The Adirondack Phantoms made their official 2013 debut on the road in Hartford, Connecticut Friday night and didn't have enough firepower as the Whale sunk the visitors by a 3-0 final.
Goaltender Cal Heeter turned in the best performance of the night for the Phantoms despite taking the loss. Of his 29 saves, he dove and scrambled and positioned himself for several terrific stops. Adirondack was still in the game in the third period with a chance to mount a dramatic comeback trailing only 2-0. And that was thanks to the tremendous play of the rookie goalie from Ohio State.
Adirondack will not have to wait long for their chance for revenge against the affiliate of the New York Rangers; The Whale will invade the Glens Falls Civic Center for the rematch encounter Saturday night.
Connecticut got on the board early after some continued and sustained pressure in the Phantoms' zone in the opening minutes. Brandon Segal pushed in his 8th of the year on the rebound of a Chris Kreider shot.
The Phantoms had back-to-back power plays later in the first period but Connecticut goalie Cameron Talbot made some more of his early stops on his way to a 25-save performance and his first shutout of the season.
Chad Kolarik lit the lamp on a power-play rush for his team leading 13th of the season. After his first shot was rebounded out to the slot and a group of bodies converged around Heeter, Kolarik was able to push one slowly towards the net from the slot that just squeaked through the skates of defenseman Brandon Manning in the crease while Heeter was trying to get unglued from the other players.
The play came moments after Sean Couturier and Harry Zolinerczyk almost converted on a shorthanded rush back the other way. But when Connecticut was able to turn that dice-roll to their advantage in made a game that was almost tied at 1-1 into a 2-0 situation instead and was the clear turning point of the night.
Connecticut also hit the pipe a couple of times in the second period but the Phantoms were hanging in there with a chance to mount another dramatic comeback just like they did in the New Years' Eve game against Bridgeport.
Early in the third period, Zack FitzGerald attempted to give his team a spark with a big hit on Connecticut's Ryan Bourque sending him sprawling backwards. But "Fitzy" went too far in the officials' eyes and was tagged with a five-minute charging major and game misconduct. To make matter worse, he was never able to get turned around for a proper fight with Dylan McIlrath who jumped him after the hit.
Adirondack killed off the subsequent power play and were still very much in the game thanks to Heeter's terrific stops. But finally, Tommy Grant would help seal things picking up a rebound out of Heeter's glove on a shot from the blue-line by Blake Parlett that had come just after a close scoring call by Parlett on the initial rush.
20-year-old rookie from Germany Marcel Noebels made his AHL debut in this one and was paired on a line with Harry Zolnierczyk and Jason Akeson. The other two recent call-ups for the Phantoms, Blake Kessel and Ian Slater, were healthy scratches for the game. Other scratches included Garrett Roe, Erik Gustafsson and Matt Konan as well as Marc-Andre Bourdon and Ben Holmstrom.
The game was the first of six in the season series between the two Northeast Division rivals.
Adirondack hosts Connecticut Saturday at 7:00 on Phantoms Drawstring Backpack Night for the first 1,000 kids courtesy of UniFirst. For tickets, call the Phantoms at 518-480-3355. The game is Adirondack's last at home for a couple of weeks. The Phantoms will not play at the GFCC again until Friday, January 18.
Adirondack Phantoms 0 at Connecticut Whale 3
Friday, January 4, 2013 - XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Adirondack 0 0 0 - 0
Connecticut 1 1 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Segal 8 (Newbury, Kreider), 4:12. Penalties-Grant Ct (hooking), 14:04; Newbury Ct (closing hand on puck), 15:52.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Kolarik 13 (Hrivik), 6:28 (PP). Penalties-Brown Adk (slashing), 3:10; Heeter Adk (delay of game), 4:09; FitzGerald Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:31; Couturier Adk (tripping), 15:50.
3rd Period-3, Connecticut, Grant 9 (Parlett), 13:16. Penalties-Newbury Ct (tripping), 0:06; FitzGerald Adk (major - charging, fighting, game misconduct - charging), 6:08; McIlrath Ct (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating), 6:08; Rinaldo Adk (slashing), 16:20.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 11-9-5-25. Connecticut 6-12-15-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 3; Connecticut 1 / 6.
Goalies-Adirondack, Heeter 4-9-1 (33 shots-30 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 11-14-0 (25 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Trevor Hanson (47).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Kevin Redding (16).