“Hockey Night” returns from hiatus as the Belleville Senators come to town for a mid-week showdown.
Part of how these posts get written for every game is that your dedicated correspondent is so hyped up for the game–the need to share information to get us all on the same page to support the Hamilton Street Heroes. However, three wins in two months–only one at home–causes one to lose hype, you know? Plus other real-world limitations. But we’re always around, and the tickets are paid for, so always going to the games regardless. Let’s see if we can keep the winning alive.
After a winless October, the Phantoms went 3-1 to open November. Was the team starting to heat up? Not so fast. They then proceeded to lose the next seven in a row to finish the penultimate month 3-8.
As the calendar turns to December, the games have “gone” like this:
And here we are. Having won two in a row, the 11-11 Belleville team is in town for their only visit of the 2021-2022 season. They come in also having won two in a row.
The parent team in Philadelphia is facing their own adversity, which never really bodes well for the affiliate. Chaos in Philly is not a way to get this Phantoms team on track. But, if guys see opportunity to get to the next level, perhaps they play harder? Perhaps our new, first-time coach can get his legs under him while the bright lights shine on the Flyers?
Players have been up and down for need (injury) and for banking cap space (paper moves.) Here are the last few transactions impacting the Phantoms roster from most recent to least:
F Cates up to Philly (just today)
G Ustimenko up from Reading
F Cates back from Philly
D Millman up from Reading
G Nagle up from Reading
D MacKinnon returned to Reading
F Willman up to Philly
F Bunnaman back from Philly
F Allison activated from NHL Injured List and assigned to Phantoms
Sunday Scratches: G Ersson (injured, longer term than expected), G Sandstrom (illness, not covid), Sandin (injured), Lappin (injured), Foerster (injured, long-term), Zech, Millman, Saulnier
Sunday Lines and Pairs:
25 Bunnaman – 9 O’Reilly – 11 Allison
49 Wilson – 18 Cates – 26 Mayhew
19 Ratcliffe – 16 Strome – 42 Hodgson
15 Sushko – 17 Rubtsov – 39 Gerard
44 York – 5 Clendening
4 Zamula – 29 Wylie
6 Hogberg – 22 Day
35 Pat Nagle (72 Ustimenko)
Reading is tied for third place in their division with 21 points, 8-6-4-1. They’re three points behind Trois-Rivieres and 10 points behind first-place Newfoundland.
Which NHL team most recently won three or more Stanely Cups in a row?
Belleville, as noted above, is perfectly .500 at 11-11. They have no losses by OT or SO, and only one game that went to extra time, which they ended up winning by shoot-out. Their 2-game win streak includes quality wins over Bridgeport and Providence. D Michael Del Zotto has joined the AHL team as of Saturday, but did not play for them yet as he’s probably not on the US road trip. Or, perhaps that is a paper move. LW Jake Lucchini, whom we know from Scranton, is on the team, as is our old friend wearing #28, Tyrell Goulbourne. However, I believe he is injured, currently. Our old nemesis in the net, Matt Murray, is currently playing for this team.
Nothing special about a mid-week game. No promo on concessions, or between period concerts. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Parking: I continue to experiment with different parking approaches. Remember to pull in front first, unless you’re in the arena deck (“orange”) where it doesn’t matter. I don’t like it either, but they love to scan those plates (they haven’t caught up with me yet, so that’s good). Also, I’ve learned that the exit gates don’t always take the credit cards even though they say they do. I’ve had it work fine, but I’ve also had it eat my ticket because it disliked by credit card so, so much. So be careful out there. If you didn’t pay on the way in, use the kiosk to be safe. And watch out for pedestrians as they don’t always have staff available to help with traffic after the game.
Tickets: Good seats available for this game, of course, as well as on the secondary markets.
Some are still having trouble with the online/phone tickets. I had a bunch of trouble last season, but it’s been perfect (*knocks wood*) this season for me. Following the baseball season I got in a good rhythm for loading up my tickets ahead of time. And the scanners seem to recognize my phone better this season, as well. Also, note the three little dots near the top-right of the screen (iPhone). Tap them and it will give you a QR code. This is a solution if the scanner doesn’t like your phone. The other advantage there is that it can then be screen-shot and forwarded to someone else in your party, if need be. No, the team doesn’t like the whole idea of the screen shot–an ironpigs employee had a fit when he heard what we were doing. But it works (at least at baseball) and is super-handy if you are sending tickets to someone who doesn’t have the desire/capability of performing the phone gymnastics required for accepting and using the tickets digitally. Just keep track of what you’re doing so someone doesn’t get locked out, because the ticket will only scan once.
Now, a couple other oddities: Last season at the height of the pandemic caution when we had to buy a pretzel in order to get a beer (How does that prevent COVID, again?), I was having trouble getting the scanner to detect my phone. So, the nice lady standing there snatched it from my hands and then also couldn’t get it to scan. So she played around with it for a while, and I’m thinking, how is this less contact, someone playing with my phone, than me holding up my ticket so the ticket-person can scan it?
You do have to remember to load up the tickets to your digital “wallet” or at least pull them up when you have a good cell signal ahead of time. One time at baseball I forgot to load the tickets. No problem I’ll just pull them up when we get to the parking lot. No dice. I was out of data and couldn’t buy more without using the app. The app won’t load because no data. There’s WiFi inside, but I can’t get inside without a ticket. What do you do? Well, you go to the ticket window and have them print it out for you. I suppose the same solution can be had at the PPL Center in the instance that the tickets either won’t load or can’t be pulled up.
Finally, just this past Sunday, as I was using the scanner station to scan my phone, the ticket guy looked at my phone and saw that I have two tickets. I was pretty clearly there by myself. He then insisted that I scan the second ticket in my account. Of course I refused. One person, one ticket. And if someone I know contacted my for my extra ticket at the last minute I’d be able to forward it. It was an odd request.
Referee Peter Schlittenhardt (#12)
Referee Mason Riley (#79)
Linesperson Josh Cleary (#45)
Linesperson Tom DellaFranco (#71)
What To Watch
- Watch for who starts in goal. Can Sandstrom make it back? I’m fine with Usti or old-man Nagle, though.
- Keep an eye on Ratcliffe tonight. He flashed a few times over the weekend and then finally got a goal. I’ve been waiting a while for him to break out. Could this be it?
- A friend said the problem with this team was that they were missing Greg Carey and Wade Allison. I was more of the mind that they were missing Ryan Fitzgerald (injured in pre-season, on the Flyers list). Well, Allison is back and we’re winning games. He’s been fun to watch. Watch to see what he does tonight, and if he can do it while staying on his skates.
- Does the third game in a row at home make this team look any better? Or tired because they haven’t played this much thanks to the covid postponements?
- I thought Zamula looked kinda slow on Saturday night. Then on Sunday he seemed better. Is there anything to that?
- Watch for “O Canada!” tonight. Will Ben sing both? I’ve really enjoyed his rendition of the Anthem.
The team will head to Hartford Friday night, virus permitting, before returning home on Saturday for Rochester. Saturday will have a couple giveaways and the usual musical guest. “Hockey Night” may or may not appear online early in the day as I have another commitment that day. And remember, we’ll be home on Tuesday 12/21 for a make-up game with Hershey.
See you at the arena,
Trivia: The New York Islanders won four cups in a row, beginning with the 1979-1980 season.