“Bingo….It’s a religion. They play it in churches….don’t they??”
The Phantoms entered a difficult weekend last Friday with the first-place Penguins back in town for only the second time this season. They “emptied the tanks” on the way to a rousing 5-3 victory.
But they forgot to refill the tanks, and it showed on Saturday with a 9-1 beat-down at the hands of Providence, in front of the dismayed Hamilton Street faithful.
So the trip to Hershey on Sunday was pivotal. Would the Phantoms rebound from a historical loss? Or was the loss emblematic of a more systemic problem? And what does this mean for a potential playoff team–if they can’t recover from an important win?
The Phantoms answered most of those questions well as they went down to Hershey on the quick turnaround and destroyed a reeling brown team which had gotten their butts handed to them the night before as well. The Pens beat them 5-1 Saturday night at Casey Plaza, then the Phantoms took them down by the same tally Sunday in the not-so GIANT center. Lyon rebound from a difficult outing Saturday night, and bushels of “apples” were had by Miele and Brennan.
In come the Binghamton Senators, playing some good hockey of late. Time for the Phantoms to take care of business.
AHL Atlantic Standings
- Phantoms Power Play Differential is 1st in AHL: 195 power plays vs. 154 times shorthanded= +41
- The Phantoms have scored at least one power play in seven of their last eight games. Lehigh Valley’s man-advantage is 13-for-41 (31.7 percent) during that stretch.
- The Phantoms lead the Eastern Conference with 47 power play conversions and their man-advantage is third overall (first in the Eastern Conference) at 24.1 percent.
F Boyd Gordon started Friday and Saturday, but was a “healthy” scratch Sunday in Hershey. The other healthy scratches in Hershey were F Aube-Kubel and D Mark Alt at the end of the 3/3.
Friday’s game saw “minor” injuries to G Anthony Stolarz and F Jordan Weal. Weal returned Sunday after sitting out Saturday, but Stolie did not and was an injury scratch. It’s said to be minor; veteran G Mark Dekanich was returned to Reading yesterday so it seems Stolie will be available tonight.
Willcox and Fazleev returned Saturday from a quick trip to Reading Friday; both got into the game on Sunday in Hershey. (I always get nervous about those quick trips to Reading. Remember Geoff Walker? You don’t because he never made it here. He got lost on 222–made a wrong turn or something–and ended up in Italy this year. Gotta be careful on 222 I tell you. 😉 )
All-Star forward Jordan Weal is currently first among Lehigh Valley skaters and third among active AHLers in total scoring with 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists) this season. Weal has tallied at least one point in 13 of his last 15 games overall and has produced an impressive 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) during his recent surge.
Forward Greg Carey currently leads all Phantoms and is the AHL’s active leader with 22 goals this season. He’s found the back of the net in nine of Lehigh Valley’s last 15 games and has compiled 11 goals over that stretch.
Forward Scott Laughton (right) has been on a tear in recent weeks having recorded at least one point in seven of his last eight games. Laughton has compiled eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) and has found the back of the net in five of his last eight games.
The Royals split with Adirondack and Wheeling last weekend, losing to the latter. They’re in residence at the Glens Falls Civic Center this week, where they were delayed in starting last night’s game which ended in a 3-2 loss after 11PM. They’ll be back at it there Friday night.
In the tight ECHL North, they rose to as high as second place earlier this week as the teams all jockey for position behind a superior Manchester squad and in front of a struggling Elmira side.
Bingo! We’ll have another Wednesday night affair with them next month, and some away games with them including this coming Saturday–but time is short for the Senators affiliation in the Southern Tier so we approach the end of an era.
Old friends are on this roster, if you recall–although Zack Stortini was traded to San Jose yesterday. Jason Akeson has been one of their chief scorers, especially during this recent stretch where they’ve been playing some winning hockey.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets and Parking: In the last home game before the All Star Festivities arrive at 7th and Hamilton, many good seats remain for this game. There have been no parking issues to report.
Promotion: “Pre-AllStar” continues as the Phantoms will once again sport their All Star Commemorative sweaters which will be live-auctioned following tonight’s game.
Media Kit: bingo-12517
Broadcast: Tonight marks the 500th regular season Phantoms game for “voice of the Phantoms” Bob Rotruck. He’ll be in the booth of course for pre- and post-game reports, so if you want to send congratulations you can do so on Twitter @BobRotruck or on Facebook as well.
Week night radio is AM-1470. TV is Service Electric TV-2. Online audio on the Phantoms365 app or PhantomsHockey.com. Online video ($) via AHL-Live. Bring your radio and listen in the arena at 89.9FM.
Pre-Game: Radio at 6:20PM; TV at 6:30PM.
Last week on Saturday we spent the afternoon tasting barrel-aged beers over at Coca Cola Park before parking ourselves at the bar at Queen City BBQ for some pre-game grub. My brisket sandwich was very good and it came with a nice helping of creamy cole slaw. The roll could have been a little more hearty to hold up to the weight of the meat and the slaw could have used a little more vinegar, but food service was very quick and prices weren’t out of line. They had a nice selection of craft beers on tap and some cocktail choices as well. They do prefer reservations if you want a table and had a really good crowd pre-game.
With a week-night game on a Wednesday I’ll probably arrive downtown quite early tonight. There’s a beer I’ve been wanting to try at Cork and Cage (if they still have it) and then I’ll eat my way through the happy hour menu at Hook, most likely.
What To Watch
- Saturday’s game was the one that worried me the most last weekend; it was reflected in my post title. The team responded poorly, of course, to the big win Friday, but reasonably well to the crushing defeat, in order to salvage the weekend. Now, in the run-up to the All Star Game, how will they respond to a mid-week challenge from a visiting B-Sens team, middling in the standings, but having won three in a row including over first-place Syracuse?
- Stolie is back. Lyon had a good one on Sunday. Some in the media think this will be a Stolie game, but if we’re riding the hot hand then it’s Lyon, with Stolie getting either Friday or Saturday on the road before the break.
- Watch Akeson. Dude takes A LOT of shots. If the puck’s on his stick I’d look for him to shoot rather than pass–just saying.
- With a Wednesday night game, expect a slightly smaller crowd mostly interested in hockey with fewer kiddos and fewer casual fans.
- If there’s a game for this team to just come out and beat–physically as well as on the scoreboard–the other team, it’s maybe this one. And that’s even keeping in mind what I said above: Binghamton is no pushover right now.
- These All Star Commemorative sweaters certainly aren’t as sharp as those holiday jerseys were. And some folks spend a lot of dough in that auction. Will prices be just as high for these? An AHL All Star Game in Allentown isn’t likely to be repeated any time soon–but you can buy a replica of the orange Atlantic jersey in the store. It will be interesting to watch if I can keep myself awake for the auction after the game.
Friday in Binghamton and Saturday in Bridgeport–perhaps they could get that game on for us Saturday night at Chickie’s while we “tailgate” on the concourse?
All Star stuff starts Saturday and runs through Monday. I’ll be around for all of it; touch base on social media if you want to share a beverage.
The team will be off for the week, and then away the following weekend: Friday 2/3 in Albany and Saturday 2/4 in Wilkes Barre. If I’m not busy Saturday I may make that drive–It’s an “invasion” by the Phan Club anyway!
The next home Phantoms game after tonight is another Wednesday affair with Binghamton: February 8!
See you at the arena,