GLENS FALLS -- Two weeks of living in a hotel room without the comforts of home was enough for Eric Wellwood and the rest of the Adirondack Phantoms.
“It’s good to get out of the hotel,” Wellwood said. “That’s one thing everyone wants to do — just get settled and start cooking your own meals.”
After spending training camp at the Philadelphia Flyers’ facility in Voorhees, N.J., the Phantoms are back home in Glens Falls. The team held the season’s first practice at the Civic Center on Tuesday.
Practice did not go smoothly — head coach Terry Murray called it “nearly a disaster” — but that was mainly attributed to the two days off prior and the travel to get to Glens Falls.
“It’s nice to be here, be down to one group,” Murray said. “It’s good to get away right now, and to get to our own place and get organized and get ready to play for the opener.”
Left wing Tye McGinn said the 39 players the team had at training camp in New Jersey was just a lot of guys. Now, the team can start to build more chemistry again and get back to the family feeling it had before.
This year’s team is made up of mostly familiar faces. Twenty of the 25 players have played for the Phantoms in the past. Eighteen of them were on the roster last year.
Nine of the Phantoms spent time with the Flyers last year: defensemen Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning and forwards Sean Couturier, Ben Holmstrom, Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Wellwood and Harry Zolnierczyk.
Bourdon, Wellwood, Rinaldo, Gustafsson, Schenn and Couturier were also part of the Flyers’ playoff run last season. They are here, for the most part, because of the NHL lockout.
“It’s always important to keep playing with guys that you normally play with,” Schenn said. “That’s what the guys that are over here have, compared to the guys that are going to Europe.”
Tuesday’s practice featured a first line that really takes advantage of NHL-caliber speed in Couturier, Schenn and Matt Ford.
Murray said he is leaning toward keeping that line, but is not set on any line combination yet.
Defenseman Danny Syvret returns to Adirondack after spending a year with the Peoria Rivermen. Goaltender Scott Munroe has not been with the team since the 2008-09 season, when they were the Philadelphia Phantoms.
The biggest surprise on the roster came with Jason Akeson, who scored 55 points for the Phantoms last year, being assigned to Trenton, the Philadelphia Flyers’ ECHL affiliate. Murray said Akeson was a victim of the lockout.
Every team in the AHL has some NHL players, but the Phantoms’ roster may have more than most. They could be positioned very well to make a splash.
“I think we have one of the strongest teams on paper,” Wellwood said. “Hopefully, we can live up to our expectations. I think we’re going to put our expectations as high as we can. It looks like a really good team and hopefully we can perform.”