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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Phantoms vs. Grand Rapids Griffins, 3-28-09

Aubin led the team out of the tunnel for the pregame skate. We are wearing the Spectrum jerseys.

Now I KNOW we need to make it to the playoffs, because if we do, Keith Jones will be able to return to announcing. So come on, Phantoms! Go on a tear and beat the daylights out of everyone and everything that stands between us and the postseason :)

Lou Nolan is announcing tonight's game. There will be a pregame awards ceremony tomorrow, which is a couple weeks earlier than we normally do it. However, given that there is likely to be a lot of ceremony attached to the final home game this season, it's understandable that they have moved the awards ceremony to a different night.

I love the way this device's battery measures its time left. As it recalculates the amount of time remaining, sometimes the estimate of time left goes UP instead of down. :) If the guess-timate I am getting is correct, I won't have to change the battery during tonight's game. That will suit me just fine. We'll see.

Scratches: Duchesne, Lehtivuori, Sloane, DeSantis, Klotz, Gratton, Beaulieu, Bellamy

Starting Lineup: Aubin, Bartulis, Kukkonen, Kane, Sirianni, Ross. So Sirianni has been moved back onto the line with Kane and Ross.

We have the same ref tonight as we did last night (Ghislain Hebert). We had decent flow to last night's game, so if he calls tonight's contest the way he did last night, then it will be the players who decide the outcome of the game. That's all I want. (Besides the players to decide that the Phantoms win, of course. :D That goes without saying.)

Neil Little was on our bench for the pregame warmup. The Grand Rapids goalie tonight is wearing #31, as Neil did during his season there. (Which was ten years ago. Good GRIEF. Where did the time go?) I saw the Griffins #31 sweater on the visiting starting goalie (Larsson) and thought of Neil. I wonder what Neil was thinking of when he saw it?

Kukkonen has a face guard on his chin...! I don't remember seeing him take an injury last night that would warrant that. Eek. At least he's well enough to play.

Guenin takes down GR's #19, half a minute into the game, and we go on the PK. Ross, Kane, Kukkonen, and Syvret are out to kill the penalty.

Nice defensive stickwork by Syvret to keep a shot from comng in on goal. Next line: Kalinski, Nodl, Curry, Bartulis. Kalinski and Nodl break out on a 2 on 1, but our shot does not reach the net. I thnk. Then again, NO shots on goal have appeared on the shot clock as yet, but I would swear Aubin has stopped at least two pucks. Maybe they're having some shot clock Gremlins and the stats will be making an appearance shortly.

Next up Matsumoto, Laliberte, Maroon, Syvret, Guenin. And yes, the SOG are now Phantoms 1, Griffins 2.

Blast. GR shoots high glove side on Aubin, who is down in a butterfly split. It goes over his shoulder (rather too close to his head for comfort, actually) and in. 1-0 Griffins.

Szwez, Kalinski, and Nodl are back to  being a line combination. Raduns, Kempe, and Clackson are our other line. The D pairs remain the same: Curry/Ratchuk, Bartulis/Kukkonen, Syvret/Guenin.

There goes Haydar. He has been a thorn in the Phantoms' side in past seasons. One of my friends has met him a few times offline, and I am always telling her to shoplift him when he comes to town, but she never does. ;)

Ross and Kempe nearly teamed up to tie the game. But they did draw a penalty while on their scoring chance, so it's time for the PECOOOO POWER PLAY. SOG are even at 3-3.

Or it WILL be a PP for us when they finish repairing the ice, LOL. The Shot Clock Gremlins leave, and the Ice Surface Gremlins come in to take their place.

OK, the ice is all better, so Matsumoto's line is out with Syvret and Kukkonen. Laliberte nearly cashed in a rebound at the top of the crease, but the shot went high.

Kukkonen got the puck taken from him after a nice keep-in, and the Griffins dumped it in deep and went for a line change. The Phantoms did, as well. Ross's line is out with Curry and Ratchuk to close out the PP.

