Philadelphia's minor league affiliate began its preseason last night with a 5-3 loss to the Albany Devils that saw the Phantoms outshoot the Devils by a 47-23 margin.
The burden of responsibility fell upon goaltender Niko Hovinen, a Finnish prospect who was supposed to be an imposing presence in the net given his 6'7" frame. Hovinen allowed three goals on the first eight shots, putting his team in a 3-0 hole less than eight minutes into the contest.
On the offensive side of the puck, players who could potentially spend time with the Flyers should the lockout end had a productive day. Presumed third-line center Sean Couturier embraced his more offensive role with the Phantoms, tallying two assists on the team's three goals.
Couturier was bested by defensive prospect Brandon Manning, though, who assisted on all three goals. The goals were scored by Danny Syvret, Matt Ford and Tye McGinn.
The game was played at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey—the practice site for the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the lockout. The Skate Zone is also the site of the Flyers' unofficial practices, being run on the ice privately rented by Scott Hartnell and coached by former Flyer Todd Fedoruk.
The Phantoms play two more road preseason games before returning to Glens Falls.
The Flyers have six presumed NHL players on the Phantoms this season: Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo and Couturier.
Couturier was the only player in the group to register a point in the opener.
Players To Watch
Despite the fact that the roster is now saturated with NHL players, the Phantoms remain the Flyers' farm team and thus are made up of a pool of talented players looking for their shots at the NHL.
Pay special attention to winger Jason Akeson, an undersized forward with plenty of guts and heart who could get a shot at the NHL level if injuries take a major toll on the Flyers once the season begins.
The aforementioned Brandon Manning is also a key figure to keep track of, especially in light of Philadelphia's unpredictable defensive future.
Matt Ford, Blake Kessel and Ben Holmstrom are also key players to watch.