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Pyorala happy to have role with Phantoms

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Mika Pyorala
Philadelphia Flyers forward Mika Pyorala, of Finland, works the boards in the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

GLENS FALLS -- Most players don't exactly welcome a demotion to the American Hockey League. Mika Pyorala is a bit of an exception.

Sure, Pyorala would rather be plying his trade in the NHL. But if it's a choice between his former role with the Philadelphia Flyers or his current position with the Adirondack Phantoms, Pyorala will take Glens Falls.

Pyorala had been a healthy scratch in 13 of the Flyers last 14 games before being sent to Adirondack on Jan. 30.

"I'd rather be here and play than stay on the bike," Pyorala said. "Of course you don't get that much money, but that doesn't (matter). I'm a 28-year-old and I don't want to be on the bike. I want to

play."

In his five games here, he's logged plenty of minutes in a consistent role. He began on the second line filling in for a sick Stefan Legein on the right wing with Jared Ross and Andreas Nodl. The line had immediate chemistry, scoring three goals in two games, including Pyorala's first AHL goal.

But after a 5-0 loss in Syracuse on Saturday, Legein was back skating with Ross and Nodl at practice Tuesday and Pyorala was on the third line of Jon Kalinski and Jason Ward.

"We lost 5-0 so it's a normal thing to do," Pyorala said.

Pyorala, 28, played nine seasons in Europe, the last two as a teammate of Johan Backlund in Sweden with Timra IK. He signed with the Flyers in the summer and made the team out of training

camp.

"It was the right time and Philadelphia gave me a chance," Pyorala said. "I think I did pretty well in the training camp and first 20 games, but then everybody got healthy, and coach changed, the lines changed."

Pyorala, who has a reputation as a solid two-way player, had two goals and two assists in 32 games with the Flyers. In Adirondack, where he'll stay at least until the end of the Olympic break, the hope is he can add life to a punchless offense.

The Phantoms' shutout in Syracuse was the sixth time they've been held scoreless and the fifth time in their last 11 games that they've scored one goal or fewer. The Phantoms' 116 goals scored is 15 fewer than the next lowest-scoring team.

The Phantoms power play is 2 for 29 over the last eight games and 25 for 228 for the season.

"We're creating opportunities, but we've got to find a way to finish," Adirondack coach Greg Gilbert said. "It may take putting the puck in your mouth and diving over the goal line to get things going. But we just have to keep battling, keep creating those chances and bearing down that much more when we get the opportunity."

Missed chances have been the story of two close losses at Rochester this season. The Phantoms scored one goal in both games. If not for a final second empty-netter in the first meeting, both games would have ended 2-1. Rochester is in second place in the North Division of the Western Conference.

Loose pucks: Krys Kolanos remains out indefinitely with an injury ... The stomach flu bug that had been sweeping through the Phantoms locker room seems to be abating. As many four players were out with it on Saturday and eight or nine players have had symptoms.

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