Minor League Update: 2/20-2/26

Thanks to The Saratogian

The Phantoms lost their first game of the week, but won their last two to win back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of January. With their shootout win and one-goal victory, the Phantoms are looking for their first three-game winning streak since early December.

Although they are 13th in the Eastern Conference, the Phantoms, who have two road games and one game in Adirondack over the next few days, are five points out of eighth place.

To start the week, the Phantoms were shut out on the road by David Leggio and the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate) on Friday night by a score of 2-0. Derek Whitmore’s 23rd goal of the season 11:00 into the first period was enough for Leggio, who stopped 27 shots for his second shutout in an eight-game span. Dennis Persson added a power-play goal early in the second period to make it a two-goal win, while Luke Adam recorded his fourth and fifth assists in his sixth game with the Americans this year. Denis Hamel had a team-high five shots on net in the loss, while Michael Leighton made 31 saves for his third straight 30-save effort. The loss was the Phantoms’ first to the Americans so far this season, as Adirondack won the clubs’ first two meetings. It was the fourth time the Phantoms were blanked this season and it was the Americans third shutout.

The next day, Leighton stopped 41 shots in a 2-1 shootout win on the road over the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate). Rob Bordson, who scored his first goal with Adirondack this season with eight seconds left in the first period, had the decisive goal in the shootout, as he converted on his attempt in the fourth round.

Dan Jancevski and Shane Harper had the assists on Bordson’s tally, as the Phantoms out shot the Senators 29-14 in the first period and 52-42 overall. Mike McKenna, who has been an AHL goaltender since the 2005-2006 season and has seen some action in the NHL, set his professional career-high with 50 saves in the loss. Derek Grant had the lone goal for Binghamton in the second period off of assists from Rob Klinkhammer and Wacey Hamilton, as all four shooters for the Sens in the shootout failed to convert. Klinkhammer had a game-high nine shots for Binghamton, while both Hamel and Harry Zolnierczyk had eight shots on net for Adirondack in their third shootout victory in 2011-2012.

Yesterday, the Phantoms held on for a 4-3 victory over the Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate) in Adirondack. After a pair of goals from Andrew Rowe and a tally from Tye McGinn in the first period, Matt Ford deposited his 16th of the season halfway through the middle stanza to give the Phantoms a 4-0 lead.

The Crunch received goals from Kyle Palmieri, who capitalized on a penalty shot late in the second period, and Jean-Francois Jacques, who had two goals for his third multi-goal performance of the season, as Syracuse recorded their fourth loss in six games. Brad Phillips, who made his AHL debut, stopped 35 shots to give the Phantoms their fourth win in their last six contests. Former Flyer Antero Niittymaki was pulled for the first time all season late in the first period after he allowed his third goal against on McGinn’s tally, the Phantoms’ 13th shot of the game. Iiro Tarkki relieved Niittymaki and made 20 saves on 21 shots, as the Phantoms won back-to-back games for the first time since they beat the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate) 5-4 on January 13th and the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate) 5-3 on the 14th.

Bordson and Phillips were added to the Phantoms’ roster this week, while both Andy Thomas and Tyler Hostetter were released from their professional tryouts.

In addition to his first goal with the Phantoms this season, Bordson had nine shots on net and had an even plus/minus overall in three games.

As stated earlier, Phillips made 35 saves in his AHL debut yesterday for the win against the Crunch. Thomas joined from the Titans this week, where he had three assists and was plus-2 in four games. Hostetter, just like Thomas, joined from the Titans and had a goal, an assist, and 10 PIMs while he went minus-3.

The Phantoms have road games against the Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate) on Friday and the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate) on Saturday before they return home to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate) on Sunday.

Thanks to trentontitanshockey.com

In the ECHL, the Titans had a weak four-game stretch after they finished last week with two dominant performances. With the exception of their only win, which came by a margin of one goal, the Titans lost every game this week by multi-goal margins. The Titans week ahead features three games on the road, where they have lost four of their last five.

An Olivier Labelle hat-trick powered the Reading Royals (ECHL affiliate for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs) to a 6-3 win over the Titans in Trenton on Wednesday.

Labelle opened and closed the scoring, as he recorded goals 23 through 25 on the season for his third hat-trick ever in the ECHL. Yannick Tifu, who had a goal and two assists, and Dale Mitchell, with his first three-assist game in the ECHL, also had three point-performances for the Royals, while not a single Titan recorded a multi-point game. For Trenton, Ryan Hayes scored his 16th of the season in the first period, while Adam Presizniuk registered his 10th in the second and Matt Germain potted his 11th of the season in the third.  Karel St. Laurent recorded the 39-save win for Reading, while Phillips allowed five goals against in a game for the fifth time in 2011-2012 in Trenton’s loss. Although they lost, the Titans recorded their third straight game with at least three goals for, as they accumulated 16 goals in the trio of contests.

The Titans suffered another three-goal game loss two days later, when the visiting Greenville Road Warriors (New York Rangers’ ECHL affiliate) earned a 5-2 by scoring the game’s final three goals.

