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Phillips Triumphs in AHL Debut

February 26, 2012

He was only supposed to be here as an emergency backup to be used exclusively in a "just in case" scenario. But then the circumstances played out exactly as required for ECHL callup Brad Phillips to get thrown into the fire. He responded with a 35 save show to propel the Phantoms to a 4-3 final as he won his AHL debut Sunday afternoon in Glens Falls over the Syracuse Crunch.

Jason Bacashihua got dinged with an upper-body injury on Friday and Phillips was recalled on Saturday from Trenton of the ECHL to serve as Michael Leighton's backup. Then on Sunday morning, Leighton would be the latest Phantom to be victimized by the flu-bug making its way around the Adirondack locker-room.

Enter Brad Phillips. The 22-year-old arrived at the arena at 1:00 expecting to spend the day hanging out on the backup goalie's stool in the player's entrance and enjoying another day of Phantoms hockey as a spectator. But he was told by coach Joe Paterson that he would actually be playing in the AHL for the first time in his career and, next thing he knew, there he was leading the team onto the ice for pregame warm-ups as is traditionally done by the game's starting goalie.

While Phillips was making his Phantoms debut, Adirondack squared off against a former Phantom who got the start in the Syracuse cage. Antero Nittymaki starred for the Philadelphia Phantoms from 2002-05 and also minded goal for the Flyers from 2006-09. But the more experienced of the two starting goalies wouldn't even make it through the first period as Adirondack would get to him early and quickly.

Phillips, a second-year pro out of Notre Dame, thrived in his chance in the Phantoms' limelight to help steer Adirondack to their second straight win and their third in their last four. Adirondack also now has points in five of their last seven games.

Phillips saved the first 26 shots he faced in preserving the 4-0 lead. And, on a couple of his better stops, it was difficult to distinguish him from the Phantoms regular experienced netminders. His best save came in the second period as he scooted quickly to his right to deny Brandon McMillan on a wide-open opportunity. That one drew a large ovation from the crowd who were appreciating and enjoying the efforts and success of the newcomer. Phillips was finally beaten by his former college teammate at Notre Dame, AHL leading scorer Kyle Palmieri, on a penalty shot late in the second.

His familiarity with the guys on the team probably helped ease his comfort-level and nerves in his debut at the higher level. He has been up with the team as a backup earlier this season and was also in Glens Falls during the preseason training camp. Last year, he was teammates with Garrett Klotz when both played in Bloomington, IL. Klotz was one of the first players to get to Phillips to offer congratulations after the game had finished.

Andrew Rowe scored a pair of goals to lead the attack while Tye McGinn and Matt Ford also lit the lamp.

The victory was the team's 17th on home-ice this year, most in the American Hockey League. It also pulled the Phantoms to within five points of the Albany Devils for the eighth place spot that comes with an invitation to the Calder Cup Playoffs in April.

After the game, the players all gathered in Heritage Hall inside the GFCC to meet with the fans for a team autograph session on Poster Giveaway Day presented by Glens Falls Printing.

At first, it looked like the Phantoms were going to cruise to an easy victory in their third game in three days. Adirondack raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and pushed it to 4-0 in the second. But Syracuse came to life and made it a one-goal game with 65 seconds remaining. But they ran out of time in their efforts to notch the equalizer and Adirondack hung on for the win.

Andrew Rowe scored a pair of goals in the first period to give Adirondack a 2-0 lead. His first goal came after a hard Garrett Klotz forecheck would force the puck free. Rowe centered it out in front to Luke Pither whose shot was saved by Nittymaki to the right-wing side. But Rowe had come out in front following his centering pass and the rebound was perfectly set up for him to drive home his fourth of the year less than six minutes in for a 1-0 lead.

At 13 minutes in, Rowe rifled a quick shot immediately after a Pither face-off win for his second goal. It was Pither's second assist of the game.

Rowe get a couple more chances to threaten for his first pro hat trick including a jam opportunity from behind the cage with about four minutes left in the game. But Rowe was denied at the end and would have to settle for his second multi-goal game with Adirondack.

Three minutes after Rowe had made it 2-0, good quick passing by Erik Gustafsson on the blue-line and Jason Akeson in the right-circle would get the Syracuse defenders moving. The crafty play-maker Akeson saw the quick opening for Tye McGinn in the slot who was able to one-time score his ninth of the year on the blocker-side of Nittymaki. It was Akeson's team-leading 32nd assist and 42nd point. It was also the end of the game for Nittymaki who made way for fellow Finland native Iiro Tarkki.

In the second period, Matt Ford would score from the left circle on a power play shot that he blasted through Tarkki for a 4-0 Phantoms lead. It was Ford's sixth goal in ten games since joining the Phantoms at the beginning of February and his 16th goal of the season overall. Denis Hamel and Ben Holmstrom assisted on that tally.

