GLENS FALLS -- The Adirondack Phantoms lost 4-1 to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night, but the setback, the sixth in a row for the Phantoms, paled in comparison to the shocking, season-altering news released following the game.
According to Adirondack coach Greg Gilbert, leading scorer Patrick Maroon is “no longer with the team, pending assignment by the organization.”
Gilbert wouldn’t comment on whether a specific incident sparked the dismissal. Asked if Maroon would return, Gilbert repeated the statement about re-assignment.
Phantoms captain Dan Jancevski and another player approached also declined to comment specifically on whatever led to Maroon’s dismissal.
“It’s just an internal matter and it’s going to stay what happened in the dressing room,” Jancevski said.
Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren and assistant General Manager John Paddock both watched the game. It’s a rarity for Holmgren to be in attendance, particularly as Philadelphia played at the same time.
Maroon’s absence will loom large for the Phantoms. He’s been an impact offensive player on a team desperate for someone to fill that role. He scored five of the Phantoms’ 19 goals in their first nine games before Friday. He also had three assists and was playing at nearly a point-per-game pace.
“We just have to forge ahead here, put our heads down, bring a lunch bucket and come to work every day,” Jancevski said. “It’s going to turn around. It has to.”
Maroon, 22, was well on his way to eclipsing his totals from an injury-plagued season a year ago, when he had just 11 goals in 67 games.
A sixth-round pick by the club in 2007, Maroon was in his third season with the club. His best season was in 2008-09, when he scored 23 goals in 80 games with the then-Philadelphia Phantoms.
In the last season of his entry-level contract, his future with the Philadelphia Flyers organization appears over. As of the middle of the week, Maroon was practicing with the Phantoms as usual.
The Phantoms (2-7-1-0) have needed every bit of his offense. They've averaged just 2.1 goals per game through their first nine.
At times, it’s been a case of not being able to bury their opportunities. Friday, they struggled to generate quality chances against the East Division-leading Penguins (7-0-0-0).
They had just four shots after the first period and ten after a better second, but still trailed 2-0.
“We passed up probably 20 to 25 shooting opportunities in the first two periods,” Gilbert said. “A shooting opportunity isn’t point blank. It’s a chance to get the puck at the net and create traffic and go for rebounds. And we looked for the drop passes and plays through the middle. That’s not the way the game is played.”
Jesse Boulerice’s goal made it a three-goal lead less than four minutes into the third. Ryan Craig and Carl Sneep also scored for the Penguins.
David Laliberte’s goal, his first of the season, cut the Penguins lead to 3-1 midway through the third period. The Phantoms had back-to-back power play chances in the final 10 minutes, but couldn’t close the gap.
“It just seems like every break we’re not getting, they’re getting,” Jancevski said. “But there’s no excuses. I can’t pinpoint it down to the specific thing that’s going on, but we’ll keep working on it and figure it out.”
Loose pucks: With Oskars Bartulis in town on a conditioning stint, defensemen Logan Stephenson and J.P. Testwuide were healthy scratches.
W-B/Scranton ( 7-0-0-0) 1 1 2 — 4
Adirondack (2-7-1-0) 0 0 1 — 1
First period — 1, W-B/Scranton, Craig 1 (Bortuzzo, Strait), 2:02. Penalties — Strait, Wbs (tripping), 3:45; Laliberte, Adk (interference), 4:30; Kalinski, Adk (slashing), 7:34; Vitale, Wbs (boarding), 15:27.
Second period — 2, W-B/Scranton, Sneep 1 (Johnson, Hutchinson), 18:17. Penalties — Craig, Wbs (roughing), 2:41; Rinaldo, Adk (diving), 2:41; Rowe, Adk (hooking), 7:17; Jeffrey, Wbs (cross-checking), 10:21; Craig, Wbs (roughing), 13:29; Testwuide, Adk (roughing), 13:29; Tangradi, Wbs (tripping), 18:19.
Third Period — 3, W-B/Scranton, Boulerice 1 (Walker, Sill), 3:23; 4, Adirondack, Laliberte 1 (Rinaldo, Bartulis), 5:04; 5, W-B/Scranton, Johnson 3 (Hutchinson, Jeffrey), 15:58 (PP). Penalties — Potter, Wbs (slashing), 9:14; Walker, Wbs (holding), 11:21; Holmstrom, Adk (hooking), 14:36.
Shots on goal — W-B/Scranton 10-4-6-20; Adirondack 4-6-8-18.
Power-play opportunities — W-B/Scranton 1 / 4; Adirondack 0 / 6.
Goalies — W-B/Scranton, Thiessen 3-0-0 (18 shots-17 saves); Adirondack, Backlund 2-5-0 (20 shots-16 saves).
Referee — Jean Hebert.
A — 2,732.