GLENS FALLS -- Eric Wellwood was all but invisible for the first portion of the Adirondack Phantoms’ season. He played but didn’t do much, tallying a goal and four assists. At one point, he earned a healthy scratch in three consecutive games.
The past two games, however, it’s as if someone flipped a switch, and Wellwood has looked like a different player — the player the Phantoms expected to see.
Wellwood scored his first goal in 12 appearances to help propel Adirondack to a 3-2 victory over St. John’s on Wednesday.
“To finally score a real nice goal — a pretty goal — I was really happy to see it,” Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said. “He made a strong play at the net, I was happy for him and it was well-deserved.”
Wellwood came off the bench on a line change and charged toward the goal. Sean Couturier made a play in the middle of the ice and fed the puck up to Wellwood, who sped past everyone and fired off a shot top shelf.
On that one play, Wellwood looked more like someone who played 35 games in the NHL last year, 11 of those in the playoffs, than at any point earlier in the season. He started on that path Friday, with a strong game but no stat line.
“I thought the last game, the other night, was his best game of the year,” Murray said. “Tonight, he got off to a good start again on the line with (Couturier) — he’s handling the puck, moving his feet, carrying the puck — and that’s something that was missing in the early part of the season.”
That move to Couturier’s line, along with Matt Ford, who has also struggled to reach last season’s form, seemed to jump-start Wellwood. It got him back on the right track.
Wellwood took a good look at himself after sitting out a few games, and when he still didn’t improve, he had to be honest with himself. He might not have been giving it his full effort.
“I looked at how our team is doing and I don’t think we’re doing that well,” Wellwood said. “I think a big part is my play hasn’t been up there. If I have really good play, we have a lot better chance at winning, and I don’t think I was giving everybody my all. After I saw the standings, I saw that I really gotta get going.”
Wellwood wasn’t the only one to break a scoreless streak Wednesday night. Brandon Manning put the Phantoms on the board, giving them the lead at the first intermission for only the second time this season. The power-play goal was Manning’s first since Oct. 28.
Murray has called for a more balanced offensive attack from his team and he may finally be getting it — four of the Phantoms’ last five goals came from someone not named Brayden Schenn or Couturier.
They were not absent, however. Couturier had two assists in the game and Schenn scored the game-winner. He sent a wrist shot past St. John’s goalie Eddie Pasquale high glove side before the IceCaps’ netminder could react — the kind of goal expected of an NHL player.
This may have been only the Phantoms’ second win in their last nine games — since they lost to St. John’s Nov. 28 — but it was almost exactly what they were looking for from their NHL lockout-bolstered roster, especially Wellwood.
St. John’s (13-15-0-1) 0 2 0 — 2
Adirondack (11-14-1-0) 1 1 1 — 3
First Period—1, Adirondack, Manning 3 (Syvret, Couturier), 6:25 (pp). Penalties—Lauridsen, Adk (slashing), 2:10; Schnell, Stj (fighting), 4:24; FitzGerald, Adk (fighting), 4:24; Meech, Stj (interference), 5:17; Schnell, Stj (high-sticking), 11:20; Gagnon, Stj (slashing), 17:09.
Second Period—2, St. John’s, Machacek 7 (Meech, Mouillierat), 7:18 (pp). 3, Adirondack, Wellwood 2 (Dimmen, Couturier), 10:56. 4, St. John’s, Redmond 8 (Jaffray, Mouillierat), 16:21. Penalties—Roe, Adk (hooking), 5:35; Ford, Adk (slashing), 7:18; Mouillierat, Stj (hooking), 14:07.
Third Period—5, Adirondack, Schenn 12 5:16. Penalties—Jaffray, Stj (slashing), 9:11; Konan, Adk (holding), 12:17; Mouillierat, Stj (high-sticking), 13:54.
Shots on Goal—St. John’s 9-10-6-25. Adirondack 18-7-9-34.
Power Play Opportunities—St. John’s 1/4; Adirondack 1/6.
Goalies—St. John’s, Pasquale 7-9-1 (34 shots-31 saves). Adirondack, Munroe 8-7-0 (25 shots-23 saves).
Referees—Terry Koharski (10), Geoff Miller (28).