GLENS FALLS -- There’s something to be said for having a routine.
For the first seven weeks of the season, the Adirondack Phantoms have had a hard time getting into a routine. They’ve only played four home games, which is tied for the fewest in the league.
The good news for the Phantoms, who are coming off five consecutive road games, is that when they finally host a game Wednesday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers it will be the first of six straight and 10 of their next 12 games at home.
“We broke training camp in Philadelphia and came up here in a bit of a hurry to get places to live and we start to play and we’re going on the road,” head coach Terry Murray said. “So, now we’re getting into a time when it settles a little bit and players can, I think, settle down and hopefully play a more consistent game.”
There’s something to be said for eating at home, sleeping in your own bed, and other factors that might not directly relate to on-ice performance, but just creates a more relaxed mental state and allows players to focus more on preparing for the game. It’s not necessarily an advantage, but it’s one less thing to worry about on game day, according to Cal Heeter.
“We’re all a little bit of a creature of habit,” Murray said. “So you get into the routine of the day, over a month or so, it’s a good thing as a team and it’s a very good thing for you as a player to start to fall into that and know what you’re going to do and where you’re going to be.”
The six-game homestand represents a good chance for the Phantoms, who are in need of a few wins at 6-8 on the season. Adirondack finished its five road games 2-3 and played what might have been its best game of the season in a 4-1 win over Manchester a week ago. But the Phantoms dropped two very physical games to Binghamton and Syracuse by identical scores of 5-2 over the weekend.
“The last five games didn’t really go as planned. We had some high points and low points,” Cullen Eddy said. “After two losses from last week, hopefully by having some home games we can turn it around and come up with a couple wins.”
Murray doesn’t want to make too much of the homestand at once. He sees it as an opportunity for the Phantoms, but wants to look at each game rather than putting the pressure on to win six games at once.
“But it’s real important to keep it simple, to keep the focus on the small areas of the game — the importance of the checking, the passing of the puck, the power play, the penalty kill — so we break the big game down into these small pieces,” Murray said.
Adirondack has only won consecutive games once this season, the first of which was the latter half of the team’s only consecutive home games. More often than not, the Phantoms’ wins have been followed by two losses. Wednesday, the Phantoms are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.
They’re facing a tough opponent, however, in the Sound Tigers, who sit at second in the division at 10-4. The Phantoms leading scorer, Brayden Schenn, matches Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter with 17 points. There are seven other Sound Tigers with eight or more points, whereas the Phantoms have only one, Sean Couturier.
The Phantoms’ penalty kill, which has been successful for most of the season, will be tested against Bridgeport’s third-ranked power play. The Sound Tigers have scored 17 goals in 69 power plays, while the Phantoms have allowed their opponents nine goals in 68 power plays.
Adirondack is hoping to see its power play step up, especially with the addition of Jason Akeson, who was recalled from the ECHL on Sunday.
“It’s time we start putting some points on the board,” Murray said.