Minor League Update: 3/19-3/25

Image Courtesy of Jason McKibben

In response to their three-game losing streak last week, the Adirondack Phantoms came out and won all three of their contests this week.

After they allowed one goal in their first two wins, the Phantoms allowed four goals last night, but were able to come up with a one-goal win against a team they have struggled against all year. Although the Phantoms only moved up to 11th place in the standings, they are now four points behind the Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate) for eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Jason Akeson’s 11th goal of the season was all Michael Leighton and the Phantoms needed on Friday night to snap their three-game losing streak, as they beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate) 1-0 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Akeson’s tally ended a 26-game goal drought, while Tye McGinn and Erik Gustafsson assisted on the game’s lone goal. Leighton’s 24-save shutout was his second of the season, while his first came on October 21st against the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes’ AHL affiliate) in a 35-save effort. Former Philadelphia Phantom Scott Munroe was the losing goaltender for Wilkes-Barre with 20 saves, as the Phantoms beat the Pens for the first time in 2011-2012. The win was Adirondack’s first 1-0 shutout of the season, as the Penguins were shut out for a fifth time this year.

A pair of goals early in the third period helped the Phantoms beat the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate) 3-1 on Saturday night in Adirondack.

With a 1-0 lead to start the third period, thanks to a Rob Bordson goal in the middle stanza, both Brandon Manning and Matt Ford scored in the first 2:50 of the final period to give the Phantoms a 3-0 lead. Nick Drazenovic notched his 11th of the season in the final seven minutes to make it a two-goal game, as the Phantoms won their second home game in March on Stars Wars Night at the arena. Leighton made 24 saves to record back-to-back wins where he allowed one goal against or less in both wins since he held the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate) to one on October 29th and the Falcons to one goal on November 4th. Patrick Cullity finished the contest minus-2 for Springfield while every Phantom finished the game with a plus or even rating, as Adirondack improved their record to 3-0-0 against the Falcons in 2011-2012.

On Sunday, the Phantoms used a three-goal second period to earn their third straight victory, as they beat the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate) 5-4 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Former New York Islander Mark Parrish potted his 15th of the season to give Binghamton the early lead before Harry Zolnierczyk registered his eighth goal with Adirondack in 2011-2012 to even the score. In the middle stanza, Ford scored his second goal in as many games before Denis Hamel deposited two of his own 2:54 apart later in the period to put the Phantoms up by three. After Ford registered his second of the game, and 24th of the season, early in the third period, the Sens made it a one-goal difference thanks to tallies from Andre Petersson, Patrick Wiercioch, and Mike Hoffman. Leighton made 33 saves for his highest save total for any of his games in March, as he recorded his third straight win. The victory was the Phantoms’ first regulation win against the Sens in 2011-2012, as Adirondack is currently on their third winning streak of the season that is at least three games in length.

Gustafsson spent time with both the Flyers and Phantoms this week. After he recorded an assist and a shot in a plus-1 performance against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, Gustafsson had a shot on net in 16:58 TOI with the Flyers on Saturday.

Not dressing in any of Adirondack’s contests this week, defenseman Tyler Hostetter was relegated to the Titans. He was minus-2 overall with four shots on net in two games with Trenton.

In addition to the moves that featured Gustafsson and Hostetter, the Phantoms signed Derek Mathers to an Amateur Tryout contract. The 18-year-old was a seventh-round pick for the Flyers in the 2011 NHL Draft. In his first three games with Adirondack this week, Mathers had four shots on net and two PIMs with a minus-1 rating.

The Phantoms have a home-and-home with the Syracuse Crunch over the next couple days, as the clubs’ play in Syracuse on Wednesday and Adirondack on Friday. The Phantoms conclude the month of March with a road game against the Connecticut Whale (New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate) on Saturday.

Image Courtesy of Mike Feltenberger

As if being the worst team in the league wasn’t bad enough, the Titans lost three games this week to a team currently out of the ECHL playoff picture.

