Minor League Update: 12/24-12/31

To finish off 2011, the Adirondack Phantoms closed out their rough December with a 2-1-0 week. The Phantoms may have needed a shootout and overtime to pull off both of their victories, but the pair of wins improved the club’s record to 5-6-1 for the final month in the calender year. As they play a pair of road games this week, the Phantoms look to extend their current two-game winning streak.

The Phantoms extended their losing streak to three games with a 5-2 loss on Wednesday in Adirondack to the Binghamton Senators (the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate). Rob Klinkhammer recorded a hat-trick in a 9:48 span in the third period to lead the Sens to victory as he recorded the game-winner 9:58 into the final period. Klinkhammer added an assist on Corey Locke’s first period goal for a four-point night as Pat Cannone scored his eighth of the season to round out the scoring for Binghamton. Jason Akeson was one of two Phantoms with a pair of points on the night as he registered his eighth goal of the season late in the second period and assisted on Ben Holmstrom’s ninth of the season with under two minutes left in regulation. Blake Kessel was the other Phantom with two points as he had assists on both of Adirondack’s tallies. Mike McKenna recorded the win with 31 saves while Michael Leighton recorded the loss with 25 saves as the Phantoms dropped to 0-4-0 on the season against the Sens.

The Phantoms snapped their three-game losing streak in their next game, but they needed a 12-round shootout against the Portland Pirates (the Phoenix Coyotes’ AHL affiliate) to edge out a 3-2 win on Friday night at home. Tyler Brown registered the decisive goal in the shootout as Denis Hamel and Brock Trotter were the only other players to score out of the 24 shooters in the shootout. Eric Wellwood led all skaters with two points as he scored his sixth of the season 3:35 into the second period and assisted on Mike Testwuide’s fourth of the season in the first period. Also assisting on Testwuide’s goal was Holmstrom, who was denied on a penalty shot in the last minute of the game by Pirates’ netminder Justin Pogge. Jason Bacashihua earned the win with 27 saves in regulation and 11 saves during the shootout. The Phantoms’ win was only their third win in their last 10 games as their 4-3 victory against the Syracuse Crunch (the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate) on December 17th serves as their only win in regulation over that stretch of time.

Testwuide did his best Tim Tebow pose after he netted the game-winner in overtime as the Phantoms beat the Albany Devils (the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate) 2-1 in Adirondack last night. Akeson scored his ninth goal of the season and assisted on Testwuide’s tally, while Erik Gustafsson had a two-assist game to serve as the only Phantoms with two points on the night. Vladimir Zharkov had the Devils’ only goal on the night as he potted his sixth of the season with only 4:49 left in the game to force it into overtime. Kevin Marshall and Kory Nagy led their respective teams with four PIMS in the game, while Hamel and Stephen Gionta both had a game-high four shots on net. Bacashihua made 26 saves for the win as Keith Kinkaid posted 20 saves in the loss as the Phantoms won back-to-back games for the first time since their four-game winning streak that ended on December 2nd.

Holmstrom, Gustafsson, and Tom Sestito were assigned to the Phantoms this week from the Flyers.

Taking part in all three games this week, Holmstrom had one goal, one assist, six shots, and seven PIMs while going minus-1 overall.

Playing against Portland and Albany, Gustafsson had three assists, two shots, and two PIMs while going minus-2 for the week.

Playing against Binghamton and Portland, Sestito was minus-1 with three shots on net.

Shipped to the Elmira Jackals (ECHL affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators), Jean Bourbeau took part in one game this week for Elmira. He recorded five PIMs as he fought Wheeling’s Adam Ross in Elmira’s 2-1 shootout victory the day after Christmas.

 The Phantoms start this week by playing the Senators on Wednesday in Adirondack. To conclude the week, Adirondack has a home-and-home with the Hershey Bears (the Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate) playing in Adirondack on Friday and Hershey on Saturday.

The Trenton Titans earned three points this week as they went 1-1-1. Winning four of their thirteen games in the month of December, the Titans moved to 11-15-5 overall for 27 points in the standings tying them for last in the Eastern Conference with the Toledo Walleye (ECHL affiliate for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings). Trenton will start trying to edge their way back into the playoff picture as they play the Walleye this week in Toledo.

The Titans extended their losing streak to four games with a 5-4 home loss to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL affiliate for the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins) on Wednesday night. Christiaan Minella potted his fifth of the season with only 1:45 left in regulation to record the game-winner for Wheeling as he also assisted on Ben Farrer’s second period goal. J.S. Berube led all Titans in points with three assists on the night along with five shots on net in a plus-2 effort. Dustin Cameron and Steve Silva each had a goal and an assist, while Matt Germain netted his fifth of the season and Corey Syvret netted his second of the season to round out the scoring for Trenton. The Titans’ penalty kill had a horrible night as the Nailers’ power play went three for three on the evening. Patrick Killeen made 29 saves in the win for the Nailers as Brad Phillips earned the loss with 19 saves. Dave Caruso was pulled in the second after he allowed his third goal on the Nailers’ 16th shot.

On Friday, the Titans snapped their losing streak with a 4-3 win on the road against the Reading Royals (ECHL affiliate for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs). Denny Kearney potted his fourth goal of the season with only 6:01 left in the third period for the game-winner. Kearney was the only Titan on the night with two points as he also assisted on Adam Presizniuk’s fifth goal of the season in the first period. Mitch Versteeg scored his second goal of the season and Peter Lenes scored his seventh of the season as both players scored in the first period for a three-goal first period for the Titans. Ryan Cruthers had two goals and an assist on the night for Reading as he and Yannick Tifu, who had a goal and two assists, were the only players with three points for the Royals. Caruso earned the win with 27 saves as Joe Palmer recorded the loss stopping 28 of the Titans’ 32 shots on the night.

Despite holding a lead for most of the game, the Titans managed to lose 2-1 in a shootout to the Elmira Jackals in Trenton last night. Artem Demkov deposited the decisive goal in the shootout as Caruso allowed three of the Jackals’ four shooters to score in the shootout denying only Dustin Gazley. Jordon Southorn scored his sixth of the season 13:18 into the contest to give the Titans a 1-0 lead, but Jack Downing tied the game 5:13 into the third period. Silva and Ryan Hayes assisted Southorn to serve as the only Titans with points on night, while Cameron led all Titan skaters with five shots on net. In a game featuring 17 infractions, both teams converted on one of their seven power plays for the night. Caruso made 29 saves in the loss while Brian Stewart stopped 34 shots in regulation and three shots in the shootout for a win that dropped Trenton’s record to 2-2-3 against Elmira on the season.

In their lone roster move of the week, the Titans transferred forward Jack Walchessen back to the University of Prince Edward Island. As the team played in only their second game of the month, Walchessen helped the UPEI Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Moncton Blue Eagles, from the Universite de Moncton, on Friday.  

The Titans have a pair of road games this week as they play the Toledo Walleye on Friday night and the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL affiliate for the New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks) on Saturday night.