- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: Opinion and Editorial
- Hits: 2088
It's opening weekend at the Covelli and I'm sure we're all ready for some hockey, especially those that couldn't make the trip to Ann Arbor last weekend. It's a new season and there are a lot of new faces. There has also been a little drama to start the season. I suppose by now I don't have to go into details, Nathan Walker is now a member of the AHL Hershey Bears after an exceptional camp with the Washington Capitals. Trust me fans, we all have the same mixed feelings. But if anyone has paid the price to get to the big dance, it's Stormy and we all hope this is the big step he so deserves.
To be honest, other than the Nathan Walker deal became finalized I hid a little from the news. I'm still on a weird work schedule so I've been a little behind on things to begin with. I've been more concerned with the status of Sean Romeo and, unfortunately, I have no news in the regard. Unless they mentioned something on BTG, which I missed, I don't know what his status is for this weekend. To me his absence is way more of an issue that the loss of Walker. I won't blame Jake Moore for everything but, again, .800 or below and 8.00GAA can't be acceptable. But make no mistake, the defense must also cut down on the shots. Moore faced better than 35 shots both nights and even a good goalie is going to wear down at that pace. I can't site any player or players or narrow it to any specific area that they played bad, they just need to pull it together a little tighter. This should come with time as out D-men are lacking a lot of experience. The question is how much time do we have? A bad start to the season could haunt us come the final stretch of the season. Veteran goal tending could buy us some time with that. This will be a testament to Noreen's coaching and system.
The good news is our offense looks good even without Walker. We have a lot of returning forwards. Kyle Connor and Luke Stork played great. Newly christened captain, Alfred Larsson looked a little bigger and stronger as did JJ Pichinich. A few of the newcomers really stood out too. Tyler Spezia and Maxim Letunov showed a lot of potential and Ryan Schwalbe played a solid game and looks like he could really add some offensive support in the dirty areas.
Green Bay, whom we play both games against this weekend, went 1-0-1 to start the season with a 5-1 beating of the Chicago Steel and a 5-4 shootout loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Gamblers and the Phantoms have traded turns knocking each other out of the playoffs the last two seasons with Youngstown downing them last year as payback for the year before. This should be an interesting challenge for the home opener.
- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: News
- Hits: 1067
Well, it is now official. If you hadn't heard the rumors or were just in denial here it is in a nutshell. Due to his European import status, Walker was unable to be signed by the NHL Washington Capitals. The NHL CBA only considers Canadian major junior hockey with regards to tryouts and assignments so he is AHL eligible. Today's press release confirmed it.
I'm dure Phantoms fans will greet the news with mixed feelings. Here is my take on it. The purpose of the USHL and all junior hockey is to develop players for higher leagues. The USHL likes to send players through the NCAA but that's not usually how it happens for European players. The fact that Walker was considered by an NHL team and then signed by their affiliate is a testament to both Walker's skills and the success of the Phantoms organization. Nathan also retains 2014 NHL draft eligibility. Should he play well on the Bears squad then I'm sure he'll get more exposure than on a USHL roster, no matter how dominate he is in the league. Plus, he'll get paid a decent salary.
Notice I say should. There is a hitch to this. Being eligible for the AHL also means they can send him down to the ECHL. By no means am I saying that the ECHL isn't a respectable route for player development but you also lose a lot of the incentive over playing another year of juniors. The ECHL is a much rougher road. The travel and scheduling is a lot more grueling than the USHL and if he's buried on a third line he may not be quite as visible to scouts as he would on a top USHL line. Couple in the fact that he won't be making quite the money he would with an AHL team. At least in juniors he should get some, if not most, of his room and board provided. Last time I heard statistics, ECHL players made an average of a bit under $600 a week. Though at this point I'm certainly optimistic, to say the least, that he'll do quite well in the AHL and the Bears just got very lucky.
- Written by Justin Irwin
- Category: Uncategorised
- Hits: 1214
The Phantoms played the second game of the weekend less than 24 hours after the 9-3 loss to the U18 squad. The question was would the U17 squads age and inexperience make up for the fatigue of the quick turnaround. It did in a lot of ways, just not in one area. That area was the Phantoms goaltending. It was a brutal continuation for Jake Moore, surrendering another 7 goals on 35 shots with no relief coming from the bench with Scott Trellis backing him up. The only info I have on Trellis is that he's in the 1996 birth year class and playes on the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite ( MM U16) last year.
Offensively, there was a lot of fireworks from both sides not just the Phantoms. The boys from Youngstown opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game with a Kyle Connor goal, his first of two in the period and on the evening. USA responded with a pair of goals before Blake Christensen scored to even it up and Connor rounded the period out with his second, with just a bit under 3 minutes to go.
The second period is when things went horribly wrong for the Phantoms. After Kiefer Sherwood and JJ Pichinich scored goals with the NTDP kids getting one in between, the Phantoms gave up shorthanded goals on back-to-back powerplays to let USA even up the score. Any life the Phantoms had seemed to have been sucked out completely. Worse still, with a little more than an minute and a half things looked really bleak as the NTDP scored another one to put them up by a goal. However, Luke Stork picked off the puck and broke in on the young USA goalie one-on-one and buried one high into the twine with :41 left in the period.
The final frame the Phantoms just ran out of gas. USA scored less than five minutes into the period and despite a few awesome chances, the Phantoms were unable to answer it. The best chance was when Tyler Spezia made a nice feed to spring Kyle Connor on a breakaway for an bid to get his first USHL hat trick. USAs goalie Luke Olpika, their backup who came in relief of Michael Lackey to start the 3rd, was up to the challenge.
This left the Phantoms on the losing side of the scorecard for the second time in less than 24 hours. The bottom line is Jake Moore put up abysmal numbers again and our defense did very little to bail him out. Both will have to improve for long term success, even when Sean Romeo returns.
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