Kyle Palmieri was hauled down from behind on a breakaway and was able to convert on his penalty shot late in the second period to finally break Phillips' shutout bid on their 27th shot of the game. Palmieri is the league's top goal-scorer with 31 despite only having played in 37 games in the AHL this season due to his several callups to Anaheim. The Ducks first-rounder and highly touted prospect had been teammates with Phillips at Notre Dame in 2009-10.

Adirondack carried a 4-1 advantage into the third period but J.F. Jacques would help get the Crunch back into the game. He blocked a power play shot and raced the length of the ice for a shorthanded breakaway goal backhanding it over Phillips' glove six minutes into the third to cut the score to 4-2.

In the closing minutes, a deflected puck from a Nate Guenin shot would find Jacques' stick again and he would slam home the 6-on-5 goal from the right-wing side of the crease to make it 4-3 and cause concern inside the Civic Center. But there was only 1:05 remaining when Jacques' goal closed the gap to one. And after a hopping puck through the slot bounced over the stick of Palmieri on the backdoor with 12 seconds to go, Adirondack was able to squeeze it along the wall for the remaining ticks to close out the victory.

It is the second straight weekend in which Adirondack has won two out of three. And the Phantoms improved to 4-2 against the Crunch this year with still four games remaining in the season-series between the two New York rivals.

Marc-Andre Bourdon and Garrett Roe again missed the game with the virus that has been hitting the team somewhat hard and has now victimized Leighton.

Adirondack now has a few days between games to recover from the tough three-game weekend and also try to shake the flu-bug. The Phantoms return to action next Friday at Providence and next Saturday at Albany in back-to-back road games against two teams right in the thick of that eighth place pursuit.

The Phantoms return home next Sunday at 3:00 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Scooby Doo will be at the arena to help celebrate Dax Kids Club Day. And all fans are invited to a post-game skate with the players presented by Glens Falls Hospital. Sunday Family 3-Packs are again offered for only $39 giving great value for the 3 ticket package which also includes 3 hot dogs, 3 sodas, one large popcorn and one program. Call the Phantoms to order yours at (518) 480-3355.

Upcoming Events

Monday, February 27, 7:00 - Phantoms Power Hour LIVE at McGinny's. Special Guests, Riley Cote and Harry Zolnierczyk

Friday, March 2, 7:00 - Adirondack Phantoms at Providence Bruins

Saturday, March 3, 5:00 - Adirondack Phantoms at Albany Devils

Sunday, March 4, 3:00 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Adirondack Phantoms. Dax's Kids Club game and post-game open-skate with the Phantoms players. Sunday Family 3-Pack.

Ge your Adirondack O'Phantoms T-Shirts! Two tickets for any game in March plus a St. Patrick's Day O'Phantoms logo T-Shirt all for only $30.

The Northway 2-Pack is on sale now. Get 2 tickets for 2 games between the Phantoms and the Albany Devils on March 10 and April 6 PLUS a player autograph stick all for only $65. Call the Phantoms to order yours! (518) 480-3355

Syracuse Crunch 3 at Adirondack Phantoms 4 - Status: Final
Sunday, February 26, 2012 - Glens Falls Civic Center

Syracuse 0 1 2 - 3
Adirondack 3 1 0 - 4

1st Period-1, Adirondack, Rowe 4 (Pither, Klotz), 5:28. 2, Adirondack, Rowe 5 (Pither), 12:41. 3, Adirondack, McGinn 9 (Gustafsson, Akeson), 15:34. Penalties-served by Harper Adk (bench minor - too many men), 8:53; Caputi Syr (fighting), 16:52; Eddy Adk (fighting), 16:52; Walker Adk (cross-checking), 17:17.

2nd Period-4, Adirondack, Ford 16 (Holmstrom, Hamel), 10:23 (PP). 5, Syracuse, Palmieri 31 18:20 (TXT_PS). Penalties-Eddy Adk (hooking), 5:58; Palmieri Syr (holding), 10:06; Holzapfel Syr (hooking), 11:02; Walker Adk (double minor - high-sticking), 13:37.

3rd Period-6, Syracuse, Jacques 16 6:26 (SH). 7, Syracuse, Jacques 17 (Guenin, Holland), 18:55. Penalties-Tarkki Syr (tripping), 5:27.

Shots on Goal-Syracuse 12-16-10-38. Adirondack 15-8-11-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 / 5; Adirondack 1 / 3.
Goalies-Syracuse, Niittymaki 4-6-0 (13 shots-10 saves); Tarkki 11-15-4 (21 shots-20 saves). Adirondack, Phillips 1-0-0 (38 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Ragusin (54), Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Jim Harper (59), Mike Emanatian (69).




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