Saturday, March 23, 2013

Phantoms 5, Whale 2 3/23

It's somewhat ironic that an Adirondack Phantoms forward broke the team's all-time scoring record in a season that could just be the lowest-scoring one in team history, but that's what happened Saturday.

Jason Akeson recorded his 96th, 97th and 98th career points in an Adirondack Phantoms uniform to surpass Denis Hamel atop the team's scoring list as the Phantoms beat the Connecticut Whale 5-2.

Hamel, Akeson's former linemate, recorded 96 points in his 140-game Phantoms career between 2010 and 2012. Akeson hit that mark in 14 fewer games, in large part due to the roll he's been on recently.

He has produced 7-11-18 in his past 13 games after recording just 7-18-25 in his first 37 appearances. Break that down a bit further and you'll see he went 0-10-10 in his first nine games, then 7-8-15 in his next 28, then 7-11-18. He has been thinking more like a shooter, he told me earlier this week, and he and his line mates have gotten some bounces as of late. Tonight, everything seemed to go their way.

Akeson, Garrett Roe and Tye McGinn all had three-point showings. McGinn had three assists, giving him seven points in his last three games and 10 in his last five. Roe had his first career multi-goal game and an assist, giving him 11 points in his past eight games. Akeson had a goal and two helpers.

On the record-setting 97th point, Akeson and McGinn teamed up to steal the puck below the goal line and worked it in front to Roe, who jammed it past Whale goaltender Jason Missiaen for a 3-1 lead. That, incidentally, was the only goal the Phantoms scored that was not on the power play. The units combined to score a single-game season-high four times with the man advantage, finishing 4-for-5.

In the third period, McGinn made a gorgeous, no-look, behind-the-back, spinning pass that found Akeson cutting in from the left point and he one-timed it past Missiaen to break his own record. That also tied his career high in goals (14) and gave him sole possession of the team's goal-scoring lead.

They finished the seven-game road trip 3-3-1, which is good under normal circumstances. They picked up half of the possible points. If they had done that all season, they would have 65 points right now and they would only be five points out of a playoff spot with 12 games to go. That's very much doable. They have not, though, and they're 12 points out with 12 games to go. That's not promising.

This upped their goal total to 151. I know the AHL standings says 155, but that includes the goals they got for shootout wins. The AHL doesn't include those when calculating franchise records, like the Phantoms' franchise record for fewest goals in a season: 193. They need to average 3.5 goals per game the rest of the way to tie that mark. The Phantoms are averaging 2.7 over their past 10 games.

Speaking of goal scoring, Shane Harper got back-to-back hat tricks in the ECHL this weekend, and spoke with friend of the blog / Journal Register Company brethren Mike Ashmore after the game. And former Philadelphia Phantom Boyd Kane picked up his 500th career AHL point for Hershey. 

Believe it or not, this was the Phantoms franchise’s first win in Hartford since Dec. 10, 2005, when the then-Philadelphia Phantoms beat the Hartford Wolf Pack, 3-2, in a shootout. The Phantoms, Philadelphia or Adirondack, had lost 10 in a row in the XL Center, to Hartford or Connecticut, since.

Newcomer Kyle Flanagan recorded his first professional point, an assist on Adirondack's first goal, throwing a gutsy pass through Ryan Bourque's skates that eventually turned into a Marcel Noebels goal. I was really impressed with Flanagan's speed -- there was one sequence where Noebels stole the puck at the blueline and Flanagan, who was centering a line with him and Jon Sim -- came rushing in from center ice and beat Noebels to the net. The pass, though, was a bit off and nothing came of it.

Derek Mathers also made his season debut, and leveled a guy in the right-wing corner about two minutes in. He also got some power play time late in the game and I can totally see why. He's 6-foot-3. Put him in front of the net and see what he can do. He doesn't have to score to be effective, as long as he plants his feet and takes away the goaltender's eyes. Then again, tonight's goalie was 6-foot-8, so good luck with that. Mathers didn't fight anyone, but I am sure hoping to see him go with Portland's Joel Rechlicz tomorrow at the Civic Center. That might be worth the price of a ticket alone.

One more quick thing: McGinn was wearing an "A" tonight to give the Phantoms two letter-wearers. They were down to one -- Danny Syvret -- after Harry Zolnierczyk was called up to Philadelphia. The other, Brandon Manning, remained sidelined with a minor injury. Cullen Eddy was also banged up, so defenseman Jeff Dimmen returned to the line-up after sitting out the past month as a healthy scratch.

More before the game tomorrow, one of nine home dates the Phantoms have in their final 12 games.
-- MC


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