Saturday, January 5, 2013

Adirondack 2, Connecticut 1 (OT) 1/5

Winger Harry Zolnierczyk was dancing to a hip-hop song when local media members walked into the locker room to conduct post-game interviews. It was that kind of night for the Adirondack Phantoms.

Center Sean Couturier's dramatic one-timer from the right-wing circle represented the power-play, overtime, game-winning goal and the Phantoms snapped their four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale before 4,634 at Glens Falls Civic Center.

It was the second time the Phantoms have won a game this season with an overtime power-play goal. See if you can name the other goal. I'll leave the answer in the comments section below.

"We get the opportunity, you want to take advantage of it," Phantoms coach Terry Murray said. "Obviously, the two points are very big for us. It was a good set-up. The guys took their time. They won the face-off right away. That's obviously the critical thing at the start of it. You move the puck around and get some movement and you shoot the puck."

Shoot the puck he did.

Couturier had a lot of time to tee up and launched a cannonading drive over Cam Talbot's shoulder.

“I face his shot every day,” Phantoms goalie Cal Heeter said. “I know how hard it is. I heard it ring off the post. I wasn’t sure right away if it was in or not. Then I saw the ref signal and point at the net and the red light come on. That’s a good little bit of relief there. It’s been a while since I had a win.”

More on that later. First, more on the goal. Take a look at this shot the Phantoms provided:

Photo: Andy Camp/Adirondack Phantoms

With today's movements, that may be a shot of the last goal Couturier ever scores at the Civic Center.

The Phantoms don't have another home game until Jan. 18 and there's reportedly a Jan. 11 deadline in place to get a new NHL collective bargaining agreement in place. By that point, you would think Couturier and Brayden Schenn are either long gone or staying here in Glens Falls for the long haul.

"We’ll wait to jump on conclusions," Couturier said after the game. “It’s fun to get a big win here. It’s been a while and we need those wins to get in the playoffs right now. Later it might be too late. We have to start playing better hockey right now.”

(Ed note: It's a jump to conclusions mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and would have different conclusions written on it that you could jump to.)

They got an early goal from Tye McGinn, who one-timed Rob Bordson's pass behind Talbot just 2:57 after puck drop. That was a key difference from Adirondack's last four losses, when they surrendered the opening goal each time. Murray said it came back to the game's opening shift, when he sent Tyler Brown, Zac Rinaldo and newly-called-up center Ian Slater out to give the team a shot of energy.

"They did a nice job with their purpose, with what they needed to do for the team here tonight," Murray said. "To get pucks in, get after it, recover pucks and just give us high energy. I thought everybody followed up with that."

The Phantoms celebrate Tye McGinn's goal (Photo: Andy Camp)

That was another big difference from the past four losses. They did a lot better job recovering pucks, especially from just 24 hours ago against Connecticut. They couldn't get anything going in that game and based on these comments from Heeter, there weren't a lot of people who were pleased with them.

"After a bad loss like last night, I think it's really important for us to come out here and give 100 percent" Heeter said. "Coaches were unhappy, management was unhappy with our game and I personally -- all the players -- we weren't happy with how we played. I think that makes it a little bit easier to come out. You know, 'Hey, we can't have the same result or the same effort we had last night. We really have to be able to turn this around and get some points.' It's important that we don't fall too far behind right now."

They're still six points out of a playoff spot, as eighth-place Manchester beat St. John's in overtime. But games like this one are possibly signs they may finally be turning the corner. They've got a week of practice and then they're at Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. We'll see if they keep it going.

Heeter turned in his second straight 30-save effort, another quality start. This time he gets a win.

"I think he was much better tonight than last night," Murray said. "Although I liked his game last night, obviously. I came back with him in back-to-back games, which is the first time for him this year. He was a little more under control, more composure. Maybe it's because he played the back-to-back that demanded that he stay in better positioning."

Heeter said he had back-to-back starts a lot in college, so he didn't think it was that big a deal.

"It certainly helps when you can get in a bit of a rhythm," he said. "You're playing regularly and consistently. That makes it a little bit easier for you to keep your level of play up, but that doesn't matter if you get one game a month or if you play every game for a month. You just have to go out there and do what you can."

The defense did a much better job at clearing rebounds. Connecticut had three rebound goals last night. Tonight they had one that was upheld by a review. Murray said it was the right call and in this other Andy Camp photo, you can see that it was. Just barely squeaked over the goal line.

Cal Heeter allows a second-period goal to Chad Kolarik. (Photo: Andy Camp)

"What allowed our 'D' to be so good is our forwards were coming back hard on the backcheck and picking up those guys so our 'D' are able to turn around and clear those rebounds away," Heeter said. "I was coughing a lot of rebounds back into the slot, so they did a good job of helping me out there."

Added Couturier: "All game long we played a good game -- tight defensively. Offensively, we had some scoring chances. We didn't capitalize, but at least we played some solid defense and didn't let (many) goals against. It was a tight battle out there and it's a big win in overtime."

Rough night for Trenton. Wheeling's Paul Crowder had a hat trick less than seven minutes into the game and the Nailers rolled to a 5-0 victory.

 They're off tomorrow and back out there Monday. Expect the next update then.

Until next time,



Blogger Michael Cignoli said...

Brandon Manning, Oct. 28 at Syracuse.

January 5, 2013 at 10:13 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home