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Stop by for a Fill-Up of the latest Phantoms chat and other fun stuff with radio broadcaster Bob Rotruck.


July 22 - Welcome Back, Fitzy!

 

Zack FitzGerald talks about coming back to the Adirondack Phantoms this season. Listen to the interview or you can read the entire conversation below.



Bob: Fitzy! How the heck are ya? Long time, no talk!

Fitzy: Wonderful man. It's been too long.

Bob: Well, tell me. We've got the big news here. And you're coming back to the Phantoms. Tell me about the decision to come back to the Adirondack Phantoms this season.

Fitzy: Well basically. Kind of like I've been telling everybody. I tried to express my interest and how much fun I had last year. You know, my comfort and enjoyment of the season and all that good stuff. I tried to express that with everybody within the organization. When I was speaking with the guys all the conversations were very positive and were really good both ways. I was really happy.

We basically agreed awhile ago. It's just taken a little time to get it released. But everything was positive and I'm super-excited and I think they are too. I think it'll be good for everybody.


Bob: Talk about the reception that you received when you came to Glens Falls last year.
You've been a popular player with a lot of the teams that you've been with. But the fan support and the outreach to you almost right from the very beginning the fans in Glens Falls fell in love with you.

Fitzy: Pretty surprising. I think I joked a little bit when I first came to town I felt like I almost needed to put a public announcement out there to apologize to any fans I had rubbed the wrong way with a word or two in there all yelling at me there. But you know what, when I first got into town everybody was great. Everybody was very receiving of me. We all kind of stick together. Everybody likes the rough stuff and I try to bring it and make the game fun.

Immediately people were on my side and accepted me into the team and even went above and beyond. Some people were making signs and t-shirts and all this twitter stuff. I couldn't actually really believe it. So that's another big reason why I wanted to come back too is (them) making hockey that much more fun for me. So it was an easy decision to come back.


Bob: Well, that's fantastic. Tell me about what you've been doing this summer. Speaking of your twitter, I just saw on your twitter you're meeting a new addition to your family...is that right?

Fitzy: Yup. I'm actually at my sister's house now. We're taking shifts on holding the baby and being the babysitter and having some nice, special time with the family. So that's been pretty special. We're down in Minneapolis/St. Paul area now. We're all originally from Duluth. We made a little road-trip down and hanging out here and trying to help out.

Otherwise, the summer's been pretty good. It goes quick like always. I did a little trip down to Florida for the union meeting and also see a couple friends down there and then back and forth from Winnipeg to Minnesota. It's been kind of hectic but at the same time it's always great to be around these areas and get this kind of time in too.


Bob: Right. I know you went down to Florida for the union meeting representing the Phantoms on their behalf down there. On top of that, you hold a hockey camp for the kids during the summer at some point too, right?

Fitzy: Yeah, we are having a camp here in Duluth on July 29th. First Annual Fitzy Camp with my brother and I. Some people may know, some may not, he played professional hockey for many years. he played with the Penguins and he played in the minors for awhile and he went to Germany and he played college in my hometown. So we're going to kind of use his name to promote and get some kids out there and try to pass on the hockey skills that we've learned over the years. And it might be a little early to say it now and maybe jump the gun but maybe we'll have a Glens Falls Hockey Camp at the end of the season or something.

Bob: Oh, that would be fantastic. You just love working with the kids. You did that so much up here in Glens Falls too.

Fitzy: Oh yeah. It's all about the kids for sure. I still act like a kid I'm sure. And I remember what it was like to be their age. And it's fun. It's fun to have people around that can show you a trick or two. And to just be a kid is the best part.


Bob: We don't know exactly who's going to be on the Phantoms this coming year. But we have a reasonable idea and a lot of the guys who were on the team last year are coming back. What do you think of the team and the make up for this coming season.

