Minor League Update: 3/26-4/1

Image Courtesy of Jason McKibben

With six games remaining in their schedule, the Phantoms did enough this week to stay within striking distance of the eigth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Four points behind the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate) with a game in hand, Adirondack has a chance to gain the final spot for the postseason, which will surely result in being swept by the Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate). Since they play a total of three games this week against two teams currently out of the playoff scenario, the Phantoms can easily gain ground towards a spot for the playoffs.

The Phantoms started the week with a 2-1 shootout loss on the road to the Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate) on Wednesday. Kyle Palmieri was the lone player out of the nine to go in the shootout to register a goal, as his third-round attempt for Syracuse beat Michael Leighton. Iiro Tarkki cemented the extra point for the Crunch when he stopped Rob Bordson’s chance to extend the shootout. Andrew Rowe’s goal at the 8:04 mark of the second period was assisted by defenseman Cullen Eddy and lasted all of 57 seconds before Patrick Maroon tied the game at one. The former Phantoms’ game-tying goal gave him 29 goals and 69 points this season which is six more goals and 15 more points than he had in the 2008-2009 regular season, his most productive year offensively for Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate. The loss was Leighton’s first shootout loss in 2011-2012 and Palmieri’s goal in the shootout was the first tally the Phantoms’ netminder allowed in the skills’ competition this year. He stoned all four attempts in his first shootout appearance of the season, a 41-save win against the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate) on February 25th. The loss dropped the Phantoms’ record to 8-4 in games past regulation and to 2-3 in the shootout.

Two days later, the Phantoms returned home and beat the Crunch 4-3 in overtime. Jason Akeson’s 12th of the season came at the 3:01 mark of the extra frame to give Adirondack their sixth overtime victory of the season. As they entered the third period down 3-1, tallies from Rowe and Ben Holmstrom tied the contest at three before the Phantoms snapped their three-game losing streak to Syracuse in overtime. Brandon Manning had a game-high three points, as his trio of helpers gave the Phantoms’ defender his first three-point game in either the AHL or NHL. Maroon hurt his former team yet again with a two-goal performance to increase his goal total to 31 for the 2011-2012 season. With both teams using the same goaltenders from Wednesday’s match-up, Leighton earned a win despite Tarkki’s 35-28 advantage in the save count. The victory improved the Phantoms’ win streak to three at home and gave Adirondack their first overtime win at home since they beat the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate) by the same score on January 6th.

The Phantoms concluded their week with a 3-0 loss on the road to the Connecticut Whale (New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate) yesterday. Kelsey Tessier’s tally at the 13:19 mark of the first period was all the Whale needed for the win due to the fact Cameron Talbot pitched a 26-save shutout. Both Harry Zolnierczyk and Bordson threw four shots at the Connecticut goalie, but none of the Phantoms could beat Talbot to keep the netminder from recording his third shutout of the season. Tessier registered the empty-net goal as well for his third two-goal game in 2011-2012, while Casey Wellman, who had a goal and an assist, and Andre Deveaux, two assists, also had two-point performances. Leighton snapped his personal five-game point streak (4-0-1) with a 25-save effort, as the Phantoms were blanked for a fifth time this season. The loss dropped Adirondack to 1-3-0 against the Whale and to 10-13 in three-goal games in 2011-2012.

After they signed Campbell Elyniuk to an amateur tryout (ATO), the Phantoms signed forward Nick Cousins this week. The Flyers’ third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft made his AHL debut in yesterday’s loss to the Whale.

Due to the injuries suffered in the Flyers’ net and on the blue line this week, both Marc-Andre Bourdon and Jason Bacashihua joined Philly’s roster.

Bourdon had the game-winning goal in the Flyers’ tilt against the Penguins yesterday and was plus-1 with four PIMs overall in his three games with Philly this week.

Bacashihua didn’t see the ice for the Flyers.

To fill in for Bourdon and Bacashihua, Erik Gustafsson was assigned to the Phantoms from Philly and Brad Phillips was recalled from the Titans.

