Saturday, November 10, 2012

Albany 2, Adirondack 1 11/10

Albany goaltender Jeff Frazee was nearly perfect tonight -- and that's saying something because Adirondack had no shortage of quality scoring chances.

The fifth-year pro out of Minnesota even got a piece of the lone goal he allowed, to Eric Wellwood (pictured) at 17:37 of the second period, but his save of the night had to have been his stop on Tye McGinn early in the third.

Brandon Manning fired a cross-ice pass to the power forward, who drove to the net and got a shot off that many on the Adirondack bench had earmarked for the back of the net. Frazee went post-to-post and kicked it away to keep the score at 1-1, which wound up being a huge turning point in the game.

Chad Wiseman gets the puck to Jacob Josefson, who advances it up to Matt Anderson, who sneaks it just inside the near-side post to make it 2-1 just 14 seconds later. That winds up being your ballgame.

"You kind of see that a lot, don't you?" Murray said after the game. "Make a big catch in the field in baseball and the next thing you know the guy's up at the start of the inning again. It happens a lot. Those are the ways of games, the intensity is hard and you get a lot of pressure and you get a break and you have to capitalize on it. They did and we didn't."

Go back a couple minutes and you'll find even more scoring chances for Adirondack. Brandon Manning and Harry Zolnierczyk had breakaway attempts in the second period. The Phantoms had about 90 seconds of five-on-three time split between the second and third periods. They didn't convert on any of them. Murray thought the five-on-three, more than anything else, was the turning point.

"That was an extended five-on-three and we missed it," he said, terming it a "golden opportunity."

The Phantoms fell to 0-6 when they don't score a power play goal. Murray, though, was pleased with the team's penalty kill, which went 7-for-7. They were doing a lot of things right, especially when Albany had three straight power plays in the first period, but it should be noted Albany's power play hasn't been particularly good this season. They're 2-for-47 overall, which is about 4.2 percent.

"When you get a bunch of power plays at the start in the first period, it generates a lot of good things for you," Murray said. "Not only what's going on on the ice, but sitting on the bench and watching your team move the puck around spending quite a bit of time in the offensive zone. You look at the shot clock, so you're leaving the period talking about those things and let's just continue to build on it. That's the way the game unfolded. It's the way games go. At the other side of it, we were feeling good about our penalty killing."

One more statistic: the Phantoms had allowed 30 goals through their first eight games, but they've allowed just three in their past three. They've been playing better defensively, which to me is an indicator that they're starting to get a feel for the system Murray has been trying to instill in them.

But they've also scored just three even strength goals in their past three games. That's not bad if you have the power play helping you out, as it did against Albany last week and against Rochester last night, but one five-on-five goal wasn't enough to beat Albany tonight. Wellwood on his goal: "I don't know. It happened pretty fast. I just got the puck behind the net and did a quick wraparound shot. I wasn't trying to aim for anything, I was just trying to get a quick shot. Sometimes if you shoot it quick, the goalie doesn't get in position fast enough. I think that's what happened."

Since you might ask, they've scored 26 goals so far this season. Eight of them came on the power play, two of them have come shorthanded and 16 of them came at even strength (61 percent).

They're off tomorrow but return to practice Monday.

Expect an update early next week.

Until next time,


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