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Phantoms Weekly - Showdown Series!

March 28, 2012

Upcoming Games

Wednesday, March 28 (7:00) - Adirondack Phantoms at Syracuse Crunch
Friday, March 30 (7:00) - Syracuse Crunch at Adirondack Phantoms
Saturday, March 31 (7:00) - Adirondack Phantoms at Connecticut Whale

Phantoms Results

Friday, March 23 - Adirondack Phantoms 1 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 0
Saturday, March 24 - Adirondack Phantoms 3 - Springfield Falcons 1
Sunday, March 25 - Adirondack Phantoms 5 - Binghamton Senators 4

Showdown Series!

Adirondack and Syracuse square off for back-to-back huge games this week in a Showdown Series with a playoff position on the line. Right now, the Syracuse Crunch are holding down 8th place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 71 points. The Adirondack Phantoms are in 9th place at 69 points, just two points behind the Crunch. Only nine games remain in the regular season for both teams and these are the last head-to-head encounters between the two.

Adirondack travels to Syracuse for a Wednesday night game to open the series. Then the 10th and last game of the year between the Crunch and Phantoms will take place at a rockin' Glens Falls Civic Center on Friday night.

Friday is also Adirondack's lone home-game this week. It's playoff fever in the North Country and you'll want to Be Here! Every play will be huge. Every puck will be fought for tooth-and-nail. These teams will get physical as they fight for their playoff lives! Call the Phantoms to get your tickets at (518) 480-3355.

The Phantoms have pulled to within striking distance of a playoff spot on the strength of their terrific three-for-three success last weekend. Adirondack won all three games they played to make up key ground and leap-frog past several teams in the playoff-chase logjam.

Syracuse has also been rapidly moving up the standings as one of the hottest teams in the AHL. They are on a seven game point streak at 6-0-1 and also have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

After the critical head-to-head games against Syracuse it won't get any easier for the Phantoms. They conclude the weekend with a Saturday night game in Hartford against the Connecticut Whale who are in a first place tie in the Northeast Division with Bridgeport.

While Adirondack is certainly focused on chasing down Syracuse directly ahead of them, there are still a number of teams directly behind the Phantoms who remain in the race as well and any team that gets hot in their last eight games will be in good shape to make it in. Eight teams are within six points of each other from 7th through 14th place. And seven teams are only separated by four points from 8th to 14th.

Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame Night

Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame Night will take place on Saturday, April 14. The Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction will be held at 4:30 at Heritage Hall and then the Phantoms will play the Springfield Falcons at 7:00. This year's inductees include Dave Casey, Murray Eaves, Pete Mahovlich and Dave Strader. Tickets for the Banquet and Induction are $35 or a table of 10 for $250. Reservations can be made to Anne Porreca at (518) 791-4248 or anneporreca@msn.com

Roster Moves

The Phantoms have made a number of roster moves this week welcoming a couple young prospects to the team while also wishing good luck to a couple more players moving up to the NHL again.

Marc-Andre Bourdon and Jason Bacashihua have been recalled by the Flyers to help fill-in for injured players. Bourdon has already played in 39 games with the Flyers this year scoring two goals and two assists. Bacashihua is getting his second stint this year with Philadelphia to serve as a backup goalie for Sergei Bobrovsky while Ilya Bryzgalov recovers from injury. Bacashihua played in 36 games in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues from 2005-07.

Goalie Brad Phillips has been reassigned to the Adirondack Phantoms from the Trenton Titans off the ECHL to fill-in for Bacashihua. Phillips stood out in his lone AHL game on February 26 when Michael Leighton came down with the flu. The Notre Dame product made 35 saves in a 4-3 win over Syracuse.

A couple more players have signed amateur tryout contracts to join Derek Mathers in getting a sniff of pro hockey at the end of the 2011-12 season.

19-year-old LW Campbell Elynuik comes to the Flyers organization from the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. He is the son of Pat Elynuik who played in over 500 NHL games and had back-to-back 30+ goal seasons with the Washington Capitals in the 1990s.

And 18-year-old center Nick Cousins comes to the Phantoms from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhouds of the OHL. He was the Flyers' third-round pick in 2011 and lit it up for 35 goals and 88 points in the OHL this season.

