So like that, the Fall Classic is over. The Phantoms (0-2-0-0) drop both games, the first hard fought and the second was a near total regression to last season's habits. This week we get a home and home set against the USA NTDP U17 squad. I'll be honest, I don't have a whole lot of data on the U17, and no data on them against USHL opponents since they have only played NAHL teams, where they're 1-2-1-0. But at this point I think the focus should be more on us than who we play.
In 4 games against the NAHL, Austin Burnevik and Gabe Perrault both have 1g, 2a to lead the team. The latter's father, Yanic Perrault was a 14 year veteran of the NHL. Another familiar last name belongs to Carter Slaggert (1g,0a). His brothers Graham and Landon both played for the NTDP. Another player I am very interested in getting some live viewing is Gracyn Sawchyn, a Shattuck St. Mary's alumni. Sawchyn played 14U AAA at SSM with Phantoms prospect William Whitelaw in 19-20. Last season, while Whitelaw went to the SSM U18 prep squad, Sawchyn went to the U16 AAA program. Some believe politics surrounding this might have gotten Sawchyn his NTDP slot and Whitelaw cut. Just keep that fact tucked in the back of your mind until later this season.
I've got nothing on defense, so I'm skipping to netminders. Trey Augustine has played in all 4 NAHL games for a total of 93:00 and has their only win and one recorded loss. He's allowed 5 goals on 50 shots for an rvrn .900 SV% and a 3.23 GAA. Michael Chambre is the the other netminder of mention, playing in 2 of the NAHL games for a total of 80:00, allowing 4 goals on 38 shots for .905 SV% and a 3.00 GAA.
On to the Phantoms. This is going to be hard because the games at the Fall Classic were a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. I was pretty stoked after the loss to Lincoln. We gave a great effort and just came up a little short with plenty of good areas to build off of. Then the next night a weaker Waterloo team ran over us in all 3 zones. Goal scorers Ryan Alexander and Alan Ingram looked ready for action to be sure. Jaden Grant looked much like we expected and has indeed been given the team captaincy to start the season. To me, Winter Wallace wins the most improved player. He's still the physical presence he was last season, maybe more so, but he played much smarter in Cranberry. His only trip to the penalty box was a scrum with a Waterloo player, matching minors for roughing with a Waterloo fan behind me exclaiming out loud that Wallace wasn't the guy to start with.
Defensively, returners Carter Rose and assistant captain Bayard Hall were solid and the newcomers seemed comfortable in the first game, at least. Cole Teleki had a nice assist on the Alexander goal. Of course, they got a lot more support than we were saw last season in that first game but old habits cropped back up in the second.
Both netminders looked fine. Owen Bartoszkewicz ended up allowing 3 goals on 30 shots for a 3.06 GAA and a .900 SV% Kyle Chauvette let in 2 on 42 shots for a 2.04 GAA and a .952 SV%. Chauvette made some outstanding saves under assault on Friday.
What it comes down to this weekend is which Phantoms show up. The U17s are a young squad still developing their identity. They've struggled in the NAHL so a USHL team shouldn't have too much trouble as long as they don't fall apart. The keys will be playing a hard game and not making fundamental mistakes, simpler would be better. Hopefully in the last week we have managed to isolate whatever went wrong on Friday and correct it. If not, we could be in trouble. I would not say a pair of losses would be cause to panic but I do believe that after last season, 0-4 to start the season would put us perilously close to a threshold of needing to make some sort of drastic change early in the season.
After this we are away for a couple weeks, so enjoy the hockey this Saturday.