Back to the Covelli. The Phantoms face rival Muskegon for the first time this season on home ice.
After finishing up their regular season business in the state of Wisconsin, the Phantoms (17-13-4-3) can look forward to seeing some of these season series shift to home games at the Covelli. This week, that means we'll get our first visit from the Muskegon Lumberjacks (23-11-3-3). The 'Jacks started the season with a lot of problems, but have turned things around and are now tied in the point standings for second in the East with Chicago and only recently overtaken by the first place Dubugue Fighting Saints, who made me wake up early to edit this. With the season nearing the final stretch, every point counts. And you can bet this weekend's meeting between these two rivals will reflect that.

I've covered the 'Jacks twice already and, at least for skaters, there is not much to add other than update the numbers. You can reference the week 6 and week 13 previews for deeper scouting reports. Quinn Hutson is now tied for the lead in goals and second in assists on the squad with 22g and 28a. Philip Tresca has matched his goal production and has 19a to boot. Capitan Jack Williams it the other player tied for second in assists, with 28a and 10g on the season. You can also credit Ben Strinden (19g, 21a) and Joey Larson (20g, 17a) with some of the 'Jacks success. 

The 'Jacks have a few very talented two-way defensemen who contribute on offense as much as they do on defense. Lead by Jacob Guevin, a C-ranked skater on the NHL CSS list, who leads the 'Jacks in assists with 31a and 4g. Las Vegas Golden Knights prospect Noah Ellis has 5g, 17a and Tyler Dunbar is close behind with 2g, 17a. One minor surprise on the Muskegon blueline is rookie tender Gavin McCarthy, who leads all 'Jacks defensemen in +/- with a +12 in 32gp. 

So last week was pretty interesting, right? Between ice equipment failing and the power going out at the Covelli Centre, we might be glad this weekend is a road trip. What could possibly go wrong on a trip to Wisconsin, especially with a huge winter storm coming through? Well, if the bus can get out of Ohio, then the Phantoms (15-13-2-3) will be taking on the team directly above them in the standings, depending on how you sort them, the Madison Capitols (18-17-2-0).

The Caps have had their ups and downs, but have generally done better than expected this season. In the three-way tie for the top scorer on the team, Kyle Kukkonen (13g, 19a) was a little underwhelming earlier in the season. The Anaheim Ducks prospect has been hot as of late with points in 5 of his last 6 games. Also vying for the top scorer spot is Nick DeSantis (12g, 20a). He was not in the top 5 scorers last time I previewed the Caps, so he's got a hot hand as well. However, DeSantis also has a team worst +\- at -17. Reid Pabich is a player who doesn't get a lot of mention, but he's an excellent forechecker with good hands and is now third in scoring for forwards with 9g, 18a.

On defense, Luke Mittlestadt is the third player tied for the top scorer with 12g and 20. Mittlestatd is a very skilled puck moving defenseman, capable of starting a rush quickly from his own end or eluding a neutral zone trap. He also can finish the play, so you cannot give him much room to work with. On the offensive side of the blueline, Ben Dexheimer has put up 4g and 25a but he seems to have issues in his own end, with a +/- of -15 on the season.

The Phantoms play 3 in 3 against the NTDP U17s.Back at home for a long weekend! - The Phantoms play 3 in 3 against the NTDP U17s.
So here we are, in the grind of the season where I don't have a lot of new news. It's hard to write a preview that doesn't read the same as the last, especially with the Phantoms (14-12-2-3) not playing teams in the Western Conference. After splitting the pair of games in Muskegon last weekend, it's nice to see the Phantoms play some fresh faces. Wait, someone just told me we've played these kids before. I jest a little, but the USA Hockey's National Team Developmental Program Under 17 squad (1-13-1-0) doesn't leave much of an impression yet. We'll see after this week. Not only are these teams meeting for the first time on Covelli ice this season, but they'll play 3 games in (less than) 3 days.

Again, I've mentioned in past articles I don't have a lot of scouting reports and not a lot of in person viewing. I'm going on just pure stats and, boy howdy, are those bad. William Smith leads the group in scoring with 6g, 8a. Second on the team and tied for the lead in assists is Oliver Moore with 4g, 9a. Rounding off the double digit scorers is Gabriel Perreault with 3g, as well as 9a to tie with Moore in that column. The rest of the team not only have less than 10 points but the closest is 5 players who have some combination of goals and assists for 5 points. 

Defense is horrible. Last time I previewed them they only had 1 player on the blueline with a positive +/-. Nothing has changed, Kai Janviriya is still that only guy, still with a +1. The rest range from -5 to a pair with -17. The only consolation this time is that there are now a couple other players in the league that are worse.

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