Greg Carey – Morgan Frost – Andy Andreoff
Matthew Strome – Cal O’Reilly – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Mikhail Vorobyev – German Rubtsov – Isaac Ratcliffe
Maksim Sushko – Kyle Criscuolo – Kurtis Gabriel
T.J. Brennan – Nate Prosser
Chris Bigras – Mark Friedman
James de Haas – Reece Willcox
J-F Berube – Felix Sandstrom
Tyler Wotherspoon, Gerry Fitzgerald, David Kase, Pascal Laberge
Preseason was in the books. Evaluations were finished. Rosters had been set. Saturday night marked the opening of the 2019-20 season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and they kicked off the season on home ice in front of a sellout crowd of 8,456 cheering fans.
With Alex Lyon still traveling as the emergency backup with the Philadelphia Flyers in Europe, J-F Berube got the call to protect the crease in this game. It was also the pro debut for Morgan Frost who, coming off of injury, found himself on the top line centering Greg Carey and Andy Andreoff.
The game had a relatively quick pace throughout, but getting quality shots on goal was hard to come by for both teams. Players spent a good portion of time and energy trying to make space and open shooting lanes.
One skater in particular, however, had no trouble making himself visible and giving himself plenty of room to create plays. German Rubtsov spent 60 minutes playing outstanding hockey, despite being kept off of the score sheet. On two separate occasions Rubtsov found himself with a prime scoring chance shorthanded, but was denied each time by Providence goaltender Max Lagace. At other times, Rubtsov could be seen dancing the puck down the ice, puck-handling with exceptional skill and good hands.
Frost also showed off his skill at various times throughout the game, making a good effort on the first power play unit, and displaying sharp abilities in the dirty areas, getting the puck out of corners cleanly, making smooth zone exits and passing cleanly to teammates entering the offensive zone.
As a whole, the Phantoms simply weren’t able to solve Lagace on this night. They had plenty of good opportunities, and played pretty good hockey throughout the game, but couldn’t find a way to put the puck into Providence’s net.
The Bruins scored the first goal of the night in the first period on a weird shot that deflected off the back of defenseman Nate Prosser and over top of Berube. It wasn’t until the third period, as tensions and energy had both increased, that Providence really turned up the pressure and started pulling away. Brendan Gaunce buried a big slapshot from the point, and then Paul Carey tucked the puck into the net back door off of a laser shot by Oskar Steen.
The Phantoms now have almost a week to practice and work on the areas that broke down tonight before they take the ice on Friday, September 11th to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Plus / Minus
▲ German Rubtsov, Morgan Frost, Nicolas Aube-Kubel
▼ Matthew Strome, Andy Andreoff, Isaac Ratcliffe