Fitzy: That's been kind of a question I've had myself too is exactly who's going to be back. But personally it's always nice to come back to familiar faces and to play again with teammates that you went to war with. And to kind of start out clean with a new season and hope for a better year with making the playoffs and stuff. But it's always good to come back to friendships you've had. I made a lot of good friendships and had a great relationship with all the coaches. And that makes things great. Having old Bob around is great as well! (Haha). And then to come back to the fans and the atmosphere...it's all a plus.


Bob: Fitzy, Welcome back. Thank you so much. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Fitzy: Thank you, Bob. Thanks for calling me. I'm excited to be back and excited to see everybody again. Should be great.

 

(picture - Zack FitzGerald joined Bob Rotruck in the booth for a radio broadcast last season)



 

July 16 - Busy Time

For the middle of the off-season, when one might think not much would be going on, it sure has been a busy time for the Adirondack Phantoms as well as the AHL in general.

- Trade Danny Syvret for Kris Newbury a couple weeks ago. Then sign 2012 AHL Goalie of the Year Yann Danis who had previously led Oklahoma City to back-to-back appearances in the conference finals. I expect that he will split time with Cal Heeter who certainly came into his own and played better and better throughout the season. Niagara University goalie Carsen Chubak, who put up great numbers last year for the Purple Eagles and signed a contract with the Phantoms, I think could end up being sent to the ECHL.

- Speaking of which, the previous ECHL affiliate for the Flyers/Phantoms in Trenton, NJ folded up shop at the end of last season. Too bad they couldn't make it work there. Hopefully in the future though. It looks like the ECHL affiliate for this coming season will be Greenville, SC again. I have not seen it officially announced by Philadelphia but a couple of reporters have mentioned it recently so I will assume it is legit info. The Flyers/Phantoms were with the Greenville Road Warriors a couple seasons ago and are familiar with Dean Stork, the head coach down there who is really sharp and does a good job developing the prospects. Typically only three or four players will be assigned to the ECHL. And they might have another parent club too (the NY Rangers past couple years) and then the rest of the ECHL team is filled out by free-agents.

- Flyers announce they have re-signed defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen. I anticipate Gustafsson to crack the big club. Lauridsen has a chance to crack the Flyers after his strong showing in 15 games at end of last year but there is also a strong chance he ends up back with the Phantoms at beginning of season. He certainly has lots to be excited about though after playing so well and catching a fiar amount of attention.

- Flyers announce that they will spend part of preseason training camp up in Lake Placid. Sept 19-23 will be their get-away "working vacation" as it were for team-bonding and just a change of scenery. Nice idea. No games unfortunately. Many of the players who will eventually be on the Phantoms will likely still be in camp with the Flyers at that point of camp. And then I expect our players will start arriving to Glens Falls maybe around September 24 to continue camp and get ready for our own preseason game on September 28.

- Some Phantoms from last year are off to new teams. Good luck to Ian Slater who signed an ECHL contract with the Orlando Solar Bears. And also to Garrett Roe who signed on to play in Europe with the Salzburg Red Bulls in Austria.
Also, about a month ago, Shane Harper was traded to the Islanders in exchange for Mark Streit. Could be a positive, fresh start for Harper who spent different parts of this past season in the ECHL and/or being a healthy scratch with Adirondack or not getting as much ice-time as he would like. This year, he could likely end up with Bridgeport so there's a good chance we will be seeing him on the other side of the ice. One of the most memorable moments in Phantoms' and AHL history came on his stick on January 6, 2012 when he scored the overtime winning against Hershey in the Outdoor Classic in front of a record crowd of 45,653 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

- AHL Realignment. Doesn't really impact the Phantoms a whole lot. Adirondack's division will remain the same with the only change being that the team in Hartford will go back to being called the Hartford Wolf Pack instead of the Connecticut Whale. The Northeast Division consists of the Albany Devils (NJ), Adirondack Phantoms (PHI), Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI), Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR), Springfield Falcons (CBJ). The divisions have some meaning in the AHL but not as much as the NHL. Last year, we saw a couple non-division opponents more frequently than teams from our own division. Sometimes works out that way.

