Over the weekend, AHL hockey was on full display at the Wells Fargo Center, home to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, as the Adirondack Phantoms hosted the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 17,585.
It didn’t take long, only 28 seconds to be exact, for the first fight of the hockey game to take place as Anders Lee challenged Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning in a spirited bout. With 3.3 seconds left in the opening period, Manning was at it again but with Sound Tigers enforcer Brett Gallant, who continued to throw punches at Manning even after referees stepped in to break things up. Gallant was assessed 29 minutes in penalties and ejected from the game.
The game was a defensive battle, as the teams came onto the ice for the third and final period in a 1-1 tie. With the Phantoms on a five-on-three power play, leading scorer Jason Akeson fed a cross-ice pass to Chris Vandevelde, who nudged the puck from one knee past Sound Tigers goaltender Anders Nilsson to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead 1:35 into the final frame.
The Phantoms lead was short-lived however, as Sound Tigers forward Chris Langkow tied the game with a shorthanded goal 22 seconds later and defenseman Aaron Ness broke the tie with 10:39 left in regulation to give the Sound Tigers a 3-2 win over the Phantoms.
“The difficult times right now is in the offensive part of the game,” Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said, noting that shorthanded goals like the one in Saturday night’s game proved costly.
The Phantoms had plenty of chances, including 10 power play opportunities, but were unable to capitalize other than the 5-on-3 goal early in the third period.
“Power play has been a concern all year long,” Murray said. “We’re having trouble scoring.”
The Phantoms have now dropped eight straight games, half of which by only one goal. While the playoff picture is fading for the Flyers’ top minor league affiliate, they’re playing competitive hockey. With a lucky bounce or two here and there, a winning streak could begin and give the Phantoms life heading down the stretch.
Next season, the Phantoms will move their team from Glens Falls, N.Y. to Allentown, Pa. and begin playing as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the 2014-15 season. Events like last Saturday night only help to promote the re-assignment of the Flyers minor league affiliate back into Pennsylvania.