Image courtesy of Phantomshockey.com
The Phantoms had an easy past seven days as the only games on their schedule were last Friday in Wilkes-Barre and last Saturday they hosted the Toronto Marlies. In one of the wackier games of the year the Phantoms dropped the Friday game by a score of 3 to 1 in a game that featured twenty minor penalties—ten a piece. The Penguins took the lead in the first on a power play goal and it wouldn’t be answered until Brandon Manning’s first power play tally of the year (from Scott Laughton and Andrew Gordon) in the third period. Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Phantoms had in the tank and Wilks-Barre was able to take the lead at even strength in the third and then tack on an empty netter late in the game. Robert Hagg lead the way (again) with 5 shots on goal as Manning was right behind Hagg with 4.
With slightly under 24 hours to shake off the loss, the Phantoms returned home on Saturday night for their bout with the Marlies. After giving up the games first goal the Phantoms two leading scorers answered the bell to put the Phantoms up 2-1 going into the first intermission. Scott Laughton opened the scoring for the Phantoms, giving him a team-leading sixth goal on the year (Taylor Leier with the assist, who’s now at 3-3-6 in his first 13 pro games, a decent professional start for the former 4th round pick) and Nick Cousins gave the Phantoms the lead with his 4th goal of the year (had only 11 in 74 games last year in his first professional season).
After a scoreless second period, Toronto evened the score about half way through the third on the power play. With less than five minutes to go the Phantoms were given a golden opportunity due to a Toronto tripping penalty and AHL veteran Brandon Manning didn’t disappoint on the power play as he blasted a puck from the top of the circles to the back of the net to take the 3-2 lead late in the game. As time started to wind down so did the Phantoms discipline. Oliver Lauridsen took a delay of game penalty and Scott Laughton, who assisted on Manning’s go-ahead goal, was called for hooking. Toronto then pulled goalie Chris Gibson leading to an extended 6-on-3 attack and kept the pressure on for the entire advantage. Rob Zepp stood tall and with the help of a Robert Hagg diving save on an open net opportunity, the Phantoms were able to seal the deal and bring their record to a cool 6-6-1, good for third in the division with multiple games in hand on each of the teams above them in the standings.
It’s good to see the Phantoms being led by the guys who are counted on night-in and night-out to play well. Robert Hagg and Brandon Manning are leading the defense playing well in all situations—especially getting the puck to the net as they lead the team in shots on goal with 39 and 37 respectively. Cousins got his first point in five games as he and Laughton (who had 1G and 2A over the weekend) are tied for the most points on the Phantoms with 11 (Manning’s 3-5-8 clip is good for third and Hagg’s 1-6-7 has him tied for fifth). The other very bright spot for the Phantoms this past weekend is goalie Rob Zepp who boosted his record to 6-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .920 save percentage. Zepp is looking more and more like a great signing and has shown early on that if there are any goalie injuries on the big club this year he should get the first look to plug in that hole.
Here are some other Flyers prospects who have been newsworthy over the past week:
- Samuel Morin may not be ready to participate in the Subway Super Series but he is expected to return this coming weekend for a loaded Rimouski Oceanic team that is pacing the QMJHL with 36 points and a 17-6-1-1 record.
- Travis Sanheim had a primary assist in the Subway Super Series in the WHL’s 3-2 loss to Russia. While his scoring pace has slowed up a bit from his blistering 11 points in his first 10 games this year, Sanhiem’s line is at 7-8-15 in 21 games—on pace to blow his numbers out of the water from last year. The Flyers first round pick from this past June had only 5 goals in 67 games just a season ago. It took him only 10 games to net his sixth goal this year as his offensive game continues to develop.
- Radel Fazleev, the Flyers’ sixth round pick in 2014 had a goal and an assist in his two games this past week bringing his line to 9-9-18 in 20 games. His 9 goals this season are nearly double the 5 he had last year in 38 games. Both Sanheim and Fazleev are members of the Calgary Hitmen and they have been rolling, going 4-0-1-1 in their last six games.
- Michael Parks was taken 149th overall by the Flyers in 2010 and has really taken steps forward within his development over the past few years. After a disappointing sophomore season in which he was hurt and only had 8 points in 25 games, Parks led the University of North Dakota with 12 goals and 30 points in 42 games last year. This year he’s off to an even better start as he already has 5 goals and 9 assists in only 11 games. Over the weekend against #7 ranked Miami Ohio, Parks stayed hot and had 2 goals and an apple.
- Tyrell Goulbourne was the Flyers third round pick in 2013 and lots of people expressed their displeasure with taking a “Zac Rinaldo” type player so high in the draft. Just over a year later, Goulbourne is showing that his ceiling is much higher than the previously mentioned Rinaldo. Getting an opportunity to play on the top line for the best team in the WHL, Goulbourne has 10 goals and 5 assists in only 14 games. Rinaldo had 10 goals in 60 games played when he was the same age. Goulbourne had his first career hat trick on November 8th and followed that up with 3 goals and an assist in his last 3 games (giving him 6 goals in his last 4 games). Now I don’t think that anyone thinks his scoring production will translate to the NHL (or even the AHL), but it is nice to know that he’s got a little bit of skill and that the Flyers no longer look as if they’ve completely wasted a pick.