“Hockey is back in Allentown…but today was just…not it.”
-Danick Martel, following last night’s game
Last season the Charlotte Checkers arrived in Allentown and were gifted a nice, easy 6-1 win in the first preseason game for each squad. Last night, the Phantoms did them two better by gift-wrapping a nice 8-1 self-beat-down.
Going into tonight, I’ve got 5 thoughts you can take with you to the game if you like:
1. It was a team loss.
It certainly wasn’t the goalie. Well, he can refrain from playing the puck half way to the blue line and not dump it back in for the other team. That would be good. But whenever opposing players are standing around by themselves in the attack zone and you can see the goals coming from two passes away–well, that’s defenders and attackers who need to be more responsible about playing defense. A lot of guys could have been better with the puck, too.
2. 1 guy who flashed.
I thought Tyrell Goulboune flashed some hustle and some gritty play last night. I know many might be disappointed that he didn’t drop the gloves one time, but really that’s not how he’s going to return to prospect status (he was a third-round pick) from an ECHL/AHL tweener last season. He’s going to need to hustle to the puck and win battles on the boards. He’s going to need to get the puck to the playmakers. I thought I saw signs of that last night–but of course he’s also going to have to do it consistently. Fighting is great when it’s needed, but he’s going to need to do more. I hope he does.
3. I think Myers needs to be more physical
He’s a big kid, but much like early Morin, he’s going to need to learn how to use his size effectively in the AHL game. He could also be better with the puck. I know he’s very highly regarded and I probably missed some good plays here and there. I’ll look forward to seeing more of him, but that was my impression last night.
4. I want to see more of the flying V’s
Vecchione and Vorobyev. I wasn’t able to key on either of them last night, but if one or both of them can have a great season this year that will be great for the Phantoms. You can throw Varone in there too, but I kind of know what to expect from the veteran.
5. Preseason sucks
You know, when was the last time you saw a preseason game in any sport and came away saying, “Wow, that was a really good game and excellent competition”? Probably never. It’s necessary for timing and for coaches to see some players compete, but at the end of the day, it’s glorified practice.
I’ve often told folks that if they don’t feel like it’s important to win or lose a minor league game that we should just turn off all the scoreboards. When it comes to these preseason games, I think I might be in favor of that. Just like the AAA spring training games in Clearwater in March, it’s never predictive of what the season will be like.
So we’ll enjoy it for what it is–little bit of a preview of some new players and an appetizer for the real thing which begins at the PPL Center next Saturday. We’ll hope for a better outcome and perhaps some better effort.
See you at the arena,
PS: Cover photo by Cheryl Pursell shows our buddy Martel contemplating a fight with Sortini last season. It could happen tonight, but I doubt either are interested in fisticuffs in a preseason game.