Grubauer a Brick Wall, Bears Shutout Phantoms
Photo courtesy Kyle Mace / SHoE
Bears 3, Phantoms 0
Members of Bears Nation had to be shaking their heads, asking themselves "what just happened in there?" Despite the Bears putting together a solid team effort in shutting out the Adirondack Phantoms 3-0, it was a very odd game. A rookie getting his first AHL shutout, a game winning goal scored from the Bears defensive zone, and a back-up goalie having to leave after taking a puck to the forehead while sitting on the bench all led to spooky night at the GC. The Bears got the performance of the season from rookie netminder Philipp Grubauer (6-3-1) as he turned away all 40 shots he saw, including 20 in the second period alone as he notched his first blank sheet in the AHL. Forwards Ryan Potulny (9) and Ryan Stoa (9) scored power play goals in the second and third periods, respectively to ice the game, but it will be Patrick McNeill’s (3) short handed game winner, scored in the first from his own zone that have all the natives talking.
The first period was dominated by the Chocolate & White as they sent 16 shots toward Phantoms goalie Scott Munroe (11-13-0), while the visitors were only able to send 7 Grubauer’s way. But of the 16, it was the one that Munroe never got a chance to stop he will be seething about on the bus back to Glens Falls. With Bears agitator Matt Clackson sitting in the box for interference, the Phantoms had the Bears hemmed up in their own zone. As forward Jeff Taffe and Steve Oleksy tied the puck up behind the net, McNeill picked up the loose puck and skated it into the right circle where he dumped the puck up the boards and into the Phantoms zone. As Munroe went behind his own net, the puck caromed off a kickplate near the penalty boxes and into the gaping empty net, stunning the Phantoms, and most of all Munroe. The goal was scored at 14:03 and assists were credited to both Taffe and Oleksy to give the Bears a huge 1-0 lead.
The second was a different story as the Phantoms poured it on offensively. The Phantoms outshot the Bears 20-5 in the period, but once again the Bears were the only ones able to get the black biscuit over the goal line. With Phantoms veteran defenseman Andreas Lilja in the box for roughing, forward Casey Wellman sent a pass from the left circle into the slot where Taffe redirected in on Munroe. Munroe kicked out the original slot into the right circle, where a diving Ryan Potulny knocked the loose puck over Munroe’s glove to put the good guys up 2-0 at 15:00. Taffe’s second helper of the game was his 34th of the season, which leads the AHL. That would be how the second period would end.
The Bears would ice it in the third on a power play tally from the red hot Ryan Stoa. Stoa would creep out from behind the net and launch a wrister over Munroe’s glove from the right faceoff dot to end the scoring at the 10:42 mark. The goal was Stoa’s fourth in the last five games. Oleksy would get his second helper of the night, and Peter LeBlanc would add a helper as well. A scary moment in the third that will not make the score sheet. Late in the period, a Phantoms clearing attempt went into the Bears bench and hit the unsuspecting Bears back-up goaltender Dany Sabourin in the forehead. He went back the tunnel along with trainer Dan ‘Beaker’ Stuck and didn’t return to the bench. Luckily, with Grubauer playing like a ‘Chocolate Curtain’, Sabourin’s services were not needed on this night and there is no update on his condition at this time. Munroe finished the game with 25 saves in the losing effort.
1. Philipp Grubauer (HER) – stops 40 shots for his first career AHL shutout
2. Jeff Taffe (HER) – gets a pair of helpers to increase his AHL lead
3. Steve Oleksy (HER) – gets two assists, including one on the GWG
Between The Blue Lines
• The Bears scratched forwards Danick Paquette (hand), Evan Barlow (healthy), Matt Pope (healthy), Mike Carman (healthy), & Mattias Sjogren (healthy), as well as blue liners Dmitry Orlov (upper body) & Patrick Wellar (healthy). The Phantoms sat forwards Ben Holmstrom (ACL – out for year), Mike Testwuide (concussion), Matt Ford (knee), and Tom Sestito (healthy), as well as defensemen Jeff Dimmen (undisclosed) and Zack Fitzgerald (undisclosed).
• A standing room crowd of 10,906 attended the game.
• McNeill’s goal was the fifth Bears shorthanded tally of the season, and the first by a defenseman.
• This afternoon’s game in Atlantic City, NJ is the Bears third of three ‘neutral’ site games this season and they are 1-0-1 in the first two, defeating the Norfolk Admirals 2-1 at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on December 6th, and falling to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1 in overtime at HersheyPark Stadium at the Outdoor Classic on January 20th.