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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Phantoms vs. Flyers at the Spectrum, 10-7-08

The Flyers are sitting on the visitors' bench for the game, wearing their black jerseys. In the NHL, this would be considered the home jersey; however, in the AHL the white jerseys the Phantoms are wearing is the home jersey. It's apropos that both teams which call(ed) this building home should be wearing their own version of a home jersey; however, the Phantoms are correctly being treated as the home team since this IS the building where we currently play. The Flyers are the former tenants, and it's a nod to the present that they are being regarded as visitors.

The Phantoms' goalies are Niittymaki and Munroe. Nitty is wearing his Flyers number 30, rather than the #1 he wore when he was a regular member of the Phantoms team. This is the first game time he has seen since training camp began, as he had arthroscopic surgery on his hip right before camp opened. I wonder if they'll give him a rehab assignment on the Phantoms to start the season? He did miss the entire training camp and preseason while recuperating from surgery, and he's got to get up-to-speed somewhere. A stint with the Phantoms would be the obvious solution, but I haven't seen or heard anything official.

There was a pregame ceremony where members of the two Flyers' Cup teams raised the two Stanley Cup banners to the rafters. The cheering for the Almni as they walked onto the ice was deafening. I particularly loved the loud "MOOOOOOSE" cheers as Andre Dupont was introduced, and it was nice to be able to cheer "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" when the goaltending deity Mr. Parent came onto the ice with his former backup Bobby Taylor. Wayne Stephenson, our other goalie from the Cup years, is seriously ill :( and was represented by his son. I'm so sorry Fort Wayne couldn't be on hand. ( God willing, he'll beat the cancer and be with us for future ceremonies.

We are in Section 224, a few over from where my normal season ticket seat is. An unexpected benefit of this is that we're sitting on the Flyers' side of the ice in the Spectrum, which we'll never have the opportunity to do again.

It's so nice to see Riley Cote both on Spectrum ice AND in a Flyers uni. Look up "The best of both worlds" in the dictionary, and you'll see a photograph of Riley in tonight's game. :)

The music for the photo montage during the ceremony is Billy Joel's "This is the time to remember". They're trying to make me cry and the game hasn't even started yet.

Matsumoto and Maroon, who looked great together during the preseason game vs. Lowell, create the first scorng chance.

The Phantoms' Ramholt has been sent to the sin bin. I tried to jot down the Phantoms' PK units, but from the angle of our seats it was almost impossible to see the players' numbers. I'll have to wait until our home opener on Friday to get an idea of what our PK units are.

Boy, it really generates scoring chances when the players aren't allowed to kill each other in defense of their net.

SOG at 13:31 Phantoms 3, Flyers 2.

Nice stop, Nitty. Glove save. In fact, there was some more great stuff from Nitty immediately thereafter, as he stopped a couple point blank shots during a flurry of activity. His saves include making some butterfly moves; I hope his hip doesn't mind.

SOG: Hahaha, the shot clock was actually "backward". They've fixed it. Now the shots on goal are being dispayed as Phantoms 2, Flyers 7.

I have to laugh: the fans are booing an offside call. We fans are in midseason form :)

Maroon passes from behind Flyers net but Carter intercepts. Gotta keep an eye on whom you're passing to, good guy.

There was no announcement of scratches or starting lineup pregame, now that I think of it. I guess we will see it in the online box score.

Powe throws the first hit for the Flyers, bumping a Phantom in the corner on Flyers side as they were looking to dig out the puck. How nice would it be to see Powe stick with the Flyers for the long haul? I'd enjoy seeing Powe go POW in Orange and Black. :)

SOG with 8:46 remaining: Phantoms 2, Flyers 10. Nitty looks really sharp; I'm very pleased.

Flyers score, finally, on their 11th SOG -- did I mention that it's hard to defend when you can't REALLY hit your opponent? Gagne(Briere,Richards). Ha, I watched both the assist makers as AHLers in this very building. I can also say that about most of the Flyers, actually. I saw both Flyers goalies, Biron and Aubin, in here as AHLers with the opposing team. I saw all the Phantoms alumni as AHLers, of course, and if I look at the roster I will surely spot other guys I whom saw on opposing teams as AHLers.

Phantom PP. Jones goes with 13:36 gone in the first period.

LMHO times ten, they sold 17077 tickets to the game. That's the former "sellout" crowd total from the 70s. LOL LOL LOL! I love it. :)

Oops, Phantoms nearly gave up a shorthanded break, but they got matters back under control.

