Two Stanley Cups. One Calder Cup. One NBA Championship. Two Final Fours. Countless memories.
17,380 people gathered as part of a celebration tonight in the old building on the corner of Broad and Pattison. When many of them purchased tickets weeks or even months ago, they assumed tonight would be the final time they entered the building where so many of their sports memories were born.
Thanks to a spectacular close to the season by the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Spectrum will live on for at least a little longer. There will be a chance for new memories to be born.
Rob Sirianni led the Phantoms tonight in what turned out to the perfect regular-season finale for the storied building. His two first period goals helped Philadelphia build a 3-0 lead in the first stanza. He would add an empty net goal with about a minute remaining in the third to seal the victory and the playoff spot for his club.
In the second, Hershey, the Phantoms arch-rival and the top team in the East Division, tried to fight back. Andrew Joudrey got his team on the board eight minutes in, but the home team wouldn't have any of it. They had an answer for everything the Bears threw at them tonight. Even the best player in the AHL, Alexandre Giroux, who scored his 58th (!) goal tonight, couldn't take this win away from the Phantoms. It just wasn't going to happen.
Thanks to Binghamton falling flat on their faces tonight against Norfolk, losing by a final of 6-1, the Phantoms are in. When you consider what it took for this team to get to this point, it's a marevelous feat.
On March 25th, just 17 days ago, the Phantoms trailed Binghamton by eight points for the fourth and final East Division playoff spot. A 3-1 win that night in upstate New York over the Senators pulled them within six points, but there were only 10 games remaning in the season. A serious run was necessary to make the playoffs a reality.
And boy, did they do it. They would only lose two more games the rest of the season, going 7-1-1 in the process. The Sens compiled a 3-4-1 record over the same stretch and Philadelphia took advantage.
Down the stretch, it's been the young players taking control of the offense. Sirianni, playing in his first full AHL season, has registered nine points in his last ten games, including two hat tricks. Jonathan Matsumoto, in his second AHL season, has 12 points in the last 10 games, including a hat trick of his own. David Laliberte, Matsumoto's linemate, tallied a hat trick against Albany on April Fools Day, adding to the nine points he's put up during this stretch. Jared Ross is the elder statesman of the Phantoms core offensive group and he's only in his 4th AHL season. His 14 points have led the team and have been critical during the playoff push.
All four of these players are performing at a higher level than they have all season long, and it's coming at the best time of the year. They are determined, they are focused, and they let Hershey know tonight that if they meet in the playoffs, the Bears better look out.
Maybe some of those Spectrum heroes are helping out, as the Phantoms look ahead to a very exciting final playoff run in Philadelphia.