GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Rob Bordson sat in the locker room well after the game was over staring off into space.
He was drenched in sweat. He had ice bags taped to several joints on his body. His look was one of exasperation.
He didn’t say a word, but an expert in translating body language would interpret it thusly:
“How can we have possibly lost that game?”
It’s a fair question, because for much of the contest, the Phantoms played pretty darn well. It wasn’t their best effort of the season, but it wasn’t too far behind.
Heck, they took a lead into the second intermission for just the fifth time all season, so they had to feel good about themselves heading into the final 20 minutes.
But two unfortunate goals, both the result of unfortunate circumstances led to the unfortunate events that were two goals against in the final period and resulted in a 3-2 loss to the Manchester Monarchs, the Phantoms seventh loss in their last eight games.
Needless to say, Lemony Snicket would have enjoyed the game.
“I really liked the way we played,” coach Terry Murray said. “Their second and third goals came from about as far away from the net as you would want. I’d like to redo those plays but overall I liked the buy-in by everybody and their emotion was tremendous. It was a good game by two teams with a lot of skill and both goaltenders played really well. Unfortunately we had that one break down at the end that led to the winning goal.”
That breakdown occurred when Tyler Brown blew a tire, as he was carrying the puck and trying to get it out of the Phantoms zone. The puck made it’s way to the point to Monarchs defenseman Slava Voynov, who fired a shot on goal.
Mike Testwuide, who was skating over to help cover for Brown, inadvertently screened goalie Cal Heeter, who was distracted ever so slightly by Testwuide moving into his line of sight and rather than make an easy save, rolled his eyes toward the rafters after the puck somehow squeezed under his arm and into the net.
"I saw the guy winding up and then didn't see it until it was past the first guy who was trying to block it and then lost it again at the second guy right in front of me,” Heeter said. “That's a shot I need to stop, regardless of if anyone blocks me or screens me."
It was a killer for the Phantoms, who probably deserved a better fate.
Of course, the tying goal wasn’t much better as an Andrew Campbell shot from the point was blockered by Heeter onto the waiting stick of Tanner Pearson in the slot, but it’s hard to point fingers at the Phantoms goalie who played well, making 33 saves and keeping the Phantoms in the game at times when his team was still a little casual in their own zone with the puck.
“We were better for sure,” Murray said. “We moved the puck not too badly tonight. We got caught a few times in the second period where they had a man in front and we had a defenseman on the wrong side of him, but overall I thought we recovered pucks, we moved our feet and moved pucks pretty well.”
That they did, and it all started with Zac Rinaldo trying to wake his team up in the opening minute of the game.
Rinaldo, who until Friday had not had a fight all season, dropped the gloves 40 seconds into the game with Richard Clune, and got the crowd fired up with a big win, sending Clune to the locker room to have facial wounds treated.
After finishing his beating, Rinaldo played to the bench and the crowd, raising his arms and demanding that everyone get loud and get into the game.
“He did an unbelievable job at the beginning of the game to set the tone,” Murray said.
But, Rinaldo admitted afterward, that while he wanted to get his team and the fans inside the Glens Falls Civic Center fired up, he had another agenda as well.
“I knew it was the first television game (being broadcast back to Philadelphia),” Rinaldo said. “All the fans in Philly were watching, so I wanted to give them something to cheer about.
“(Clune) is a good guy, but I fought him before and he was talking a lot during the warm ups. Then he made that hit and the opportunity was there. It was a good time to get going again as far as fighting is concerned.”
It didn’t spark the offense though, and were it not for Heeter in the opening period, the Phantoms would have found themselves behind again at the first intermission.
But in the second period started in familiar fashion, with the opposition scoring first as Linden Vey dipsy-dooed his way through the Phantoms defense and around Heeter to score the first goal.
However Testwuide, back in the lineup for the first time since December 1 (a healthy scratch for four straight games and six-of-seven), took a pretty drop pass from Jeff Dimmen and snapped a wrister past goalie Peter Mannino to tie the score.
Then, getting a power play chance late in the period, Brown tipped a Danny Syvret shot past Mannino to give the Phantoms that 2-1 lead.
At that point, it looked good. Then the third period happened, leaving Bordson and his teammates incredulous.
“We have to get better from this point,” Murray said. “The fact of the matter is emotionally you can’t let this get you down. This was a much better game than what we played (Friday) and we have to build on it.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37