Phantoms Post-Game EXTRA 10/8

Sunday, October 9, 2016
The Phantoms bounced back with a stronger performance tonight against Charlotte. Photo: Amanda Statland
Editor's Note: Testing out a potential new regular story to follow up the post-game recaps this season, tying everything together and giving some final thoughts/insights before moving forward to the next one.

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

In their final tune up before the games count for real, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms put forth a performance that many were expecting to see when the Flyers announced some of the off-season signings over the summer.

Guys like T.J. Brennan and Will O'Neill are going to be real difference makers on the Phantoms blue line this season along with the talented prospects like Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg. They proved it tonight, especially on the power play.

Greg Carey loves to shoot the puck, and that was evidenced in both games this weekend. The top line of Carey, Andy Miele and Chris Conner has the potential to be a special trio this season. Carey's shoot-first mentality combined with Miele's vision to be a great puck distributor and Conner's speed and ability to get the puck to the net makes for a great trio.

Chemistry will need to be formed and head coach Scott Gordon will need to put it all together, but the Phantoms are heading in the right direction as one week of practice is all that separates this team for beginning the 2016-17 season.

Here it is. Your Phantoms post-game extra. I'll try to tie everything together to give a greater understanding of what's going on with the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate and their top prospects playing at the pro-level.

No video interview tonight, but Tim Riday makes up for that with his final thoughts on tonight's preseason win. If you missed it, here's tonight's recap of the action.

Post-Game Video Interview

These will be available on our YouTube channel all season long. Make sure you are subscribed now!

No post-game video interview tonight. The guys were upbeat and enjoying the first win of the season, so I let them soak it up and play their music. It's their locker room, after all.

Riday's Radar

Highland Park Hockey's Tim Riday gives his final thoughts on tonight's game.

  • If you weren’t able to watch Saturday’s win, let me tell you the major takeaway. The Phantoms’ first power-play unit has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with. Early in the first period, Scott Gordon sent out a veteran-heavy group consisting of Andy Miele, Greg Carey and Chris Conner up front with T.J. Brennan and Will O’Neill on the blue line. Yeah, that’s a scary combination and it set the tone for the game. All they did was convert on a beautiful one-time blast for O’Neill and, later in the game, Carey also netted a power-play marker of his own. If this winds up staying the first unit, the rest of the AHL is going to have their hands full. They sure did click right away.

  • How about an update on Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim? Those are two defenders fans should have a watchful eye on this season anyway. They started the game as a pair but wound up being separated in the second period. It wasn’t for any reason in particular, though. After all, it is the preseason and Gordon is expected to do some tinkering. What was evident, however, was Morin’s confidence. He was all over puck carriers and did a terrific job reading plays in front of him. He’s really learning how to use his frame. As for Sanheim, his skating ability stands out. He owns an effortless stride and does a fantastic job shielding the puck on end-to-end rushes. Fans in Allentown are in for a treat this year … if they stay around that is. OK, I may be getting ahead of myself but you can’t rule out the possibility of them seeing NHL action. Especially later in the season. Crazier things have happened.

  • One unit I had my eye on from the get-go was the Phantoms’ third line. First-year Phantoms Radel Fazleev (center) and Nicolas Aube-Kubel (right wing) teamed up with returning left winger Danick Martel against the Checkers. The first thing I thought to myself was quickness. All three players have wheels and could provide nightmares if the line stays in tact. It’s kind of a boom-or-bust scenario, however. Three young forwards looking to make a name for themselves? Either they click or it’s a failed experiment. I’m sure Gordon has contingency plans but the offensive ability of Aube-Kubel and Martel paired with the sound two-way play of Fazleev could create an interesting dynamic. Some solid forechecking late in the game led to an empty-net goal for Fazleev. Call it a reward for their steady play throughout the game.

  • If there’s one thing Flyers GM Ron Hextall is searching for from the bottom up, it’s speed, speed and more speed. This Phantoms roster has plenty of that, too. They even had it last year. That’s going to go a long way late in games, much like it did on Saturday. The Phantoms came out flying and continued to apply pressure all evening. It resulted in multiple odd-man rushes and a breakaways for Martel (second period, missed) and Conner (third period, converted). You could tell the Checkers’ knees were beginning to buckle in the third and the Phantoms were wearing them out. Conditioning is key at every level, so this should be a fun development to track.

  • You know who really impressed me on Saturday? Mark Zengerle. He centered Taylor Leier and Petr Straka and was one of the most noticeable players on the ice. After spending last season with Grand Rapids, he inked an AHL-only deal with Lehigh Valley and could turn out to be an impactful player. He made a brilliant play on the Phantoms’ second goal, showing great patience while dragging Checkers goalie Daniel Altshuller out of position. Zengerle then wrapped around the net and found a wide-open Corban Knight for an easy tap-in goal. Great stuff there.


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