The Phantoms finally get a win at home and against a rival in regulation to boot, downing Muskegon in sixty. Prior to this, the only Phantoms points were a SO win on the road in Fargo and a SO loss to the Lumberjacks last weekend. They played a good team game for all three periods and were rewarded with a big pair of points and some swagger to take on the road with them to Muskegon for the second game of the weekend.
The Phantoms got on the board first at 6:56 of the first. Matthew Barry and Mike Regush out grinding 'Jacks defensemen Blake Evannou and Clayton Philips behind the net. Barry, after an extended battle, managed to dig the puck out as Regush put himself in front of the net to one-time the pass to beat 'Jacks netminder Adam Brizgala. The Phantoms would hold that 1-0 lead into the intermission, the first period they held the lead at the end of at home. The 'Jacks had a slight edge in shots 9-6.
The Phantoms would push the lead to 3-0 in the second. The first one early on some carry over powerplay time from the first frame. Max Ellis, after a nice steal to keep it in the zone, sent a pass to Curtis Hall or maybe a shot on goal that Brizgala deflected to the side with a pad. Tommy Parronttino slammed home the lose puck at the side for the first goal of the frame at 1:16. A little over 4:00 they added another when Marc Del Gaizo flubbed a backhand pass just inside the Phantoms blueline. Eric Esposito recovered the puck and immediately hit Barry who had jumped behind the 'Jacks defense. Barry made a forehand to backhand move that opened up Brizgala's five hole when he went forehand again and slid it through. The Phantoms continued the pressure through the frame and eventually outshot the 'Jacks 11-5.
The third would get a little ugly, both teams taking too many penalties for the situation. The Phantoms would give the 'Jacks early opportunity, Anthony Del Gaizo getting away with a little interfearance or hooking with his stick on Esposito. Esposito blatantly came back at him with a slash that the ref's easily called on a team up by 3 goals. The 'Jacks failed to capitalize. The 'Jacks couldn't help but shoot themselves in the foot a little with a few dumb penalties of their own. Things came to a head a bit over the midway period when Eric Esposito laid out Michael Graham in the Phantoms zone after Graham had shot the puck. To be honest, I was looking at the puck I did not see the play unfold from my vantage point in the other end. The replay I see online looks like it may have been a little late, possible interference, but Graham should have still been responsible for keeping aware of his surroundings. They eventually called it head contact and I do not see that either, I see a shoulder hit. In any event, Esposito was ticketed for a major and game misconduct. Jachym Kondelick would even it up for the first 2:00 of that. The 'Jacks would have had 3:00 of major powerplay time, a good chance to get back in it but Graham would return to the game and get a checking from behind killing 1:43 of it. The 'Jacks would break Ivan Prosvetov's shutout bid with 0:43 left when Philips sent a point shot through traffic that Vincent de Mey deflected past the Phantoms goaltender. The 'Jacks outshot the Phantoms 16-5 in the frame. Prosvetov stopped 29 of 30 and Brizgala 19 of 22.
So the question is how to keep the momentum going. They play in Muskegon tonight. It will be interesting to see how the goaltending goes. I suspect the Phantoms will play Prosvetov again. He only played the a single game last week and we only have a single game next week. For the 'Jacks, Brizgala hasn't had a night off and has played all but a single period this season. With the backup goalie, Keegan Karki, having only joined the team this week I don't see much choice for them but to keep playing Brizgala. The other thing to keep an eye on is Eric Esposito. I hope the league reviews the hit because from what I can see there is no way you can call that suspendable. But a game misconduct carries a mandatory suspension and the league sometimes doesn't like to admit refs make mistakes. Next week we're in Plymouth to take on the undefeated U18s, that'll be an interesting test ot this team. And I totally choked on the highlights, so none this week.