Powe looks good. I wonder if we are getting him back. He would be a great asset for the Phantoms, but for his sake I hope he sticks with the Flyers.

SOG with 1:45 remaining: Phantoms 5, Flyers 14. Knuble is in the box. Ossi made a nice defensive play to clear puck for the Flyers.

SOG at end of 1st: Phantoms 7, Flyers 14. Phantoms will have 15 sec of PP to start second period.
The players are returning to the ice; Nitty's looking enthused to be out there stretching. :) During the intermission, we had another milestone: the last period of a Flyers game ever announced by Lou Nolan at the Spectrum. He formally turned the microphone over to Keith Jones (the Phantoms announcer, not the former Flyer). If I were in charge, I'd have seriously considered scheduling the Changing of the Guard for midway through the second period, when people would have been in their seats, instead of during an intermission when a lot of people were on the concourse. But that's just me.

Whoa! Biron had to do a windshield wiper kick to stop a goal from being scored. Dang, nice. NICE. This avowed Goalie Junkie is thoroughly pleased with the netminding that's gone on so far in this game.

SOG at end of the Phantoms PP: Phantoms 11, Flyers 14. We really, REALLY tried hard to tie the score with that brief man advantage we had to start the second.

Flyers PP. The Phantoms are having issues clearing the puck; Richards picked it off at the point. GREAT SAVE NITTY -- he stopped a sure goal that time.

SOG at end of Flyers PP: Phantoms 14 , Flyers 16.

The ice is tilted toward the Phantoms net again. Even when the Flyers don't get shots on goal, they are hemming the Phantoms in a lot. NITTY just freaking STONED Richards! Holy cow, :) SOG with 12:16 remaining in the period: Phantoms 16, Flyers 17.

Curry has is hands full defending against carter, but he did prevent a shot on goal from occurring.

SOG with 9:23 left: Phantoms 16, Flyers 18. I'm pretty happy to see that the shots have evened out. Phantoms have gotten more opportunities in this period.

A Flyers PP coming up. and Oh Em freaking Gee, Nitty just stopped a HUGE flurry of shots that belongs on a highlight reel. I honestly don't know how that puck stayed out. Hip surgery? What hip surgery?

SOG with 3:40 left: Phantoms 18, Flyers 23, and many of those Flyers shots came during that recent PP.

Both goalies have looked outstanding. I love it.

Phantoms PP at 3:21. There's a SH chance by Flyers, but Nitty is up to the challenge.

Score! Ross (Curry, Maroon). NICE play leadng to a PP goal.1-1. When the Flyers scored earlier, the goal song was "Rock and Roll Part 2". I wondered if they would have a different tune for Phantoms goals, but no. They used the same one. Then again, this is a night for vintage music from the 60s and 70s, so its fitting that they'd use that particular song for all the goals.

LOL, what an announcement! There have been over 2 million cheesesteaks eaten in the Spectrum since 1967. I know that I account for some of that total, but I've had lots and lots of help. :)

SOG at end of 2nd: Phantoms 22, Flyers 24. It seems to me like the Phantoms have gotten out of the overwhelmed mode they were in during the first frame, and they are playing With Intent to win this game. The only thing missing is hard hitting, mostly because both teams are surely under directives to avoid causing injuries to opponents.

Still, for the Flyers, this is an exhibition game. For the Phantoms, not only is it an exhibition game, but it would be a source of pride if they could come out of this contest having beaten the Flyers. The Boys in the White Jerseys look like they're increasingly serious about the game the longer it goes on.
Aubin is out to start the third for Flyers. It still kills me a little bit, no pun intended, to see someone else in Neil's number 35. He wore it for years, but as soon as he went to play in Finland (2005-06), the number was re-used. I'd heard that Munroe was supposed to start the third for the Phantoms, but it's still Nitty in goal. I guess they really want to give him a workout and let him go the distance. Besides, he's looked fantastic. If he feels good, there's no need to mess with success.

Man, suddenly we have bodies flying and falling all over the place in the Flyers zone. The Phantoms really want this one. :)

Maroooooon from Szwez and Guenin, 2-1 Phantoms! We are going to have a LOT of fun watching Maroon this season.

SOG with 9:31 remaining: Phantoms 34, Flyers 29.

