GLENS FALLS -- The Adirondack Phantoms have been looking for a spark lately, something to get them going at the beginning of the game. Maybe some fresh legs will provide that.
The Phantoms hit the ice Friday in Hartford, Conn., with three new members of the roster up from the ECHL: defenseman Blake Kessel and forwards Marcel Noebels and Ian Slater.
Noebels, who was reassigned to the Phantoms by the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, is coming off a strong December in which he tallied nine goals and 12 assists. The Germany native was named the ECHL Rookie of the Month and was selected to the ECHL All-Star Team on Thursday.
“Two months (ago) I was pretty mad about myself and about the decision to get sent down,” Noebels said. “They probably didn’t expect me to do so well. I put some points up in December.”
Noebels’ rapid improvement caught everyone’s eye. Head coach Terry Murray said his complete game has come around as he has adjusted to professional hockey. That Noebels is now one of the bigger forwards on the Phantoms’ roster, at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, didn’t hurt either.
The rookie practiced with the second power play shift Thursday, and Murray said Noebels can expect playing time in many different situations. The coach doesn’t see much point to burying a player on a hot streak on the fourth line.
“He was a point-producing player in Trenton,” Murray said. “Whenever a player is called up, I like to put him right in and give him the opportunity to keep playing the way he’s been playing.”
That philosophy worked for Jason Akeson, who jumped right in on the power play and the first line and tallied 10 points in his first 10 games back in the AHL.
Slater, who signed an AHL contract before the season, was recalled by the Phantoms, and Kessel was reassigned by the Flyers, both on Thursday. They plan to skate with the team Friday morning in Glens Falls before traveling to the game in Hartford that night.
The quick turnaround doesn’t concern Murray, who said it’s all part of professional hockey. He said he’d sit down with them to make sure they were on the same page and both had a chance to be in the lineup immediately.
Kessel tallied 15 points in 31 games with Trenton this season and had 18 points with the Phantoms last year. Slater is a rookie out of Western Michigan University and scored seven goals and three assists in the ECHL.
The Phantoms could need them, as they skated exactly a full lineup at practice Thursday, with only 12 forwards and six defensemen due to injuries. The addition of Kessel and Slater gives them some flexibility.