After Greenville gained a 2-0 advantage off of goals from Justin Bowers and Brandon Wong 4:16 apart in the first period, Andy Bohmbach scored a pair of goals for his fourth multi-goal game of the season and a tied game in the second period. Jyri Niemi registered the game-winner six minutes after Bohmbach’s second, as Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Sean Berkstresser scored for Greenville in the third period to help end their two-game skid. In addition to their goals, both Wong and Vallerand had two assists for three-point games, as Bretton Cameron had a pair of assists for his third multi-assist game in 2011-2012. Dan Meyers played in his first ECHL game, as he was pulled 6:26 into the game after he made two saves on four shots. In relief, Phillips made 25 stops on 28 shots to earn the loss, as Jason Missiaen recorded his seventh win in the month of February with just as many saves.

The next day, Trenton recorded their lone win of the week with a 4-3 decision over the Elmira Jackals (ECHL affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators) at the Sun National Bank Center.

After Dustin Gazley’s 20th goal of the season put the Jackals up 3-2 late in the third period, Randy Rowe scored his second goal of the game to tie it 15 seconds later, as Ray DiLauro’s fifth of the season turned out to be his second game-winner of 2011-2012 less than three minutes later. Hayes had the Titans’ other goal in the game with a tally late in the second period, as he led the team in plus/minus (plus-3), shots (six), and PIMs (seven). In addition to Rowe, who had his fourth two-goal game of the season, Thomas and Steve Silva had two assists each in the Titans’ first one-goal game win since their 3-2 victory over Reading in Trenton on January 14th. Adam Dekker, the Titans’ second goalie of the week to take part in their first ECHL game, denied 29 of the Jackals’ 32 shots for the win.

In their second game against the Jackals in as many days, the Titans dropped a 3-1 decision yesterday in Trenton for their third loss in four games. Artem Demkov had a pair of goals, including the game-winner halfway through the second period, to give him six goals against the Titans this season. Jean Bourbeau potted his seventh of the season with an empty-net tally in the final minute, as Hostetter had the Titans’ only goal on an unassisted effort 7:52 into the middle stanza.

Presizniuk was one of five Titans to finish the game minus-2 or worse, as Trenton’s forward had his first minus-3 performance in his ECHL career. David Caruso notched his fifth straight loss with a 34-save game for the Titans, as Timo Pielmeier had 22 saves for his third win in his last four decisions. The loss dropped the Titans to 3-5-0 in their last eight games and to 19-29-3-5 in 2011-2012.

Trenton had a busy week in terms of roster moves, specifically in net, as several players were added or removed from the Titans’ roster.

When it came to goaltenders, the Titans added one goaltender who is still with the team. Trenton also released a trio of netminders, while two other goalies (Caruso and Phillips) saw action in the AHL.

Dekker, who was loaned to the Titans from the New Jersey Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League (FHL), won his debut in the ECHL on Saturday against the Jackals.

Nick Niedert, who was 0-1-1 in two games with the Titans, was released earlier in the week and rejoined the Jackals. Niedert was 2-1-1 in five games with the Jackals earlier this season.

Meyers, who had an atrocious start against the Road Warriors on Friday in his first ECHL game, was assigned to the Delaware Federals of the FHL. He didn’t take part in any games with the Federals this week.

Peter Dundovich was also released from the Titans this week. Joining the club from the 1000 Islands Privateers, Dundovich didn’t see the ice for Trenton before he was let go.

Phillips, who is currently with the Phantoms, recorded back-to-back losses on Wednesday and Friday for Trenton. After he allowed five goals against on 25 shots from the Royals, Phillips allowed three goals against on 28 shots to earn the loss to the Road Warriors.

Caruso spent time with the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate), but didn’t play for the club before he returned to Trenton to take part in yesterday’s game.

Trenton’s defense also saw a lot of movement, as three players joined the club and three players left.

In addition to Thomas, Trenton’s blue line threw Gentry Zollars and Bill McCreary into the mix. Zollars joined Trenton from the Danbury Whalers of the FHL and was plus-1 with four shots on net in his first three games with the Titans. McCreary, who came over from the New Jersey, had one shot on net and two PIMs in three games for Trenton.

Four defenders left the Titans’ roster this week. Mitch Versteeg, who was placed on injured-reserve, was the only player who was taken off the roster due to injury.

Anthony Pisano was released from the club on Monday and joined the Danbury Whalers, a club he hasn’t played a game for since January 21st.

Both Eric Baier and Corey Syvret were loaned to AHL teams this week. Baier was loaned to the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate), where he had one shot on net in two games. Syvret was loaned to the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes’ AHL affiliate), where he had two shots on net and four PIMs while he was plus-1 in three games.

As for the offense, three forwards, two of which are new faces to the organization, joined the Titans.

Along with Thomas, both Kelly Miller and Matthew Moffat were added to the roster from the Danbury Whalers. Miller had eight shots and four PIMs while going minus-4 in his first four games with the Titans, as Moffat was in the line-up for yesterday’s win.

The Titans hope for a few wins over the next couple of days, as they play their first three games of a four-game road trip. After a game against the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL affiliate for the Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes) on Friday, the Titans travel to Greenville for a contest against the Road Warriors before going back to Gwinnett on Sunday to conclude their week with another game against the Gladiators.