“Dirty isn’t a derogatory word. It’s a good thing to be in hockey.”
The artist known as der Eishockeyzuschauer and I were talking the other day. At some point in the past in different places at different times, we each had a soccer coach who said, in some way, “Don’t even bring the balls out to practice on Monday.” It was a threat and a promise, and the idea was that if the team didn’t do well in the game that the next practice would be all running and no soccer.
It seems maybe the Phantoms were threatened with “no pucks” at practice if they didn’t start minding their details on defense. I didn’t see the game Wednesday night from Scranton, but last night they were certainly going into the dirty areas and getting into both passing lanes and shooting lanes. A Hershey Bear couldn’t have the puck more than a second without a Phantom cohabitating his jock strap. Mid-way through the second period Hershey had but five shots on net and that wasn’t an accident. At times it gave the game a sort of sloppy feel, but sometimes you’ve got to do the dirty work to get the regulation win. The talent will always be there to get some goals, but continuing to try to win every game 6-4 would end up a losing proposition in the playoffs.
The dish from Z to Knight for the game winner was a thing of beauty. Both Hershey markers were a bit fluky, but if there’s something to work on it’s to not to fall asleep in the last minute of play in the period! Stolie did fine, and as I’ve often said, I think sometimes it’s even more difficult to be perfectly sharp when you’re not seeing a ton of shots. In the end it was four points off the “magic number” in the 3-2 victory.
- No surprises in the lineup last night as Hagg, Swavely, Gordon and Martel remain injured. Leier’s issue continues to linger.
- There were some whispers that perhaps Martel could return tonight. Stay tuned.
Reading answered Brampton back last night in a 6-2 win and for today at least, take over sole possession of first place in the division. They’ll be in Elmira for a game tonight.
I made fun of Elmira yesterday, but it’s now official that they will be losing their team after this season and that’s not something I wish on any fan base big or small.
Right back at it tonight as the Phantoms continue to answer questions about themselves–and more get asked. The team will face both the Utica Comets–battling to remain in the final playoff position in the North–and their Saturday Night demons. The second night of the weekend always seems to be a little more difficult, and we’ll see if the Hamilton Street Heroes can answer the bell again tonight. And, they always seem to lose when there’s an auction or autograph or photo night as well, so…
Anyway, Utica beat Bridgeport at home last night and will return there tomorrow after this Saturday jaunt to Allentown.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets: Limited seats remain for this game, but it has not gone ‘SRO’ just yet. It probably will by game time.
Promotion: Post-game skate with the players. Leave a little extra time for security, and I believe you will be able to us a small bag to carry your skates. Perhaps they’ll even have more than one security line open tonight!
Media Kit–Rosters and Stats: comets 031117
Referees: Terry Koharski #10, Tyler Puddifant #9
Linesmen: Tim Lyons #33, Jason Mandroc #17
Note: Koharski is not good.
Broadcast: In addition to the usual suspects, tonight’s game is also simulcast on FMZ-69 where available. Radio tonight is AM-790.
Pregame: TV-2 pregame goes live from Chickie’s at 6:30PM, radio for your drive at 6:20PM.
Last night had a fine meal at CENTRO where they had a nice pre-game Friday night crowd. It was my first visit there, and we’ll go back sometime soon.
No plan for tonight. Might camp out at the bar somewhere–perhaps Chickie’s so that I don’t have to go back outside.
I think BrewWorks is having a special beer thing tonight before the game, and afterwards there’s some music up in the Dime bar if you’re looking for something to do while everyone else skates.
What To Watch
- Back to Lyon tonight I would venture. Can he make those tough saves at the end of the periods when the team falls asleep?
- Will the defensive effort be as good tonight as last? Will Utica be ready for it?
- If Martel returns, who sits? I really liked what I saw out of the fourth line last night; they seemed to get plenty of ice time and set the tone for energy and defense. I’d like to see Goulbourne stay out there–and not because I’m hoping for a fight, either.
- There weren’t a ton of Power Plays last night, but they seemed to have some difficulty getting organized on two of the three. Watch to see how that plays out tonight, and with Koharski in the house, who knows how many we’ll have.
- Single-digit shots on net in all three periods last night for Hershey. Can we do that to Utica?
- Whatever the coaches said to get that effort last night–and Wednesday in Scranton–can they say it again?
- Time to go to work.
After skating with the fans following tonight’s game, the team will have the day off tomorrow and back to work on Wednesday at home against Syracuse, the first place team in the North. Next Friday Wilkes Barre will be in town to try to avenge the 3-0 beating we put on them last Wednesday. They erupted for 8 goals last night as I suppose their coach didn’t let them bring the pucks out for practice on Thursday…. 😉
See you at the arena,