“Some days you go bear hunting and you get eaten. Some days you come home with a nice rug to roll around on, and bear steaks.”
-Laurell K. Hamilton
At Home On The Road
The third-place Phantoms enter tonight’s game at the PPL Center with an overall record of 13-7-2. However, the results at 7th and Hamilton have been a middling 5-5, good for 7th place in the AHL Atlantic as a home squad. On the road, it’s 8-2-2–the highest winning percentage for a road club in the AHL Atlantic.
Enter the last-place Bears who are 4-6 on the road this season. They’re playing .500 hockey over their past 10 games and sport a 26-43 goal differential on the road. It’s a game here for the winning, but the Phantoms will have to put forth a better performance than Wednesday night if they want to get the two points and put down the wounded bears.
On Wednesday “Light The Night” game, the Phantoms looked a bit listless as they lost 1-5 to the Cleveland Monsters, who were making their first-ever appearance on the PPL Center ice. On their way to getting out-shot 14-4 in the first period, the Hamilton Street Heroes were able to keep it to an 0-1 deficit until four minutes into the third when Cleveland tallied a power play marker–something we haven’t given up that often around here the past 14 games–to go up 2-0. The Phantoms answered right back less than two minutes later with an Aube-Kubel tally. But, alas, it wasn’t to be. With 19-9 shot pressure the Phantoms couldn’t get anything to go. They gave up three goals in five minutes entering the second half of the final period, including an empty net job for the 1-5 final.
Tonight, the Phantoms are in the second game of a 4-game home set and in the midst of a series of six games in nine days in two countries. They’re 3-1 in those six thus far, having swept 3 in Canada over last weekend. The travel and fatigue could have played a role Wednesday night as they’re now 0-1 in the home set.
10 Carey -26 Varone -38 Kaše
22 Conner -21 Vecchione -16 Aube-Kubel
24 Twarynski -15 Vorobyev -23 Leier
12 Goulbourne- 9 Bardreau -13 McDonald
6 Samuelsson -37 Friedman
2 deHaas -5 Myers
7 Palmquist -44 Willcox
34 Lyon (31 Hart)
Impression: As noted in “Hockey Night” on Wednesday, Kaše is getting some time on that top line, which has Varone and Carey dialed in right now. It’s great experience, but I can’t help but feel that NAK on that line is the combo that’s going to cause the most problems for other teams. Development league, though, and these were the pre-game lines. I didn’t record any observations during the game. That, also could be why Conner is on the left and Leier on the right–perhaps they were switched to their more natural positions and lines during the game. It’s good to see deHaas get some ice time, but I have to wonder how much the healthy scratch of TJ Brennan impacted the team unable to get pucks on net for the first half of the game. I thought Myers had one of his weaker games–I don’t want to put that on deHaas but it’s something you might want to watch in future games if they’re paired together again. Palmquist was a -2 in the game. Lyon in net was a bit of a shocker–but I guess with Carter getting two games over the weekend they were letting him rest. Still, with the new Flyers GM in the house Wednesday night I thought it was a slam dunk. Bad on me.
Reading is fourth in the ECHL North Division with an 8-7-2-4 record. If they could turn some of those 1-pt losses into wins they could be in better position. Newfoundland is the powerhouse in the division, and that’s where Reading is tonight. Our friend Alex Krushelnyski is back with the Royals, which should be a help for them, as well as recovering from the goalie carousel which touched them in recent weeks, too. While we prepare for our teddy bear night tomorrow, Reading will have theirs next Saturday 12/15–so if you have any leftovers….
The Phantoms are 1-1 versus the reeling Bears this season, with each team taking the home contest. Hershey recently added veteran blue-liner Ryan Sproul on an AHL contract. He had had stints with Toronto and Laval already this season, and you may recognize his name from Hartford in the 2017-18 regular season. He hasn’t played for the chocolate team yet, but will be wearing #5 if he’s on the ice tonight.
Samsonov and Vanacek are the goalies. The rookie Samsonov has been having the more difficult time of it 3.91/.864. Hershey’s been off since Sunday, when they bested Binghamton 6-3 at home with Vanecek in net.
Lehigh Valley evened up the season series against Hershey in the last outing between these Atlantic Division rivals, topping the Bears 6-2 inside of PPL Center on November 23. In that game, nine different Phantoms players contributed points — including four with multi-point efforts — as the Orange and Black took down the Chocolate and White. Since that game on Black Friday, Lehigh Valley is 3-1-0-0 while the Bears are 2-2-0-0. Keep an eye on Nic Aube-Kubel in Friday’s game as he led the team against the Bears in 2017-18 with a total of 12 points (7G-5A) in 11 outings.
Currently led by forward Riley Barber with 18 points (8G-10A) on the season, the Bears are looking to climb out of the Atlantic Division basement. As of Tuesday, Hershey remains in last place in the Atlantic Division with an overall record of 10-12-0-1 this season.
Friday night’s game will also be the Phantoms 5th annual Pink in the Rink, presented by American Cancer Society, that will help bring awareness and salute the brave men and women who are battling or have battled breast cancer.
Referee Michael Sheehan (#74)
Referee Peter Tarnaris (#17)
Linesman Jason Mandroc (#17)
Linesman Matt McNulty (#26)
MEDIA KIT (lineups, stats, rosters, etc)
Five (or more) Things To Watch
- After I was so wrong about the goalie on Wednesday, how could it be other than Carter Hart in net tonight? I’d be shocked. It will be interesting to see who goes tomorrow; it could depend on how tonight plays out.
- Watch the energy level–particularly at the start of the game and then again at the end if it’s close. Have they had a chance to re-set and get a bit more rest in their own beds? I’m expecting a different team from Wednesday.
- Watch the lines and pairs. I assume TJ Brennan will be back in there as it has been confirmed through media reports that he was a healthy scratch on Wednesday. Did deHaas do enough to keep a spot? If so, who rests? Can Bunny get on the ice at wing? If so, who gets the night off up top?
- Watch for pink. I’m not expecting a pink jersey or pink ice–but you’ve got to be prepared for these things as sometimes the organization likes to surprise us. Wear your pink if you have it.
- To that end, watch to see which jersey they come out in tonight. It should probably be white, but we looked so good in black on Black Friday, and that’s our “alternate” now. And, I’ve had about enough of those “orange-out” duds. If I promise to bid on one will they stop wearing them? How about if we try it with the black pants like the goalies wear, and socks with more black on them? For me, I’ll be wearing my traditional Friday Black tonight, as I do for both baseball and hockey. Saturday is for the orange (red for baseball) for me, and white or purple on Sunday and Wednesday (more complicated in baseball: Maroon on Sunday, Powder Blue on Thursday, and White M-W unless it’s the vest-type jersey in which case it can be worn Thursday or Sunday but the coordinating T-shirt must meet the color tradition of the day. Yes, I have a problem). My “new” purple hockey jersey is now 0-2 and will go to the back of the closet for a while.
The four-game home set continues tomorrow with teddy bear night. Get out and get those bears and other plush toys for the game tomorrow. The Cleveland Monsters will be back for a rematch.
The final game in the stand will be next Friday versus Belleville. Then they’ll be on the road at Wyoming Valley next Saturday.
Remember to pick up your STH bobblehead–and to return mine if you’re the one who “stole” it from my seats. You know who you are! 😉
See you at the arena,
PS: “Kill the bear!” Daddy needs a new rug and some steaks.