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

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Phantoms vs. Hershey Bears, Game 2 East Division Semi-Finals, 4-18-09

Forward groupings during the pregame skate are Matsumoto's/Laliberte/Maroon, Kane/JVR/Sirianni, Nodl/Kalinski/Szwez, Raduns/Clackson... Kempe? Shoot, everyone started skating at once. I guess we'll see who's in the lineup at the start of the game. Both Kempe and Gratton are on the ice, but in the previous game, only Gratton played. Pregame D pairs are the usual duos: Syvret/Guenin, Bartulis/Kukkonen, Curry/Ratchuk.;

It's legal to send out an extra player or so during warmups, so our team's not doing anything out of the ordinary by having an extra forward on the ice.

Ryan Fraser will be the ref for tonight. Hooray – I honestly think he's as good as it gets in this league. As long as he doesn't have a flareup of Whistle-Itis, the "call it it faintly resembles an infraction if you're watching it via a funhouse mirror", the PLAYERS will be the ones deciding this contest. That's what I want to see: the teams, not the zebras, being the primary determinants of the outcome of this game.

Holy cow, someone's in the stands with a referee's jersey on. That's uncommon. We used to have someone in my section with a ref's jersey and "BLIND 1" on the back,- but the man and his wife shifted to a suite last season. I originally thought it was the same guy, until I took a second look via the camera zoom. This is someone else. My husband went around to the opposite side of the rink to see what, if anything, this jersey says on the back.

Scratches: Duchesne, Lehtivuori, Sloane, DeSantis, RADUNS (Surprise! And drat!), Klotz, Beaulieu, Bellamy.

Starting Lineup: Munroe, Guenin, Syvret, Matsumoto, Laliberte, Maroon

Well, THAT was unexpected... Nate Raduns was definitely not someone I expected to sit out this contest. If he's banged up, I hope it's nothing serious. He did warm up, which I hope means there's nothing major amiss.

SCOOOOOORE!!! First shot of the game, and Kane buries it! Assists from Kalinski and Szwez.;

About a half-minute later, we get our first PECOOOO POWER PLAY,, with the Matsumoto line and Syvret/Kukkonen.

The fans have not stopped chanting since the game started, with lots of "Let's Go, Phantoms!" mixed in with some old-time "Hershey S*cks!" thrown in for good measure.

BTW, on the first shift of the game, a Bear skated over a Phantom's stickblade. Unlike the ref on Thursday, THIS official knows the difference between a trip and a misstep, so there was no call.

'How tall is Aucoin, anyway? MAN. I didn't realize that he was quite so Vertically Challenged. ;) (Hey, I'm Stature-Impaired myself, so this is just an observation rather than an insult.)

I'm seeing Clackson/Gratton/Sirianni out there at the moment. OMG, a Bear got loose in front and fanned on a shot. Its trajectory would possibly have taken the puck to Munroe anyway, but he had no difficulty sweeping the half-speed puck out of harm's way.

UGH Kukkonen got nailed y a shot. I mean NAILED, as in came up very lame and made his way back to the bench. Tellingly, he stopped at the bench itself instead of heading up the tunnel. But there was no mistaking the fact that he was hurtin' for certain... ouch.

The good news is, while I was looking at Kukkonen on the bench, to see if he was just stung or damage had been done, the Phantoms scored on our THIRD shot on goal!W YEAH! Way to come out firing on all cylinders! SOG are 3-1, Phantoms, and the score is 2-0... and we are less than 8 minutes into the period.

Kukkonen just tested that leg with a circle on the ice during a stoppage in play. He's staying on the bench, so apparently he plans to gut it out.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the goal was Maroon from Matsumoto/Laliberte. :)

Aaaah,l with 11:11 left, we get to put our PK skills on display. Kukkonen is called for... boarding? Sign.

Kalinski./Kane are out with Guenin/Syvret.

OH MY GOSH the save!!!! A Bear was about to try the same play that burned us several times on Thursday[, the sweep-in after the goalie was down from making a stop. But somehow, Munroe kept it out. Followed by some apparent attempts to dig a puck out from under the goalie, which caused an instant war in the creas e between Phantoms and Bears skaters.,

Ha, Nasty Nate Guenin just STEAMROLLED a guy behind the net. That's one way to keep them from pinballing the puck off the back boards.

Ah, nuts, we couldn't clear the puck for about an eon, and it eventually cost us. Just after the penalty ended, the Bears cut their deficit to one goal. 2-1 Phantoms. SOG are Phantoms 43, Hershey 5. (Prior to the PK, Hershey had 2 shots.)

Nice hit, Sirianni, behind the Hershey net.; We seem to still have our steam, even if the fans are less loud than before.

Nice shift so far... with about six minutes to go in the frame, both Laliberte and Maroon got a takeaway and we managed to make our way to Hershey's end for a spell. About a minute later, after some activity down here, we headed back to the Bears' and and this time we earned ourselves a PECOOOO POWER PLAY. Cash it in, guys! Matsumoto's line is out with Syvret and Kukkonen.

