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Postgame: Worcester 3, Phantoms 2

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  • Postgame: Worcester 3, Phantoms 2

    GLENS FALLS — If you can only look at one line of the boxscore from this game, here’s the one to pick:

    Power-play-opportunities: Worcester 2 of 4; Adirondack 0 of 6.

    There’s the game. Worcester’s power play goals couldn’t have come at a more deadly time, both in the third period, the final with just 11 seconds left.

    I can’t say it any better than Joey Mormina did in the game story: that loses you games in this league.

    Both Mormina and coach Greg Gilbert would have liked a better defensive effort, particularly in the third. Their takes:

    Mormina: “That wasn’t very good. We were running around a little too much, guys circling, not a whole lot of communication back there. I’ll take responsibility for that being a leader.” (Note: Mormina was a game-high plus-2).

    Gilbert: “Defense starts in the offensive zone when the puck gets turned over….We got caught a lot of times with three men below the puck.”

    Gilbert said it was a situation like that which led to Jon Kalinski’s hooking penalty, giving Worcester the final power play.

    “The last penalty was caused from guys getting caught under the puck. You can’t chase a guy from behind and put your stick up under his arm or under his stick. They’re going to call that.”

    A look back at the things to watch:

    1) Who will start in goal and how will he play? Nic Riopel, the 20-year-old rookie got the call. He looked shaky early — nerves understandably — and seemed to flinch on some long drives. Mormina thought the first goal was a good shot, I thought it might be one Riopel wanted back. But after that he settled in and was terrific. Can’t blame him for either of the next two goals, including two-point blank sliding stops in the third period.

    “He got better as the game went on. He made some real big reaction saves. He gave us a chance to win,” Gilbert said.

    2) The Randy Jones factor. In his first game as a full-time AHLer in more than three years, Jones saw time on the penalty kill and power play. He paired with Kevin Marshall and Mike Ratchuk for most of the game. *He was an even in the plus-minus category and had two shots, including a rocket from the point that had a chance to go on.

    3) The line combinations. Here’s what I saw: 1st (Lukas Kaspar-Jared Ross-Jason Ward); 2nd: (Pat Maroon -Jon Matsumoto-David Laliberte); 3rd: (Kalinski-Dingle-Nodl); 4th: (Klotz-Ross/Matsumoto-Clackson).

    I really liked the energy from the Kalinski-Dingle-Nodl line. When things were lagging a bit in the first, they picked the tempo up, and then they accounted for the first goal in the second.

    4) The AHL debut of Clifton Park’s Nick Petrecki. For more on that, see my previous post.

    Other thoughts:

    – A bit surprised by the healthy scratches of Kyrs Kolanos and Mike Teslak. Kolanos was a 30-goal scorer in the AHL last year. Instead of using him as a fourth line center, Ross and Matsumoto double shifted. Teslak is older and more experienced than both goalies that dressed.

    – The crowd was terrific and treated to a good game. Come within a thousand or so of that every night and the AHL will be here a while.

    Speaking of attendance, opening night figures from around the league Friday and Saturday:

    Hershey: 10,075
    Chicago: 10,010
    Bridgeport: 8,480
    Manitoba: 7,826
    Wilkes-Barre: 7,147
    Texas: 6,621
    Albany: 6,507
    Peoria: 5,520
    Adirondack: 5,411
    Springfield: 5,267
    Binghamton: 3,927

    Don’t read too much into the opening night figures. Many of those markets are much larger with bigger buildings. To succeed the Phantoms need two things: to have proportionally as many fans as the markets in the bigger buildings and be consistent. On the first part, they succeeded opening night. Time will tell the latter.

    – Tim