Phantoms PK: Matsumoto got sent off. However, at the end of the penalty, Matsumoto came out of the box, took a LONNNNG pass for a breakaway, and started a rush into the Flyers' end. The resulting flurry of shots on goal ended up with the puck in the net, 14:11 into the period. Matsumoto from Girooooouuuuux. That was a really, REALLY nice sequence. Good work, guys. The score is now 3-1 Phantoms, with SOG: Phantoms 37, flyers 29.

Upshall scores soon afterward, with an assist from Asham. The Flyers are starting to show some desperation, as they realize the clock is ticking down and they're on the wrong side of the scoreboard to their AHL team. They're starting to get into some ill humor -- suddenly, it's becoming a little more than an exhibition game whose outcome doesn't matter.

Riley Cote threw a big check on Bellamy :) I'm not surprised by who made the hit, nor am I surprised by the target. Bellamy seems to bring that out in opponents. He's another one we're going to have fun watching this year.

Pandemonium! Do the Flyers tie the game with 43.8 seconds left ? No! It's ruled "no goal, because the puck was batted in by a hand." The score is still 3-2 Phantoms.

At this point, the Flyers called timeout, and the theme from Rocky was played. Can't possibly beat the song from the movie that was set in The Spectrum for a moment like that, can you?

When play resumed, the Phantoms scored an ENG to seal the 4-2 victory. Actually, "scored" doesn't do it justice. Andreas Nodl, recently sent down to the Phantoms, broke in with Timonen hounding him and they both fell to the ice. Nodl kind of did a desperation-sweep with his stick from the half-boards, and the puck was windshield-wipered into the net.

At the end, I expected to see a handshake line, as happened after the previous two Flyers/Phantoms games. Instead, both teams posed together for group pictures as the organ... a synthesizer, sadly, not the original organ. But still, organ music at an arena is to be cherished Just Because. Oops, my mind wandered... where was I? Ah, yes. The organ played "Pomp & Circumstance" while the teams posed, and the song was completed by the four "Let's Go, Flyers!" chords, which I'd noticed were kind of sprinked into the arrangement here and there throughout. Nice touch. :) As people exited, "Philadelphia Freedom" by Elton John played. As I said before, all night they were playing vintage 60s and 70s music, from the Spectrum's opening and the Flyers' Cup Years, and that was just THE perfect song to send the fans on their way.

Nitty played all 60 minutes. I spoke to a friend whose seat was at the Phantoms end of the ice, and he said Nitty was grinning from ear to ear at beating the Flyers. :) I am surmising that they will send him to the Phantoms for a rehab stint, as he missed the entire training camp and preseason, prior to this game, recovering from hip arthroscopy. (That Arthur O. Scopic, he gets around! He was here in Philly to work on my knee, and days later he worked on Nitty's hip in Nashville.)

I am very proud to see how well the Phantoms acquitted themselves, particularly since the front offices of the entire Flyers organization were In The House. I will be steaming mad if we don't see Jared Ross and Jonathan Matsumoto up with the Flyers as injury replacements during the season. They're both small guys but they are two of our best players, and they both scored tonight.

I screamed so loudly when the Phantoms scored the go-ahead and the ENG goal, I'm gonna have laryngitis for a month. ;) My husband's poor left ear may never be the same.

Incidentally, if you think that my loyalty was somewhat skewed in the Phantoms' direction, you're right. I love the Flyers, but I'm a total sucker for the underdog when it comes down to a Flyers/Phantoms matchup. However, I was applauding good plays no matter who made them, and goodness knows that there were a number of those, especially from the goaltenders. When teams aren't allowed to check their opponent into next week, it translates into netminders facing a LOT of rubber. But they're both "my" teams and they're all "my" players, so I wanted them all to play well tonight.

The Phantoms have a lot of positives to take from this game. Unfortunately for the Phantoms, but fortunately for the Flyers, one BIG positive will be headed back to the other side of the parking lot when Niittymaki returns to The Show. However, the lessons about hard work allowing a team to beat a more experienced and skilled opponent should remain with the team all season long. It should serve both as an inspiration and as a warning -- that we can be the winners when we are the harder-working team, and that we can be defeated by a lesser opponent when we allow ourselves to be outworked.

Onward to Friday's home opener. Here's to seeing the Spectrum off in style, with a Phantoms team worthy of being ranked with the Flyers' and Phantoms' most successful squads ever.

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