Sorry for the lateness of the recaps and combining them into a single article. I was too worn out from the trip to Ann Arbor and the excitement of the home opener. I guess us old guys who work in offices the rest of the week can't keep up. Also, I have some technical issues to deal with that, while it (thankfully) doesn't affect my ability to post here this time, did eat up a lot of free time.  

Let's start with the Ann Arbor game. Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Phantoms played well but just couldn't match the U18 firepower. That's pretty much it. It was close down to the 3rd. Luke Kunin and Jeremy Bracco scored to open the first period. Max Letunov would have that lead late in the period on a goal I thought should have been credited to Taylor Best. Josh Melnick fired a shot in from the point and Letunov banged the rebound past the NTDP's netminder, Michael Lackey. The puck was bouncing behind Lackey and I thought Best whacked it before it crossed the line, but that's life. Then in the second, after a lengthy delay from Caleb Jones putting Josh Nenadal into the glass hard and shattering it, Letunov would get an goal that was undeniably his. Letunov picked the pocket of defensman Joseph Masonius in the high slot. It was an easy waltz in on Lackey for the only goal of the period and the score was tied. Tage Thomas would put the NTDP up about halfway through the period but Josh Melnick tied it back up about a minute later on a 5-on-3 powerplay. The Phantoms ran out of gas there and Charles McAvoy and Brendan Warren would score goals on Chris Birdsall, who got the start for the Phantoms, and Bracco would get his second of the night on an empty net. The Phantoms played good, not perfect and to beat this team you need to bring 60 minutes of your best game. Small mistakes, nothing I can name names or point out specific plays, let the NTDP have this one.

Well, the season is upon us and once again I found myself at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube (A2Ice3) for a tilt against the NTDP U18 squad. We lost but this year was much different and we had a lot to be positive about on the drive home. 4-2 is a lot easier to swallow than 9-3 and we have a lot to build on going into next week.

The first period was mostly even with neither team finding the back of the net. The double shootout would remain in effect for most of the 2nd. The Phantoms seemed to start building a little chemistry and confidence as the period wore on. They clearly had the territorial advantage but the USA netminder, Luke Opilka, held his ground. The Phantoms managed to kill a late two-man penalty situation but less than 30 seconds after, Luke Kunin would beat the Phantoms starting goalie, Colin DeAugustine, at the 18:37 mark. USA's Jack Roslovic would take a cross-checking minor shortly after. On the ensuing powerplay Kyle Connor took a pass in his own zone and would take it coast-to-coast and put the top shelf, getting around USA defensman Charles McAvoy who just could not match Connor's speed. 

This was a road game on Fasthockey so be forewarned that this won't be a very detailed article, although Bloomington's feed was one of the better ones I've seen on Fasthockey. Coming into the game these two teams really had no idea who each other were. The feeling out process was quick and by the end of the game the rivalry between them looked like two teams that have battled it out over a few seasons. The game was physical, chippy and at one or two points just plain ugly. Despite the roughness of the game, the story was the goalies. Colin DeAugustine for the Phantoms and David Jacobson for the Thunder would both see 35+ pucks thrown at them. The difference in the game was that Jacobson was good, DeAugustine was better. 

Tyler Gernhofer would open the scoring for the Thunder jut 4:22 into the first frame. Gernhofer picked the puck up off the boards and rolled off the phantoms defense and let a wrister go from the high slot, beating DeAugustine. This would be the only time they got one past the Phantoms netminder on the evening. Alec Mahr would take a slashing penalty just before the 17:00 mark and the Phantoms would capitalize to tie it. The Thunder had gone 11/11 prior, including a Butrus Ghafari penalty earlier in the period. On the PP, Kyle Connor would take an easy shot at the net that Max Letunov deflected in on goal. Jacobson would keep it out of the net but Chase Pearson was also on the doorstep to smash the puck in to tie it with 2:40 left in the first.