The Phantoms take on the Alpena Ice Diggers tonight and Saturday.
BOARDMAN -- The Mahoning Valley Phantoms and the Alpena Ice Diggers meet for the first time this weekend at Northern Lights Arena in Alpena, Mich., tonight and Saturday. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and will be webcast on www.mvpphantoms.com.
The Phantoms (7-7-1) have dominated the Ice Diggers recently, going 21-3-1 against them the last two years.
"We've had Alpena's number the last couple of years, but they always done a strong job and we have played a lot of tight games with them. I'm expecting the same competitive situation this year," said Phantoms coach Bob Mainhardt.
Chris Fairbanks and Matt Quigley of the Phantoms are tied for 12th in NAHL scoring with 15 points each. Quigley is also tied for second in the league with 10 goals.
The Ice Diggers (10-3-0), return 13 players from last year's team, led by forwards Nolan Craner and Todd Rudasill, who are among the top scorers in the NAHL. Craner leads with 27 points (10 goals and 17 assists) while Rudasill has 25 points (10 goals and 15 assists).
Drew Pierson is tied for seventh in scoring with 17 points. Combined, the trio has 18 power play goals between them, launching Alpena to the top power play ranking in the NAHL at 21.4 percent.
The Phantoms have the league's sixth best power play at 15.3 percent. Mainhardt said the Phantoms plan to shut down Alpena's power play by minimizing power play opportunities.
"Across the league this year, it's been an ongoing theme with winning and losing games based on special teams," he said. "We've got to continue to get better with the penalty killing and power play."
Up against former team
Phantoms defenseman Adam Snead will be playing against his former team. Snead was a member of the Ice Diggers for the 2004-05 season and part of last season.
"Adam does things that are hard to teach. He is a veteran defenseman that knows his craft and is very good at it," Mainhardt said. "Adam has been outstanding for us on the power play, moving the puck up ice and gives us a toughness edge as well that's very important."
Snead is ranked eighth among defensemen in the NAHL in scoring with nine points (1 goal and 8 assists).
Next week, the Phantoms play host to the Traverse City North Stars Nov. 3-4 at the Ice Zone. Tickets are on sale at the Ice Zone. Call (330) 965-7500 for more information.