Eastern Conference Playoff Focus (8th place and up qualify for post-season)
7. Manchester Monarchs (73 pts)
8. Syracuse Crunch (71 pts)
9. Adirondack Phantoms (69 pts)
10 Providence Bruins (69 pts)
11. Portland Pirates (68 pts)
12. Springfield Falcons (68 pts)
13. Albany Devils (67 pts)
14. Worcester Sharks (67 pts)

Week in Review

Friday, March 23 (Adirondack Phantoms 1 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 0) -

Michael Leighton was nothing short of spectacular for much of the evening in preserving a hard-fought and intense 1-0 victory at the Penguins to open the weekend.

His 24 saves earned him his 36th career AHL shutout to move into fourth all-time in league history. Jason Akeson's goal in the first period on a fine backhand assist by Tye McGinn help up as the lone score for either side.

Leighton made several eye-poppers on the night including a spectacular glove save on a bit of a defensive breakdown when Alex Grant was right on top of Leighton all alone. Leighton went down to cover low but the shot went high and he was somehow able to speedily adjust with the catch much to the disbelief of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans.

The game between goalies Michael Leighton and Scott Munroe was a rematch of one of the greatest goaltending duels and most famous games in AHL history. Game 5 of a 2008 AHL opening round playoff series between the Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms went a league record five overtimes. Scott Munroe made 65 saves on 67 shots as the winning goalie for Philadelphia. Leighton made an amazing league-record 98 saves on 101 shots in taking the heartbreaking loss.

The recent rematch between Leighton and Munroe won't go down in the league record-books like the 2008 playoff game but it was still a memorable and impressive goaltenders' duel nonetheless.

Saturday, March 24 (Adirondack Phantoms 3 - Springfield Falcons 1) -

Michael Leighton was again solid in net and carried a shutout into the closing minutes of the home game until Nick Drazenovic beat him late in the third period to snap Leighton's impressive weekend shutout streak at 113 minutes.

After blasting out 15 shots in a dominant first period but coming away a bit snake-bit in a 0-0 tie, the Phantoms would find their stride and pump in some goals to secure the win.

Rob Bordson scored on a tip of an Oliver Lauridsen slapshot in the second period for a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, the Phantoms would score back-to-back goals in the opening minutes for a more comfortable advantage. Rookie Brandon Manning cranked his sixth goal of the year nicely set up on a drop by Mike Testwuide as well as good traffic in front taking away goalie Paul Dainton's ability to locate the puck.

And Matt Ford did it yet again with his 22nd of the season overall and 12th since joining the Phantoms in early February with his goal coming on a nice feed into the middle by Dan Jancevski.

The Adirondack Phantoms remained unbeaten all-time against the Springfield Falcons and improved to 7-0-0 overall in the series including 3-0-0 in 2011-12.

Sunday, March 25 (Adirondack 5 - Binghamton 4) -

The Phantoms raced out to a 5-1 lead in their weekend finale and then hung on to the finish as perhaps their tired legs caught up to them a bit in the closing minutes.

But make no doubt about this one. The game was more one-sided than the final score showed.

Denis Hamel and Matt Ford had a pair of goals apiece and Garrett Roe contributed three assists in the offensive outburst. Harry Zolnierczyk opened the scoring with his eighth of the year with Adirondack and 11th goal overall this season including his three with Philadelphia.

Ford made a nice pass into open-ice to spring Hamel free on a partial breakaway to extend the lead to 3-1. Hamel faked out Senators goalie Robin Lehner and got him to commit and then rifled it from a sharp angle over his extended right leg for the impressive goal.

Ford had a highlight-reel lamplighter of his own in the third period with his shorthanded goal that pushed the lead to 5-1 when he raced to the Binghamton end to steal a bouncing puck from the defenseman. he raced in all alone on new Binghamton goalie Mike McKenna and swiftly moved from left to right across the crease to shoot it past his left leg for his second of the night.

Phantoms Breakdown

-- The Phantoms are 33-31-3 this year for 69 points. From December 17, 2010 to the end of last year they posted a record of 27-16-8. That is a combined record of 60-47-11 in the past season-and-a-half (118 games played).

-- Adirondack is 20-12-1 on home-ice this year for one of the best advantages in the league. Their 20 home wins are tied for second in the Eastern Conference and tied for third overall in the AHL. Only Norfolk (22) and Toronto (21) have won more home games than the Phantoms.

