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?A win?s a win? (Phantoms 3, Admirals 2)

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  • ?A win?s a win? (Phantoms 3, Admirals 2)

    If there was a theme coming from the Phantoms locker room after a 3-2 win over Norfolk on Saturday, it was “a win’s a win.” The consensus, starting with coach Greg Gilbert, seemed to be that the level of play was a step back from the two previous* contests with Albany.

    “We had a half-decent start, but after that it was sloppy. Turnover-after-turnovers, not doing the little things we were doing in the two games against Albany. A win’s a win, but the way we played wasn’t what it needed to be.”

    The Phantoms did some good things — outshot an opponent for the fourth straight game — but seemed to get caught with some of the bad turnovers and forwards too deep that plagued them early in the season. Particularly on Juraj Simek’s second goal, a 3-on-1 break that Johan Backlund still almost stopped. That one Gilbert found especially galling.

    “There’s no reason to be trapped. You’ve got a defenseman standing at the top of their crease and three other forwards following in like everyone’s going to score a goal. Obviously, they ended up with a minus at the end of the night because we weren’t disciplined to do what we do and play our positions. That was the mentality going into the game. We weren’t very respectful of the opposition and got away from how we play. Guys think they can go just go out and do whatever they want. We were lucky to win that game.”

    My game story focused on the three major constants of the Phantoms season: Jon Matsumoto, Stefan Legein and Johan Backlund. Legein and Matsumoto have combined for 31 of the team’s 78 goals. You can interpret that stat as showing just how good those two have been or how poor the rest of the offense has been. Krys Kolanos has the next highest total with six.

    “I think the onus is on the rest of the players to start finishing off their opportunities,” Gilbert said.*”At least we got the goals from someone.”

    The Phantoms had several chances to pad the lead. Kolanos missed an empty-net, and David Laliberte had two breakaway chances he just missed stuffing. Jared Ross also had a few close calls.

    Backlund has really responded during the time John Grahame has been here. Backlund has won his last four starts with a GAA of 2.25. He made 14 saves in the third period.

    “He’s really rounding out to be the goalie everyone knows he can be, especially in North America. He’s made great adjustments to playing in the North American game,” Gilbert said.* “He’s a good kid and he’s played well.”

    The Phantoms won for the sixth time in nine games to pull into fourth place, but have still yet to win more than two in*a row. Both Andreas Nodl — who’s quote on the subject was eaten by tape recorder — and Gilbert said that the team needs more consistency. I thought I’d get Gilbert to agree that the team had turned the corner, but he rather forcefull y disagreed.

    “With this hockey club it’s a night-in and night-out thing,” Gilbert said. “If you look at our last week it’s been win one lose one, win one lose one. There’s no consistency there and putting a string together until we prove we can.”

    DID YOU NOTICE?Andreas Nodl’s goal, the Phantoms’ second this season with .01 left in a period, went off his skate. Some people thought it hit a defenseman’s foot, but Nodl said it hit was his skate. “Pretty lucky goal,” Nodl admitted. It was his first since Nov. 4, but he played 10 games in Philadelphia.

    – Krys Kolanos played after being a healthy scractch the last six games. His line with Jon Kalinski and Stefan Legein had some great chances. But Kolanos missed an open net and took a bad slashing penalty 11 seconds into the second period. He was going at it with someone right off the face off.

    – At the end of the second period, Norfolk’s Martins Karstuns got into it pretty good with a few fans behind the penalty box. Lots of jawing back-and-forth. The fans behind the box have been tough on players before, but Karstuns was the first one I’ve seen lose his cool.

    – After Legein’s goal made it 3-2, a Norfolk player went after Matt Clackson hard*asking for*a fight. Good call by Clackson not to go at that point.*No need to give the Admirals momentum the shift after you take the lead.

    – On the opposite side of that coin, nice job by Logan Stephenson standing up for his smaller defense partner, Joonas Lehtivuori, in the first period. Chris Lawrence hit Lehtivuori hard and maybe a hair late near the penalty box. Stephenson immediately dropped the gloves and went after him.

    – The Phantoms caught a break when*Tampa Bay*recalled Brandon Bochenski, Norfolk’s leading scorer, earlier in the day Saturday. Bochenski has 16 goals and 16 assists.

    What did you all think? This team over the hump and a legitimate playoff contender yet? Or has this six of nine streak been smoke and mirrors?


    The Phantoms play their fifth game in seven days at division-leading Hershey at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Hershey is a monster, leading the AHL with 52 points. But the Phantoms have actually played well against the Bears, winning two of three this season. Listen at WNYQ 101.7 FM or streaming online at

    – Tim