Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gostisbehere makes pro debut (with videos)

by Ryan Fay

Shayne Gostisbehere's last name was misspelled on the name plate above his locker stall in the Adirondack Phantoms locker room.

But if his professional debut against Bridgeport Friday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center was any indication, it won't be long before everyone knows his name.

While the defenseman was held without a point, he took three shots and had an even rating. More importantly, the player affectionately known as "Ghost" proved he belonged.

"The Ghost shows a lot of high-end skill," said Adirondack Phantoms head coach Terry Murray. "Great ability, mobility, vision on the ice. He's a triple-option playmaker and it's pretty special when you have that kind of player. I think he had a great first night out.

“The jump is big to the pro level. The American [Hockey] League is a good league. You’ve got men out there. Physically, he looks very comfortable matching up one-on-one. He’s got such quickness with his hands and his stick that he’s able to recover a lot of pucks under pressure.”

Murray, who has 499 wins as a head coach at the NHL level, gave Gostisbehere plenty of playing time. He wasn't afraid to use the first-timer in sudden-death overtime.

"When you're getting into overtime and that four-on-four hockey, lots of open ice, there's a great opportunity for him to do the things that he does well with the puck," Murray said. "That's make plays and be creative and I have a lot of confidence in what he can do. I love that kind of player."

Bridgeport picked up the win, 3-2, on a goal from Johan Sundstrom at 3:23 of overtime. The Sound Tigers were down 2-0 in the third period before starting their rally with Scooter Vaughan's shorthanded tally at 7:23 of the third.

Gostisbehere, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round two years ago, blamed himself for the rally-starting goal.

"That was definitely my fault," he said. "I lost my guy initially ... and definitely that one was on me."

It didn't take away from what was otherwise a night to remember. The Glens Falls Civic Center felt more like Messa Rink when a throng of Union fans shouted “U! over the word “you” in the national anthem. Many of Gostisbehere's Union teammates were on hand, and they received one of the loudest cheers of the night for winning the program's first national title last Saturday against Minnesota.

"It was a pretty awesome national anthem," Gostisbehere said. "They said 'U.' It was pretty special to share that experience with my teammates."

Gostisbehere, who turns 21 on Sunday, noticed professional hockey was different than college hockey.

“Definitely faster than college and stronger, but it’s a fun game out there, and I learned from it,” he said. “Some things I would do in college wouldn’t necessarily work. I adjusted a little bit and played my game.”

Gostisbehere will play his second professional game tonight when the Phantoms close out their final season in Glens Falls with a road game at Hershey. The Flyers' top minor league affiliate is moving to Allentown, Pa., next season.

Even though it's only two games, Murray said it's an invaluable stretch for Gostisbehere.

"Getting the experience is going to be tremendous for him and his career," Murray said. "This is a great opportunity to take it through the summertime, reflect on it, and get himself ready for the training camp."

Shayne Gostisbehere postgame

Adirondack head coach Terry Murray postgame

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