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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Phantoms vs. Binghamton Senators 10-18-2008

Scratches: Teslak, DeSantis, Laliberte, Beaulieu, Cabana, Hersley.
Starting lineup: Munroe, Bartulis, Curry, Maroon, Bellamy, Kalinski.

Here is the game recap from the Phantoms site.

Here is the box score from the official AHL site.

I lost nearly all of my first-period notes due to a computer glitch. The problem was that I could have SWORN I hit "save" before I closed the file. Honest. Just goes to show that even baby boomers who've been working on computers since the early 80s (read: before there was an internet) can have an occasional brain cramp, and I sure had one tonight.

However, I do recall some of the most salient points. To begin with, I can't help but notice that our starting line is composed entirely of rookies. After their shift, Paddock rolled the other three lines in turn: Matsumoto/Kane/Giroux, Powe/Raduns/Nodl, and Clackson/Szwez/Klotz.

Tonight was the first time that the Phantoms wore these purple jerseys. It's also the first Phantoms jersey, not to mention the last *Philadelphia* Phantoms jersey, that includes a Flyers logo on it.The Flyers logos appear on the shoulders in place of the image of Phlex and the Spectrum, which has been on the past few years' jersey designs. (The original jersey designs bore an image of Phlex alone on the shoulders.) In the first frame, the same probem that plagued us last night came back to haunt us again: we couldn't keep the play in the Senators' zone long enough to do anythng constructive. For example, we went an entire PP without a shot on goal.

We also had, in the first period, a 4 on 4 situation during which we spent much more time in our end than in Sens end. That was a bit unnerving. I would hope that we develop a better knack for using the extra open ice, preferably *before* the first time we play in an overtime game.

The one goal which the Sens scored seemed to deflect in off Scott Munroe himself. Not sure if he was cheating there, but in his defense, the Sens made him do a lot of lateral movement all period long. They sent a lot of pucks just wide of the net, to one side or the other, forcing the goalie to move from east to west and back again in order to track it. Yes, every team shoots wide, but the number of times Bingo did so made me start to wonder if they weren't doing it intentionally to get the goalie to move out of position.

The shots on goal at the end of first: Phantom 6, Senators 12.

Let me start my commentary on the second period by complimenting -- yes, I said COMPLIMENTING -- Francois St, Laurent. Last night, I griped at the number of times he interrupted the flow of play. Tonight, he he did exactly the opposite of last night, and he really let the teams play. That's as it should be. However, there was one bit of creative officiating, not quite two minutes into the frame, when Powe backed into a Senator and got called for interference. Um, what? In any event, I was interested to see that both Nodl and Giroux saw PK time, including a stint when they were both on the ice together. I like when the coach shows trust in the rookies like that, and it's clear that Giroux and Nodl are expected to handle extra responsibility. We had a mad scramble in front, but Scotty's break-dancing kept the puck out.

I notice that Bellamy goes to the net looking for rebounds. Nice. We need to get more shots on net when he does that so he can clean up the proverbial garbage. Unfortunately, that wasn't one of our strong suits tonight; moreover, Glass has good rebound control so Bellamy didn't have much to work with when he took up residence at the post.

We ended up shorthanded again when Syvret went off for delay-of-game. I really do like the way we cleared the puck out during that PK. The Sens can't score if they're busy retrieving the puck from the opposite end of the ice.

Once we returned to even strength, we saw some head's up play from Syvret, who cleared away a dangerous rebound. Getting to those loose pucks first makes all the difference.

Late in the second period, I started noticing some unexpected forward combos on the ice. The first time or two, I thought we were halfway through a line change. But then I saw the players in question come over the boards together, so I knew it was an intentional move on the coach's part. For example, we had Bellamy, Szwez, and Kalinsky out together; on the next shift, we had Clackson, Maroon, and Powe. With about five minutes remaining in the frame, I was certain that at least some of the lines were being shuffled around.

