After losing a tough one Saturday night, the Phantoms were looking to bounce back on a early Sunday evening. Everyone was hopeful a few minor changes to the lineup would give the Phantoms the boost they needed. The bad news is, it didn't work. The good news is... well, I'm still looking for the silver lining. I guess it's that it's only the first week of the season and we have plenty of time.
Things got off to a good start once again. The Phantoms looked to have a good jump in their step and took the lead a little over midway through the first frame. Curtis Hall, drfting from the high slot to the back of the left faceoff circle to create a little space, ripped a big slapper that beat Aces netminder Kris Carlson. Drew Elser would tie it back up just :32 after, on a rush up ice he let one fly from the right side that beat Phantoms netminder, Wouter Peeters this time, cleanly. Like the night before, the Aces would grab the lead late in the first. Max Andreev would carry the puck behind the Phantoms goal line and center to Matt Gosiewski, who wandered right through and behind the Phantoms defense. Peeters would stop the intital shot but Gosiewski would get his own rebound and poke that past Peeters with 2:23 left in the opening frame. To add to the issues, Max Ellis and Marco Riefenberger got tangled up late. Ellis gave what appeared to be a spear to Riefenberger. Play continued with Riefenberger apparently no worse for the wear and both teams possessing the puck. With about :12 left in the period and the first whistle after the altercation, there was a lengthy discussion and Ellis was given a major and game ejection. As far as I can tell, it must have been reported by the linesman.
The Phantoms would draw a penalty on the Aces early in the second, negating some of the major, when Eric Esposito was hauled down by Charlie Raith a stride away from having a shorthanded breakaway. Moments after the 4 on 4 expired, and with Phantoms defenseman Steven Holtz stickless, Gosiewski would get the puck on his stick in the slot for his second goal of the game to extend the lead to 3-1. Later on an Aces powerplay, Wouter Peeters would try to direct a harmless misdirected dump in hard around the back of his own net. However instead of a hard around and up the far side boards, he just bounced it softly off the boards to lie behind the net. Gosiewksi centered the pass to the other side where Max Andreev easily put it in for a 4-1 lead. The Aces would add another powerplay goal early in the third when Sebastian Diriven took the puck up the left side boards and laid a pass over to Jakub Lacka, who skated to through slot without much of a look from the Phantoms defenders, and Lacka put home an easy one-timer.
Well, I don't know just what to say here. The Phantoms seemed to start well but once things started to go the Aces way things just fell apart. I know we have a much better team that what I saw this weekend. I don't know what happened to the team we saw in Cranberry, I'm blaming UFO abduction. I hope we're not this fragile, a couple goals against and we're taking bad penalties and lose all focus. Speaking of penalties, the Ellis penalty did not warrant a major but on the same token Max has to be smarter than that. It looks like the league has also added on a game suspension, I guess they didn't see things my way. At times Peeters looked to be a solid goaltender, other times not so much. The issue is he's our top netminderr and a 3rd round NHL draft pick. I'm not really sure he looked like either this weekend. OK, this was his first regular season game and only his second game all together. The problem is, Ivan Prosvlatov did not look like he was capable of holding the fort if things do not shape up quickly with Peeters. Also, inserting Dalton Hunter into the lineup seemed like a good idea, I'm not sure why he wasn't dressed Saturday. The issue is he replaced Eriks Zohovs, who I thought played well. I get that it's early and I'm don't see practices and have a real feel for player chemistry but I don't think we're putting the best lines on the ice.
Anyway, we're on the road to Fargo next week. The Force lived up to their name in Cranberry but had their own troubles for opening weekend, so this could be a very appropriate matchup for the Pahntoms. Let's hope the Phantoms coaching staff addresses some of the more obvious issues this week and has the guys ready to play. If they don't, you might be seeing a much darker tone to my articles next week. Anyway, here's the highlihgt... singlular.
Curtis Hall with the blast.