Catasauqua Press

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Phantoms come home and get a win

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

Just as the Phantoms finished up a six-game road trip, they looked forward to a nice set of games on home ice and all seemed right with the world. Then came word that leading scorer Danick Martel and defenseman Sam Morin were heading to Philadelphia. On the same day, forward Alex Krushelnyski was also summoned to the Flyers.

Welcome home!

For their first game back, the Phantoms went out against Bridgeport and looked sluggish through the first 20-minutes of play. After that though, they found their footing and adjusted to life without Martel and took to battling the Sound Tigers. With the Phantoms up by one, it looked like their return would be a triumphant one until Bridgeport tied the game with just 10-seconds left to play in regulation.

That’s when Will O’Neill, who had scored early in the third period, cemented the win with a goal to give the Phantoms a 5-4 overtime win in their first game at home in three weeks.

“It’s nice to be home,” said O’Neill with a broad smile after the win. “I thought we did a nice job of battling throughout the game and getting the result that we wanted to, because sometimes lately, we’ve battled hard and didn’t get the result that we wanted to, so it was great to see.”

It will be interesting to see how Lehigh Valley’s offense responds longer term to having lost Martel, who was on a big offensive roll for the Phantoms and still has a three-goal lead atop the list of goal scorers for the season.

Coach Scott Gordon isn’t shaken by the turn of events, because he’s been through the ups and downs of players coming and going as a minor league coach. While Gordon says you can’t really plan for what you would do in these cases, he’s found that things have a way of working themselves out.

“You can’t really plan, because you have to bring up two players from Reading and then we got a player back from Philly [Matt Read] who hasn’t played in a month,” pointed out Gordon. “The rest of it is good because guys are either playing bigger roles or switching around. It just comes with the job. Every team goes through it and you just have to be able to handle it.”

Read rejoins a team that has a number of veteran players who are all looking for playing time and battling to find their specific role with the club. Again, Gordon believes that these things work themselves out and that players can adapt to having to take on different roles and make allowances for playing time.

“It’s been harder for me,” laughed Gordon when asked about how players adjust to new roles. “It involves your penalty killing, it involves your pairs and it involves your power play, so you’re always changing who is going to go. One reason our special teams has been up-and-down is that the personnel is changing constantly and we don’t really get into any rhythm and that’s something that gets better over the course of the year, but when you have that constant change of people, it’s difficult.”

THAT WAS QUICK ... Morin’s stay in Philadelphia wasn’t a prolonged one. He was recalled on Friday and returned to the Phantoms on Monday. Morin was the 13th overall pick in the 2013 Draft and made his NHL debut earlier this season with the Flyers.

HOMEBODIES ... After six straight on the road, the Phantoms can settle in for their longest homestand of the season, with six straight games on their own ice. With a win over Bridgeport in the books, they have three home games this week, facing Binghamton on Wednesday, Hershey on Friday and Laval on Saturday. Next week features two rivalry games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey.

GET WELL SOON ... Phil Myers left the game against Bridgeport in the third period and didn’t return. Trainers were working with him on the bench, but there hasn’t been any update on exactly what the injury is or whether he will miss any time on the ice for Lehigh Valley.