by Amy Moritz
The first intermission was almost over and Adirondack's starting goaltender Carsen Chubak was still in the training room with an undisclosed injury. The Phantoms needed someone to lead them out onto the ice and, oh yeah, take the net.
Hey, Tony Capobianco. You're up.
The former Canisius College goalie saw his first action in the American Hockey League Wednesday night and picked up his first professional win as the Phantoms defeated the Syracuse Crunch, 5-4, in a shootout in Onondaga County War Memorial Arena.
Capobianco had just signed an amateur tryout contract with the Phantoms over the weekend as injuries in the Philadelphia Flyers organization had a trickle-down effect. (Buffalo Sabres fans, you know the drill.) He had originally signed a contract with Elmira of the East Coast Hockey League after the Golden Griffins' season ended in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. He played in two games for the Jackals but the team ended up with a glut of goalies and Capobianco was released.
When his agent called with the opportunity from Adirondack, he jumped on it, although he wasn't expecting to jump into his first game quite like that.
"The first shot was a breakaway and I made the save. That helped my confidence," Capobianco said. "The second shot was a breakaway and they scored on it. I thought, 'This will be interesting if this is the way it's going to go.' The guys played well in front of me and helped me settle down."
Capobianco gave up two goals in the third period, the second one which he would like back. The Phantoms tied the game and after a scoreless overtime it went to a shootout -- which lasted nine rounds.
The last time Capobianco participated in a shootout?
"I can't even remember it but it had to be juniors," he said. "The guys on the bench were laughing about it, that it was my first game and I was throw into a shootout. I only had two or three skates with the team before the game and I never took any breakaways or shootouts with them. I aksed the ref about the rules for skating from the crease, touching the puck. I didn't want to make a rookie mistake and look foolish."
The shootout went back and forth with Capobianco making the final two saves to earn the win.
The Phantoms, who did not qualify for the AHL playoffs, have two games left in the season. Capobianco isn't sure if he'll get a call back into the net or if Chubak will return.
The two goalies and former rivals are now actually roommates. Chubak stared for Niagara in the 2012-13 season winning Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year. He left school last year after his junior season to pursue pro hockey opportunities.
Capobianco stayed for his senior season and became the most decorated goaltender in Canisius College history (seriously, if you need a reminder, revisit gogriffs.com).
The two have plenty to talk about.
"We talked about last year and playing against each other and other guys in the league," Capobianco said. "I'm rooming with him for the rest of my stay here. We have some common ground to talk some Atlantic Hockey."
The highlight package features the goals, so not exactly Capo at his best, but does finish with his game-winning stop in the shootout.