Home Opener! The Phantoms show off their new white uniforms and celebrate an 81 drumming of the USA NTDP U17s to open the home 21-22 season.Home Opener! The Phantoms show off their new white uniforms and celebrate an 81 drumming of the USA NTDP U17s to open the home 21-22 season.
Home openers are always better when you win. Nothing beats a solid victory in front of the home crowd to kick off the season proper. There is that, then there is clobbering the NTDP U17 squad 8-1 after a 7-4 victory in their barn the night before. I said it all week and I'll say it here, I will give no apologies for bragging about destroying a U17 team. Anyone who knows the Phantoms and USHL knows they've done it to us. For the backstory, Friday night the game was close through most of it, tied at the halfway point until 3 unanswered goals put us over the top.

 Whereas Friday nights start was a quick one, the Phantoms taking the lead 20 seconds in and the score hitting 2-1 in under a minute, Saturday nights game seemed a little more of a first meeting with a "feeling out" period. USA had a few moments where they took the play to us but for the most part we dictated the play with speed and physicality, just how you want to play the U17s.  The Phantoms found themselves shorthanded after a brief 4-on-4 but the speed of Bayard Hall carrying the puck opened up some room room for Ryan Alexander who ripped a shot from the slot, beating netminder Michael Chambre at 14:01.

A few minutes later, Cole Burtch ended up on a 2-on-1 with Justin Varner, carrying the puck up the left side boards. Burtch looked off the defender and netminder, his eyes squarely looking towards Varner for a pass, and ripped a shot from the faceoff dot far side, glove hand to make it 2-0 at 16:41. Again, he never once looked at the net before unloading the shot. The Phantoms took the 2-0 lead into the intermission with shots also in our favor 15-9.

A pair of Phantom's losses were the only downside to the return of the USHL Fall Classic.The Fall Classic Returns! - A pair of Phantom's losses were the only downside to the return of the USHL Fall Classic.
First off, it was great to be back in Cranberry, PA for the USHL Fall Classic. Great hockey, great atmosphere, and great (but a little expensive) food. No, seriously, try The Training Table Cafe's chicken alfredo. If you've ever been curious to see how NHL and NCAA scouts work, this is the time and place. After not being held last year, presumably because the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't want to risk infecting their practice arena, the USHL and all parties involved put on a great event. 

Now onto the bad part of it. The Phantoms left the event sitting right where they left off last season in the standings - sole possession of the cellar. A pair of regulation losses left us with 0 points on the week to start the season. There isn't much to talk about, so I chose to break with the usual single game format of my reviews for a combined recap.

First up was Thursday's opener against the Lincoln Stars. Both teams looked a little tentative to start the game. Neither team had much going, save for some trips to the penalty box. (Lincoln with 2 trips and the Phantoms with 3)  Shots were 12-8 in favor of Lincoln but neither team scored. This wasn't unexpected for a pair of teams playing their first games of the season who haven't seen each other in well over a year.

The Phantoms fought the Chicago Steel to a 5-4 OT loss on Saturday.The Phantoms Battle The Steel - The Phantoms fought the Chicago Steel to a 5-4 OT loss on Saturday.
I'm back with a recap. I haven't done one of these in a while so I think I'll just jump in with Saturday's game against Chicago.

After an uneventful first period, and the Phantoms being outshot 6-3, we opened the scoring early in the second. Cole Burtch, just off the bench, stole the puck outside the attack zone and skated in for a shot that was deflected aside by Steel netminder Nick Haas. Burtch took his own rebound behind the net and centered it to Yusaku Ando who deflected it in at 2:04.

The Steel's Adam Robbins tied it a short time later when a clearing attempt failed to move the puck and it settled on Robbins stick in the slot where he snapped a wrister, beating Mattais Sholl at 4:29. The Steel took a brief lead when defenseman Ian Moore decided to skate down from the blueline, launching a backhander from below the left faceoff circle at an odd angle that beat Sholl up high at 7:43

The Phantoms would get the lead back before the middle frame ended. Jack Silich ran over Steel defender Jack Babbage as Silich carried the puck up ice, creating a 2-on-1, with Moore defending. Moore was not able to take away the pass to Riley Duran who tied it at 11:00. Moments later, the Phantoms found themselves on a powerplay and defenseman Mike Brown just threw a puck at the net that handcuffed Haas, giving the Phantoms a lead 3-2 at 12:43. Shots were 12-7 Phantoms in the second and led 3-2 going into the final 20:00 of regulation.