SCOOOORE! Sirianni from Ross and Kane, *just* as the penalty expired. It was counted as an even strength goal. The score is 1-1, and the SOG are now Phantoms 5, Griffins 3.

Kukkonen nlooks like he needs to get used to seeing the puck when it's at his skates. Unfortunately, his next couple minutes of looking at his skates will take place in the sin bin, as he was called for tripping. The Phantoms Phaithful beg to differ.

MATSUMOTO!!!! Scores a SH goal on a breakaway!!! What a highlight reel play THAT was! Nate Guenin provided the assist. NICE, nice play.

And he came close to doing it again on the next shift, but unfortunately he didn't strike twice in a fraction of a minute. ;)

Clackson is out and talking to his guy in the faceoff circle. No bout resulted, but given the timing was just after our go-ahead goal, you never know.

Kane BURIED a guy at our half-boards as the Griffins took the puck into our zone.

'SOG with 4:13 left in the period are Phantoms 10, Griffins 4.

Hebert let a Griffins interference go vs. a Phantom in the neutral zone, but behind our net, he called Guenin for holding GR's #19. The music guy responded by playing a clip from Mr Grinch.

Aubin has kept a couple of shots out, regardless of the screening going on in front of him. He has also had some nice help from our PKers who have  blocked the puck and swept loose pucks out of harm's way. The end result was a killed penalty and only 3 SOG for the Griffins during their man advantage.

Final minute of play in the period, and Maroon gets hauled down just as he crosses the GR blue line. Hebert sees it, so we will have a two-minute PP at the beginning of the second period. There was a ten-skater conference in the corner behind the GR net, and I wondered if additional minors would be called, but no. The guy who tripped Maroon is the only one who got penalized.

At the end of the second period, the score is Phantoms 2, Griffins 1. The SOG are Phantoms 0, Griffins 7.
To start the period, our PP unit consists of Ross, Kane, Sirianni, Syvret, and Curry (intead of Kukkonen).

BLAST times TEN. GR's #15 pilfered the puck from Syvret and charged in for a SH breakaway. Freaking Helm again. He's the guy that got their first goal. He scored to tie the game at 2-2. So far that was the only shot that took place during the PP for either team. The penalty is over but Matsumoto's line is still cycling. Laliberte would have had a clear shot on goal, but freaking Helm (again! grrrr) made a nice defensive play.

Kempe is headed to the sin bin for interference. Out to kill the penalty are Kane, Ross, Syvret, and Guenin. At the next faceoff, we changed forwards for Matsumoto and Laliberte, who got the puck deep shorthanded. Next are Kalinski and Nodl, who did the same.

Aaaah, another shortie! With Kempe still in the sin bin, Ross's shot kind of squeaked through Larsson for as odd-looking of a goal as I've witnessed in a while. But if it's us scoring them, I'll take 'em no matter what sort of goal it is! Kane got the assist. 3-2 Phantoms. SOG Phantoms 14, Griffins 9.

Eeeee... goalmouth scramble with nearly all the skaters on the ice having a scrum in front of our crease. Fortunately, Aubin must have corralled it (not that I can see through the throng) because the ref blew the play dead.

Bah. Raduns is sent off for hooking. SOG are Phantoms 14, Griffins 11.

Ross, Kane, Bartulis, and Kukkonen are out to start. Ross gets a SH shot on goal. Boy, both teams are giving up SH chances like mad.

Nice PK, guys! We got out of that one unscathed. SOG Phantoms 15 Griffins 11.

GR's next shot was a doozie... we got the "Great Save" graphic. :) We also got a penalty to Nate Guenin. Matsumoto, Laliberte, Kukkonen, and Syvret are out.  I would loooove to see us get a clear. We haven't faced a shot yet but the darn Griffins keep cycling. We need the puck to Go Away for a while and give our guys a breather.

