Wednesday, October 17, 2012

These books are a little overdue 10/17

Story in tomorrow's paper about rookie defenseman Matthew Konan, who is accompanying the Phantoms on their road trip to St. John's.

Konan missed most of training camp while recovering from sports hernia surgery, but he's back skating now and is busy working himself into game shape. I had the chance to catch up with him after Tuesday's practice.

I was particularly interested in the similarities between him and fellow Phantoms' defenseman Brandon Manning, who missed last year's training camp while recovering from a hip injury.

Manning, another undrafted defenseman from the WHL, eventually worked his way into Adirondack's line-up. By the end of the season, he had played four games in the National Hockey League. This season, he's a Phantoms alternate captain.

"That’s a good model for me to look at," Konan told reporters. "An example like that, just model my game after that. Just look forward and not let things get you down. Play hard and see what happens."

Konan put up some pretty good numbers in his final season of junior hockey -- 54 points in 72 games -- but those numbers can be pretty deceiving. It was his overage season, so he was one of the oldest players in the league, and he was also on a pretty good Medicine Hat team that won 42 games.

Two Tigers -- touted prospects Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk -- scored more than 90 points. That certainly helped Konan's numbers a little bit, but he was pretty happy with his season overall.

"I had a strong year last year," he said. "I didn’t get hurt, played lots of minutes. I was doing my thing - playing hard, playing good – just going with it. This summer was kind of a setback having surgery, but I have to get back to that. Just being a strong, good skater, good passer, just all into it. That’s my game."
Phantoms coach Terry Murray said Konan will have to get back into game shape before he'll be considered for a spot in the line-up. No timetable on that, but the 21-year-old California native has a couple of things going for him when he's finally healthy.

He's a right-handed shot - only Jeff Dimmen and Cullen Eddy fill that role now -  and he's a big body. Konan, though, is looking to add some muscle to his 6-foot-3, 182-pound frame.

The addition of Konan gives Adirondack nine healthy defensemen -- Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, Danny Syvret, Zack FitzGerald, Oliver Lauridsen, Manning, Dimmen, Eddy and Konan -- which I thought seemed like a lot because teams only dress six or seven each game.

Murray, though, said he likes to have five forward lines and five defensive parings for early-season practices, which makes for a better flow. Unlike the NHL, there's no roster limit in this league, so why not? Makes for better competition, too, since they're vying for ice time.

One other note: The Phantoms have landed in St. John's and had a workout and video session today. They'll get back on the ice tomorrow and Friday in advance of Friday night's game against St. John's, which is the IceCaps Opening Night. Should make for a good one. Face-off is at 6 p.m. Eastern.

I'll have some more notes on the blog tomorrow.

Until next time,


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