Somehow we let a shorthanded rush happen, and Kukkonen looked fine skating both forward and backward, so I hope that means that h was just stung on that shot-block.

Aack. Offside on our way back to the Hershey end. DANG we have to do a better job of avoiding that. It's really robed us of some nice attack opportunities in the past few games.

OHHH Laliberte came so close to potting a rebound. Dang. Nice save. The PP is over now and the SOT are even at 6-6 with just under two minutes left in the period.

At the end of the first period, the Phantoms lead 2-1, and the shots on goal are Phantoms 7, Bears 8.
- - - -
Hee hee, gotta love playoff mind games! Gratton came out and, prior to the second period, skated a biiiiiig circle in the vicinity of the Phantoms bench. Except that, as the Bears are defending this half of the ice in this period, he basically did his giant slow circle and touch-the-toes stretch in the Bears' defensive zone. :D Heh heh heh.

We promptly spent most of the first two minutes in front of Neuvirth, so score one for psychological;l warfare. During that span , Matsumoto had a NICE tip early that nearly went in, followed by a nice rush from JVR that went just wide.

Guenin is going off fr interference –he was framed, I tell you! – so we are on the PK.; First up, Kalinski/Kane with Syvret/Kukkonen. Though Hershey looked like they were getting some chances, in reality they didn't register a PP shot until 59 seconds into this man advantage.

Curry just buried a guy in the far-end, bench-side corner I can't see from my seat, to great cheering.

Matsumoto/Laliberte broke out for a SH 2-on-2, but Matsumoto's shot found a Bear's skates. Drat. But now the PK is over, so we did accomplish that. OOD.

The fans are in Chant Mode again. Oh, and he Bears' #13 wanted to fight with our Kane, after Kane hit him, but the linesman intervened immediately. No penalties were called on either side. But the next shift saw Amadio, who had dropped the gloves in here several times this season, on the ice for Hershey.

Kukkonen got dropped by a Bear and was on the ice covering his face. Fraser's arm was up for a delayed penalty. Once pl ay got stopped, it took Kukkonen a few more moments to get up, at which point he went after the Bear that injured him. The end result: Kukkonen gets two for roughing, and The Wrong Giroux gets two for hooking and two for roughing. Kukkonen went up the tunnel for repairs, along with the trainer, and we get a PECOOOO POWSER PLAY.

Matsumoto's line is out with Curry and Syvret,m our original PP D pair early in the season.

Again, the difference between a good ref and an inferior one: a Phantom trying to stop a Bear's breakaway fell. The Bear fell over him. No call. Thursday's zebra would have thought that was a trip instead of a player falling over another player.

Gratton goes for hooking with 8:59 left. NICE SAVE!!! as we embark on the PK. Kalinski/Kane appears to be h primary PK pair of forwards while Ross is called up.

I want a solid penalty kill, hopefully with enough clears to prevent the mishap we had in the first period.

Here come Matsumoto and Laliberte. Our D remain as Guenin and Syvret. Syvret, Matsumoto, and Laliberte break out with a 3 on 3, with Syvret=2 0rushing the puck. We don't get a shot, but we get seconds off the clock.

Now we get a wholesale change, with Bartulis and Kukkonen on D, and Kane/Kalinski. They clear it all the way to the back boards. Then they do it again for good measure. At the end of the PK, we get JVR out with Kane. Gratton joins the play and tries to skate right through a Bears dman. That, unfortunately, doesn't work and we turn it over. Nodl and Sirianni come out to join JVR and we rush the puck. Boy, Ratchuk has some nice wheels. We had a Bear trying to escape from his end with the puck, and Nodl lost him. Ratchuk, who had shifted away from the point and toward the center, came speeding back to catch up with the guy in our half of the neutral zone.

The shot attempt and scoring attempt sequence that Hershey followed with led to Munroe getting up after the whistle blew and going after someone. A multi-skater convention ensued. No penalties were assessed.

Sloan of the Bears hit Maroon so hard, behind the Hershey net, that Maroon's helmet went sailing nearly to the faceoff dot. Maroon got up breathing flames and went after him. Another conference convened. This time, Maroon got the extra two for slashing in with the two minutes each guy received for=2 0roughing, so onto the PK we go.

Crumbs. The Bears tie the score with 5:02 left. Next time we have to remember to just beat the crud out of the guy and not slash.

Whoa, I'm not sure what transpired in sections 24/2, but a Bears fan is ge2tting escorted out while the Phantoms Phaithful stand and applaud.
Matsumoto and Laliberte are out with Nodl. Maroon remains in the sin bin for his roughing minor.

JVR, Sirianni, and Kemoe are the next forward group out.

With 3:10 left, another scrum ensued next to the Phantoms net. Jay Beagle goes for roughing, so we get the PECOOOO POWER PLAY.

