- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: Opinion and Editorial
- Hits: 249
Well, we are starting the second month of the hockey season off with what looks on the surface like a light week. One road game and it's the shortest trip for the Phantoms (2-4-1-1), a quick hop up to Plymouth, Mi. However, there isn't going to be anything easy about this one, we're playing the NTDP U18s (2-0-0-0). You get used to every season hearing that the U17s aren't as good as they should be and next season U18s aren't going to be as good as their predecessors. Last season wasn't the case and this seasons U18s are pretty much what everyone expects right off the bat - a stacked team of the top American born prospects. They have 17 players on the NHL's early CSS report, 3 of the A-ranked. In fact they have the only A-ranked players in the USHL.
So let's meet a big chunk of next years NHL draft. Forwards Oliver Wahlstrom (4g, 2a) and Joel Farabee (3g, 1a) are both A-ranked and have a 3.00 and 2.00 points per game average in USHL action early on. Jonathan Gruden is a B-ranked skater who only played 1 USHL game so far this season, last week against Cedar Rapids, and he scored a goal and registered a pair of assists in a 3-2 win. There are a slew of C-ranked forwards, I'll single out Jake Pivonka as one I think could be higher ranked and someone I'm looking forward to see play. On defense Mattias Samuelsson is A-ranked defenseman with a big frame, good skating and a good two-way game (3a in 2games). There are a lot of other defensemen with B-ranks. K'Andre Miller Ty Emberson and Adam Samuelsson. In net last years Phantoms affiliate who backed up Ivan Kulbakov in a few game, Jonathan Mor is C-ranked but has not played a USHL game. Outside the league he has a 3.87GAA and a .874 SV%. Left off the CSS, one of the biggest omissions from the report I've seen in recent years, is Drew DeRidder. DeRidder backstopped Cedar Rapids much of last season, one of the few bright spots on the RoughRiders 16-17 season. After the U17s booted both their netminders late last season, you had to know they would come poaching him, especially since his home town is less than an hour drive from Plymouth depending on traffic. DeRidder has played both U18 games vs USHL clubs and has a 1.00 GAA and a .964 SV% with one of those games being a shutout against Muskegon.
The Phantoms are looking for offense, leadership and consistency. Silently, Matthew Barry has been the most consistent offensive player with 2g and 5a, only being held off the scorecard in 3 games. However, his +/- is tied for second worst on the team and tied with Eriks Zohovs for worst forward at -5. Eric Esposito has been pretty good on offense with 2g and 4a, and has looked more like a team captain than anyone else. Matthew Thompson is the top goal scorer with 3. On defense, zach Metsa has looked solid. Michael Joyaux and Gianfranco Cassaro are the only blueliners not on the negative side of the +/- stat though. The big issue is in net. Ivan Prosvetov (2-2-1-0) has been good if not excellent in net. He shook off a bad start and has posted a respectable 2.35 GAA and a .927 SV%. On the flip side, Wouter Peeters (0-2-0-1) has not performed as expected, and playing just over 2.5 games has a 3.90 GAA and a .877 SV%.
- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: Game Recap
- Hits: 178
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.
- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: Opinion and Editorial
- Hits: 198
Well, after an interesting week in the USHL the Phantoms (1-3-1-1) are back to face the team that beat them in a shootout last Saturday, the Muskegon Lumberjacks (2-3-0-0), in a home and home pair. This week has seen a number of roster movements around the league and both teams have made some changes. Muskegon has made the biggest movements, landing a major deal on defense as well as a couple smaller deals.
You might what to look at last weeks preview to get the breakdown of the 'Jacks, this week will be mostly focused on roster changes. I guess I'll start with the big news. Muskegon landed defenseman Clayton Philips from Fargo for high round draft picks next season. Philips is a 2017 3rd round NHL draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and touted as a good puck handler, play maker and good skater. He's had problems in Fargo. He demanded to be traded and was benched, not necessarily in that order. I've also heard that he hasn't lived up to his billing, a lot of turnovers at the blueline. In any case, he is someone to keep an eye on. Also added from Fargo for picks is forward Dante Sheriff. Sheriff caught my notice at the Fall Classic as one of those utility guys. He looked like he had competent offensive and defensive abilities, decent to good skating ability and a good basic all around skill set. He's a guy I would love to have on the third line and if someone on the top two lines went down I wouldn't hesitate to move him up. But wait, we're not done yet. Backup netminder Matt Vernon was dropped to make room for Keegan Karki. Karki played last season for the NTDP U17s before being dismissed with their other netminder for disciplinary reasons. Omaha drafted him in the Phase II draft, 2nd round, but he did not make the roster. Some say there were discipline issues there as well. He's a big body in net, about the same size as Wouter Peeter, and a '00 born player so he has a few years of junior eligibility. With the NTDP, he did not put up impressive numbers 4.46 GAA and a .882 SV%. But also keep in mind, that's with a U17 squad. Muskegon also swapped defensemen with Omaha, sending Travis Mitchell west and getting Nick Belpedio in return. To clear up some roster space, they dropped overage forward Donovan Ott, a good grinder who I can see back in the USHL on a roster with a spot for another '97.
For the Phantoms, the roster moves are certainly not as sever as the 'Jacks. The big move was the release of overage forward Dalton Hunter. Per a new USHL rule, teams were allowed to carry 5 1997 born players until this week when they needed to be down to the usual league max of 4. Hunter was the odd man out and put on trade waivers where he was claimed by Dubuque. Matt Berry, Jake Gingell, Michael Joyaux and Erkis Zohovs are the 4 that remained. Hunter only played 1 game this season and a couple as an affiliate last season but looked like he could be a good physical forward with the ability to score. He was a healthy scratch for game 1 and played game 2 then showed up as an injured scratch after that. Coming off of injury is Jagger Joshua. Like Hunter, he's had a taste of USHL action as an affiliate last season. Joshua looks to have the physical ability, we'll need to see how things develop with offensive and defensive responsibility but he could be a good two-way player if he can assert his size on the ice. Also interesting is that defenseman Julian Kislin disappeared from the protected list. He's still listed on the USHL roster, though both it and the PL are frequently not updated in a timely manner. I have not seen anything on the transactions as of yet. This could be a clerical issue, there could be a trade in the works or we could just let our imaginations run wild.
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