Well, I've been saying the NTDP U17 kids will figure out how to play as a squad someday, and if you don't play a full 60 minutes in a game, you're going to get burned. I'm not fully convinced they've gotten beyond the first part, figuring it out, but the Phantoms proved me right on the second part. They played poorly for most of the game and got handed their first loss by the U17s this season in only their second win in the USHL. This coming after the Phantoms had their first game ever called off after start time, after lingering issues with the ice caused it to be deemed unsafe to play on Friday, an hour past the original scheduled start time.
It started well, at least. The Phantoms came out with a good jump in their step and took it to the NTDP early in the first. Kyle Bettens was the recipient of a Jaden Grant faceoff win in the left facoff circle, taking the puck from the boards to the slot without much resistance where he ripped a snap shot that beat NTDP netminder Ty Augustine five-hole just 2:35 into the game.
The Phantoms let up as the period went on, and the NTDP tied it at 10:15 after Adam Ingram was handcuffed by a pass in his defensive end. Alexander Weiermair stripped the Phantoms forward in the slot, and walked around netminder Kyle Chauvette who was too far out of the crease and went down to play the shot too early. With just 2:38 left in the first, the NTDP took the lead when Beckett Hendrickson wrapped the puck around the net from behind, centering a pass for Salvadore Guzzo to stab home for a 2-1 lead going into intermission. Shots were 10-9 USA in the first.
The Phantoms issues really started to show in the second where USA scored a pair of goals on a pair of power plays. Unfortunatly one of those power plays was for the Phantoms. First, early in the frame with Chase Pietellia in the box on a hold, Winter Wallace was ticketed for a roughing call giving the NTDP over a minute of 5-on-3. Austin Burnevik got the PP tally at 3:53 on a point shot from the middle of the blueline with very little traffic in front of Chauvette. On a Phantoms PP, Adam Ingram was stripped for a second time, this time at the point by Beckett Hendrickson who took off on a breakaway and went forehand to backhand and slid the puck under Chauvette at 10:13. Shots were 10-3 in favor of the Phantoms, but the score was 4-1 heading into the final frame.
The Phantoms got their chances early in the first, including over a minute of 5-on-3 powerplay time where they did not get a single shot on net. The eventually got one back, Trey Taylor dishing a nice pass from the point down to Charlie Lurie on top of the crease for a redirect to halve he NTDP lead at 6:36. The Phantoms would start to come back to life, playing more physical and starting to compete for pucks and ice position again. But it was too little, too late and there were mere scrums that you could count. They never got the third goal, and the NTDP picked up their first win on us, 4-2.
What can I say here? After Friday's postponement, the performance here was really disappointing, what could have been a 6 point weekend will now be a scramble to get 2 as we wait for rescheduling. If there was any bright spot, we got to see our new netminder a little earlier than we thought might happen going into the game. Jacob Fowler, who was called up two weeks ago, played the whole third period in relief of Kyle Chauvette, and stopped 9 of 9. Fowler looked a little anxious early but settled down quickly. On a Phantoms power play, Fowler showed some nice puck moving skills with a great stretch pass trying to catch USA in a change. Chauvette, for his part, stopped 9 of 13 over 2 periods.
It was a good crowd, 1,839 on hand for Pittsburgh Penguins Night. We'll wrap up the weekend with a Sunday matinee game, a 4:05pm start time. Usually those are pretty low attendance games so I doubt we'll see half of that. Then it's a couple more weeks on the road. Anyway, here is the one highlight I managed - I whiffed with the camera on the Lurie goal, sorry.
Jaden Grant wins a faceoff and Kyle Bettens buries it!