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Weekend Preview: Adirondack at Norfolk

December 2, 2011


ADIRONDACK PHANTOMS (12-7-1) at Norfolk Admirals (13-8-1)

Phantoms- 2nd Northeast Division, 5th Eastern Conference
Admirals – 1st East Division, 3rd Eastern Conference

Norfolk Scope Arena – Norfolk, Virginia
Friday, December 2 (7:15 p.m.)

Road Warriors

The Phantoms start one of their longest mileage trips of the season on Friday by traveling south to Virginia for a meeting with the fast-paced Admirals. Adirondack will play on Friday and Saturday in Norfolk, before finishing the road trip on Tuesday in Hamilton, Ontario against the Western Conference’s Bulldogs.

Adirondack begins its trip on the heels of a 3-0-0 homestand, giving the Phantoms a season-high three-game winning streak heading into tonight. The Phantoms’ 4-3 win over the Crunch on Wednesday improved the team to 7-2-1 at home this season and 18-3-5 at home since last February.

If the Phantoms hope to extend their winning streak, they’ll have to do it against a very difficult opponent. The Admirals enter action on a three-game winning streak of their own, and are in first place in the very tough East Division. Norfolk has stormed out to its 13-8-1 record behind a high-octane offense, which leads the league in goals (3.73 per game) and shots per game (35/82 per game).

Northeast Division Standings

1. Connecticut Whale (27 pts)
2. Adirondack Phantoms (25 pts)
3. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (24 pts)
4. Albany Devils (23 pts)
5. Springfield Falcons (20 pts)

Milestone For Joe Paterson
Wednesday’s win was a special milestone for Phantoms head coach Joe Paterson. Besides improving his record to 37-23-9 as Phantoms head coach, the win was his 100th as an AHL head coach. Paterson, a resident of Glen Lake, NY, got his other 63 wins while coaching for the now-defunct Louisville Panthers, from 1999-2001.

Denis Hamel Countdown – 1 Goal to Catch Merkosky

The Phantoms’ leading scorer, Denis Hamel, is one goal behind Adirondack Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Merkosky for 12th place on the AHL’s all-time goal-scoring list. With a team-best nine goals this season, Hamel is up to 324 career tallies. Merkosky scored 325 times in a career that stretched from 1980-1991.
By assisting Tye McGinn’s power-play goal on Wednesday, Hamel moved past both Brian Kilrea and Ken Gernander on the AHL’s all-time points list. With 625 AHL points, Hamel is up to 34th place in league history.

Hamel, in his 15th professional season, is fast approaching a pair of games-played milestones. His next contest will be his 797th in the AHL and 989th as a pro.

Adirondack Phantoms (NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers)

The Phantoms enter Friday on their longest winning streak of the season, as a result of sweeping a three-game homestand over the last seven days. The team’s best performer in that stretch was goaltender Michael Leighton, who won all three matches by stopping 43-of-44 against Springfield last Friday, 32-of-35 against Albany last Saturday and 33-of-36 against Syracuse on Wednesday. Leighton will look to continue his winning ways against the Admirals, who he played in 147 games for in the early 2000s. Leighton is still the Admirals’ all-time leader in wins (75), and he’s played in more career games than any other active AHL goalkeeper (311).

Adirondack’s penalty killers also played a very key role on the homestand. The Phantoms killed all 17 chances against them and have killed 18 straight power plays overall, dating back to Thanksgiving’s game in Binghamton. Adirondack is now in the top 10 in the league in penalty killing, sitting ninth at 83.3 percent efficiency.

The team’s hottest scorer is Tom Sestito. Known more for his physical play in past years, Sestito is having his best offensive season as a pro, ranking second on the Phantoms with eight goals. Four of Sestito’s eight goals have come over the last four games. Sestito’s most goals in a professional season are the 13 he scored last year while playing for both the Phantoms and Springfield Falcons.

Over the last month, Adirondack’s most consistent offensive player has been Jason Akeson. Akeson had five goals and five assists in 10 November games, giving him a share of the team-lead in scoring with 17 points (6g, 11a). A first-year pro, Akeson led the prestigious Ontario Hockey League in scoring last year, netting 24 goals and 84 assists with the Kitchener Rangers.

The Phantoms finished November with a 6-4-0 record, after going 6-3-1 in October.

