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The final pro hockey game at the Spectrum has been played.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Phantoms take the Home Opener over Bridgeport, 2-1

The Good Guys were the victors last night, as we opened the season with as 2-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NY Islanders affiliate). I have a long list of notes that I jotted down during the game, but unfortunately I'll be out most of today at a wedding, so my editing of the file is going to have to wait a bit. I will, however, say that the stars of the game were the perfect choices: the two goaltenders and the GWG scorer. Danis was outstanding for the Sound Tigers; without his efforts, we might easily have won by a multi-goal margin. Scott Munroe, meanwhile, was equally superb for the Phantoms and withstood a barrage from the Sound Tigers, particularly as the game wore on and Bridgeport got increasingly determined to put in a tying goal. Muny stood tall and our lead stood up.

And, of course, without Claude Giroux's PP goal early in the second period, we wouldn't have HAD a lead to defend in the first place. So he earned a star for his efforts, as well.

Here is the game recap on the Phantoms' site.

Here is the box score from the game.

Oh, and before I close this post, let me say one thing outright. Referee David Banfield called the game very well last night. I make a point of paying this compliment because if anyone saw my posts on various Phantoms discussion boards last year, they'll know I certainly griped about his performance when I disagreed with his take on what did and didn't constitute an infraction. So last night, when he LET THE TEAMS PLAY and only called five penalties per side, I feel he officiated the proceedings just as he should have done. Nice job.

I will be back later to post about this game, after I've rendered my game notes into coherent English. I also hope to be discussing good news about the Phantoms' road game tonight in Wilkes-Barre. We owe the Evil Flightless Waterfowl a sound thrashing for eliminating us from the playoffs last spring. So, here's hoping we kick some Penguin backside tonight.

Go Phantoms!
EDIT: Here's the game recap, as promised:

The scratches were Teslak, Duchesne, Zarb, Ratchuk, Laliberte, Klotz, Beaulieu, Lukacevic, Hersley.

Our starting lineup was Munroe, Guenin, Syvret, Powe, Raduns, and Bellamy Our backup was Aubin. I can't believe we have FOUR goalies on the roster! We have an awful lot of scratches, period. I think it's all due to the lack of having an ECHL affiliation as yet. I hope the announcement comes through soon, because the E Teams will have full rosters before long if they haven't already.

There was a nice pregame cermony honoring Frank Miceli's 12 years of service with the team. Litts presented him with an autographed Spectrum folding chair. To which I ask, "Since when does Frank ever sit during games?" :) But that's OK. The autographs will last longer that way. ;)

Kane is our captain again this year. Syvret and Powe have the two As.

We got off to a great start in this game. Not only did we give up a mere one shot during the PK, but we scored on our second shot on goal of the game. Clackson's first pro goal was assisted by Szwez and Cabana, 4:29 into the game.

We came close to doubling that lead within two minutes, as Danis gave up a huge rebound. Unfortunately, we had no one at the right post to cash in the loose puck. The score remained 1-0.

Bridgeport broke up a rush of ours nicely, but then they just dumped it into our zone. A diving Matsumoto broke up a pass and allowed the Phantoms clear it back out.

Bellamy let loose a HUGE one-timer. It wasn't counted as shot on goal, so it may hae missed the net rather than being a save by Danis. (From my angle, it looked like a shot, but I'm at the other end of the ice.) That shot was a real bomb; had he scored, it would have been a highlight reel goal.

The shots on goal with 10:30 remaining in the first period: Phantoms 4, Bridgeport 3.

We had somewhat disappointing attendance for a home opener; however, I believe I know why. Walkup sales take a major hit when other events are going on at the Sports Complex concurrently with the Phantoms game, and tonight we have TWO other events. There is a Phillies playoff game, and a Sixers preseason game.

In the first period, there was lots of back and forth pond hockey gong on. Powe just went POWE and knocked Callahan down at our half-boards near the bench. However, there aren't a lot of actual shots reaching the net. With 7:19 remaining in the period, the shots are Phantoms 4, Bridgeport 6.

Cabana's line had a lot of jump early, and in fact nearly put in another goal. On the next shift, Matt Clackson fell right over the Danis, earning a penalty for goaltender interference. This brought on a bit of a gathering of the ten skaters. It wasn't much of a scrum, surprisingly, though the linesmen were on hand and maybe that deterred the responses from getting too heated. There was some jersey-hauling going on, but to my surprise, nobody touched *Clackson*. This makes me wonder if his reputation precedes him a little bit, as he's as willing of a fighter as there is anywhere.

Scott Munroe made a fantastic flying save with 3:30 left in the period. Not only did that keep the score 1-0 during our penalty kill, but it set me to yelling that we'd just seen the PECO Power Play of the Day. (Our local sports station highlights an outstanding play at the end of every nightly broadcast -- this save was without doubt worthy of that distinction.)

We killed that penalty, and finished the period on the powerplay. The shots on goal at the end of the first period: Phantoms 8, Bridgeport 9. The Phantoms had 1:21 in PP time remaining to start the second period.
Intermission thoughts: I am not pleased. I swear, they are trying to KILL me here. Knowing that my team is leaving is a pang in the heart every time I remember it, and I have to look at a "__ Games Left" countdown sign all season? Egad. That's all I freakin' need. Nervous breakdown, here I come.
Phantoms not only started the period on the PP, we scored on our first shot. Giroux(Curry,Syvret). Unfortunately, our 2-0 lead almost immediately decreased to 2-1, as the Sound Tigers buried THEIR first shot of the frame.

