SARATOGA SPRINGS -- When Garrett Klotz was abruptly banished to a lower-level minor league team early last season, it seemed Adirondack fans had seen the last of the hulking forward.
Not only is he back, but if his play in Adirondack's 3-1 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the preseason opener is any indication, he may end up having a greater role than before.
Klotz scored the game's first goal - on a power-play, no less - hit a post, and was an all-around physical force in the offensive zone.
Klotz looked more like the player the Flyers envisioned when they drafted him in the third round in 2007 than the guy who had seven points in his first three AHL seasons. At 6-foot-5 and almost 240 pounds, he'll always be able to play the enforcer. But the Flyers wanted more when they re-signed him to an AHL deal this season.
"I kind of took a little time off in the weight room and worked on my speed and quickness. I'm feeling good out there and it's showing with my play," Klotz said. "They said they want me more offensive, like a power forward so I took it upon myself to train this summer and work on the hands and the feet."
Klotz turned it on after being sent to Bloomington in the CHL last season after playing just 11 games with the Phantoms.
He had nine goals and 15 assists in 49 games and was a key contributor for a team that went deep in the playoffs.
"I just really looked in the mirror and said to myself, ‘I have to turn things around here and start putting up some points,' " Klotz said. "You're never happy to get sent down but I made the best of it and took it upon myself to improve."
Klotz wasn't the only player to impress in the Phantoms first game in Saratoga. A crowd of about 550 watched at Weibel Arena.
Goalie Jason Bacashihua made 32 saves, losing the shutout with 2.7 seconds remaining.
Shane Harper had a goal and an assist and Eric Wellwood also scored. The Phantoms scored all three goals on the power play.
The game was marred by a serious injury to linesman Steve Lemay in the third period. The toe of his skate appeared to catch in the ice as he was hit from behind, causing a serious injury to his left leg. He left on a stretcher.
Loose pucks: The Flyers assigned forward Tom Sestito to the Phantoms on Wednesday after he cleared waivers. The NHL suspended him for two preseason games and two regular-season games for a hit in a game against the Rangers on Monday. The AHL is not obligated to honor that suspension, but has the right to implement one of their own if they choose. As of late Wednesday, the Phantoms had heard no word from the league.
Penguins (0-1) 0 0 1 - 1
Phantoms (1-0) 1 1 1 - 3
First period - 1, Adirondack, Klotz (Harper, Pither), 17:25 (pp).
Second period - 2, Adirondack, Wellwood (Akeson), 13:37 (pp).
Third period - 3, Adirondack, Harper (McGinn, Kessel), 18:26 (pp); 4. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Barton, 19:57.
Goalies - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Kileen 33 saves; Adirondack, Bacashihua 32 saves.