I had stated before last night that getting into a high scoring game, trading goals against the run-and-gun Muskegon Lumberjacks was a bad idea for the Phantoms and a losing strategy. Well, they did and I'm really glad to have been proven wrong. We saw a total of 12 goals last night and 7 of them went into the 'Jacks net. It was a crazy night with a goal within the first 2:00 and 2 goals in the last 2:00 all 3 periods.
It didn't take long to see how the night was going to play out. The 'Jacks controlled the puck in the Phantoms zone early, Phil Tresca eventually delivering the puck from the blueline to the left faceoff circle where Joey Larson hammered a one-timer passed Kyle Chauvette at the 1:00 mark, the first shot of the game.
The Phantoms buckled down and got the even up goal at 10:36 when Grant Porter took a bad angle shot from the left side boards that evaded 'Jacks netminder Chase Clark. They took the lead late in the first when Justin Varner took a shot off the rush from the top of the faceoff circles that whipped by Clark at 18:13.
This lead was short lived. Quinn Hutson put his skating skills on full display, taking the puck from below the right faceoff circle, dancing around several Phantoms as he skated out along the blueline and eventually into the left faceoff circle to take a wide open snapshot that beat Chauvette with :51 left in the period. Shots were 10-9 'Jacks in the first and the score knotted at 2 a side.
After trading early penalties to start the second, 6 seconds apart, Winter Wallace won an offensive zone faceoff back to the point towards Evan Werner. The 'Jacks pressed Werner who tapped it back to Wallace to snap home for a 4-on-4 goal at 1:18. That would end the night for Chase Clark. Cameron Korpi didn't keep the puck out much longer, Grant Porter ripping another shot in for a goal, this time from the left faceoff circle at 5:17 for his second of the game.
Of course the 'Jacks responded. Joey Larson netted his second of the game at 6:30, stripping Andrew Centrella at the Phantoms blueline and breaking in on Chauvette and beating him going forehand to backhand. Once again, the 'Jacks knotted it up late. This time is was Noah Ellis throwing a sharp angle shot off Chauvette, who lost track of the rebound and had no idea where the puck was until Jack Williams knocked it home from the left side of the slot at 18:24.
This time the Phantoms weren't going to intermission tied. Shane LaChance drew David Hymovitch into a tripping penalty off the ensuing faceoff. On the powerplay, Trey Taylor took a shot from the blueline that went off of Wallace, who was parked in front of Korpi totally screening him, for Wallace's second of the night with :32 left in the period. Shots were 11-9 Phantoms in the second and they had a 5-4 lead going into the final 20:00 of regulation.
Of course, the 'Jacks scored early. Jake Richard took a shot from the blueline with a forward skating through the top of the crease unopposed to screen Chauvette, tying it at 1:18. It would remain tied for about the next 17:29.
Cue the dramatic ending. It started with Carter Rose pinching down to win the race for a 50/50 puck. This was something we struggled with at times this season, backing off in these situations. Rose raced down, beating Nick Peluso for a lose puck along the boards and poked it Jaden Grant in the corner. Grant gave a quick look over his shoulder and saw Kyle Bettens streaking in. 'Jacks defender Jacob Braccini seemed to be caught watching the play below the line failed to pick up Bettens until the Phantoms forward was on one knee, one-timing the puck and beating Korpi with 1:16 left.
LaChance added an empty net goal 0:20 left, a shot from the corner, to seal the win at 7-5. Shots were 7-5 in favor of the Phantoms in the third and 27-24 Phantoms overall. The Phantoms were 1/3 on the powerplay and 1 for 1 on the 6 seconds of penalty kill they had. Obviously disciplined play was a big factor. None of the 3 netminders in the game had a good night. The 'Jacks starter Chase Clark allowed 3 goals on 7 shots while Cameron Korpi, who ended at the goaltender of record and took the loss, gave up 3 on 13. Kyle Chauvette played the full 60:00 and was dinged for 5 on 24 shots.
Hey, it was fun and we won. In the end that's what matters. I'd like to see a little tighter game for the second game of the weekend but we'll see how that plays out. My question now is will we see Jacob Fowler in net or will Chauvette get the nod again. Fowler has played well in his 2 starts but he's still a young, inexperienced netminder and the 'Jacks can put up goals. Is he ready for it? That's another one we'll wait and see.
The 1,039 in attendance last night was treated to a lot of action. With First Responders night wrapping up the weekend for the Saturday game I'm hoping for a little better crowd. We have a odd weekday morning "Kids Day" game next week before a road trip to Dubuque next weekend. I should have another tomorrow recap at least, so here are some highlights until then.
Justin Varner rips one by the goalie!
Jaden Grant sets up Kyle Bettens for the late GWG!