GLENS FALLS u When Phantoms captain and top-line center Ben Holmstrom was feeling ill on Wednesday and could only participate in half the practice, coach Joe Paterson turned to his pinch hitter to take his place.
The same player he might ask on a given night to center the fourth line, be a top-line winger, or take over the role of the traded Jon Kalinski on the penalty kill.
There are several good qualities Rob Bordson brings to his second stint with Adirondack, but it’s his versatility the Phantoms prize the most. And after spending all year trying to get back here, the second-year forward out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth doesn’t really care how they use him.
“I’m just thankful they’re giving me a second chance, a second opportunity. Just happy to be here,” Bordson said.
The Phantoms’ stretch drive begins in earnest Friday as they play in Providence for the start of their third straight three-in-three weekend. They go on to Albany on Saturday before returning home to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Adirondack is five points out of the final playoff spot with 21 games remaining.
After losing Kalinski to a trade, the Phantoms signed Bordson to a standard player contract last week. Bordson played 61 games with the Phantoms last season after joining the team as part of the Pat Maroon trade.
Bordson finished the season with 21 points and ended on a high note as a winger on a productive line with Denis Hamel and Matt Read. He seemed a likely contender to be re-signed, but the Flyers ended up trading his expiring contract to Los Angeles as part of the Mike Richards mega-deal in July.
The Flyers included him because they needed to get under the contract limit. The Kings weren’t interested in signing Bordson and he ended up going unclaimed on the open market.
“I thought I ended the year good. I thought I played good the last half of the year. Things just didn’t work out with the contract,” Bordson said. “I didn’t take it the wrong way or anything. Just kept playing, didn’t really getting down on myself.”
Bordson signed with Trenton in the ECHL, hoping the proximity to most AHL clubs would help him get called up quickly.
He did earn an eight-game look with Rochester, but for the most part Bordson toiled with Trenton, where he scored 17 goals and and had a team-high 51 points in 38 games with the league-worst Titans.
That offense carried over into last weekend, his first with the Phantoms. Bordson had a goal in regulation and another in the shootout as Adirondack finally solved Binghamton last week.
“He’s just one of those players that’s good for our team,” Paterson said. “He’s been playing center for us and can play left and right and he’s very valuable on the penalty kill as well.”
Bordson is in the midst of his best offensive season at any level and has worked on becoming good on faceoffs, something he showed last weekend.
Now, the goal is to do enough over the last quarter of the season that he doesn’t have to worry for next season.
“I feel like I’m good enough to be in this league,” Bordson said. “I just have to work for a contract for next year. That’s kind of what the message was.”
Loose pucks: The Phantoms returned goalie Brad Phillips to Trenton on Wednesday. Jason Bacashihua, who injured his shoulder last weekend, is ready to return. … Forward Eric Wellwood was re-assigned to the Phantoms on Monday. He played three games with Philadelphia on his most recent call-up. … Defenseman Blake Kessel practiced this week and is cleared to return from an upper-body injury that cost him seven games. He may not return this weekend, however, as he only recently began skating again. … Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon and forward Garrett Roe, who both missed time with illness last weekend, are expected to play this weekend. … Forward Mike Testwuide remains out with an upper-body injury. He’s missed eight games.