Phantoms weekly rundown: Reinforcements are on the way!

Still plugging along.

Where we are

Week of Feb. 21 - Feb. 27

GPWLOTLStanding in Division


Another busy week in happenings! Since we last talked, Kyle Criscuolo and TJ Brennan were traded away, Nathan Noel came back in the Brennan trade but was assigned to the Royals, Joel Farabee and Connor Bunnaman were loaned back to the Phantoms, and Max Willman was loaned to the Royals. Got all that?


PlayerGPGAPCF%Controlled Entry%Controlled Exit%
Greg Carey5115122748.8547.2249.5
Cal O'Reilly465222745.5337.1445.07
Morgan Frost3511132450.8965.8279.37
Mikhail Vorobyev3911132450.365966.67
Kyle Criscuolo408162452.0445.3865.06
Tyler Wotherspoon484172150.7425.7439.15
Maksim Sushko5010102045.4253.9267.37
Andy Welinski378101850.2924.5950.97
David Kase456101652.2250.8967.39
Andy Andreoff33871549.3548.3963.33

All stats via theAHL, Phancy Stats, and Maddie’s NZ tracking project.

Three stars

1. Carsen Twarynski

Relatively recently back from injury and Twarynski is on quite the tear, here! He picked up two goals during Wednesday’s game in Bridgeport, and then another on Saturday in Syracuse. He’s still playing in a depth role for the team, but as of late he seems to have kicked things into another gear and has really been doing well to capitalize on his chances.

Now, sustainability is the big open question here, because Twarynski up until this point has been something of a streaky scorer, but that’ll be something to keep an eye on, going forward. For now, we can just appreciate his contributions from this past week.

2. Kirill Ustimenko

Ustimenko’s back and he’s still working on getting adjusted to play at the AHL level, and he’s continuing to look pretty sharp while doing that. He got in for their game against Syracuse on Saturday and stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced.

It certainly wasn’t a perfect showing for him, as there were times where it looked like he wasn’t tracking the puck all that well, but his overall performance was sound and we have to give him a lot of credit. This game was pretty ugly for the skaters, as they gave the Crunch a lot of power play time to work with and overall just struggled to break the puck out of their own zone. Ustimenko had his work cut out for him to keep his team in this game, but that’s exactly what he was able to do.

3. Kyle Criscuolo

*sad trombone noise*

Yeah, so Criscuolo had another strong week and now he’s gone. A couple of highlight were that he picked up an assist on Kurtis Gabriel’s goal from Friday, where he kind of did most of the work through traffic to set him up for a tap-in, and then generating a short handed chance when the Phantoms were on a 3-on-5 penalty kill. They had him still centering the fourth line with wingers who haven’t been the most consistent offensively, but he still managed to make it work as generate some good chances for both himself and his linemates. To say he was making something out of nothing might be a little harsh, but that’s pretty close to our sentiment.

And, to be completely honest, this all feels like kind of a bummer to write out, because he’s gone now and we don’t get to benefit from all of that skill anymore. Best of luck in Anaheim, buddy.

Two loose observations

1. A note on discipline

This was a tough weekend for the Phantoms in the penalty taking department. They were called for five penalties on Friday and seven on Saturday, which goes without saying that this had them in a pretty disadvantageous position. And it’s not really all that unexpected—a couple of the calls you could argue were on the weaker side, but the Phantoms were chasing for good portions of both of those games, and that’s when you tend to take more poor penalties, when you’re pressing and trying to get back in the game. It’s just bad things compounding bad things.

The good news, of course, is that their penalty killers came up huge for them and didn’t allow a single goal in any of those 12 power play attempts for their opponents, and they deserve all the credit in the world for those efforts. But man, you can’t be giving away all of those opportunities for free.

2. Reinforcements, baby!

We said already that the Phantoms are likely really going to miss Criscuolo, but it isn’t all bad news around here. The Phantoms have Bunnaman and Farabee back, and that’s really good news. Bunnaman helps immediately bolster their center depth back up, and Farabee, well, the last time we saw him with the Phantoms he was out here just about dunking on AHL competition. It might take them a little bit to get settled in with the team again, but their presence should be a big asset to them.

This season has certainly been pretty up and down, so we’re looking for some outside the box positives, and if nothing else, having both of these guys back will just be fun.

What’s on deck?

We’ve got a lighter weekend coming up, with the Phantoms playing back to back games on Friday and Saturday against the Charlotte Checkers. The Checkers are well ahead of them in the standings at fourth in the division, but the Phantoms currently have the 3-1 edge in the season series. So this should be a fun one!