by Nick Luchko
It is Friday night and you have nothing to do. Then as you are reading your weekly edition of The Loquitur you see an ad for the last sport champion in Philadelphia: The Phantoms.
If you do not know, the Phantoms are the minor league hockey team for the Philadelphia Flyers. Their games are played at the First Union Spectrum and they have gained a large fan base since their inception five years ago. In 1998, the Phantoms won the Calder Cup, which is the equivalent of the Stanley Cup that is given to the NHL champion in June. Former players that have played for the Phantoms that have seen great success for the Flyers have included Simon Gagne, Andy Delmore and Peter White.
So for this season, the Phantoms have enjoyed great success playing in the American Hockey League. As of Tuesday, they has won two in a row and seven of their last eight games. Presently, they are tied for second in the Mid Atlantic division and fifth overall in the Western Conference. Leading the Phantoms this year has been Mark Grieg (75 points) and Mark Freer (64 pints). Goaltender Neil Little (20 wins) has reemerged as the main guy between the pipes.
As the playoffs approach, the Phantoms will have to ride the winning streak they are presently on if they are to go anywhere. They are not the same team that was so dominate in the late `90s, however, they have something that not many teams have in the AHL and that is the fan support. Phantom fans have been regarded as some of the best in Philadelphia breaking AHL records for attendance over the last five years.
When you go to a Phantoms game, it feels like the old Spectrum when the Flyers used to play there except the prices are cheaper. The “Broad Street Bullies” persona that was made famous back in the `70s has taken a whole new meaning today. When you go to a Phantoms game, fights are almost a given and it is always a treat to see the goaltenders throw punches at center ice which has occurred on more than one occasion.
The Phantoms are a great time for a date or if you want to go out with your friends. Tickets for college students are eight dollars on Friday nights with an ID. Bullies is the bar that is located at the base of the Spectrum and you can usually catch some of the players there after the game.