OH, the chance Szwez had late in the period! OMG! He got driven wide by a Bears defender, but not before carrying it all he way in and lining up for a point-blank shot. Then the Bear railroaded him off to the side. The Phantoms were in the midst of a mad scramble in front of Neuvirth when the horn sounded to end the frame. Amadio took a slash at the stick of the Phantom in front of the net.20But somehow GUENIN gets two for slashing. WTH? :banghead:

The score at the end of the second period is Phantoms 2, Hershey 2. SOG are Phantoms 19, Bears 23. The Phantoms will have a 2:00 PK at the beginning of the third period.
- - - -
HA HA!!! The penalty is actually on Amadio, so we get a PECOOOO POWER PLAY and not a penalty kill to start the period! HA!

The main difference between this starting lineup and our regular one is that Kukkonen is on the D pair with Syvret. Unfortunately, as we started the period at center ice instead of an offensive zone draw, it took us a little while to actually get into the Bears' end. And in the first half of the penalty, the Bears kept clearing the puck. Finally, with 17 seconds left in the PP, Kukkonen goes to the sin bin. So after a brief 4-on-4, the Bears went on a PP and The Wrong Giroux scored on a screened shot. 3-2, Evil Bears with ab out 17 minutes left in the frame.

LOL... the Chicken Dance, with its additional lyrics of "Hey Ref, You S*ck! , go played during the stoppage in play.

SON OF A... um, GUN! How did that puck stay out of Hershey's net?! SHOOT. The entire place was screaming, as the puck was rolling behind Neuvirth toward the open net, and then when the scramble in front cleared, play was coming back the other way. SWEAR WORDS!!! That should have tied the freaking game. Hershey dodged a cannonball with that play.

JVR, Kempe, and Kalinski go on the attack, earning us an offensive-zone faceoff when Neuvirth freezes the puck. With 11:30 left, the SOG are Phantoms 23, Bears 25.

NICE. Kalinski steals the puck in the slot in front of our net. The Bear was winding up for a slapshot, and Kalinski came in and swiped the puck,

Both teams are playing for blood now. The Bears want to get insurance goals, and the Phantoms want to tie it. NOBODY is letting up.

8:02 left in the period. SOG Phantoms 25 (been a few minutes since Neuvirth stopped one), Bears 28.

We have some line shuffling going on, as JVR is out with=2 0Nodl and Sirianni. And BLAST. Freaking Hershey blasts one in with 6:08 left in the period. 4-2 Evil Bears.

Kalinski, Kane, Szwez is another grouping that has been changed since the start of the game. Matsumoto, Laliberte, and Maroon are a regular unit. NUTS we nearly got one in, but a Bears defender in the crease snared the puck first. And I suspect we won't see a lot of the fourth line in the last few minutes of this game, as we seem to be rotating our scoring lines.

2:58 left. SG Phantoms 27, Bears 31. I would have liked to see more than 27 for the amount of time we were in their end, but then again it only takes a moment to bury a puck. So LET'S DO IT.

Just about two minutes left, and I am wondering when we will see Munroe go... there. 1:55 left and our extra skater is JVR. Empty net goal with 1:41 left, and a giant fight ensues in the corner as the Bear took a slapshot instead of just shooting the puck. Inti the unguarded goal All eleven skaters had at each other.

By the time everyone got pried apart, there was a Bear in the box and I am still waiting to see which Phantom will go. Maroon is the guy. The goal-scorer and Patrick Maroon both went off for unsportsmanlike conduct, and we are at 4 on 4 for the remainder of the period. Matsumoto, Laliberte, Guenin (who buried Beagle at our half-boards) and Syvret are out. Last minute of play in the period... and Fraser's arm is up. Guenin goes with 50.6 seconds left in the period. They say it's elbowing, so we're at 4-on-3.

But not for long. Hershey puts in a PP goal to make it 6-2. |

There may be a bit of extracurricularity at the Hershey end at the final horn, but it cleared up relatively soon.

SOG at the end, Phantoms 27. Bears 33. Boyd Kane was the second star.

It didn't really hit me until Phlex stood in the tunnel with the "Thanks for the Memories" sign, but this could have been the final pro hockey game in the Spectrum. We will have to win at least two in Hershey in order to bring it back to the Spectrum for a Game 6. But after this series, even if we advance, chances are we'll be at the Center. So the Spectrum's stint as a pro hockey arena might have come to an end with this game.

After con ferring with Mike Thornton on the bench, Phlex did not come out with the sign. He did skate around the rink and salute the fans, though.

And I didn't want to leave. I got to shake hands with Keith Jones as he was going up the Phantoms tunnel.

When I saw some longtime season ticketholders whom I know, including grown men who were stone-cold sober, having a bout of grief on the concourse, it REALLY hit me that we might be bidding our home goodbye. And that at the end of this season, we'll be bidding goodbye to our team as well. I knew these things, of course, and I've posted about them already. But the denial is continuing to wear off and as it goes, sadness comes in to take its place.

So pardon me if I do a substandard job of proofreading. I kind of have something in my eye right about now.

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