Phantoms Leaders

Goals: Denis Hamel (9)
Assists: Garrett Roe (12)
Points: Denis Hamel Jason Akeson (17)
Plus/Minus: Tom Sestito/Garrett Roe (+6)
Penalty Minutes: Tom Sestito (63)
Wins: Michael Leighton (9)
Goals-Against Average: Michael Leighton (2.55)
Save Percentage: Michael Leighton (.917)
Shutouts: Michael Leighton(1)
Power Play: 20.6 percent/6th Penalty Kill: 83.3 percent/9th

Norfolk Admirals (NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning)

The affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Admirals have used a high-voltage offense to bolt out to a 13-8-1 record, which puts them in first place in the East Division.

The Admirals lead the league in goals (3.73 per game) and shots per game (35.82 per game). Norfolk has the fourth-ranked power play (24.2%), the second-highest scoring defenseman (Mark Barberio/18pts), two of the top four rookie scorers and two of the top five overall scorers.
At the center of the scoring bonanza has been rookie Cory Conacher. A freshman pro hockey player out of Canisius College, Conacher’s 25 points (12g,13a) lead AHL rookies and put him fourth in league scoring.

Conacher’s linemate, Carter Ashton has 19 points (12g, 7a), which are fifth among AHL rookies. Ashton is the son of Brent Ashton, a longtime NHL veteran who played in 998 NHL games from 1979-1993, highlighted by winning a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers (against the Flyers) in 1986-87.

The grizzled veteran amongst the bunch is 26-year-old Trevor Smith. Smith’s 25 points (10g, 15a) tie him with Conacher for the team-lead in points and put the former University of New Hampshire Wildcat in the top five in AHL scoring. Smith also leads Norfolk with a rating of +14.

Admirals Leaders

Goals: Carter Ashton/Cory Conacher (12)
Assists: Mark Barberio (15)
Points: Cory Conacher/Trevor Smith (25)
Plus/Minus: Trevor Smith (+14)
Penalty Minutes: Miek Angelidis (56)
Wins: Dustin Tokarski (8)
Goals-Against Average: Dustin Tokarski (2.45)
Save Percentage: Dustin Tokarski (.902)
Shutouts: Dustin Tokarski (2) Power Play: 24.2 percent/4th Penalty Kill: 78.4 percent/24th

Stat Pack

-Friday’s game is the second of eight meetings for the Phantoms and Admirals this season. Norfolk used a 5-4 shootout win to take the only prior meeting, October 26 at Glens Falls Civic Center.

--Denis Hamel scored a batted the puck into the net out of mid-air, in the third period’s final minute, to push the October 26 game into extra time.

--Jaroslav Janus started for Norfolk on October 26, stopping 3-of-4 in the shootout after allowing four goals on 28 shots in regulation and overtime.

--Dustin Tokarski has all three wins on the Admirals’ winning streak, stopping 59-of-64 shots against Providence (twice) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

--Prior to last Saturday against Albany, the Phantoms’ most recent overtime was November 12, 2010, when Denis Hamel scored the game-winner against the Norfolk Admirals.
Upcoming Events

Friday, December 2, 7:30 - Phantoms at Norfolk Admirals

Saturday, December 3, 7:15 - Phantoms at Norfolk Admirals

Monday, December 5 - No Phantoms Power Hour show. The team will be traveling.

Tuesday, December 6, 7:30 - Phantoms at Hamilton Bulldogs

Friday, December 9, 7:00 - Portland Pirates at Adirondack Phantoms. $2 draft beer specials through first intermission; Bud Light and Labatt Blue Light.

Saturday, December 10, 7:00 - Rochester Americans at Adirondack Phantoms. Phantoms T-Shirts for the first 2,500 fans courtesy of Papa John's. First Goal Teddy Bear Toss to benefit the Salvation Army and needy children in the North Country.

Phantoms Holiday Socks are on sale now. $49 package for 4 tickets to a premium Phantoms game, an autographed puck, a program, all in a game-worn Phantoms hockey sock. $59 for an autographed stick with the 4 premium game tickets and game-worn Phantoms hockey sock.

Catch all the action of Phantoms hockey all season long on the team's flagship station, Classic Hits Q101.7 and on phantomshockey.com. Bob Rotruck has the broadcast coverage 30 minutes prior to game-time with Countdown to Faceoff.

The Adirondack Phantoms are now over 10,000 members strong on their social media networks. Be sure to follow us on twitter @phantomshockey and on facebook.com/adkhockey








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