Well, it looked like we started better, but the result was the same. Yesterday's Phantoms game was a better effort than Saturdays to start out, but we sputtered out and came up short to the Chicago Steel for the second game in a row. This dropped us to a game below .500 and 6th place in the Eastern Conference going into the holiday break.
We came out with a much better attack than Saturday. Liam Robertson notched his fourth goal of the season on the powerplay, a heavy shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle off a feed from the goal line by Brett Murray at 6:23 of the first. They extended the lead to a pair of goals off a John Larkin shot from the point that found a seam through the Steel's netminder, Reilly Herbst, at 8:53 for Larkin's first of the season.
The Steel got one back with :39 left in the first frame when The Phantoms defense collapsed to one side as Adam Robbins crossed into the Phantoms zone, leaving a wide open path for Mattieu De St. Phalle to sneak in and take a pass for a breakaway on the netminder, Christian Stoever. This was an almost identical play to one of the Steel goals on Friday, where Gunnerwolfe Fontaine set up De St. Phalle for a goal. Shots were 13-9 in favor of the Phantoms after 1.
The Phantoms pushed the lead back to a pair of goals on the powerplay early in the second. After a few good chances would not go, Ben Schoen sent a pass from the top of the right faceoff circle to Brett Murray parked on the left side of the goal crease for an easy tic-tac-toe play at 2:50 of the second. This was where the Phantoms seemed to stall out.
The Steel responded to the Phantoms goal quickly. On a rush up ice, where the Phantoms had numbers, Stoever made the initial save on a Niel Shea shot but he was not able to control the rebound and John Larkin was unable to tie up the puck or the onrushing Christian Sarlo who buried it at 3:26. At 13:52, the Steel would tie it on a Ryan Doolan deflection of a Travis Treloar shot from the point. Jake Suede had wiped out just moments before, tripping up Stoever who may not have had much of a chance to get set up for the shot.
The Phantoms were viably losing their cool and Josh DeLuca took a very ill advised penalty at 15:35, after Adam Gajarsky took a late shot on an offsides whistle. Despite having hands up in apology, several Phantoms players came over to give him a little bit of an talking to, you know what I mean, with the Steel's Cole Quisenberry coming in to help his teammate. After the Phantoms Thomas Ferrell wrapped Quisenberry up, DeLuca came in from behind, swatting his helmet off and earning a roughing penalty. He was lucky to only get that, he could have been tossed and suspended for removing an opponents helmet. In any case, there was no need to escalate things to that point for something like a late shot.
On the ensuing powerplay, Adam Robbins found a rebound off a John Spetz shot and stuffed it home at 16:17, with a lot of arguing from the Phantoms about possible goaltender interference from Robbins. I sit behind the goal and was somewhat screened by Stoever but it looked to me that any contact came after the shot crossed the line and if there was contact by Robbins, there is the counter argument that he was pushed by a Phantom. It was 4-3 off a PP goal due to a dumb, undisciplined penalty. For good measure, Jospeh Abate took a charging call :14 after the faceoff.
Shots were 9-5 in favor of the Steel for the second period. The Phantoms would get some good chances in the third. The best coming late as Steel defenseman and captain, Matthew Pietroniro, took a roughing call at 17:55. Despite pulling Stoever for the extra attacker, the Phantoms were unable to tie it. And to add to everything, several players after the final horn engaged in a scrum. Matthew Pietroniro and Matthew Barnaby, former teammates, both got 10 minute misconducts for unsportsmanlike conduct, Pietroniro got an additional roughing call. Trevor Kuntar and Gianfranco Cassaro both recieved misconducts for abuse of officials.
We'll see what the fallout is, I expect some suspensions to be handed out. With the holiday break, it might come later rather than sooner depending on when the league office heads off on vacation. The crowd was pretty much as you would expect on a Sunday evening, only 497 in attendance. Well, it wasn't the best game for fans anyway. We won't be back at the Covelli until the beginning of January, so here are the last highlights of the year.
Liam Robertson scores on the PP!
John Larkin scores from the point!