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Holmstrom Makes It Rain Teddy Bears

December 7, 2013 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Adirondack Phantoms News Release

Ben Holmstrom's goal early in the second period induced a storm of over 1,000 teddy bears inside the Glens Falls Civic Center and the Phantoms prevailed in their first ever game against the Utica Comets 3-1 on Saturday night.

Teddy Bear Toss Night to benefit the Salvation Army of Glens Falls is always a fun event. Holmstrom got in tight with Rob Bordson and after a couple of rebounds off Joe Cannata, Holmstrom was able to flip one over the right leg-pad of the Utica goalie allowing everyone in the stands, including Dax, to throw their donated teddy bears onto the ice. For the record, Holmstrom's Teddy Bear goal was registered at 2:49 into the second period.

The goal was also the 100th career point for the team's captain who now joins Jason Akeson as the lone members of the Adirondack Phantoms 100-Point club.

Jason Akeson scored a goal and an assist and Kris Newbury also scored while Cal Heeter excelled again although only had to make 18 saves on his way to the victory. Adirondack held Utica to 19 shots on goal for the game, the lowest for any Phantoms' opponent this season. And two of the Phantoms' three goals came on the power play marking only their second game scoring more than one PPG in a game and their first time doing it since an October 30 victory over Springfield.

Leading 1-0 after the Holmstrom goal, Adirondack would embark on a power play later in the second period and caught a couple of the Utica penalty-killers cheating too far up the ice on their own attempt for a shorthanded push into the zone. When Tye McGinn deflected an errant Comets' pass to Jason Akeson the Phantoms found themselves with a long 3-on-1. Jason Akeson waited patiently for his opportunity and carried the puck towards the slot from the right-wing before firing a crisp pass to Kris Newbury on the backdoor who slammed home his fifth of the season.

Darren Archibald had an intercept in front of the Phantoms line just a couple minutes later and drove a shot barely through the pads of Cal Heeter and just across the goal-line for Utica's lone score of the night.

Terry Murray's team got off to a sluggish start in the opening period with only four shots on goal before the 19-shot barrage in the second. "Our game got to better in the second and the third," Murray said. "I thought the players really got their legs going skating. Spent some time in the offensive zone that was extended. I thought a big game from Flanagan's line and Cousins' line. They move the puck around. Did a good job in the offensive zone--five on five. We got timely goals. Powerplay's been tremendous the last two games."

On another power play about 12 minutes into the third, Brandon Manning stopped an attempted clear on the right point and found Akeson on the boards whose blast went off the top of the glove of Cannata and then had enough to make it through.

Jason Akeson leads the Phantoms with 17 points on four goals and 13 assists. The 23-year-old from Orleans, Ontario has led the Phantoms in scoring the past two season and now has 125 points on his career.

"I tend to want to make plays before shooting the puck," Akeson said. "Sometimes that's a downfall but at the same time that's the kind of player I am so. But it worked out tonight. Made a couple plays there and luckily Newbs finished one off."

Akeson almost tacked on another but his attempt for an empty-netter clanged off the outside of the post and bounced away.

The Phantoms improved to 11-10-2 with the victory and finished their four-game homestand with a 2-2-0 mark. Adirondack finished a busy stretch of seven home games in 16 days with only one away game in the run. Now the Phantoms get almost a whole week off before returning to action next Friday night at the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Cal Heeter's 18-save effort on 19 shots now gives him 89 saves on 92 shots in the four-game homestand for a 0.75 goals-against average and a save percentage of .967. The numbers are eerily similar to his four-game run in early November when he stopped 125 out of 128 for a 0.75 goals-against and a .976 save percentage. Heeter entered the game fourth in the AHL with a goals-against of 2.24. He has taken over everyday goaltending duties with the absence of Yann Danis who remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.

The Phantoms are now 10-1-1 when they score the first goal and they also improved to 6-2-1 in games in which they score a power-play goal.

The Phantoms outshot Utica 29-19 in the game. Adirondack was 2-for-3 on the power play while Utica to 0-for-2. This was the first AHL game between Adirondack and Utica in 20 years. On February 26, 1993 the Adirondack Red Wings defeated the Utica Devils 7-3 in Glens Falls. The Phantoms will make their first trip to the Mohawk Valley in February. The Comets return to Glens Falls on April 13.

The Phantoms travel to the Hartford Wolf Pack next Friday and then return to Glens Falls on Saturday night for their last home game before Christmas. Next Saturday Adirondack will host the Eastern Conference leading Manchester Monarchs and the game will feature a postgame skate for the fans with all the players. Call the Phantoms for tickets at 518-480-3355.

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