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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phantoms vs, Hershey Bears, 4-10-09, Final Game at the Spectrum

At the block party outside, we met up with and took pics with Frank Miceli, the team's former COO. Of course he's here; this was his second home for years. It's good to see him. I hope he brought extra good mojo with him to help boost the team into the playoffs.

Oustside, the band played "These Were The Best Days Of My Life". I wanted to cry, Which was only exacerbated when I saw the STH gift: a mini banner saluting the Final Game at the Spectrum, with Gene Hart's quote, "Good Night and Good Hockey".

The music on the PA is getting me, too; "Philadelphia Freedom", "I Will Remember You" (which nearly set me off again), "If I Could Turn Back Time"... the pregame music choices are surely no accident.

John Paddock is on the bench, pre-warmups, with his own personal video camera. Lou Nolan was signing autographs in the tunnel, but ran out of autograph cards before he got to me.

I already saw one small kid whom I'm familiar with crying at his seat. Yeah, little buddy, I can empathize.

So many familiar faces are here. That's what happens when you sit in the same place for at least 9 of the past 13 seasons. (I had three other locations, including the seats I shared with Bob P. and Karla in the first two seasons, before a seat adjacent to the tunnel became available.) So many long-timers like myself whom I've seen year in and year out, and am unlikely to see much of anymore after the season concludes.

I can see the original press box, which still has WIP on it, and the original organ which is still up in the rafters.

There's a Final Game banner in the rafters, also, waiting to be unfurled.

Scott Munroe just led the team out of the tunnel. Warmups are starting.

Luca Sbisa has returned to Philly, following the elimination of his junior team from the playoffs, and he is wearing #47
Scratches: Duchesne, Lehtivuori, Ratchuk, DeSantis, Klotz, Beaulieu, Kempe, Bellamy.

Starting Lineup: Munroe, Guenin, Syvret, Ross, Kane, Sirianni

Less than two minutes into the game, MacNeill and Josh Gratton fight. Meanwhile we also get a PP because Helmer went off for inbte2rference, so it's our first PECOOOO POWER PLAY of the game. MacNeill landed more punches early, but Gratton landed haymakers of his own and got the eventual takedown. The fans went berserk when he raised his arms on the way to tbe sin bin. When Berube was our assistant coach in the Cup year, he reprimanded Josh for doing that, but I think even he would understand the emotion of the moment. This is NOT just any game,and everyone knows it.

Sbisa is out with Curry and the Matsumoto line. OMG this place is as deafening as old-time Bears/Phantoms games. WOW.

With 8 seconds left in the PP, we have the only three SOG.

Hee, make that 4 SOG with five seconds left in the PP.

With Ratchuk scratched, the D Pair is now Curry and Sbisa.

Szwez is out with Kalinski and JVR. and we are back to even strength. Syvret/Guenin and Bartulis/Kukkonen are our other D pairs.

FIGHT, Clackson vs. Brennan. Like Gratton, Clackson got the takedown and I would say the edege. GREAT GREAT GREAT this team has really come out on fire. At the time of the Clackson fight, we had 5 SOG to Hershey's 1.

Now there's a scrum on Munroe's doorstep as the Bears attempt to get the frozen puck loose. But the ref calls play dead and we get a faceoff.

SCOOOOOOOORE! Matsumoto jams his 29th goal in from he doorstep with assists from Maroon and Laliberte! It was our 6th shot of the game, compared to Hershey's 2.

We then get our first PK as Sbisa goes of. Ross and Kane break out 2 on 2, with Syvret and Guenin on D for the start of the kill.

Next, Matsumoto/Laliberte with Kukkonen and Bartulis AAAA BREAKAWAY... shoot, the goalie made the stop. Nice way to shave time off the clock. :D The Phantoms are out there with an intensity that is easily playoff-level. We know that it's a "win or go home situation", and we are playing like it.

Koharski calls Guenin for slashing with 4 seconds left in the Sbisa penalty. Kane, Syvret, and Kukkonen are out. Ross comes out whe Sbisa crosses the ice and arrives at the bench. Next up are Matsumoto/Lalibere th Bartulis/Curry. Again Laliberte takes the puck all the way in for a shot on goal. SOG are Phantoms 8, Bears 2, with 21 seconds left in the Guenin penalty.

Bartulis blocks a shot. As the penalty expires, the SOG are Phantoms 9, Bears 3.

With just under five minutes left, again Laliberte rushes the puck up ice full speed, followed by eeryone else.; Our scoring attempt earned us another PECOOOO POWER PLAY. Ross, Kane Sirianni, Kukkonen, and Syvret are out. SCOOOOOORE Sirianni from Syvret and Ross!!!! Outstanding! It was our 10th SOG.

About a shift later, here comes another PECOOOOO POWER PLAY. Matsumoto's line is out with Sbisa and Curry. The Bears are clearing the puck pretty well this time around, but the infraction is only half served. SCOOOOOORE!!! Sirianni again from Kane and Kukkonen! 3-0 Phantoms! SOG are 13-4 in favor of the Phantoms. One of those Bears shots came during the PP we just truncated with a goal.

