The Phantoms improved their season record to 18-7-1-0 on Friday night after a shootout victory over the Toronto Marlies at the Wachovia Spectrum. It was the first shootout game of the season for the Phantoms.
Revenge was on the minds of the entire Phantoms lineup going into the game, but it was the Marlies that came out with the momentum.
Just less than half way through the first frame, forward Robbie Earl fired a shot from the right-wing circle that ricocheted off of goaltender Brian Boucher’s left shoulder and into the net to give Toronto the early lead.
Less than a minute after the Toronto goal, the pot boiled over and tempers flared as Phantoms forward Steve Downie and Marlies forward Kris Newbury went at it in a rather violent manner in front of the penalty boxes.
The fight continued even while the referee and linesmen attempted to break it up. Downie let the incident get the best of him, and as a result was escorted to the showers for an early exit.
Downie’s actions perhaps lit a little fire under his teammates as the Phantoms kicked up the intensity of the game a little bit, and gradually started to show some signs of life.
The score would remain the same through two periods, but the Phantoms would continue to slowly take control of the game.
About eight minutes into the third period, Phantoms forward Frederick Cabana poked the rebound from a Tristan Grant shot passed Toronto goaltender Justin Pogge to tie the game up at one.
That goal not only shifted the momentum to the Phantoms side, it also gave some confidence to Cabana -- who has been nursing injuries for a good part of the season.
“Tristan Grant [had] a nice play putting the puck on net, and I was driving hard,” Cabana said. “Coming back from a three week layoff is hard…but [my] game shape is coming back.”
Both teams remained knotted at one after three periods. A scoreless extra session would result in the Phantoms first shootout of the season.
A goal from the first shooter Jared Ross and the last shooter, Stefan Ruzicka, was all the Phantoms needed to take the 2-1 victory.
Head coach Craig Berube wasn’t exactly thrilled about his team’s slow start, but seemed happy to get a big win against a tough opponent like Toronto.
“[Toronto is] a very good team over there,” Berube said. “That’s probably as good [as any] team we’ve played all year.”
The Phantoms head to Norfolk on Saturday night to face the Admirals where they will make it three in a row, regardless of the outcome. A win will make it their third consecutive win; however, a loss makes it three consecutive losses against Norfolk.
It is the last road game before the Christmas holiday as they will come back home on Sunday evening to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 5:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Then on Friday, Dec. 21 the Phantoms will host the Hershey Bears at the Spectrum at 7:05 p.m. for the only game of the weekend.