Hovinen struggles in Phantoms debut

Phantoms coach Terry Murray said Niko Hovinen seemed "a little jittery" in his debut with the team Tuesday. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

Highly touted 6-foot-7 goalie Niko Hovinen had a disappointing North American debut Tuesday afternoon as the Adirondack Phantoms dropped a 5-3 decision to Albany in an AHL exhibition opener for both teams.

A standing-room-only crowd of 400 crammed into the Skate Zone in Voorhees to watch the game.

Hovinen, 24, who starred in Finland last season, allowed three goals in the first 7 minutes, 41 seconds as the Phantoms fell into a 3-0 deficit and couldn’t climb out. They outshot the New Jersey Devils’ farm team, 47-23.

“I think he was a little jittery, playing his first game in North America and seeing different kinds of shots coming from these players,” Phantoms coach Terry Murray said. “It’s in a smaller building, and I’m sure there are a couple of those goals he’d love to have back. The next time he plays, he’s going to be a lot better to handle those situations.”

The Phantoms play Albany in Newark on Friday afternoon.

“He got the first one under his belt,” Murray said. “A pro has to learn to move on and come back the next day and be able to work at it again and be better.”

Hovinen, who was given a pep talk by GM Paul Holmgren after the game, had hip surgery in the off-season, but said it is 100 percent healed. As for his debut, he wasn’t satisfied.

“It wasn’t good. It was pretty bad, actually,” he said. “I didn’t feel good at any point in the game. I just didn’t feel like myself, maybe because of the long break” between games.

Breakaways. Danny Syvret, Matt Ford and Tye McGinn scored for the Phantoms…..Defenseman Brandon Manning had three assists and Sean Couturier had a pair of helpers....Holmgren when asked about the labor negotiations. “I know nothing. Just call me Sergeant Schultz.” He was referring to the character from the old TV show “Hogan’s Heroes.”….Couturier was used at the point on some power plays....Brayden Schenn said playing with the Phantoms allows him to get his mind off the fruitless negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA……Schenn on the overflow crowd: “That’s Flyers fans for you. They’re passionate.”….Audio of the Phantoms’ regular-season home games will be broadcast on the Flyers’ website...The Phantoms' training camp will continue Wednesday morning in Voorhees....ESPN3 announced it will broadcast some KHL games online, starting Wednesday with Alex Ovechkin's Dynamo Moscow team.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.