The Phantoms will return to home ice on Friday night when they host the Norfolk Admirals at the Wachovia Spectrum. It will be the team’s first home game in two weeks.
Coming off a tough road trip last weekend, which included two separate bus rides up to Canada, the Phantoms look to get back on track after coming up short in their last two games against Lake Erie and Toronto.
If the Phantoms are going to avoid a season-high three consecutive losses, they will have to beat the Admirals without rookie forward Steve Downie.
Downie was recalled by the Flyers after serving a 20-game NHL suspension. He took part in the team’s 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild, and will travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Friday evening.
Since the completion of his AHL suspension on Nov. 3, Downie has been a rather large contributor to the success of the Phantoms this season; helping them maintain their first place standing in the East Division.
Despite the great help Downie has provided for the Phantoms over the last month, the guys in the locker room don’t seem to be all that worried about not having him around this weekend.
“I think we have enough depth that we shouldn’t need to worry about Downs not being here,” Phantoms defenseman Alexandre Picard said on Wednesday morning at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.
“We played [the entire first month] without him,” added goaltender Brian Boucher. “It’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up, and [the team] believes in anyone who is in the locker room.”
Friday night’s meeting between the Phantoms and the Admirals will be the first meeting between the two teams since Norfolk’s 7-3 victory on Nov. 21. Phantoms head coach Craig Berube believes this will motivate his guys to get things going this weekend.
“We owe Norfolk,” Berube said. “They whooped us pretty good the last time down there, so our guys will be pumped up and ready to get after them.”
On Saturday the Phantoms will travel back out to Hershey to take on the Bears; just two weeks after the Phantoms 6-0 victory over those same Bears in Hershey.
Regardless of whether they just came off two straight losses or five straight wins, the Phantoms still seem to maintain a positive atmosphere throughout the entire locker room.
When talking about getting back on track this weekend, Boucher even made mention about the team’s goal to reach a certain amount of wins before the Christmas holiday; he wouldn’t say the number.
“It’s a secret. It’s a secret,” Boucher said about the apparent goal that the team has set for themselves. “[I] don’t want to jinx it.”
The Phantoms and Admirals will face-off at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Spectrum. The next home game will be on Friday, Dec. 14 against the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies; that game is also a 7:05 p.m. start time at the Spectrum.