GLENS FALLS -- Best game of the season for the Adirondack Phantoms? Perhaps.
Terry Murray wouldn't commit on that point, but it was a vast improvement over Friday's ugly loss to the Syracuse Crunch, and it all hinged on special teams.
The special teams were much, much better for the Phantoms tonight. Albany's power play wasn't much of a match for Adirondack's strong PK, and offensively, the positioning and the puck movement was a million times better on the Adirondack power play. Ben Holmstrom's goal was the result of some hard work in front of the net while a man up and Erik Gustafsson's goal in the third was the result of solid puck movement while up two men.
With about nine minutes to go in the game, Albany had a chance to get back into things when Garrett Roe was sent to the box on a questionable -- at least from my angle -- tripping call. Two seconds later on the ensuing faceoff, Holmstrom was sent off for a "faceoff violation." The Phantoms didn't allow Albany many solid looks on the 1:58 long two-man advantage though, and that was really the game from there on out.
On defense, the Phantoms' coverage was much better, partly perhaps because Terry Murray only trusted three defensemen to play much of the game. Gus played nearly a half hour (keep in mind that he missed the last four minutes or so in the penalty box, too) and both Marc-Andre Bourdon and Danny Syvret weren't far behind.
Scott Munroe made 26 saves for the Phantoms. Considering he hadn't played in three of the last four games -- that's a lot of off-time in a weekend league like the AHL -- he played really, really well. Deserved first-star honors.
After Shane Harper scored with 3:57 to go to make it 4-0, the teams came together near the Albany bench. It seemed like the Devils' Matt Corrente said something to one of the Phantoms -- perhaps he was a bit cranky, it was a long night for Albany -- to one of the Phantoms, and soon after all hell broke loose. Harper, who's 5'11, 193 pounds, wound up paired off at one point with Albany defenseman Corbin McPherson. They never came to blows, but McPherson is 6'5, 220. It was hilarious.
The physical stuff made the win super fun, and it'll make the beers go down even easier tonight. Off day tomorrow!