I think we all came into the season expecting Mike Testwuide to pick up where he left off at the end of last year and be a key player for this team. I know he did, too.
The last five games he's recaptured what he had the second half of last season, and he was able to close out the year with an exclamation point by scoring the game-winner in overtime. Have to love http://twitter.com/#!/PSPhantoms/status/153318386049355776" target="_blank">the Tebow pose in celebration from the Colorado native.
Testwuide's re-emergence as an offensive player is so important because the Phantoms aren't scoring much. This was the fifth game in a row they scored two goals or fewer.
They've been able to win two in a row despite the offense because, as Jason Bacashihua points out below, the team defense has been much better than in Wednesday's loss to Binghamton. Bacashihua, also, has been a big factor the last two games. He may play a larger role as the season progresses.
Nice to see the game pause to honor a couple of milestones as Denis Hamel played his 1,000th professional game -- 808 of those in the AHL -- and for Dan Jancevski's 800th AHL game.
Here's to a safe, happy and healthy New Year to everyone.
Lines: Wellwood/Holmstrom/Testwuide; Hamel/Roe/Akeson; McGinn/Kalinski/Harper; Rowe/Bohmbach/Brown.
Scratches: Healthy -- Pither, Manning, Backlund. Injured -- Sestito (upper-body), Bartulis (unknown), Klotz (lower-body). Sestito and Klotz are both day-to-day.
On emotions after scoring game-winner:
"It's phenomenal. Just putting some games together, getting my confidence back. Us as a team we hit a little rut there but we've gotten it back and it feels great right now. You can hear the locker room right now, we're pretty excited and we're ready to keep going and fight for a playoff spot."
On scoring four goals in last five games:
"I feel like I've been more confident holding onto the puck. It's kind of circumstances. We changed up a couple lines in the past five games and I think that's helped a little bit and I think it's a little bit circumstance. I've had the same opportunity all year."
On new line with Eric Wellwood and Ben Holmstrom:
"We all like to get in on the forecheck, which is huge for our team, so that's what we emphasize, getting in there, F1 and F2, and pounding their guys. I think us three really love to forecheck and we all like to have the puck so it's a good thing."
On depth at goalie:
"A lot of teams don't have a one-two punch like we do. A lot of people didn't see how good Cash acutally is and he's money. He is money. And he's a great goaltender and obviously Leighton is spectacular in all situations. Having a backup that could do that is going to be really valuable down the stretch."
On breaking the losing streak:
"I think we played solid the last two games in our own end. If you look at us two nights before against (Binghamton), we were giving up breakaways and odd-man rushes and it's hard to win games when you're giving up four of those in a game. So the last two games our forwards are back-checking good and our defense is doing a lot better in not allowing so many odd-man rushes. I don't think I saw one two-on-one in these last two games.
On Testwuide breaking out:
"He's been waiting for it. We're excited for him to get that overtime goal. I was excited; saved me from another shootout. That's what we want to see out of our players, guys celebrating and smiles in the locker room. It wasn't that we were losing. So it's good to see those guys smiling and having a good time while playing."
"His confidence has been very high when he's been scoring and it's big for our team right now because we haven't been scoring a lot of goals. They've been really hard to come by. He just goes to the net and he bangs rebounds in. Tonight was a great example. Gus threw an outside shot to the net and he went to the net hard and banged it in. That's they way most of his goals have been, just being around the net. In fact, (Jason Akeson's) power-play goal, he was right out front as well. He screened the shot. So he was a big factor in that goal."
"I would say probably percentage-wise he's around the front of the net a little more. That's a big factor. Pucks hit you sometimes and you get more chances. So he's been in that front a lot more."
On play since break:
"I'm really happy with us getting the win but I don't think we're playing as well as we could be. And maybe you can't be. When you take four, five days sometimes your guys don't come back as sharp.
"The other thing is Gustafsson, not to make excuses, but not he's asked to come back from the Flyers and play prime -- he's a primetime guy down here. Now there's an adjustment. Marshall a little bit, too. When he's up there he's maybe playing nine or 10 minutes as a sixth defenseman. He comes back down here and you put him in a larger role and some guys adjust better and some guys don't right away. He's playing 20 minutes so it's a different kind of game for him. I talked to them and I think they can both get better.
"And I thought Gus improved from the last night to tonight's game and the same with Wellwood when he came back from his injury. His first game we gave him about eight minutes and he wasn't very good and the next night he improved and took that next step. I think it's just tough for some guys to go up and come down and play well right away. It's not an excuse. It's just different."
On Bacashihua starting two nights in a row;
"He was a big factor why we won (Friday) night. He's got experience in the league. He's been around and played very well (Friday) and a big reason why we won the game."
"It's almost like sometimes Bacashihua should maybe be playing more. He's been very good about it. He's been a very good pro and working hard and just understanding the situation."