Things can get a little weird and chippy when the Bloomington Thunder come to town. In the Thunder's now two and just a bit over a half season in the USHL, these two teams have had more than their share of rough and contentious games. With both teams playing a normal home weekend schedule, you would think things would be a little tamer on an early Monday afternoon. Maybe, but there were still plenty of big hits and a few goals scored in a 4-1 Phantoms victory.
The Phantoms got things rolling on the powerplay in the first. Alec Mahalak took a shot or pass from the point. A Thunder defender got a stick on the puck causing it to flutter through the slot where Austin Pooley was able to give it a little help on the backhand and behing Thunder netminder Logan Halladay at 7:24. The Phantoms would add to that on the oddest play I've seen in a while. Eirc Esposito carried the puck into the attack zone and was given a rough ride into the boards by Marco Raifenberger. Esposito got right back up as Noah LaLonde dislodged the puck from Wyatt Kalynuk. Esposito grabbed the puck and just as Vladislav Dzhioshvili stepped up into him, Esposito centered the puck to the crease. No one was there to really take it but the puck hit Halladay in the crease and tipped in. The Phantoms took the 2-0 lead into the lockers after the first, shots were 10-8 in favor of Bloomington.
The Phantoms would grab a 3-0 lead in the third with their second powerplay goal. Chase Gresock would have a shot blocked in the left faceoff circle but the puck sat their for him to take a second chance shot with and he burried it at 12:38. Bloomington would outshoot the Phantoms 10-7 in second. The Thunder would finally crack Ivan Kulbakov in the third on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Thunder defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk just threw a simple wrist shot from the middle of the ice, half-way from the top of the faceoff circle and the blueline and it just found a hole in at 8:46. The Thunder would continue to push but the Phantoms defense held well as did Kulbakov and Austin Pooley would add an empty net goal to solidify a 4-1 win. Shots were 8-4 in the third and 28-19 overall in favor of the Thunder.
The Phantoms pick up a big 2 points at home, 5 of 6 on the long weekend. With a rough road trip coming up, those points are even bigger. Despite getting 5 of the last 6 points at home and 5 of 10 this month, the Pooley PP goal was the first time the Phantoms held a lead since 12/31, the only win after that came off a come from behind win in OT. Despite getting outshot they played pretty well with the lead and never let up on attack or physical game.
The crowd was a but small but that's not a surprise on a Monday afternoon despite the holiday. And hey, I even got a highlight this time.
Austin Pooley taps it along for a PP goal!