- Utica Comets will be part of the Western Conference in the North Division with Rochester, Hamilton, Toronto, Lake Erie. Some speculation and/or hope that they might be in the Eastern Conference somehow. But to even it out it still makes some amount of sense to keep them in the West. Adirondack will likely see the Utica Comets probably 4-6 times this coming season though (guessing). Utica being in the other conference does not mean we will not play them. Rochester is in the Western Conference as well and we see them four times every year (two in Glens Falls and two out in Rochester).

- Brendan Burke has been announced as the new broadcaster for the Utica Comets. Welcome to the Eastern Conference, Brendan! He was the broadcaster for the Peoria Rivermen the past five seasons before they lost their AHL team this past season. Wheeling broadcasters unite! Brendan was the voice of the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL for two seasons from 2006-08. And then I followed him there for the next two seasons from 2008-10. We both were able to use Wheeling as our stepping-stone to broadcasting gigs in the AHL.

- Phantoms announce Home Opener will be Saturday, October 12. Opponent to be announced with the unveiling of the full AHL schedule in mid-late August. We do know that the first home game will NOT be against the Albany Devils though. Because Albany also has their home opener on October 12.
Also, the AHL season actually starts the weekend before that on Friday, October 4. So Adirondack will probably be traveling somewhere the weekend of October 4-5 for a couple of away games. Hopefully somewhere close'ish so some of our fans can meet us there and cheer us on for the very first games of the year before we even get back to Glens Falls for our own Opening Night.

- Well, actually, our fans will get that chance to cheer on the Phantoms before October 12 no matter what. Preseason game will be Saturday, September 28 at the Glens Falls Civic Center against the Albany Devils. Who cares that it isn't an official game and doesn't count in the standings? It's hockey and we are dropping the puck and slamming bodies into glass on September 28 and that's what matters!

- About 2 weeks until D-Day...meaning Daddy-Day for me. I will be a first-time father sometime in early August most likely...and life as I know it will be forever changed! Haha.

Until next time, Keep Truckin!

Always happy to receive your questions and comments. Send to @bobrotruck on twitter.

 


 

July 2 - Trade!

It wasn't exactly a huge deal in the NHL world of the caliber that would Pierre McGuire excited. But at the AHL level, yesterday's trade of veterans Kris Newbury and Danny Syvret was a biggie. Acquiring an experienced point-producer is significant for Adirondack. And Kris Newbury wasn't picked up from the Rangers cheaply as Danny Syvret is a leader in the locker-room and on the ice.

Newbury has played almost 600 games in the AHL and has scored 142 goals and 439 points. He also brings toughness with 1,332 penalty minutes. Tye McGinn's first NHL fight was against Kris Newbury in a Philadelphia vs. New York Rangers game. And while it may not have worked out so well for Newbury, he showed he's willing to step up with some pretty tough customers including big rookies like McGinn who sometimes will not find combatants to reciprocate in what essentially becomes a "not much to gain...much to lose" type of situation for anyone he might ask.

Anyway, Newbury notched 20 goals last year and 25 goals the year before that. I think in some ways, that's practically all you need to know right there. He's been pretty legit up front for the Connecticut Whale (now changing their name back to the Hartford Wolf Pack for the coming season).

Michael "Stats" Cignoli of the Saratogian dug up what I found to be the most interesting stat of all. Newbury has 60+ points in the AHL in each of the last three seasons. That's tremendously consistent. He's the only player in the Eastern Conference to have done that and joins just one other AHL'er, T.J. Hesnick of Peoria, with that amount of consistency.

Similarly, Danny Syvret is an impressive point-producer from the blue-line. He is the only defenseman in the league with 40+ points in each of the last three seasons.

Interesting. Thanks to Michael Cignoli for digging up those stats. I was not aware of either one.

