GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Phantoms are tired of playing like a cheesy 80’s pop song.
You know, one step forward, two steps back.
And after beating the Syracuse Crunch a week ago, they were hoping to break that pattern, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
First came an overtime loss to Providence last Saturday. And after having four days to think about it and work out the kinks, the Phantoms responded Friday in a rematch with the Crunch by not playing with needed energy and desperation for the first half of the game, and rather than find it, choosing instead to lose discipline and focus.
In what amounted to one of, if not the worst performances of the season for the Phantoms, they fell to the Crunch 3-0 at Glens Falls Civic Center.
After winning three straight games during Thanksgiving week, the Phantoms have now dropped six-of-seven (1-5-1) since, including the last two contests.
The Phantoms gave up two quick goals in the second period – an even strength marker by Alex Killorn and a shorthanded tally by Richard Panik after a turnover by Danny Syvret and bad coverage by Brandon Manning and at that point, the Phantoms went in the completely wrong direction.
Rather than dig in and re-energize, the Phantoms instead let their emotions get the better of them. They lost their discipline and their focus, and ultimately made Riku Helenius’ night relatively easy, getting only 21 shots on goal.
“We had an O.K. start,” coach Terry Murray said. “I didn’t mind our first period. I wish we had been able to take advantage of the power plays. We didn’t break the puck out the right way and the dump-ins didn’t allow us to recover. We ended up standing still at the blue line when the puck was rimmed.
“But as the game went along in the second period our energy got lower and then after the second goal it really dropped off big time and then the frustration set in after that and we got into a situation where we started to bring the referee into it and blaming him for situations when he was just doing his job.
“That’s something these young guys have to take away from this game. You have to have discipline. There’s going to be a lot of adversity in your career and you are never going to get even with the officiating.”
The Phantoms were whistled for 16 penalties, which actually was one fewer than Syracuse, as the two teams combined for 119 penalty minutes, but the Phantoms needed to try and come back in the game, not get caught up in the antagonistic style of play the Crunch were utilizing as an obvious strategy to throw off the Phantoms.
“(We got) into a hole that is too big to dig out of on a game like tonight,” Murray said. You are playing one of the better teams in the league. They’re a team that has the lowest shots against in the league and you get into a situation where it feels like it’s impossible and that’s the attitude we cannot let creep into our game.
“You have to battle and learn how to deal with it and still be able to play the game. If we would only stay with the game plan and stop with the crazy turnovers on both ends of the ice - we were turning the puck over at both blue lines and giving them the opportunity to do too much with the puck and there were too many problems for our team because of that.
“These plays that we’re trying, they’re not going to work anywhere. We have to put them in our back pocket and leave them there.”
The Phantoms did get too cute far too often, whether it was home run passing attempts, or low percentage breakout attempts, too many times the puck was coming right back at goalie Scott Munroe, who did all he could, despite taking the loss.
“It’s a combination of things,” Manning said. “Whether it’s the refereeing, or there’s something going on with the team or with yourself, or whatever it is. It’s kind of the way we are. We had some unbelievable games like against Syracuse last week and to throw up one like tonight it’s tough, it’s frustrating and that’s pretty obvious out there.”
Despite it only being a two-goal game, the third period degenerated into a bit of a gong show with fights and penalties, including Zac Rinaldo’s first fight of the season against Keith Aulie.
But Radko Gudas put the game away with a wrister from the right circle that surprised Munroe, to round out the scoring.
Making matters worse, Erik Gustafsson blocked a shot off his foot while killing off one of the nine penalties the Phantoms had assessed to them in the final period and was limping badly on his way to the locker room, leaving his status for tonight’s game against Manchester uncertain.
Either way, the Phantoms are going to have to regroup quickly.
“We’re a team that struggles to score,” Syvret said. “We have to get back to playing a little tighter defensively and limiting their chances and hopefully being able to score on ours.”
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