They say one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I guess hockey is a little crazy because last night the Phantoms faced the same team as the night before and both teams pretty much played the same game. The outcome was the same through 60:00 but the ending was indeed different. 

Once again, the Sioux City Musketeers took the lead in the first. With their netminder, Matiss Kivlenieks, pulled on a delayed penalty call Eeli Tolvanen took a shot from the right side half boards just outside the bottom of the faceoff circle. Ivan Kulbakov made the save but the rebound popped to the left side for the extra attacker, Marcel Godbout, who tapped home an easy goal at 11:29. Like the night before, the Phantoms turned their game up a notch after giving up the first goal. The shots were 7-6 Phantoms after the first period. 

The Phantoms would once again answer in the second frame, with the same player and line getting the goal. Max Ellis would start things off by jumping in on the forecheck immediately after coming on the ice during a change. He dispossesed veteran defenseman and former Phantom Carson Vance of the puck in the corner and skated behind the Muskies net and attempted a wrap around that found it's way to the stick of Tommy Apap just on top of the other side of the goal crease for the tap in, time of the goal 4:49. Much like the night before, all three forwards on the time were down low, Marshall Moise was just outside the crease as well. The Phantoms would start to shut things down after that, much like the night before. Shots were 10-2 Phantoms.

The Phantoms dropped a third straight game last night after putting up nearly 30 shots on goal. This time they managed to take it to an overtime period and grab a point in the standing out of it. Their opponent was the Western Conference leading Sioux City Musketeers, who they face again tonight. 

The Musketeers got on the board first. Phantoms defenseman Michael Karow attempted to skate out from around his own net and Musketeers winger Sampo Ranta swept the puck right off Karow's stick and into the net for a surprising goal at 5:25 of the first period. The Muskies had pushed the play to this point, out shooting the Phantoms 4-1. The Phantoms picked up the pace and finished the first period outshooting their opponents 11-6.

The Phantoms would strike back in the second. Alec Mahalek would send a shot from the point on net with a lot of traffic in front. I originally thought Max Ellis put the rebound in, the initial credit went to Marshall Moise but was eventually awarded to Tommy Apap. This goes to show how much traffic the Phantoms had down low on the play. Shots were 9-4 in the frame in favor of the Phantoms and the score was tied after two periods.

The Phantoms closed out the New Year with an afternoon matinee against the NTDP U18s in the last meeting between the Phantoms and this NTDP squad. A win would would close out 2016 with the Phantoms in second place in the Eastern Conference and third overall in the league and give us good momentum heading into 2017. And with a new addition to the lineup of forwards in Marshall Moise and an old friend returing to defense in Steven Ruggiero, a win would also be a great welcome party.

This game was not going to be an end-to-end, high tempo game and neither team was going to shoot the lights out. The Phantoms just needed to keep things clean and simple and not let the U18s dictate the pace and the Phantoms delivered for the most part. USA would have an excellent chance to open the scoring in the middle of the first frame when the Phantoms would go down two men to penalties. With Chase Gresock already in the box, Michael Karow went casing after a lose puck that had been tipped behind the USA defense and was rolling into the high slot. NTDP netminder Dylan St. Cyr charged out to the faceoff circle hash marks and tipped the puck aside just before Karow reached it and as Karow was diving for the puck. Karow got a little piece of the USA goaltender who went down, mostly by his own momentum but it was enough to give the U18s 0:33 of 5-on-3 but they failed to capitalize.

Less than two minutes after the kill the Phantoms would convert the momentum into the opening goal of the game when Max Ellis would skate the puck behind the net and put a pass to the slot for Evan Wisocky who put puck top shelf for the 1-0 lead 16:20 into the first. This was only the Phantoms second shot of the period and shots in the first would end up at 7-4 in favor of USA at the first intermission. The NTDP would even it up in the second when the puck took a slow roll through the crease of Ivan Kulbakov, eluding the sprawling netminder and kept going until it reached the stick of Evan Barratt for the tap in at 10:11. The tie would hold until the end of the frame with shots on goal in the second 4-2 in favor of the Phantoms.