Phantoms burn Devils in first, hold on for the win

Scott Munroe posted 31 saves and Rob Bordson netted the go ahead goal in the first period as the Adirondack Phantoms defeated the Albany Devils, 4-2, in front of 3,745 spectators at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Friday.

Andrew Johnston and Brandon Manning each contributed a goal for the Phantoms (20-24-3) in a wild first period which saw Adirondack continuing their scoring momentum from last Sundays game against Syracuse.

“It’s not easy sometimes to keep that kind of an attitude when you have that many days off,” said Phantoms head coach Terry Murray. “But I really like how overall the players bought into practice, keeping their focus for 45-50 minutes every day.”

Eric Wellwood scored the only goal not in the first period as he shoveled a puck into an open net goal while being taken down himself.

The Devils (20-18-9) and Phantoms traded goals back and forth in the first with Chris McKelvie and Harri Pesonen both scoring for Albany who were coming off the wrong side of a 6-0 hammering at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch. Jeff Frazee accepted the lost despite his 27 saves.

Munroe continued to be sound in net after a confidence boosting game on Sunday where he made 43 saves. The hosts came out to play offense in the first but that is about it. Scoring opened early with Marcel Noebels and Johnston circling the net like a pair of sharks, Johnston took the initial shot, Noebels grabbed the rebound and fed it back to Johnston who put it home for the lead at 1:50. 

Only 23 seconds later Adirondack found themselves on the power play when Albany’s Tim Sestito, yes brother to Tom “Mumps” Sestito, was sent to the sin bin for roughing. The Phantoms defense collapsed immediately which lead to both the puck and Munroe being pushed into the net. After review it was called a good short-handed goal and credited to McKelvie at 2:19.

The goals kept coming in the first when Manning blasted a low shot from the point past Frazee at 3:38 for a power-play goal. The goal was a direct result of a hard working special teams.

Albany tied it up for the second time at 6:42 when the Phantoms were caught off guard during a line change which led to an odd man rush where Pesonen was able to slap a rebound past Munroe. Both Devils goals were direct results of defensive collapses in the Phantoms own end. Every time Adirondack were in their own end it was like their feet were stuck in the mud.

The offence was a completely different story as Adirondack scored another very hard working goal. David Laliberte’s pass was misguided and heading out of the zone when Erik Gustafsson saved it and shot it wide of the net. The puck came off the boards and right to Bordson on the opposite side where he slammed it in at 11:13 to take the lead.

“We continue to work on that in practice,” said Manning. “Hitting the net, getting pucks to the net and crashing the net, I think if we see we have been scoring 3, 4, 5 goals lately and if we can keep that up we can get on a roll here and hopefully close up the gap.”

The Phantoms barely squeaked out of the second period with the lead. They spent the majority of the 20 minutes in their own end including a penalty kill which the puck never saw the Devils end of the ice. What saved Adirondack was again Munroe who shut the door for a scoreless second period.

Adirondack came out into the third and sat on the lead. The defense improved some from the second period and the team played very conservatively which has been very tough for this group at times.

Things did heat up towards the end of the game when Jason Akeson was drilled into the boards and mayhem resulted from it. Ian Slater squared off with Sestito while Manning went toe-to-toe with Darcy Zajac. Sestito received 5 minutes for fighting while Slater received 5 for fighting, 2 for instigating and a 10 minute game misconduct. Both Zajac and Manning received 5 for fighting and a game misconduct for secondary altercations. All of this resulted in a Devils power play with 5:30 left to play in the game.

Adirondack was able to kill the penalty and followed it up with an empty netter by Wellwood   at 18:45 to put the game away. Adirondack faces Worcester tomorrow night at the Glens Falls Civic Center in an attempt to build off their two game win streak.