a little, found a corner and hit it for the score. A nice instance of patience, I thought, when he really didn’t have to do anything with the puck but wait.
Later in the game, with the Phantoms trying to regain their multi-goal advantage following their second-period transgressions, Zengerle came down the right side on a semi-breakaway and waited until the last second to feed rookie Radel Fazleev for the easy goal. Sure, Faz got into the right position and didn’t mess it up–but that goal was all Zengerle too.
Only good thing about a game like that is that if something similar happens in the playoffs, they’ll know how to handle it and have that adversity to their credit, without having lost the game. Plus, that was a playoff team they beat–a quality division win at home.
And, they’ll need something like that again tonight, as Hershey returns to 7th and Hamilton.
Power Play: 5th (Hershey 14th)
Penalty Kill: 8th (Hershey 13th)
Home Team: 7th (Hershey 17th as Away Team)
The Flyers seem to be pretty self-sufficient with their injuries these days–as one player needs a couple games off, another returns to take his place. Leier and Stoli are the two Phantoms contributing to that team right now. It doesn’t look like they’ll lose anyone to World Juniors coming up.
D Mark Alt continues to work his way back from pre-season shoulder surgery; he’s been skating non-contact.
F Scott Laughton continues to be held scoreless in this tour with the Phantoms–but in centering Bardreau and McDonald has a line with more defensive responsibility.
Hershey continues with it’s “most favored schedule” tradition as they embark on a very favorable 3-in-3 this weekend after having been off all week. They just sent three extra players down to ECHL, which to me signifies that they’ll be coming in full strength. This will be a tough game, for sure.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets: A smattering of fine seats are still available for this game. For better options, check with your favorite ticket re-seller on the secondary market as holiday commitments this weekend have many season ticket holders dumping tickets.
Promotion: It’s cap night! Once again, Service Electric as the sponsor, continuing their tradition after black and white and now orange. I lost the black one thanks to Taylor Leier’s hat trick last season, but they’re reasonable good caps for free.
Media Kit: hershey-121616
Broadcast: The usual suspects–TV-2 and AM-1470, along with the Phantoms365 App and Phantomshockey.com.
PreGame: Radio 6:20PM, TV 6:30PM. I’ll likely be in Chickie’s feeding Junior lobster tails and trying to figure out how to pay for it all. Wednesday night Dan and I enjoyed a cigar and a whiskey before making our way downtown. We noshed on some arena food which worked out better for me (Philly Pretzel bites) than him (unidentifiable BBQ sandwich which he discarded rather than eating). You’re really taking your chances with arena food…
What To Watch
- Watch to make sure the team can stay awake if they get a lead. I’m sure they learned their lesson, but a couple of those early goals against Bridgeport were a bit of “puck luck” and they really need to lock that down and benefit from it rather than pissing it all away.
- Watch to see if Ouellette gets a shot in goal tonight. This might be a good spot for him to give Lyon a break. Or, maybe tomorrow. I felt like the defense–and team as a whole–were more responsible for Lyon’s 6 goals Wednesday than he was, but he might have been a little less sharp in that second period as well. He made some tremendous saves in the third, down the stretch, though–and the final goal was a real greasy one after they’d pulled the goalie.
- It would be a great night for a hattie, right? No excuse not to throw a hat on the ice…. I’ll try to update FB and Twitter if we’re in “hat trick watch” mode, as we were with Sanheim Wednesday night.
- Watch the young D-men. For the most part, they are playing very well. Sanheim is starting to show some confidence stepping up to join the offense–which is his forte. Meanwhile, his partner Morin is asserting himself better in the defensive zone. Hagg is playing a stronger all-around game as well and protecting the back of O’Neill who sometimes gets a little deep in the offensive zone on the attack.
- Watch to see if they have any jerseys out for auction tonight. They didn’t Wednesday. Perhaps running a little short on those pre-season orange jobs.
- Watch to see if Scott Laughton can get back on the scoreboard, and if maybe they go with a more offensive-minded top line. Or, not. Hey we’ve won three straight at home after all…
Tomorrow they’ll wear holiday sweaters, which will be auctioned off after the game. I’m sorry that I’ll miss both of those events as it will be my second missed game of the season. I’m not happy about it at all, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable… Providence will be in town; they’ve been a really hot team lately, but just lost a player or two to their big club, so perhaps we’re catching them at the right time.
Unless I have trouble sleeping tonight, “HOCKEY NIGHT” will be on hiatus tomorrow, until the following home game, 12/26. The team is off next week, too, for the holidays. Check out Reading if you’re looking for hockey; I believe they have two home games next week.
See you at the arena,