Phantoms Weekly Report: 3 in 3
Flyers' top affiliate set to battle in-state rivals over the weekend
The Adirondack Phantoms are back in the U.S. to play their first stretch of three games in three days this season. The weekend action begins at Albany for a Friday night game against the Devils, the first of 12 between the two Northway rivals in their battle for the Time Warner Cable Cup. Saturday, the Phantoms are at home against the Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. And on Sunday, the Phantoms close out the weekend with a 3:00 tilt on the road at the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This Saturday is Adirondack's first home game since their sold-out Opening Night thriller in which they defeated the Portland Pirates 6-3 on October 13.
Adirondack split their two-game series at St. John's last weekend to move their season record to 2-2-0. The Phantoms lost the Friday night weekend opener 2-1 to the IceCaps. And then Adirondack rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the Saturday game to pull out a hard-fought 4-3 victory.
Time Warner Cable Cup
The Adirondack Phantoms and Albany Devils season-long rivalry is again being sponsored by Time Warner Cable. The Phantoms have won the last two Time Warner Cable Cups including a 7 games to 3 advantage last year that featured three overtime wins on home-ice for Adirondack.
The two teams will face each other 12 times in 2012-13 including six encounters at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Adirondack Phantoms are 13-5-1 all-time against the Albany Devils. The lone Albany claim for the Time Warner Cable Cup came in 2009-10 when their team was still known as the Albany River Rats.
Albany Devils, 1-2-0 (New Jersey Devils)
The Phantoms travel to the familiar confines of the Times Union Center this Friday night for the first of their 12 encounters with the Albany Devils, AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. In fact, the Phantoms and Devils are already familiar with each other THIS season stemming from their two preseason games at the teams' practice facilities in Voorhees, NJ and Newark, NJ.
Rick Kowalsky is in his third year at the helm of the Devils who are 1-2-0 to begin the season. Last Saturday, the Devils picked up their first win as goalie Keith Kinkaid dealt a 30-save shutout at the Worcester Sharks in a 4-0 final.
Jacob Josefson is the early scoring leader for the Devils with two goals and one assist. He has played in 69 career NHL games with New Jersey and had five goals and 14 assists last year.
Adam Henrique is perhaps the best known of the NHL'ers on the Albany squad. The young talent scored 16 goals for New Jersey in the regular season and then came through with several key goals in their Stanley Cup run including a Game 7 winner in double overtime to push past Florida in the first round.
Henrique scored 25 goals for Albany in his debut professional season in 2010-11 and before that was teammates with Adirondack Phantoms winger Eric Wellwood with the back-to-back Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.
Tim Sestito, older brother of the Flyers' and Phantoms' Tom Sestito, played in 18 games with New Jersey last year. While with Albany, he logged 45 games and nine goals.
Another brotherly connection involves the Zajac's where Albany has the two younger brothers of NHL standout Travis on their roster. Darcy Zajac is in his third season with the Albany Devils. He played two games for the Phantoms at the end of the 2009-10 season. The youngest, Kelly Zajac, in his rookie season after scoring eight goals and 24 assists for the Union Dutchmen last year.
Second-year pro out of Union, Keith Kinkaid, again shares the goaltending duties with Jeff Frazee who is in his fifth season as a pro. Frazee is a second-round draft choice (#38 overall) of the Devils back in 2005 from the University of Minnesota and has been in the Devils system for his entire professional career since 2008 with Trenton (ECHL), Lowell and Albany.
Rochester Americans, 3-2-0 (Buffalo Sabres)
Here come the high-flying Rochester Americans! They can be down in a game but never count them out. Trailing at Hershey by scores of 4-1 and 5-2 on Saturday night, the Amerks put on a wild comeback as they came all the way back to defeat the Bears 8-7.
Rochester represents the lone western conference opposition the Phantoms will face in 2012-13.
Some top-notch NHL talent line the Rochester roster including Cody Hodgson who scored 19 goals in the NHL last year with Vancouver and Buffalo. Hodgson was the #10 overall selection in the 2008 draft and he has already dished out seven assists this year.
Luke Adam is another. The Sabres second-round choice in 2008 scored 10 goals with Buffalo last year and had lit it up for 29 goals in the AHL in 2010-11 with Portland.
Marcus Foligno is second in the AHL in scoring with five goals and eight points. He had six goals and 13 points in just 14 NHL games last year as he exploded onto the scene after he had already buried 16 goals with Rochester.
T.J. Brennan is the top scoring defenseman in the AHL with seven points on three goals and four assists. He played in 11 games with Buffalo last season but spent the bulk of the year in Rochester where he scored 16 goals and 14 assists from the blue-line in 2011-12. Brennan is in his fourth year in the Sabres' organization which includes two seasons with their former affiliate in Portland.
