Well, you can't win 'em all, or at least they say. However, last night the Phantoms played the same team as they did 24 hours prior and got a much different result. As I predicted, Madison dug down and finally started to find their offense and the Phantoms, despite a late push, were unable to equal the Caps.
The Phantoms drew first blood. A Brett Murray shot was blocked by a Madison skate but Alex Esposito swooped in to fire the puck from a bad angle that deflected off of Caps netminder Dryden McKay 8:52 into the first period. The Caps would get their first goal of the weekend on a mess in front of Phantoms goalie Darion Hanson. An initial shot appeared to hit the post and sit behind Hanson and was swept out by the defense, only for the Caps to put back into the net. The goal was initially waived off, I assumed for goaltender interference, but after a review the Caps were awarded the goal, Kamil Sadlocha getting the credit. The Phantoms outshot the Caps 11-7 but the score was tied going into intermission.
The Caps would get things going in the second and the Phantoms would find themselves sputtering a bit. The Caps would get their first lead of the weekend at 13:01 when Konur Peterson backhanded a rolling puck in the slot that found it's way through traffic and underneath Hanson. Alex Esposito would tie it when McKay would try to play the puck behind his net and the forecheck of Nicholas Werbik managed to dig it out and center it to Esposito for his second of the night with 3:02 left. The tie would not last even a minute, Eugene Fadyeyev snapping a one-timer from the left side faceoff circle just 0:37 after the Esposito goal. Shots were 6-5 caps in the frame.
The Phantoms would push hard in the third but would come up empty. Despite the Phantoms outshooting the Caps 15-4, they never found the back of the net. With a little less than 4:00 to play, the referee, Justin Keenan, really put a dagger into the Phantoms bid for a comeback when he called Noah LaLonde for roughing on Dryden McKay when the Caps goaltender clearly had held LaLonde and drug the Phantoms forward down on top of him. The Phantoms got the kill and even a late power play with less than a minute left and Hanson pulled, but the final was 3-2. Final shots on goal were 31-17 Phantoms.
The Phantoms played 5 great periods of hockey this weekend. The second frame of last nights game was the only time they really seemed to have problems. However, it was enough to give Madison a split on the weekend. The Phantoms went 0-4 on the powerplay and we really could have used a goal on one of them. You can blame the ref for a bad call but the Phantoms didn't play a full 60:00 game. I'm sure this will be addressed before the trip to Muskegon this weekend. Darion Hanson made some good saves but let 3 in on only 17 shots. The Peterson goal was the second time in 3 starts I've seen an odd goal roll under a standing Hanson, the first being a deflection opening night at the NDTP U18s. I'm not sure there is really too much you can fault Hanson's performance In any case, I think Ivan Kulbakov may have solidified himself as the top Phantoms goaltender this weekend but we'll see. And here is a highlight and a not-so-highlight.
Alex Esposito from the bad angle.
Bad call, ref, bad call...