Bears 2, Phantoms 1 4/19
McGinn said he did kick the puck in, so the referees made the right call, but the Bears had tied the score 1-1 before the break and then scored a late controversial goal to win 2-1 at the Civic Center.
Phantoms coach Terry Murray was upset that referee Geno Binda initially ruled the play a goal, but then overturned the ruling after consulting with his linesmen -- not the video review system. The Phantoms asked for such a review, but the linesmen were so confident that it was kicked in that they did not have to consult the video. The replay could have very well been inconclusive anyway, as McGinn made the kicking motion fairly far away from the net. The overhead camera only really covers the area immediately around the net, and it's unlikely that they would have caught the kick.
Adding to Murray's frustration, though, was Michael Latta's goal with less than five minutes to play.
He felt the play was offside "by two feet" and should have been blown dead. But play was allowed to continue, and the Bears winger hit Latta with a pin-point centering feed that he buried past Cal Heeter. Everything about that goal was legal, except for the offsides, but AHL rules dictate that an otherwise legal goal can't be negated if it's later determined that the team that did it was offsides.
Murray acknowledged that, but said it was still an unfortunate way to lose.
"Those linesmen, we get them all year long, and in a big game like this, the kids pour their heart into the game and they screw them with an offside call that’s so clear,” he said. “I don’t get it. I don’t get it."
However, the Phantoms had more than enough chances to build a multi-goal lead early in the game. If they converted on them, they might have been able to withstand Cam Schilling's game-tying goal late in the second period and then Latta's controversial goal that ultimately won the game in the third.
In the first period alone, Jason Akeson hit the post on a rush down the right wing before Rob Bordson put one off the crossbar on a nearly identical rush down the left side. After trying to bank a rebound in off Philipp Grubauer that went wide in the first period, Jon Sim put one over the net in the second.
“We had our opportunities,” Murray said, “but in the big picture of the game we had too many holes in our game: Too many turnovers, too many plays that were not happening to get deep into the offensive zone. Those will come back to haunt you all of the time.”
Especially when you're playing a team like the Bears, who entered the game two points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They're now tied with three other teams at 79 points. Only two of them will make the playoffs. Should make for some interesting showdowns this weekend.
The Phantoms, meanwhile, were again doomed by their inability to finish chances.
They remain well on pace to shatter the Phantoms franchise record for fewest goals in a season, and fell to 7-33-3 when scoring two or fewer goals. The team is 0-18 when it scores zero or one.
“We needed to play a lot better in the first and second period,” McGinn said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The biggest story of night, however, is undoubtedly the news out of Boston, which the Phantoms announced during a promotional timeout in the third period. The crowd of 3,162 erupted in applause, and then joined in the chorus of "Sweet Caroline," the song that has become the hymn of the Boston Red Sox. U-S-A chants started as the song faded out, then grew more fervent as play resumed.
Until next time,