Third-year AHL'er David Leggio out of Clarkson University has been in net for all five games so far for the Amerks going 3-2-0, 3.97, .887. The rookie backing him up is Connor Knapp out of Miami (Ohio) University who had mind-blowing numbers with the RedHawks in his senior season sporting a 1.69 goals against average and .933 saves percentage while going 15-8-0.
Back to Marcus Foligno: He is the younger brother of Nick Foligno who has 351 career NHL games with Ottawa and 61 goals. His father is Mike Foligno who was one of the most popular Buffalo Sabres of all-time in his 10 seasons with the team from 1981-91. Mike scored 355 career NHL goals in 1018 games. Mike Foligno was head coach of Hershey for five seasons from 1998-2003 and now serves as assistant coach of the Chicago Wolves in the AHL after he was assistant with the Anaheim Ducks for two seasons.
Ron Rolston is in his second year as head coach of the Americans having previously been head coach of the national Under-18 team. His older brother is Brian Rolston who has scored 342 career NHL goals in 1256 games over 17 seasons, mostly with New Jersey, Boston and Minnesota.
Ron Rolston worked with the Under-18 team at the USA Hockey National Development Program for seven seasons winning three gold medals in the IIHF championships. He had previously served as an assistant coach at various college hockey programs including Lake Superior State, Clarkson, Harvard and Boston College.
Syracuse Crunch, 4-0-0 (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The last time the Phantoms faced these guys, they were the Norfolk Admirals. Parent-club Tampa Bay switched affiliations this summer and moved their AHL team to Syracuse. And with the switch went some of the highest scoring young players in the league including Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson.
The Admirals ended last year on a 28-game winning streak to shatter all professional hockey records. They then went on to cruise through the post-season to a Calder Cup Championship. And the core of the team that has moved to Syracuse has simply picked up where the Admirals left off in starting the season 4-0-0.
In an emotionally charged game on April 15, 2012 between Adirondack and Norfolk, Ben Holmstrom thought he had tied the score with 19 seconds remaining via a 6-on-5 goal. But the referee waved it off due to slight contact in the crease on a controversial decision as the Admirals were able finish the year with their 28-game streak.
Now the Tampa Bay Lightning's crop of young talent call Syracuse their home. The Crunch and former parent-club Anaheim parted ways after two seasons.
This past Saturday night, it did not look like the unbeaten streak for their main group of players would be continuing. The Crunch found themselves in a 5-0 deficit at the Binghamton Senators in a fight-filled battle that saw a goalie-scrap between Crunch goalie Riku Helenius and Binghamton netminder Robin Lehner. After that fight came the big comeback. Syracuse would score six straight to win the game in overtime 6-5.
The end result is that many of these players on the Syracuse Crunch have won their last 32 straight regular season games going back to their streak with Norfolk.
Cory Conacher won league Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors last season with Norfolk with 39 goals and 41 assists. The undrafted speedster out of Canisius College is already off to a flying start this season with four goals and nine points to lead the league. He was only the fourth rookie ever to be named league MVP and was the first since Stephan Lebeau in 1988-89.
Conacher is a famous name in NHL history. Cory is related to hockey hall of famers Charlie Conacher (1929-41 mostly with Toronto), Roy Conacher (1938-1952 Boston, Chicago) and Lionel Conacher (1925-37 NY Americans, Montreal Maroons).
Tyler Johnson from Spokane in the WHL also had a tremendous rookie season with 31 goals and 37 assists. This year he has already racked up five goals and three assists. Ondrej Palat has six assists already this year in just five games.
Former Albany River Rats center Mike Angelidis is one of the veteran leaders of the squad. He played for Albany for four seasons from 2006-10.
Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski are the team's goalies for head coach Jon Cooper who was a shoe-in for AHL Coach of the Year honors last year and is now beginning his third campaign in the American League.
It will be a reunion for Phantoms defenseman Jeff Dimmen who played for the Norfolk championship team last year.
The Adirondack Phantoms are pleased to announce that their Saturday night game against Rochester will be that evening's featured broadcast on NHL Network Radio channel on Sirius and XM satellite radio. Fans across the continent can listen to all the action on Sirius 207 and on XM 92. Additionally, "Voice of the Phantoms" Bob Rotruck will be live on NHL Network Radio on Thursday at 1:05 pm to talk about the upcoming game.
Bob Rotruck, has the fast-paced hockey action and excitement all season long on the flagship home of the Adirondack Phantoms, Classic Hits Q101.7 and on the Phantoms Radio Network presented by Curtis Lumber. Broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to game-time with the Pepsi Countdown to Faceoff pregame show and also include the Great Meadow Federal Credit Union post-game show including audio-replay highlights. Be sure to tune-in on your way to and from each Phantoms home game!
Fans can also listen to all the Phantoms games FREE on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com. Rotruck will call all of the Phantoms road games during the 2012-13 season, while the voice of the Flyers Tim Saunders will call all home games.