At this point, we had lots of river hockey going on, but not a lot to show for it for either team. With 3:42 left in the period, we got another PP. Our first powerplay unit was Kane, Matsumoto, and Giroux, with Curry and Syvret on D. THAT group wasn't shuffled around! Though we had some good chances in the first minute, the puck stayed out. In the second half of the PP, Ramholts dratted stick broke and the double-dratted Senators broke out shorthanded. Fortunately, we withstood that charge and returned action to the Sens' end. The chances we were generating had the fans hollering, but the darn ornery biscuit remained outside the net.The darn ornery goalie Glass had something to do with this, as well. ;)

It was at the end of that PP that I realized that the Sens had NOT had a shot on goal in quite a while. So even though there was a lot of play moving from end to end, and not us living in the Senators' end, we did a far better job tonight of keeping the puck away from the goalie, compared to last night's game when we gave up a truckload of shots. It's nice to realize that we're tightening those loose ends up, bit by bit.

The shots on goal at the end of the second period: Phantoms 13, Senators 18. I honestly think that the Senators got most, if not all, of their second-period shots in the first half of the frame.

We scored a beautiful goal early in the third period, and I mean highlight-reel fodder. Which is good, because that's exactly how I got to finally see it. On the highlight reel on Comcast SportsNet. But I have a really good reason. Honest. I was completely distracted by the goings-on in our own end, where there was a small dogpile of the Sens' Jablonski, our Szwez, and until I see the archived game on, I can't actually say who else (because I was busy determining which of our players it was leaning over the top of it all). What I CAN tell you is that I watched Szwez *literally* drag Yablonski off the top of the pileup, and once Yablonski got to his feet, it appeared to me that we were about to see a fight. They had all the body language of combatants preparing to drop the gloves, and I expected to hear the referee's whistle at any moment.

Well, I sure heard something, but it definitely wasn't a whistle. Our goal horn blared and the fans went insane cheering. What? Goal?

As I eventually saw on TV, Powe scored on a BEAUTIFUL wrist shot; he was assisted by Ratchuk and Munroe. So while we were having a little mini-conference beside our net, the REST of the Phantoms took the puck down to the Senators' end and buried it. I was laughing too hard at this turn of events to be mad about missing the goal. Hey, as long as we scored, right?

Less than a minute later, Boyd Kane landed on the goalie Glass; a dogpile formed atop Kane.The end result of this was that Kane and the Sens' Bell got penalized for roughing at 14:37, leading to two minutes of 4 on 4. I hoped we'd look better on this 4 on 4 than we did on the one we had earlier in the game.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be.The Sens scored during this 4-on-4 and regained their one-goal lead. The score was now 2-1, bad guys.

A few minutes later, the Phantoms were SWARMING on a powerplay. I was pleased to see just HOW hard we were working to try and regain that goal. We didn't score, unfortunately, but if we consistently work that hard, we'll hear a lot of goal horns this season. (Or if we're on the road, we'll hear a lot of groaning fans, which is the equivalent of a goal horn for the visiting team. ;) )

AGAIN, Kane ends up on top the goalie Glass and a big dogpile formed in the aftermath. This time, the Phantoms came out of the scrum with another PP.

At the end of the powerplay, the Senators got themselves set up in our end, and were throwing everything humanly possible at our net to increase their lead. We survived that flurry and cleared the puck, but the Senators came back in and absolutely blasted one past Scott from point blank. 3-1, bad guys.

It was at this point that I realized at least one reason for the rearranged lines. It dawned on me that I hadn't seen Klotz in what seemed like forever, so I looked down and verified that he was, in fact, still on the bench. I'm looking at the Phantoms box score even as I type, and I notice that Klotz was one of our guys on the ice for our first goal-against. So either he got dented at some point during the game but they were keeping him on the bench to conceal that fact, or he was on the coach's Excrement Roster.

Late in the game, though I'm not sure when, the scoreboard clock somehow fell about 20 seconds behind the correct game time. I became aware of it when Keith Jones announced that the time displayed on the clock was incorrect, and there was one minute remaining in play. He then counted down the clock by announcing the time in ten-second intervals. When there were only ten seconds remaining, he counted down each second until the game time expired.

Shots on goal at the end of the game: Phantoms 25, Senators 28.

#3: Senators' Jeff Glass.
#2: Scott Munroe
#1: Senators' Zack Smith, who scored the GWG.

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