Fluke /flo͞ok/ noun 1. an unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck.

A fluke. That’s what Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton called Friday’s loss to Youngstown, a fluke. I am well aware that this is a down season for the Phantoms. Thankfully, it’s not the worst in recent memory. Doing a little research, I found that the 2016-17 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders finished the season with a .233 win percentage. The 2010-2011 Chicago Steel finished with a .217 win%. The Phantoms currently sit with a .300 win%. So, not the worst. But back to the Jacks.

Long term success is by no means guaranteed in this league. A 75% player turnover from season to season. And if you hit a multi-season stretch with incredible results, someone is going to come along and offer that Coach/GM/Team President 3-4 times the money they are currently making to be great for their franchise. The Jacks have been good, if not great, the past handful of seasons. History says that their downtime is coming due. And when they have that season where nothing goes right, and they manage to win a game against a revamped and rising Youngstown Phantom team, best believe I will be shouting that f-word to anyone within earshot. I know we’re not exactly the league darlings, but this “kick ‘em when they’re down” mentality the Eastern Conference has for us this season is a little pathetic. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at where the season series with Muskegon stands after last weekend.

Muskegon Opponent Chart After 10 Games

Hello! And welcome back to this week’s “By The Numbers”. For anyone new, this is a blog that breaks down what I have named “Gametime Percentages”. These are the amounts of time in a game, and the season in total, that a team in the Eastern Conference has been scoreless at the beginning of a game, how much time they led, have been tied and have trailed. This was a project that was birthed out of how not good the Youngstown Phantoms have been this season.

Now, I could have easily linked to my first post, which explains all of this in much greater detail. But, I’m filling page space because I absolutely do not want to talk about the game this past Sunday in which the Phantoms lost 9-0 to the Team USA U18s. I mean, we’ve seen some bad games this season, but this one.... Ohh, see what happened there, I did what I said I did not want to do. Whew! That could have gotten ugly. Anyways, let’s go to the charts!

Phantoms Season Chart Last 7 Games

While the Phantoms have snagged 2 wins in the past 5 games, and this is a reason to celebrate for sure, once again the numbers are sliding in the wrong direction. The Trail % is creeping back closer to 50%, and the Phantoms have not held any lead in 3 of the past 4 games. With a 3 game set against Muskegon on tap for this weekend, based on the history of this season, this could push the Phantoms back into the dreaded sub-20% Lead Time and above 50% Trail Time. But stranger things have happened. A weekend sweep will be some delicious crow to eat. Now, about those termite infested Lumberjacks…

Win·ning /ˈwiniNG/ adjective 1. gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition.

It’s been some time since this word has been thrown around when discussing the Youngstown Phantoms, so I thought we all could use a refresher. DAMN, did that feel good! It is often said that you cannot truly appreciate the good without experiencing the bad. For example, you cannot truly appreciate Red Lobster until you have eaten at White Castle. The Phantoms snapped a 10 game losing streak on Friday with not only a win, but a convincing win against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. This win was the icing on the cake that was a weekend of hockey that one year ago we didn’t get to watch.

This time last year, we were just starting to see the effects of a deadly virus that was ravaging the world. We thought we had a handle on what was going on. Maybe hockey will be back in a couple weeks. This is just a short speed bump, and things will return to normal soon. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. But, we didn’t know any better. When last season was postponed, we were able to get a few minutes with Andrew Goldman on the podcast we were recording that day. One thing he said in that interview has stuck with me for the past year. “Everyday, something happens that the day before, we wouldn’t have thought possible.” I felt like that line was tattooed on the inside of my eyelids for the past 52 weeks. Everyday, it became more and more true.

So back to my original point. One year ago, we sat in our homes. No one knew what was going to happen next. Hockey, our health, our jobs, the ability to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy cheddar bay biscuits. So much was unknown, and it was frightening. Fast forward to this last Friday. Positive cases are down across the country. There are 3 vaccines available, and millions are getting shots every day. Businesses are opening up, restrictions are being eased. And there was hockey at the Covelli Centre. More than any other game this season, this one felt special. And going through what we did a year ago allowed this weekend to feel that much more appreciated.

So with all of that being said, let’s get into the numbers.

Dubuque Opponent Chart After 6 Games