Phantoms Week in Review
Friday, October 19 - St. John's 2 - Adirondack 1
The team departed Glens Falls on Tuesday night , would stay overnight in Montreal, and then would arrive to St. John's late on Wednesday afternoon after a couple of flights. The Phantoms would spend the next few days in Newfoundland and Labradour in Canada and would not return until Sunday night following their first ever games against the IceCaps.
In Friday's game, the Phantoms kept blasting away and they actually beat IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale on several occasions. But lady-luck was somewhat against Adirondack in the weekend opener as the Phantoms clanged shots off the posts on FIVE different occasions. Their lone goal in the second period came off the stick of rookie center Andrew Johnston who tipped an Eric Wellwood slapshot home.
Scott Munroe was very good in goal for the Phantoms particularly in the first period as St. John's kept busy on the attack but took the hard-luck loss. The game was the home opener for the defending Atlantic Division champions and the team was boosted by a raucous crowd excited for hockey season on "The Rock."
Saturday, October 20 - Adirondack 4 - St. John's 3
Adirondack overcame a 2-0 deficit as they would score goals less than a minute apart on two different occasions to pull out a hard-fought 4-3 victory. The win earned the Phantoms a split of the weekend series in Newfoundland against the affiliates of the Winnipeg Jets.
Brandon Manning's power-play slapper from the right point got the Phantoms on the board. And Shane Harper would tally his first of the season just 27 seconds later on an intercept in the right circle while the St. John's goalie was still down and scrambling.
Tied at 2-2 in the third period, Zac Rinaldo would capitalize on a 2-on-1 rush with less than eight minutes remaining to give Adirondack the lead. With Harry Zolnierczyk speeding up the other side of the ice, Rinaldo saw the opportunity to bury the shot himself and blasted it perfectly to the far-side for the go-ahead tally. Less than a minute later, Brayden Schenn's extremely sharp-angle drive from the left-wing corner would catch St. John's goalie Eddie Pasquale off-guard and sneak through five-hole to stretch the advantage to 4-2.
Scott Munroe allowed a power play goal with four minutes left as the deficit was cut to one but he would make a couple big saves at the end to preserve the win.
Firsts and Milestones
Rookie center Andrew Johnston scored his first professional goal in Friday night's game at St. John's. The Sakatoon, SASK native comes from the Junior-A Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League where he scored 39 combined goals in the regular season and playoffs for the Anavet Cup champion Humbolt Broncos. Johnston was committed to play at Union in Schenectedy before opting to sign professionally with the Flyers organization.
Jeff Dimmen played his first ever games with Adirondack after missing the opening weekend with injury. The defenseman from the University of Maine has been friends since childhood with Colorado natives Mike Testwuide and Ben Holmstrom. He also was teammates in college with Matt Mangene. Dimmen played for the Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals last season in his rookie season of professional hockey and would be reunited with his former teammates this Sunday when Adirondack travels to Syracuse (the new affiliates of the Tampa Bay Lightning who were in Norfolk last year).
Scott Munroe's win on Saturday is his 66th for the Phantoms organization, and his second for the Adirondack Phantoms. Munroe had 64 wins previously for the Phantoms but they all came from 2006-09 when the team was still the Philadelphia Phantoms. Munroe is third all-time on the Phantoms in career wins and is just five shy of Antero Nittymaki's career total of 71 victories for second place.
Saratoga Spine Phantoms Player of the Week - Zac Rinaldo
Zac Rinaldo is the Saratoga Spine Phantoms Player of the Week. His tie-breaking goal with less than eight minutes remaining in the third period propelled the Phantoms to a 4-3 victory on the road at St. John's.
The 22-year-old Rinaldo is in his third season of professional hockey and is one of 10 players on the Adirondack roster who played with the Philadelphia Flyers last year or earlier. Rinaldo scored two goals with Philadelphia last season in 66 games and also accumulated 232 penalty minutes, second-most in the league. Rinaldo is normally knows for his big hits and fighting prowess but on Saturday night he looked like a pure goal-scorer in helping lead the Phantoms to victory.
Phantoms Phocus - Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn is already off to a hot start with the Adirondack Phantoms in 2012-13 with three goals and five points in just four games. The 21 year old from Saskatoon, SASK now has nine goals and 17 points in just 11 career games in the AHL. He began last season with Adirondack due to an injury in the preseason. hen he made it to Philadelphia he had another complication which hampered his progress. But then he scored his first NHL goal on the biggest stage of all; The NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia on national TV against the New York Rangers on January 2, 2012. He finished the season with 18 goals in total with 12 coming in the NHL after scoring six for the Phantoms.
His first goal of the 2012-13 season was a real beauty. He toe-dragged and deked out a Portland defenseman on a shorthanded push and then slid in along the backhand past the goalie for a key late tally. Schenn's highlight-reel goal was featured on national highlights and on NHL.com.