In two games with the Phantoms, Gus had an assist and four shots on net while going minus-1 overall.

Phillips, like Bacashihua, didn’t see the ice with the club that called him up.

The Phantoms have three games in the upcoming week, two of which are in Adirondack. After a home-and-home with the Albany Devils (New Jersey’s AHL affiliate), where the clubs play in Adirondack on Friday and Albany on Saturday, the Phantoms finish with a home game on Sunday against the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate).

Image Courtesy of TriState Media

Fittingly, the Titans failed to win a single game this week to conclude their season on a six-game losing streak. Not only did the Titans fail to find the win column in the last two weeks, Trenton didn’t win a game at home since they beat the Elmira Jackals (ECHL affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators) on February 25th. Hopefully the Titans can perform better next season and possibly even make the playoffs, something they haven’t done since 2009.

In their first loss of the week and fourth straight overall, the Titans lost 2-1 in overtime to the Jackals in Trenton on Wednesday night. Artem Demkov potted his 20th goal of 2011-2012 with 57 seconds left in overtime for Trenton’s 10th loss of the season to the Jackals. Mike Radja opened the scoring with a goal 3:28 into the contest and stood as the only goal until Ray DiLauro’s tally in the final seconds of the middle stanza leveled the tilt at one. David Caruso earned his fourth overtime loss of the season with a 27-save effort, while Timo Pielmeier denied 30 Trenton shots for his fourth straight win. Adam Presizniuk and Andy Bohmbach were the only other Titans to record points in the loss, as the pair had the primary and secondary helpers on DiLauro’s eighth of the season. The overtime loss was the seventh time all year Trenton had a game decided in the extra period, the fourth of which they lost.

On Friday, the Titans lost to the visiting Wheeling Nailers (ECHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins) by a score of 4-1. Trenton’s lone goal came from Bohmbach with 10 seconds left in the middle stanza off an assist from Drew Akins for the Titans’ 19th game of the season where they scored one goal or less. Matt Schepke had a two-goal game for Wheeling in their ninth win of the year against the Titans. Paul Crowder and Ben Farrer also scored for the Nailers, while Patrick Killeen made 25 stops for the win and Caruso suffered another loss with 37 saves. The loss concluded the Titans’ home schedule with a six-game losing streak and an overall record of 10-22-4. Mitch Versteeg was the only Titan to finish the game with a plus-1 rating or better, while Ryan Hayes finished minus-3. The loss dropped the Titans to 8-16 in three-goal games this season.

In their final game of the 2011-2012 campaign, the Titans dropped a 6-4 decision on the road to the Reading Royals (ECHL affiliate for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs). DiLauro and Akins, who each had a goal and an assist, as well as Dustin Cameron, who had two helpers, finished the season with a multi-point performance, while an Ethan Cox hat-trick led the Royals to victory. Denny Urban had a goal and an assist for Reading in addition to posting a plus-5 rating, his best rating in the ECHL. Caruso allowed six goals on 38 shots to lose his fourth straight and for his 15th loss in his last 16 decisions. Hayes continued his bad string of plus/minus ratings, as he posted a minus-4 for his fifth straight game with a minus rating and his worst rating in the ECHL. The loss dropped the Titans to 11-19-6 away from Sun National Bank Center for the 2011-2012 season.

Trenton’s blue line and crease saw a lot of player movement this week, as four players joined the squad and one left.

On defense, the trio of Versteeg, Eric Baier, and Ryan Grimshaw joined the Titans.

Taking part in his first games with the Titans since February 19th, Versteeg had one shot with a rating of plus-1 overall in two contests with the team this week.

Returning from the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate), Baier had one assist and went minus-3 against the Royals.

Joining the squad from Harvard University, Grimshaw played in his first three ECHL games this week. He was minus-1 overall with six shots on net.

Aside from Phillips being recalled to the Phantoms, the other move in net was the signing of Anthony Felice. He saw the final 43 seconds of the Titans’ season, as he played in the team’s final game without seeing a single shot against.