Well, it's week 8 and the second week we'll bee without coach Noreen on the Bench or Kyle Connor on the ice due to the World Jr. A Challenge. Team USA is crushing the competition while the USHL teams look to their depth charts. The Phantoms had a dismal start to last weekends games, Sean Romeo re-injuring himself and struggling through 1 bad period which set the tone for the whole weekend. The second game showed a lot of promise but also a lot of areas we need to work on. I'm really not sure of the status of any of the scratch list except for one, which I'll detail later. Among the players missing last week were Kyle Connor, Keifer Sherwood, Alfred Larsson, Fredrik Larsson, Lukas Klok, Alex Carle and Sean Romeo. We brought in affiliate forwards Kevin Conley and Anthony Siderio and both played very well and at times looked like the bast players on the Phantoms bench.

This week we'll certainly see some new faces. Earlier in the week I detailed that we would be calling up Joseph Drabin from the Johnstown Tomahawks and yesterday the Phantoms announced that forward Trey Bradley would be joining us from the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL. Bradley is 17 years old and check in at 5'9", 155 ponds. He has 9 goals and 7 assists (16 pts.), is a +1 rating and only 6 PIMS in 16 games. Bradley will don a #10 jersey and Drabin will wear #14. The Phantoms are obviously looking to generate some offense with the young call-ups. Also announced was that goaltender Ryan Bernard has been added to the roster. The 16 year old is from the Detroit Victory Honda U16 T1EHL midget minor squad (AAA) and checks in at 6'3", 180 lbs. He's played 4 games and recorded a 3-1-0 record with a .931 save % and 1.92 GAA. I doubt we'll see him any time soon but his stats indicate he may be able to play at the USHL level in a pinch. Also on the eligible call-up list is forward Grant Meyer from the Cleveland Barons U18 T1EHL midget major. Meyer, 17 years old, is 5'10", 180 lbs and in 8 games he's tallied 4 goals and 4 assists and 6 PIMs. Meyer was also eligible last weekend but did not play and probably won't play this weekend.

The only player I can confirm as out is Alex Carle. He was placed on the 45 day IR list on 11/5/13 retroactive 10/12/13, the last game he played (vs Indiana). I would speculate that Romeo won't be seeing the ice anytime soon by the addition of Bernard. The rest have 'made progress' but this is hockey so that just means they're still breathing.

And to this weeks opponent, the Fargo Force. The Force is a team that's really struggling. They're the bottom ranked team in the West, 3-9-0 6pts, and only ahead of Chicago for the overall leagues basement team by virtue of having played less games. They recently traded with Muskegon to get German forward Frederik Tiffels but the team is lacking any real offensive threats so far this season. Their goaltending duo looks solid on paper but it hasn't helped much. Chicago won a pair of games last weekend in Fargo, 3-0 and 5-3, and the force come into Youngstown having lost 7 straight games. Teams like this can be dangerous though, like a wounded animal, so we can't let our guard down. Again, this week I think a simpler game will work to our advantage. We need to focus on little things like discipline, getting everyone back on defense and creating traffic in front of the opposing goal. I'd also like to see the Covelli crowd create a hostile environment for the Force.