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Buffalo Phantoms Proving Last Year Was No Fluke

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First Place Buffalo Phantoms Silencing The Critics

February 17th, 2013

Falling just short of hoisting the Stanley Cup last season has provided the motivation for the Buffalo Phantoms’ strong start this year.

The Phantoms attempt to remain undefeated with the best record in the league this week when they try for fifth straight victory over a surprisingly 12th place North Bay Warriors team looking to snap its three week winless streak.

Buffalo (35-9-4) lost to Hamilton 6-5 in last season’s Stanley Cup finals, but an otherwise memorable postseason run has fueled the Phantoms’ attempt to finish the run and win it all in 2013.

“When we left last year, we were disappointed, but it left us with a great taste in our mouths, the great taste of success,” said Buffalo GM Daryn Beckman after the Phantoms defeated the Knights 11-1 in last week’s matchup. “Now we’re jumping right back in and it’s like we never left. It’s a short season and we have to capitalize on our momentum.”

While most teams are still struggling to find their identities and gel as a unit, the Phantoms, who kept their core group of guys together, really have picked up right where they left off, starting in net and ending in the offensive zone.

Phantoms captain Sidney Crosby scored a power play goal and two assists yesterday and now has seven goals and 17 assists, for 24 points — one off of Thomas Vanek’s league-leading 25. After a slow start, Crosby now has five three-point efforts in his last nine contests.

“It’s more about the trust in our dressing room amongst all of us that if we do our jobs and stick to the system, and if we get the kind of goaltending we’ve got then we have a chance to win every night,” Crosby told TheAFHL.com.

Craig Anderson, the Phantoms’ number one starting goaltender, has silenced his critics with a fantastic start to the season. He’s currently among the league leaders with a GAA of 1.61, a SV% of .948 and two shutouts.

“You always have people that underestimate you and criticize you, but that’s part of the fun of it, proving people wrong,” said Anderson. “All that matters is what we believe in this room.”

Credit is also due to Phantoms Coach and GM Daryn Beckman, who has put together a well-rounded, high-character group of players. In typical Backman fashion, he has made a few savvy moves in the past two seasons — trading a draft pick for defenseman Jay Bouvmeester (3 goals and 4 assists this season), and acquiring star forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski – few moves that have paid dividends despite going almost completely unheralded.

Beckman, who can be equal parts cerebral, fiery and funny, may finally win the Jack Adams this season. His players and fellow GMs around the league both like him and respect him. His hockey acumen is obvious, his communication skills are one of his biggest strengths, and his ability to gauge the temperature of the team has gone far.

“He leads, in my mind, in a very good way,” forward Marian Hossa said. “He can put his foot down when needed, but he can also have a good laugh with the boys.”

Over his four years as a Coach and GM in the AFHL, each passing point that was earned, every obstacle that was cleared, Beckman’s players began buying in. That was reinforced further with the success the the Phantoms has last year in getting to the Stanley Cup Finals. Now, the team can recognize when it’s playing well and diagnose what’s happening when it is not.

“You build up a belief system in what works and what doesn’t for you, and that foundation is always there,” Beckman said. “It’s just a matter of tweaking it or getting back to certain things when you go off the rails or lose. You look for the symptoms why. It’s much easier to reset when you have that foundation.”

That said, Beckman still has a long road ahead before he gets his team back to the playoffs. With the tight race a compressed 48-game schedule has created, it’s unlikely the Phantoms won’t be knocked off the top of the heap at some point.

“The Phantoms are a team that doesn’t beat itself,” one former AFHL GM said.

That’s because, regardless of however many high-profile players they have in their lineup, the Phantoms  have established something that has changed little with personnel: a winning culture bred by selflessness and strong team concept reinforced by success.

 

Categories : afhl

6 Comments

1
Hamilton GM Gates Imbeau
February 18th, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Phantoms and Firestorm are first and second in the league. Great showcase of why they went to the Final last year! Hopefully we can meet up again in the final eh Daryn? BTW – great job Tony!

2
Comox Valley GM Pat McKenna
February 18th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

another solid article Tony….. Buffalo looks poised this year to run the table…. the only question will be goaltending and if Anderson can continue this torrid run…. ya ok Gates you look solid too

3
Buffalo GM Daryn Beckman
February 19th, 2013 at 2:18 am

Tony I must say I’m honored by this article it was a great read and pretty dead on! I love this league and I really hope the phantoms can keep this up and take home that coveted trophy this year. It is an honor to be in this league and I love every minute of it. life long member here as we do really have the best 20 fantasy gms in this league. Great article Tony keep up the good work and again thank you very much . love ya guys lol now if the sharks and sabres could stop sucking ass life would be great lol

4
Montreal GM Keith Cancilla
February 19th, 2013 at 7:11 am

Well done and in depth Tony. But did we miss the fact that I won 10-0 and am tied with Victoria in the standings. I believe that requires an article of humility on Chris’s part. BAHAHA! I know you’ll kill me in the final standings Chris, but I’m gonna bask in this temporary glory!

5
London GM Matt Plachta
February 19th, 2013 at 8:15 am

Another nice article Tony.
Mustang fans are wondering what we have to do to get mentioned.
4th overall after 4 weeks and not even a mention of the addition of cheerleaders to our games. The girls have a pout on and so do the fans hahaha

6
Washington GM Rick Charron
February 20th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

i give you some credit Matt! well done..lol there you go….great article again Tony…love the depth as the clip mentioned…sorry i meant Keith lol…

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The Amazing Fantasy Hockey League (AFHL) is a lifetime keeper fantasy hockey league that consists of 20 franchised teams, of which 10 are located in Canada, and 10 are located in the United States. The AFHL is in no way shape or form affiliated with the NHL or the NHLPA and all teams logos and players names are their property.