I'm not going to try to sugar coat it, last night's Phantoms performance was just plain bad. Frinday night we were a reslilant team willing to work to overcome a 2 goal deficit twice. Saturday night, we didn't work at all. The 7-2 final score wasn't even indicative of how bad it looked, it could have been much worse.
Things started well. After killing an early penalty, the Phantoms capitalized on a power play of their own. Just like it was probably drawn up, Liam Robertson won the faceoff back to Liam Dennison, who slid a pass along the blueline to Connor MacEachern, who put a slap-pass to the stick of Brett Murray, who tipped it past the Steel netminder, Reilly Herbst. The time of the goal was 5:11.
That was it for the Phantoms lead, which was short lived. A little over a minute later, Nick Abruzzese and Neil Shea played a give and go passing in an even numbers situation, with Abruzzese firing a shot from the slot that beat Jon Mor, who was getting on the ice for the first time in almost a month. The Steel would take the lead later, a shot from the left faceoff circle from Gunnerwolfe Fontaine beating Mor at 14:33. Shots were 16-6 in favor of Chicago for the first period.
The Steel kept things rolling in the second. Josh Grohl found a blocked shot at the bottom of the right face off circle and quickly tapped a bouncing shot that skipped off Mor's leg and in at 4:45. Next would be Travis Treloar, who took a pass from Nick Abruzzese in the slot, muscled his way around Phantoms defenseman Liam Dennison, and took a shot while falling down at the top of the crease that went over the outstretched leg of Mor at 7:10. Then on the PP, Treloar took a blocked shot bouncing in the high slot and fed Adam Robbins in the left faceoff circle for a one-time goal at 10:40.
That was the end of Jon Mor's night, giving up 5 goals on 16 shots. After Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson called timeout, Christian Stoever entered the game and it looked for a bit like the Phantoms might get a little boost out of the goalie change. About a minute later, Gianfranco Cassaro prevented the Steel from exiting their zone, forcing a turnover along the boards near the blueline. Trevor Kuntar would pick up the puck, skate to the high slot and ripped a laser beam of a shot that beat Herbst at 11:46.
But that was all for the comeback. Steel defenseman Owen Power jumped up on the rush, creating an odd-man situation as Abruzzese pulled up and hit him with a soft pass. He was able to fire a shot that beat Stoever cleanly at 14:43. To finish things off, the Steel would get a late powerplay. After winning the faceoff, Travis Treloar took a shot-pass from the right faceoff circle to Neil Shea who corraled the puck and popped it in behind Stoever from the top of the crease with 0:09 left in the second. Shots were 12-6 for the Steel in the frame and they had a 5 goal lead.
The Phantoms stopped the bleeding a little on the third. The shots were more even, 9-7 in favor of the Steel, and there was no additional scoring. Final shots were 37-19. The Phantoms had no offensive cohesion. They spent a lot of time chasing the puck in their own zone, barely able to get it out to get a line change. When they did posses the puck, they made poor decisions. Skaters would try to beat the entire Steel defense rather than pass to an open player or make a pass to no one when they had a shot available.
For his effort, Stoever stopped 14 of 16 shots for a 4.09GAA and a .875SV%. This is not good, but it beats Mor's 9.78GAA and .762SV%. I'll give Mor some benefit of the doubt, having not played since 11/17/18 at Central Illinois, but a goalie has to be ready to play when he's tapped to start and make the most of his ice time. Mor clearly wasn't prepared for last night. With the holiday break looming, I might post something regarding the goalie situation soon.
We did have a better than normal attendance last night, 1,006 officially. Too bad they were treated to such a horrible performance. This doesn't help build a following. The Phantoms finish out the series and head to the holiday break with a 5pm game against the Steel this evening, let's hope for a better showing. Anyway, I've posted too much negative, here's a highlight.