FINALLY with a few seconds left in the penalty kill, we get the thing deep and change lines. Unfortunately, we didn't get ourselves back to our own end soon enough, and we gave up a goal. 3-3. SOG are Phantoms 15, Griffins 14.

Nice shot, Ratchuk. Unfortunately, no one was off to the side to pick up the enormous rebound. Ross got a point-blank attempt at the post moments later, but was unable to stuff it past Larsson's skate.

AAARGH. Grand Rapids takes a shot that pings Aubin, seemingly on his shoulder as he is down in a split, and keeps going into the net. 4-3 freaking Griffins.

SECONDS later, Matsumoto does almost the same thing to Larsson, except he appeared to put it in off Larsson's upper arm. WHEW. 4-4 with 4 minutes remaining in the period. Laliberte got the assist.

AWWWWW crud crud crud crud on the puck just STOPPING in the crease behind Larsson about 38 seconds later. Drat. It stopped a few inches behind him and jnust sat there. A Griffins defender managed to swipe it under his goalie before any of our guys could bat it the final few inches over the goal line. Aaaah. Still 4-4.

The Phantoms have continued to get chances in the GR zone, however, to the point where we drew a roughing penalty and are on the PECOOOOO POWER PLAY. Ross's line is out and a Griffin barely kept Ross from smacking a puck in point  blank. Next up, Matsumoto's line with Curry and Ratchuk. With 17 seconds left in the man advantage, the D swap out for Syvret and Guenin, but the forwards remain the same. For good reason, as Matsumoto's shot fell right in front of Larsson and Laliberte was only a moment too late getting to the rebound before Larsson covered it up. This line is En Fuego tonight.

NICE scoring chance. Kalinski shot the puck just a tiny bit wide, with Szwez standing right there to try and deflect it in. Unfortunately, Larsson anticipated this and hugged the post, but the chance was a good one.

At the end of the period, the game is tied 4-4. SOG are Phantoms 24, Griffins 19.
SIRIANNI!!!! SCOOOOOOORE from Bartulis and Kane! Only 25 seconds into the period, WTG GUYS! Way to come out of the gate like gangbusters! We are in need of these two points, and I want to see us go after them with everything we've got.

Nice play by Szwez to go in alone on Larsson, and shortly afterward, Ratchuk handled a 3-on-1 with aplomb. SOG with 1:38 left Phantoms 32(!), Griffins 21.

HAT TRICK ROB SIRIANNI! Holy cow, what a game he's having! I love it! :) 6-4 Phantoms and the assist was from Maroon. There is a pause to retrieve hats from the ice and to repair that Gremlin-infested spot on the ice again.

Kukkonen just about put a Griffin right through the boards and into Lou Nolan's lap.

Aubin just made two fabulous stops on consecutive shifts. He froze the puck both times. But he and everyone on the Phantoms are in Stamp Out the Enemy Mode now. NICE vision from Ratchuk, right there in our slot to anticipate a puck and keep a Griffin from firing it on net.

HAT TRICK JONATHAN MATSUMOTO!!! I don't ever remember seeing two different Phantoms get a hat trick in the same game before. Holy cow! Laliberte gets the assist.

Not a lot of hats were available for the second hat trick of the contest, so some fans near me were suggesting that I should supply mine to the effort. But I have had this Phantoms hat almost as long as the team has existed. THIS lid isn't going anywhere unless I'm still in it. ;)

Guenin blocked a shot moments before the end of the game.

The three stars were all multi-goal scorers. #3: Helm (GR); #2 Matsumoto, #1 Sirianni. Apparently, our two Hat Trick Boys were left in suspense as to which of them would be the first star of the game, because when Matsumoto was announced as the second star, they grinned at each other and did a fist bump. :)

Gotta love our guys. Here's to a similarly hungry performance tomorrow night. GO PHANTOMS!

P.S. As we were walking up the steps to the concourse, a loud cheer... no, make that a ROAR emanated from the press box. Villanova had just won their basketball game, so they're heading to the Final Four. Outstanding! :)

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