And at the end of the period, the Phantoms went off to a standing ovation, leading 3-0 and outshooting Hershey 13-4.
Intermission music: "Times of Your Life" and "Glory Days". HA HA HA, they're playing the Three Stooges theme again as the officials come out. :D They'd stopped doing that for a while, but tonight, it's baaaaack. :)

The second goal is now credited to Syvret from Kukkonen and Ross. We spent most of the first 90 seconds of the frame in our end, but allowed no shots. Matsumoto and company toook it in for a shot on Neuvirth, but Matsy shot high. However,even over the crowd noice, the puck struck the glass loudly. He got ALL of that disk!

The Bears must have gotten an earful in the locker room, because they are spending time cycling in our end again. However,a mixed line combo of Gratton, Raduns, and Ross got out of our zone and Ross sent a blistering puck on goal for the first shot by either team in the period. Nearly 4 minutes have elapsed in the frame. Neuvirth had to make a NICE save to keep that one out. For his troubles, he gets to stop three more pucks on the next shift. Ross's line is out for the faceoff. With 4 and a half mijtes gone, Munroe stops his first shot of the period, and it's a dandy save from point blank range. His next save thuds loudly off his pads, to loud applause from the Phantoms Phaithful.

Clackson gets called for hooking, so we go on the PK. Matsumoto/Laliberte are wth Guenin and Syvret. And MUNROE. :) Who is making stops With Authority. Aw, heck. Bears score just as the penalty ends. It's their 10th SOG, compared to our 7th. Also reminiscent of Days Of Old, there is a loud contingent of Bears fans in the house. We Phantoms fans will be returnng the favor tomorrow night at the GIANT Center, however.

With 9:30 left in the period, we give Neuvirth a puck to freeze just before the promo timeout.

Kalinski, JVR, and Szwez are out with Kukkonen and Bartulis.

Guenin blocked a shot. :)

HOLY COW. Our Phan Club's Sergeant-at-Arms just told me that Norfolk is leading Binghamton 6-0. OH. MY. GOSH. GO ADMIRALS!!!! If we win and Bingo loses, we clinch the last playoff berth!

AAAH SCOOOORE! While I was typng the great news about how much Norfolk is helpng our cause, KALINSKI scored an un-assisted goal on our 21st shot! $-1 Phantoms!!!

Next up, another PK. They think Matsumoto tripped someone. The Phantoms Phaithful beg to differ, LOUDLY. :D Oddly enough, I thought the Bears got a shot six seconds into the PK, but it never registered on the board. NOW they have a shot, with 36 seconds left in their man advantage. Munroe had to stop one other puck during the PK. Now the Matsumoto line is buzzing around the Bears net with a minute to go in the frame. They're followed by the Ross line, THEY'RE followed by the sound of the horn.

At the end of the second period, the Phantoms lead 4-1, and the SOG are Phantoms 21, Bears 17.
I had some computer issues during the third period and the recap I was typing got lost. Dang it. But in short order, you know that second Phantoms goal that was recredited to Syvret? Well, apparently everyone conveniently decided to pay no mind to that, because when Sirianni scored an empty-net goal to make it Phantoms 5, Hershey 2, there was a downright avalanche of hats. :) So if the box score remains as it is right now, crediting Sirianni with three goals, then we closed out our tenure at the Spectrum by winning two fights, scoring five goals, celebrating a hat trick, and clinching a playoff berth!

For a few points of interest that happened during the third period: Hershey's second goal was scored by The Wrong Giroux, aka Alexandre Giroux. It was bhis 58tb of the season. WHY is this man not with the Washington Capirals?! CALL HIM THE HECK UP! Anybody with 58 freaking goals belongs in the SHOW, thank you very much!

Hershey repeatedly pinballed the puck off the boards behind the net, aiming it for a guy who would be stationed there to try and stuff the puck in before Munroe could move laterally. On one of those attempts, Kukkonen saved us from being scored on by crouching down to block the puck. It was a gutsy move on his part, given he still is wearing a guard on the lower half of his face, and he put himself right in the line of fire for both the oncoming puck and the stick that shot it. Fortunately, he kept the puck out without getting injured. But this team was motivated enoujh to dive in front of a Mac truck if that's what it took to win this game. This was just one bit of evidence to that effect.

Keith Jones, wired jaw and all, announced both Sirianni's goal and the "For the final time in the Spectrum, one minute left in the period" call. At the end, the whole team gathered at center ice and saluted the fans, then followed Phlex around the perimeter of the ice. Phlex had the "THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES" sign held high, and the team tapped the glass with their sticks all the way around the ice.

During the "Shirts Off Our Backs" after the game, the final song to be played in the Spectrum was "Say Goodbye".

It was a great send-off for one of the last ARENAS in pro sports. For make no mistake, the Spectrum is an ARENA. Most of the new buildings today are Entertainment Venues. The sports world will be a lesser place when the Spectrum is relegated to history.

But at least the Sports World will continue to have the Phantoms in it for a while longer. We are in the playoffs!

GREAT JOB, Phantoms! Now go kick some more Bear tail in Hershey tomorrow night!

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