-- In last four months of 2010-11, Adirondack had a home record of 17-6-5. That's a combined home-ice mark of 37-18-6 since December 17, 2010. The Phantoms are also 27-12-1 at home since March 16, 2011.

-- Jason Akeson leads the team in points with 49 including 11 goals and 38 assists. He is second among AHL rookies in helpers and is sixth in points. The 21-year-old from Orleans, Ontario led the OHL in assists (84) and points (108) last year with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

-- Denis Hamel is heating up at just the right time with six goals in his last nine games. The 34-year-old veteran is 11th all-time in AHL history with 337 career goals including 22 this year.. He played his 1000th career professional game on December 31st which included 192 NHL games mostly with Buffalo and Ottawa. He has reached the 20 goal milestone in the AHL 10 different times. Hamel's 265 total shots lead the AHL.

-- Matt Ford had three goals on the weekend including two on Sunday and now has 14 goals in just 22 games since being acquired from the Hershey Bears in a trade for Kevin Marshall on February 3. He also has five goals in his last seven games as well as eight goals in his last 11. Ford has a total of 24 goals on the year. He began the season with 10 goals in 39 games with Hershey. The 27-year-old from West Hills, Cal. had a career-high 26 goals last season with Lake Erie where he was teammates with Jason Bacashihua.

-- Ford now has 7 game-winning goals for Adirondack, all in just two months! His season total of 8 GWG's (one with Hershey) is tied for the league lead with Mark Mancari of Chicago.

-- Michael Leighton has 36 career shutouts to rate 6th all-time in AHL history and is tied for fourth all-time in league history with Nick Demore (1938-47) and Marcel Paile (1956-74). His next shutout will move him into a tie for third all-time at 37 with Bob Perreault (1951-69). Leighton has the most shutouts of any AHL goalie since 1975.

-- Michael Leighton leads the league in total saves with 1,311 and is second overall in total minutes played with 2,750. His 24 wins are tied for fourth in the AHL and he has won eight of his last 11. In March, he has gone 7-3-0, 2.10, .934. Since March 19 he has gone 9-4-0, 1.99, .939.

--The Phantoms are 24-3-1 when leading after two periods and are an impressive 20-4-1 when leading after one period.

--The Phantoms are 28-11-2 when they score first. The Phantoms are 18-11-3 in one-goal decisions.

Phantoms Leaders (Goals - Assists - Points):

Jason Akeson 11-38-49
Matt Ford 24-24-48 (with ADK, 14-6-20)
Denis Hamel 22-21-43
Garrett Roe 8-30-38
Ben Holmstrom 11-24-35
Mike Testwuide 10-16-26
Shane Harper 13-13-26

Michael Leighton - 24-23-0, 2.62, .916
Jason Bacashihua - 8-10-1, 2.99, .902

Upcoming Opponents

Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks) -

The Phantoms and the Crunch conclude their 10-game season set with a Showdown Series this week on Wednesday and Friday. The 2011-12 head-to-head series is even at 4-4.

Syracuse sites just two points ahead of Adirondack in the Eastern Conference standings for the last playoff position with only eight games remaining.

The Crunch are one of the hottest teams in the league and enter Wednesday's game on a seven-game point streak having gone 6-0-1. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10.

They recently received a big boost to their already potent lineup with the return of 2009 first-rounder Kyle Palmieri from Anaheim. He has scored 32 goals to rate second in the AHL and has done so in only 42 games. Another 2009 first-round talent is Peter Holland who has 22 goals.

Former Phantoms Patrick Maroon is the top point-man on the team with 68 including a career-high 28 goals and 40 assists. He is fourth in the AHL in points and sixth in goals.

Iiro Tarkki has stepped up his game considerably in net and the Finnish netminder has gone 19-15-4 this year with a 2.60 goals against average and .921 saves percentage having taken over full-time number one duties after losing former Philadelphia Phantom and Flyer goalie Antero Nittymaki to injury.

Former Chicago Blackhawks and Norfolk Admirals head coach Trent Yawney took over the reigns in midseason while former head coach Mark Holick became Associate Coach.

