April 14, 2012 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Adirondack Phantoms
It began with a wonderful center-ice ceremony honoring our four inductees into the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame. By the time the evening had concluded, Michael Leighton had made a season-high 48 saves in an exciting 3-2 victory over the Worcester Sharks.
Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame Night, presented by Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company, got underway in Heritage Hall at 5:00 with the inductions of four greats from Adirondack hockey past; Dave Casey, Murray Eaves, Pete Mahovlich and Dave Strader. All four received impressive and heartfelt ovations as they walked onto the ice right before game-time. Congratulations to everyone in our third Hall of Fame Class.
After that, the fans were treated to a doozy of a game on Fan Appreciation Night. Jason Akeson, Tye McGinn and Ben Holmstrom all scored in the victory while Matt Ford picked up a couple of assists. But it was clearly Michael Leighton who stole the show saving one of his finest performances for perhaps his last game of the season.
The win clinched a plus-.500 record for the Phantoms who improved to 37-34-4 as they swept the season series over the Sharks two games to zero.
Worcester jumped out to an early 14-5 shots advantage as Leighton got into his groove. 18-year-old Derek Mathers went at Worcester captain Mike Moore in his efforts to spark the Phantoms. And boy did he ever. The rookie call-up from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL dealt a number of punishing shots in the bout to fire up the team and the big crowd.
Shortly after the fight, Jason Akeson on the power play would cut his way to the net from the left-wing wall and move around the Worcester goalie with nice stick-work for his 13th goal of the year and team-leading 54th point.
Adirondack extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period when Tyler Brown gained entry into the zone and cruised wide around the Sharks' defense to the left circle to set the opening for his centering feed to Tye McGinn to chip in his 12th of the season.
Contact with Leighton late in the second period appeared to be the culprit leading the way for Worcester's first goal on their 28th shot when Jack Combs was able to take advantage before Leighton could get to his feet. An irate Leighton would fling off some of his equipment, throwing his blocker to the wall in frustration at the no-call, and received an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction as a result.
Less than a minute after that, Oskars Bartulis was in the box on a cross-checking call and Adirondack found themselves down two men for more than a minute.
It was a golden opportunity for Worcester to climb back into the game and equalize. But the Adirondack penalty-kill came through clutch again with a number of big saves and clears to maintain the 2-1 advantage into the second intermission.
Worcester blasted away again early in the third period and Leighton made 10 straight saves in just the first six minutes to keep Adirondack in front.
Finally, Adirondack would break free out of their own zone and catch Worcester cheating a little bit. The Phantoms converted on their 4-on-2 rush when Cullen Eddy would center to Ben Holmstrom for the goal. Holmstrom's 14th of the year and second of the weekend made it 3-1.
Worcester got it back a minute later and then were able to pull their goalie at the end of the game but the Phantoms were able to hang on for the victory. Rob Bordson almost tacked on another for the Phantoms in the final seconds but his line-drive for an empty-netter rang off the post.
Michael Leighton came out for a curtain-call in accepting his #1 Star of the Game honors and applauded for the fans and showed his appreciation for their great support in his season-and-a-half spent in the North Country.
It was a great ending to a truly wonderful evening in Glens Falls that began with great appreciation of Adirondack's hockey past and then a fine show of Adirondack's hockey present.
Fans received Phantoms T-Shirts courtest of Papa John's and dozens of great prizes were given away on Fan Appreciation Night including many autographed Phantoms and Flyers gear.
The 2012 class of the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame Class includes:
- Dave Casey - Longtime trainer for the Adirondack Red Wings who missed only two games in his 14 years with the team and is the only person to have won four Calder Cup rings with Adirondack
- Murray Eaves - Starred for the Adirondack Red Wings from 1987-90 and set the all-time team record for points in a season with 118. Won the award for best sportsmanship in the AHL in consecutive years.
- Pete Mahovlich - Four Stanley Cup championships with Montreal who provided veteran leadership when he came to Adirondack and helped them to their first Calder Cup championship in 1981
- Dave Strader - First ever broadcaster for the Adirondack Red Wings and a Glens Falls native who continues to reside in Glens Falls while he broadcasts games nationally for NBC and NBC Sports Network
Many fans aren't ready for the season to end but the last game of the year comes up Sunday at 5:00 against Norfolk. The Admirals have shattered the hockey record books with their historic 27-game win streak. Norfolk came from behind to win in overtime in Binghamton to keep the streak alive. Adirondack has a chance to close out the season on an impressively high note if they can end the incredible streak of the Admirals.
The fans were treated to some video-board messages from the players on Fan Appreciation Night thanking them for their wonderful and boisterous support of the team all season long. We couldn't do it without you! Sincere thanks for a great season as well as awesome night on Fan Appreciation Night with the Phantoms. One game to go, Phantoms fans!