Now just because Newbury has spent the bulk of his almost-700 career games in the AHL does not mean he is a guarantee for Adirondack. That's a key here too. He is on an NHL contract of course and he is undoubtedly looking at this move and new organization as his chance to impress some new evaluators. The Flyers obviously liked Newbury or they would not have traded to get him. Newbury played six games with the Rangers last year and could fill a similar fill-in role with Philadelphia. Or maybe he does well and earns a spot for longer stretches. It's not impossible.

But if Philadelphia is all-filled-up for forwards and there just isn't room for Newbury, then he will be a valuable forward veteran to click with Adirondack's young guys such as Jason Akeson, Marcel Noebels and Nick Cousins (all of whom are itching for their chance to win a spot with Philadelphia as well come September and October).

Until next time, Keep Truckin!

 

 


JUNE 28 - Welcome!

Hi everyone! And welcome to my new blog page on the Phantoms Hockey website. In here, I'll be keeping you updated on the latest with the Phantoms and some other fun things. Let's have some fun!

First...the name. I can't say I was overly crazy at first about the name "The Truck Stop". I guess I've been-there-done-that with pretty much every Trucker and Tow-Truck joke in reference to my weird last name. But the gang at the office loved it, and then my wife did too. So I eventually said, "Okay, let's do it."

Kudos to Andrew Hill in the office for the graphic-design at the top. I think it captures the kind of weird spirit of the thing that I'm hoping for in here. I promise that we really will have more Phantoms related thoughts and commentary in here as well. After all, Opening Night is only about 100 days away. But I thought a quick little, summer life-update from back at the Truck Stop Ranch could be a nice way to start.

The biggest news in the Rotruck household is the impending arrival of our first child. Wife Teresa is almost eight months pregnant. Our little girl is due August 4th and we can't wait to welcome the new Micro-Truck into the world.

At some point, if she goes into broadcasting, then she can go from Micro-Truck to Mic-Rotruck! Hahaha. Get it?!?! Mic like a microphone?! (crickets, crickets) "Hello? Is this thing on?!"

Okay, so that was terrible. The Truck Stop is off to a flying start!! Until next time, Keep Truckin!


June 28 - Summer Baseball

A lot of fans ask what I do during the off-season. I've been pretty busy actually. I do a little bit of work for the Phantoms on the website and media-releases and now this fun little Truck Stop thing as well. But mostly I am only a full-time employee of the team around and during the season. Pretty much from September through May.

I'm spending my second summer broadcasting baseball games for one of the local summer-collegiate teams where the college-eligible kids get experience playing with wood bats. It's actually pretty high-quality baseball with some good crowds and I have been a bit surprised at how much I have enjoyed it. The season is only 2 months long and it works perfectly in-between hockey seasons.

The team I am with is called the Amsterdam Mohawks and they play their home games about an hour away from Glens Falls. Amsterdam, N.Y. is about 25 minutes past Saratoga.

The Mohawks are in the same league as the Glens Falls Golden Eagles. So when Amsterdam plays an away game up here in Glens Falls it is only about a 5 minute drive for me over to Dix Avenue. There is also a different team called "Adirondack" in this league which makes things even more confusing. In the small village of Boonville, N.Y. about midway between Utica and Watertown are the Adirondack Trail Blazers. So yeah...when Amsterdam takes on Adirondack in baseball I get messed up in the head pretty easily and have to slow down and make sure I am getting the teams right and don't say "Phantoms" out of habit, etc.

This Saturday, the baseball team hits the road to play the Utica Brewers. And I'm going to leave early to swing by the arena there and check out the home of the new Utica Comets AHL team (fingers crossed it will be open and I can go inside). I'm sure the Phantoms will be making 2 or 3 trips there during the regular season and I always am excited to get to experience a new arena, venue and atmosphere. They all have a different flavor and The Aud in Utica has a ton of history of course.

Until next time, Keep Truckin!

Questions or comments? Send me a message on twitter @BobRotruck

 

 
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