Better defense, better offense, and a Ben Schoen hat trick earn the Phantoms their first win at home this season.The Phantoms Fight Back! - Better defense, better offense, and a Ben Schoen hat trick earn the Phantoms their first win at home this season.
Well, two home games in the books, and this time we recorded our first home win of the 20-21 season. These little milestones seem so much larger this year. This game was special in that we saw the return of some familiar names, including Ben Schoen, who's return to the ice was a week or so sooner than we anticipated. The question was if he would make an significant impact so soon after returning to the ice. Yeah, you know the answer to that. 

Facing the same opponent as the night before, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, the Phantoms needed to do two things different from Friday to get back in the win column - play better defense and play better offense. That's simple, right? Everything said, our defense wasn't that bad Friday, save for the amount of shots on net. The Phantoms showed they got that point in the first. The Phantoms held the 'Jacks to just 5 shots on goal, a huge improvement over the night before. However, the Phantoms only mustered 5 shots themselves and the first period ended with the same score as it started, 0s across the board.

The 'Jacks scored first, early in the second. On a powerplay that carried over from the first period, Christophe Tellier hit Dylan Wendt with a pass in the low slot. Wendt deflected the puck in through some traffic in front and trickling through Phantoms netminder Kyle Chauvette at 1:31. The Phantoms would respond late in the frame. Georgi Merkulov lugged the puck up ice deep into the Muskegon zone where he laid a pass back to Jack Malone in the right faceoff circle. Malone one-touch passed the puck to Cole Burtch on the other side of the ice for a  one time shot that the 'Jacks goalie, Christian Stoever, could not stop at 16:52. The 1-1 score held into the intermission with the shots 9-8 in favor of Muskegon in the middle frame.

The Phantoms drop a 3-1 game to Muskegon but no one cares we lost, we're just thankful to see some hockey.It's A Great Day For Hockey! - The Phantoms drop a 3-1 game to Muskegon but no one cares we lost, we're just thankful to see some hockey.
Please bear with me while I try to remember how to do this. It's been a while. I guess I'm not the only one who is rusty, after a couple weeks off due to cancelled games and some other reasons (you can guess) that have kept a good portion of the team off the ice for practice, the Phantom looked like they were just a step off in their home opener against Muskegon. But with 12 players on the scratch list, only Cade Lemmer suspended, and 3 '03 affiliates in the lineup, it was going to be a rough night anyway.

The Lumberjacks got off to a good start and dominated play. The Phantoms, for their part, were on their heels pretty much from the drop of the puck and had a hard time trying to get out of first gear. Their transition game, especially their lack of ability to move the puck through the neutral zone, was obvious from the start. The 'Jacks scored first, Dylan Wendt ripped a shot on goal, with Sholl making the stop but the long rebound went right to the stick of Cameron Berg to pot a goal in a yawning net at 4:11 of the first. The Phantoms were outshot 14-4 in the first.

The Phantoms were outshot in the second 11-4 but still evened it up. Reilly Funk picked up his 3rd of the season picking off a Danil Gushchin pass just inside the 'Jacks blueline. Funk skated to the crease unobstructed and ripped a shot that beat Christian Stover stick side at the 10:00 mark. The real story of the middle frame was the netminding of Mattias Sholl. Shortly before the Funk goal, he made a save on an odd man rush for the 'Jacks. A give and go play with Tyler Dunbar feeding Philip Tresca made Sholl have to nearly split himself in two but the Phantoms netminder stopped the puck and covered it. Moment after the Funk goal, Ben Strinden got a pair of shots on net from the slot, Sholl making the first save challenging the shot well out of the crease and the second caugh in the glove from a sitting position several feet outside the blue paint. 

The Phantoms turned things around and beat the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-1 to get the weekend split.Phantoms Earn the Split. - The Phantoms turned things around and beat the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-1 to get the weekend split.
We were told by team sources to expect a much different team effort Saturday night over Friday night's awful performance. While it would be hard to be much worse, the question remained: would it be enough to right the ship against a struggling team in the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders? Once again, the 'Riders only dressed 15 skaters. With only 9 forwards, 6 defenseman, and an '03 goalie whose first game was the game on Friday. 

The Phantoms got on the board first in the first period. This was compliments of a Ben Schoen pass from the high slot to Josh DeLuca knocking on the back door, who tipped it in behind netminder Nick Simo at 13:24. Shots were 14-14 Phantoms after the first period.

Jayson Dobay made it a 2-0 game, scoring in back-to-back games for the first time in his USHL career. The mobile defenseman jumped up into a 2-on-2 rush to make it a 3-on-2 and buried a shot from the slot at 16:40 of the second frame. Shots were 7-6 'Riders in the middle frame.