Syracuse is 4th in the league (out of 30) in total offense at 3.24 goals per game. They light it up for 32.7 shots per game which is also 4th. Defensively, they give up 3.21 goals per game which is 28th in the AHL and they allow 33 shots a contest which is also 28th.

They have the 9th ranked power play at 19.8% but their penalty kill is dead last at only 78.2%.

Connectucit Whale (New York Rangers) -

This is the last game of the season between the Phantoms and the Whale with Connecticut leading the series 2-1. Adirondack's lone win against the Whale came on Opening Night in Glens Falls, October 8, by a 6-3 final.

They stand at 33-23-11 for 77 points which is tied for the division lead with Bridgeport. It appears likely that the division winner will land the three-seed in the playoffs and the second-place finisher will be their first-round opposition as the six-seed.

Connecticut raced out to a wide advantage in the Northeast division in December but then underwent an astonishing 11-game winless streak (0-6-5) in January as their lead evaporated. More recently, they have underwent a three game winless streak at 0-2-1.

The Whale are one of the top home teams in the league at 19-8-6. Connecticut's power play is 10th in the AHL (out of 30) at 19.6% and their penalty kill is 8th at 84.1%. The Whale are 11th in total offense at 2.9 goals per game while their defense is 15th at 2.8 allowed.

Kris Newbury leads Ken Gernander's team in scoring with 23 goals and 58 points putting him in a tie in both categories with rookie Jonathon Audy-Marchessault.

Norwegian speedster Mats Zucarello has 12 goals this year but is currently up with the Rangers.

NHL veteran of almost 1,000 games Wade Redden was named captain of the Whale in early March. The team had been without a captain since trading Dane Byers to the Blue Jackets organization in November. The long-time Ottawa Senator was named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2004 and won the NHL plus-minus award in 2006 with a +35 rating for the season.

Chad Johnson has been the team's primary goalie going 21-16-5, 2.42, .920. The third-year pro has spent his whole career in the Rangers organization. He was teammates at University of Alaska-Fairbanks with former Philadelphia Phantom and current Hershey Bear Kyle Greentree.


Mar 22 - Derek Mathers (RW) Signed to ATO from Peterborough (OHL)
Mar 24 - Campbell Elynuik (LW) Signed to ATO from Prince George (WHL)
Mar 26 - Nick Cousins (C) Signed to ATO from Sioux Ste. Marie (OHL)
Mar 27 - Marc-Andre Bourdon (D) Recalled by Philadelphia
Mar 27 - Jason Bacashihua (G) Recalled by Philadelphia
Mar 28 - Brad Phillips (G) Reassigned to Adirondack from Trenton (ECHL)

Phantoms Day-by-Day

Wednesday, March 27 - Practice at GFCC (10:00am). Bus Departs (2:00pm). Game at Syracuse (7:00pm)
Thursday, March 28 - Practice at GFCC (10:00am)
Friday, March 29 - Practice at GFCC (10:00am). Game vs. Syracuse (7:00pm)
Saturday, March 30 - Practice at GFCC (10:00am). Bus Departs (2:00pm). Game at Connecticut (7:00pm)
Sunday, April 1 - Practice TBD. Coach's Discretion
Monday, April 2 - Practice at GFCC (10:00am)

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 - Adirondack Phantoms at Syracuse Crunch

Friday. March 30, 7:00 - Syracuse Crunch at Adirondack Phantoms. $2 draft-beer specials. Playoff-Push Showdown Game!

Saturday, March 31, 7:00 - Adirondack Phantoms at Connecticut Whale.

Friday, April 6, 7:00 - Albany Devils at Adirondack Phantoms. Time Warner Cable Cup game.

Get great savings with the Phantoms when you bring your group of 15 friends or co-workers to a game. Group-rates available as low as $13 per person. Call the Phantoms to find out more at 518-480-3355.

The Sunday Family 3-Pack is available for ALL Sunday home games! Get 3 tickets, 3 hot dogs, 3 sodas, 1 large popcorn and 1 program all for only $39. That's a savings of $26!

Get Phantoms tickets and a Pizza! 4 tickets to a Phantoms game on April 6 or April 14 PLUS a $10 gift-certificate to Papa John's all for only $49. Call the Phantoms to order yours.

Follow the Phantoms at facebook.com/ADKhockey and on twitter @phantomshockey



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