“I’m not a hockey fan, which is probably why I had to leave Canada in the first place.”
Here we are in our fourth season of Phantoms Hockey in downtown Allentown and while it feels like forever–it also feels like it was just yesterday. I remember that season, railing against all the mid-week games we were hosting. I felt it was putting us at a disadvantage in the race for the attendance crown–or at the very least it was making our fan base look weaker. In reality, it was the first season for the new arena, and I’m sure they wanted to keep some of the weekends free in order to book things like monster trucks and rodeo and the like.
Since then, the schedules have settled in a bit, and we average about one mid-week home game per month during the season. Tonight is our November game. Turns out, we have two in December and one is next week already! For my part, I have to say I really look forward to these games these days. The lower attendance means more room to move around on the concourse and fewer people wandering around on the stairs during game play. It’s more the hardcore fans and the atmosphere is just as good.
And speaking of atmosphere, I thought the place was just electric Saturday night in the win over the Sound Tigers. I’m not even sure if we have a goal horn anymore because I can’t hear it over the crowd yelling when we score. Good stuff, and I’m sure the team appreciates the place absolutely flipping out when they get the puck in the net.
Here are some other thoughts about the win in the first of our six straight home games:
- At the start of the game, I didn’t think Alex Lyon looked right. I thought he looked uncomfortable and a bit slow. He made it through the first period and then started to settle in. I’m still not sure he’s 100% healthy, but it could be something else as well. I don’t know. I also thought maybe traffic in front of the net had him more off-balance than usual. He made some really nice saves down the stretch and kept the team in it in the third period, so I’m hopeful. It’s something to watch anyway.
- I thought passing looked pretty crappy Saturday. Give some credit to Bridgeport for getting in the passing lanes and whatnot; I seem to remember that was their game last season.
- I wasn’t thrilled with the goal in the last 10 seconds, but given they were behind when the third period started, it was good to be in that position. They didn’t quit, and Alex Lyon was a big part of that.
- They were able to kill 100% of penalties keeping the Sound Tigers off the board in their four opportunities. That’s another thing: Playing a clean game can only help. I continue to look for improvement from the PK units.
Around the League
After a 12-game point streak, the first-place Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins lost both ends of a home/home last weekend with Syracuse. You could say they officially have a Crunch problem, but I believe they only play the North division club one more time this season. But did they provide the key to beating the regular-season powerhouse from the Wyoming Valley? We shall see. The two losses also created some online hand-wringing among Pens fans. Don’t look now, but both dudes are in Pittsburgh and they’re on 3rd and 4th string. Their defense might still make it work, but it something to watch and they’ll be in town next Wednesday.
Things are tight right now in the Atlantic as well. Here’s a shot at the current standings, with only 5 wins between the best and worst teams, and three different teams tied with 12 wins. Only 8 points between 1st and last place. You can’t afford to give away games in this division:
D Phil Myers left Saturday’s game and didn’t return. It’s unclear if it’s a new injury or the continued aggravation of a previous one.
D Max LaMarche and D Reece Willcox remain out as well.
Reports are that neither Myers nor Willcox is skating right now, so I’m assuming we won’t see them tonight or this weekend. LaMarche is skating non-contact, so there’s a possibility we see him Friday or Saturday.
Enter D Sam Morin, who returns from Philadelphia to round out our six blue-liners for tonight: O’Neill, Brennan, de Haas, Morin, Friedman, Alt
- While “puck drop” is at 7:05PM, we’ve now learned that new rules imposed by the AHL combined with pre-game obligations will have the puck drop closer to 7:15PM. I’d still get to your seat by 7:00PM if I were you, but just be aware that it appears to be an ongoing thing. Given this knowledge, it also makes sense that we don’t really need to get in at 5:30PM on Saturdays, as all doors are now 6:00PM for normally listed start times. Alter your pre-game routine accordingly.
- Tonight is “Skate with the players” night post-game. So, bring your nice, sharp metal skates to the arena. But, for goodness sakes don’t bring a bag. Bags are forbidden. Bags are evil and dangerous and must be eliminated.
- Here’s the official security notice: (Official security notice was going to be posted here, but I didn’t get one emailed to me this time. Yeah, they’re doing great. It’s true though: bring skates but don’t bring them in a bag. I believe bag size is limited to 12x12x6 but make sure any bag is really smaller than that.)
- As per usual on a week night, tickets are rather plentiful on both the primary or secondary markets. It’s a good night to sit in a different sort of spot if you want.
- Binghamton is in last place in the North right now, but the Devils’ affiliate is always dangerous. And I hate them. We’ll need to play well to win tonight.
- Game Notes/ Rosters / Media Kit: Binghamton 112917
- Officials: Referees: Stephen Thomson (#15) Alex Garon (#64); Linesmen: James Tobias (#61) J.P. Waleski (#14)
Things To Watch
- The goalies, of course. They may be alternating right now which would make this a Tokarski night. If it is Lyon, see if you think he looks OK? Seeing the puck OK? Moving OK?
- Watch the defense: Continued changes in the squad haven’t helped, and with Myers out and Morin in, watch to see what effect that has. O’Neill had two goals the other night, will his hot play continue?
- Watch out for people swinging sharp skates that aren’t secured in a bag
- Watch for Binghamton to make this game as slow and ugly as possible. It would be a good one to maybe get an early lead and then add to it by counter-attacking.
- Watch the team as they are now, and remember. Because, if the Flyers keep losing like they have been recently, changes will be coming.
A Couple More Things
- Bobbleheads are available for pick up for season ticket holders at a tent near the Air Products stairs. Bring the coupon from your ticket book in order to claim your gift.
- This is game 2 of 6 in a row at home. We’re back on Friday night for superhero night with Hershey in town. Saturday is home again back-to-back for Laval and TEDDY BEAR TOSS!
- It seems there have been many “issues of the day” around the arena. I characterized it as “unrest” and tried to drop in some Star Wars jokes yesterday. If you didn’t read it, here it is, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the woo.
See you at the arena,