Two points behind the Bakersfield Condors, the second-worst team in the league, the Titans have earned only 51 points in 69 games this season. Trenton won’t be able to match last year’s point total, as they posted 62 points as the Trenton Devils with a record of 27-37-2-6.

In the first of their three losses to the Reading Royals (ECHL affiliate for the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs), the Titans lost 3-2 in a shootout in Reading on Friday night.

Matt Caruana was the third Royal to beat Brad Phillips in the shootout, as his tally gave Reading the additional point. After Adam Presizniuk’s tally in the first period, the Royals received goals from Ian O’Connor and Caruana 65 seconds apart in the middle of the second period to gain a one-goal advantage. Reading’s lead lasted all of 2:14 before Chris Poli recorded his second point of the game and his third goal of the season to make it a 2-2 affair. Presizniuk also had a two-point night, as he had an assist on Poli’s goal in the Titans’ third straight game with a point (2-0-1). In Phillips’ second shootout loss of the season the Titans’ goalie made 28 saves in the loss, as he lost for a third time in his last four decisions. The game was Trenton’s 12th game this season to go past regulation (six overtime games and six shootouts), as they have lost all of their shootouts in 2011-2012.

Saturday’s contest between the clubs wasn’t as close as the one on Friday, as the Royals dominated the Titans in a 7-0 drubbing. Forward Yannick Riendeau had two goals and two assists for his second four-point performance of the season, as both Denny Urban (two goals and an assist) and Mikael Bedard (one goal and two assists) had big offensive displays for Reading’s second straight win.

In addition to Riendeau, Ray Macias was plus-4 in the Royals’ win while Ray DiLauro, Ryan Hayes, Steve Silva, and Matt Germain all finished minus-3 for Trenton. Mark Owuya recorded his first shutout in the ECHL with a 35-save performance, as the Titans were shut out for a second time in their last five games and for a fourth time in 2011-2012. David Caruso allowed four goals on 13 shots for the loss and his second performance of the year where he finished a game with a save percentage less than .700. Caruso’s first performance with a save percentage below .700 was Trenton’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago Express (Columbus Blue Jackets’ ECHL affiliate) on November 27th, where he allowed four goals on 11 shots. The loss is the second time this season the Titans have lost by a margin of six goals or more and the fourth time they have allowed seven goals against or more in a single game.

The Titans concluded their week long series against the Royals with another loss yesterday, as they fell to Reading by a score of 5-3 on the road. Caruana potted a hat-trick which included the game-winning tally and an empty-netter, as his first hat-trick came in his 120th game in the league.

Riendeau had another multi-point performance against the Titans, as he put home his 12th tally in 2011-2012 and two assists in the Royals’ third straight win. Dustin Cameron had two goals for Trenton in his fourth two-goal game of the season, as the Titans were outshot 46-26 in the loss. Despite making a season-high 41 saves, Phillips allowed five goals against for a seventh time in this regular season, as he dropped to 1-5-1 in his last seven decisions. Poli, a player with five years of ECHL experience, had his worst plus/minus performance in the ECHL with a minus-4 effort. The titans went 0-2-1 against the Royals this week, as they were out scored 14-5 in the trio of losses.

All four of Trenton’s roster moves this week involved defensemen, as the Titans added Hostetter and Derrick Pallis in addition to their releases of Marcel Alvarez and Gentry Zollars.

Pallis, who has also spent time with Princeton University’s ice hockey squad this season, had an assist, five shots on net, and two PIMs with a minus-3 rating overall in three games with the Titans.

After he made his ECHL debut in a handful of games last week for Trenton, Alvarez was released by the Titans.

Zollars was also released this week, as he has missed the Titans’ last three games. He returned to the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League (FHL), as they are currently down 2-0 in a best-of-five series against the New Jersey Outlaws for the FHL Commissioner’s Cup.

The Titans finish their regular-season slate this week, as they start with a Wednesday game at home against the Elmira Jackals (ECHL affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators). After another home game on Friday against the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL affiliate for the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins), the Titans finish the season on Saturday with a road game against the Reading Royals.