On a subsequent Phantoms rush, the puck went to Kane and he had a clear line of sight to the net. Unfortunately, he received the puck on his backhand, so the shot never got off. Too bad -- that would have made a nice one-timer for a right-handed shooter.

After Bridgeport scored, we started to look like we were running around a bit in our own end. I was not pleased to realize that we hadn't shot on goal since soon after we scored. With 13:43 remaining, the shots were Phantoms 10, Bridgeport 12. It didn't help that when we did create offensive chances, we didn't get the puck on net. Giroux had a clean break, but missed the net, and soon afterward, Szwez got a breakaway but wasn't able to get a shot on goal. Meanwhile, back in our zone, Munroe had to go post to post FAST to stop a shot. With 11:43 left in the second period, the shots were Phantoms 10, Bridgeport 13.

Suddenly, the fans in the section adjacent to mine started screaming, chanting PHILLIES PHILLIES PHILLIES and high-fiving. I will presume that someone with a radio over there told his seatmates that the Phillies just won Game 1. :)

As this commotion was going on, Danis made an amazing save. Jason DeSantis was freaking STONED on that one.

And yes, the Phillies won 8-5. They announced it during the next stoppage of play and the whole crowd went nuts. :)

A few shifts later, De Santis showed nice poise at the point while looking for a teammate to pass to. Danis stood on his ear again to keep the puck out. But we got a PP out of this sequence of events, with 9:16 remaining and the shots on goal even at 14-14. Our previous couple of scoring chances were really nice; perhaps being on the PP will make the difference in getting the puck into the net.

We promptly went on a 5 on 3 PP for 1:18. Unfortunately, we couldn't get set up in Bridgeport's zone for love or money. Even with the two-man advantage, there always seemed to be a darn Sound Tiger in position to get the puck and clear it out. Or else we'd have chances like one where Syvret from the high slot passed to a teammate below the faceoff dot; even though we got the shot on goal and actually got to the rebound first, Danis was up to the challenge and the puck remained out.

Bridgeport did kill that entire shorthanded sequence, and they started being religious about stationing someone at the net to keep us away from rebounds.

Munroe had to go post to post again. It was a close call, but he kept the tying goal from going in. I like his east-west movement tonight. He's doing a great job moving laterally, and as a result we still have a lead.

I like the fact that Paddock has no issues with having kids out there. It seems like every special teams combination has at least one rookie. Speaking of which, our PKers are on the ice at the moment.

We had a 2 on 2 SH rush with Kane and Kalinski. Danis stopped the shot, and Kane came out of the sequence a bit worse for wear. He was a little banged-up in the tunnel as the period ended; he was first off the ice but last up the tunnel, as the trainer took a look at him.

Shots on goal at end of second: Phantoms 22, Bridgeport 20. We are at even strength.
At the start of the third period, Kane was on the bench, so fortunately they were able to glue him back together during the intermission. :)

About 5 minutes into the period, Nodl went diving to break up a pass in our zone. that was a NICE head's up move by the rookie!

The longer this period continues, the more I think Danis needs to be a star of the game. We should be leading by another two goals, maybe three. Nah, make it two since Scotty had that SuperGoalie save in the first period. :)

The first half of the third period was pretty evenly matched. The ice wasn't tilted much in one direction or the other. At least we didn't look like we're running around in our own zone like we did early in the second period.

Geesh, two minutes after I wrote that, we had a mad scramble around our net. Fortunately, Scotty was able to freeze it. We have 7:30 left in the period. Bridgeport wants that tying goal desperately so we are going to have to stand tall.

Raduns fed Clackson for a LONG break. Nice try. We didn't score, but it was a nice play anyway. Unfortunately, Bridgeport cleared the puck and we wound up right back in our end again. Now it seems like every time we get the puck out, the SoundTigers take it and get set up in front of our net within a few seconds. We need to get the heck out to Bridgeport's end, or we will be in deep doodoo wen they pull the goalie. Cabana breaks out on a 1-on-2, but the two D get the puck and send it back to our end. AGAIN.

Munroe is rapidly earning a star-of-the-game in my eyes because he is having to be very alert. Every time we clear it, somehow it's right the heck back in front of our net in moments. With 4:59left, the shots on goal are Phantoms 28, Bridgeport 27.

Oh, #%&$*. We're taking a penalty -- Matsumoto will sit. With 2:38 left, the shots are even at 28-28.

Powe and Raduns got a shorthanded break. They didn't score, but they did kill some time. Once we were back in our end again, I noticed that the shifts were SHORT. I mean, REALLY short, as in "I barely have time to jot the players' numbers down before they're heading off and fresh legs are coming over the boards". But at least we're able to to change instead of being stuck in our end the whole time and wearing our guys out. It seems like every time we clear the puck, we change.

Holy cow -- Matsumoto got a long pass when he was coming out of the box for a breakaway. Danis stops it, however. Darn, that would have been sweet to see him score like that two games in a row. (That's how he scored during the Flyers vs. Phantoms game on Tuesday.)

Bridgeport called T/O with 1:17 left and shots on goal 30-30. The faceoff was in Bridgeport's but we couldn't prevent them from clearing the puck. Out they came and off went the goalie. Powe, Nodl, Raduns, Syvret, and Guenin were the guys out in the final minute of a one-goal game, with Bridgeport having a 6-on-5 advantage.

Paddock's go-to guys came through, as they held off some late chaos and we managed to hold onto that one-goal lead and win the game.

Stars of the game: #3 Danis (NO surprise whatsoever); #2 Munroe (ditto, ditto); #1 Giroux.

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