Phantoms to honor YSU's football team
Mahoning Valley is seeking its 15th straight home win tonight.
BOARDMAN -- The Mahoning Valley Phantoms are in pursuit of another team record when they host the Traverse City North Stars at the Ice Zone tonight and Saturday.
On Friday, the Phantoms will honor Coach Jon Heacock and the YSU football team. Heacock will drop the ceremonial first puck prior to the opening face-off. The YSU cheerleaders will also be at the game.
The Phantoms (29-10-1) are 14-0-0 at home, tying their unbeaten mark set last season when they began 12-0-2 at the Ice Zone. The Phantoms are the only undefeated team at home in the North American Hockey League. Their current 14-game home winning streak is also the longest in the NAHL since 2003.
"We're very fortunate to have 15 home games left on our schedule," said Phantoms coach Bob Mainhardt. "We have a lot of opportunities to make good on some of our goals. To be given those chances with our fans behind us will make for a great atmosphere."
Questionable for weekend
Defensemen Adam Snead and Eric Ringel are questionable for this weekend, after both suffered concussions in a 5-4 loss to Alpena on Jan. 13.
The Phantoms acquired forward Kenny Brandt of Plymouth, Mich. and defenseman Mike Sturdevant from Portage, Mich. Sturdevant played eight games for Traverse City earlier this season. Brandt and Sturdevant played in Monday's 7-4 win against the U.S. National Team in Ann Arbor.
"Kenny is a seasoned veteran and will provide experience up front," Mainhardt said. "Mike is a very steady defenseman. Most of our guys have either played with or against him in the past, so he should fit in well."
The Phantoms were in Traverse City on Dec. 19-20, winning by scores of 5-1 and 7-1. This season, the Phantoms are 7-1-1 against Traverse City, and 10-0-0 versus the North Stars at the Ice Zone since last season.
Traverse City (13-21-5) has the worst road record in the NAHL at 4-11-3.
"Traverse City always presents a challenge to us," Mainhardt said. "That, our record at home and the fact that they are fighting for a playoff spot, will make for a very competitive weekend."
Stars battle for playoff spot
The North Stars are tied with Marquette for third place in the North Division, just two points ahead of the U.S. National Team for the final playoff spot.
"They [Traverse City] have as many reasons to win this weekend as we do," center Derek Graham said. "We have to be at the top of our game."