Saturday, January 19, 2013

Phantoms 2, Sharks 1 1/19

They got into penalty trouble, which wore down their penalty killers, and the opposition made them pay for it by scoring a power-play goal that proved to have a significant outcome on the game.

How many times have we said that about the Adirondack Phantoms this season?

Tonight, though, it was the Worcester Sharks that didn't do themselves any favors by taking penalties. Adirondack had seven straight power plays over the final 40 minutes -- including four in a span of about eight minutes in the second period -- and Tye McGinn scored the game-winner on one of them.

With the score tied 1-1 and former Phantoms forward Jon Matsumoto off serving a slashing minor midway through the second period, Danny Syvret launched a shot from the right point. Worcester goalie Alex Stalock made the initial stop, but McGinn banged in the rebound from the slot at 11:23.

That 2-1 score held through the end of the game thanks in large part to some spectacular goaltending from NHL veteran Brian Boucher, who was assigned to the Phantoms on Thursday. He made 28 saves in his first appearance since April 2012 -- and 14 of them came in an impressive third period.

The Phantoms were outshot 14-4 over the final 20 minutes, but Boucher turned aside all those shots. The most impressive stop came with 2:23 to go in the third period, when John McCarthy faked out a defenseman and got himself a breakaway. Boucher calmly stuck his pad out to preserve the win.

I think McGinn and Boucher are going to make nice call-ups for the Flyers, should the need arise.

After scoring 12 goals in 63 games as a rookie, McGinn already has 11 in 32 games as  this season. Five of them came on the power play and he's really committed to playing that big-body role in front of the net. He also has goals in back-to-back games since returning from Philadelphia's training camp.

Boucher is everything you would want in a No. 3 goaltender. The Flyers know what they have in him.

Someone else who is renewing a case for a call-up? Winger Harry Zolnierczyk, who buzzed his way around the ice. Can think of at least three times tonight when he turned on the jets and just blew past defenders. Didn't score, but he did chase down a dump in to set up Cullen Eddy's opening tally.

There was a point early in the season where I would have put Zolnierczyk above some guys that are currently with the Flyers on the organization's depth chart, but his offense tailed off markedly since the start of December. Had eight points in 19 games to start the season, then just one in his next 16.

But he's now back in more of a scoring role on Adirondack's top two lines. He has one assist in each of Adirondack's games this weekend. Tonight, he wore an alternate captain's "A" in the absence of alternate Brandon Manning, who was scratched with what was announced as "flu-like symptoms."

I am not sure if Zolnierczyk's "A" will translate to a permanent thing or not. When Manning returns, he will almost assuredly get a letter back. But Murray has said he would like a forward to join the letter-wearing ranks. I think Zolnierczyk would have to be near the top of the list of candidates there.

Brodie Reid had Worcester's goal, which came off an Adirondack turnover in their own end. They rimmed the puck along the boards, but the Sharks cut it off. Seconds later, they work it to the slot and Reid bangs it in. But there's nothing that says momentum-killer like seven straight penalty kills.

Three fights in this one: Matt Pelech, who plays a very physical game, leveled Eddy in the right-wing corner. Ian Slater leapt to Eddy's defense and held his own despite giving up at least five inches to Pelech. Then Bracken Kearns hit Matt Ford hard and Eddy came to his defense, so Eddy finished one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Zack FitzGerald and Pelech went in the second period after Pelech hit Bordson hard. Lots of guys sticking up for each other against a hard-nosed Sharks team.

Schenectady-born and Clifton Park-raised defenseman Nick Petrecki did not play for Worcester. He was one of several players called up to the San Jose Sharks after the NHL lockout’s resolution.

Speaking of several players getting called up to the NHL, a former Phantom recorded an assist today.

Speaking of former Phantoms, Carter Hutton did not have himself a good day. He, teammate Alec Richards and the Rockford IceHogs were the victims of a 11-6 mudhole stomping at the hands (feet?) of the Grand Rapids Griffins. But Hutton did apparently win a goalie fight with Petr Mrazek as part of a donnybrook that broke out in that one at the 11:58 mark of the second period. Thirteen players were ejected at that one moment -- five Griffins and eight IceHogs, including Hutton.

Will be sure to pass along some video when it pops up on YouTube. EDIT: Here it is.

Closer to home, Bridgeport beats Binghamton. Jason Missiaen has 32 saves as Connecticut downs Portland 4-1. Paul Dainton makes 35 saves, then goes 4-of-5 in the shootout as Springfield tops tomorrow's opponent, Albany, 2-1. In goals that are not agate-friendly, that match-up gives us: 1, Springfield, Drazenovic 12 (Erixon, Audy-Marchessault), 7:10 (pp). Back out west, an interesting report out of Oklahoma City. NewsOK says former NHL All-Star Jonathan Cheechoo attended the Barons game. I suppose that's one way to replace Jordan Eberle and company.

More after the game tomorrow. If you were planning on heading to Albany, don't, as the game is in Atlantic City. If you were planning on heading to Atlantic City, always bet on black.

-- MC


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