Phantoms Skid Continues Against Albany

Friday, November 28, 2014
Goaltender Martin Ouellette (pictured left) entered the game in the 2nd period tonight. Jason Akeson quietly put forth a strong effort in his return to the AHL.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms dug themselves in a three-goal hole in the first period again tonight, coming up short against the Albany Devils despite largely out shooting and out chancing the Devils in the final 40 minutes of regulation.

The Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead on first period goals from Reid Boucher, Ben Thomson and Graham Black before the Phantoms responded with two goals of their own in the 2nd period - a power play tally from Taylor Leier and a fortuitous bounce off an Albany defender credited as Petr Straka's 5th of the year.

It wasn't enough as the Phantoms (8-8-2-0) came up short in a 4-2 loss to the Devils (9-6-1-4) tonight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Anthony Stolarz was pulled after the first period, finishing the night with 11 saves on 14 shots in 20 minutes of work. Recently recalled Martin Ouellette came on in relief of Stolarz, stopping 11 of the 12 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes of regulation.

After the game, head coach Terry Murray wouldn't confirm a starter in net for Saturday night's home game against Norfolk. Murray originally said earlier in the week that Stolarz would likely be the starter for both games this weekend.

A suspension is likely coming to Phantoms forward Brett Hextall as the rugged wing picked up a game misconduct for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of regulation and under rule 46.22 - an automatic one-game suspension and $500 fine should be heading Hextall's way.

Another tough start for the Phantoms tonight, victimized for two penalties in the first 3:42 and handing the Devils a two-man advantage early in the contest. The Devils cashed in just as the first penalty had expired, with Reid Boucher tallying his 3rd of the season on a feed from Joe Whitney at the 4:11 mark.

The Phantoms got a power play chance of their own halfway through the first frame but were unable to generate much of anything offensively. The Devils killed off the minor penalty and took a 2-0 lead shortly after on an even-strength goal from Ben Thomson with 7:07 left in the opening period. Darcy Zajac tallied the lone assist on Thomson's 3rd of the season.

Things continued to go the Devils way throughout the 1st period and Robert Hagg was forced into hooking Whitney on a mini-breakaway with about five minutes left, sending the Devils to their third power play of the game. About 30 seconds into the man advantage, Graham Black fired a shot from the right wing face-off circle off the post and past Stolarz to extend the Devils' lead to 3-0 with 4:37 remaining in June 1st period.

Martin Ouellette led the Phantoms out onto the ice for the second period, relieving Anthony Stolarz in net after 11 saves on 14 shots in the first 20 minutes of action. The Phantoms stayed out of the box in the middle frame and dominated play, outshooting the Devils 11-4 in the middle frame and making it a one-goal game heading into the third.

With Sestito in the box, the Phantoms power play got the team on the board 3:35 into the 2nd period. For the second straight game, it was rookie Taylor Leier tallying a power play goal on a pass across the top of the offensive zone from Brandon Manning. Leier's 6th of the season made it a 3-1 game.

From there, the Phantoms continued to dominate play - forcing the Devils to be hemmed in their own zone for much of the middle frame. The continued pressure and hard work payed off late in the period as the Phantoms drew within a goal with 1:47 left before the second intermission. 

The Phantoms second line of Petr Straka, Nick Cousins and Andrew Gordon had a strong shift and were peppering Wedgewood with shots. After the Devils goalie couldn't corral a rebound and put himself out of position, Straka's wrap around bid at an empty net bounced off of a defender's skate and went across the red line to bring the Phantoms within one at a 3-2 deficit heading into the third period.

The Phantoms did everything but score in the third period, pressing the issue and putting consistent pressure on Wedgewood. Unfortunately for the Phantoms, Wedgewood turned aside all 12 Phantoms' shots in the third and the Devils iced it with 4:06 left after Paul Thompson finished off a 3-on-1 rush for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.


1st Period

2:11: LV - (PP) Manning, minor (hooking)
3:42: LV - (PP) Lauridsen, minor (interference)
4:11: ALB - PPG Boucher (3) - Whitney
9:01: ALB - (PP) Sestito, minor (hooking)
12:53: ALB - Thomson (3) - Zajac
14:52: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (hooking)
15:23: ALB - PPG Black (4) - Matteau, Sestito

2nd Period

2:48: ALB - (PP) Sestito, minor (tripping)
3:35: LV - PPG Leier (6) - Manning
18:13: LV - Straka (5) - unassisted 

3rd Period

3:04: LV - Rosehill, minor (unsportsmanlike)
3:04: ALB - Fraser, minor (holding)
3:04: LV - Rosehill, major (fighting)
3:04: ALB - Fraser, major (fighting)
9:33: ALB - (PP) McPherson, minor (interference)
16:54: ALB - Thompson (11) - Timmins, Whitney
17:40: LV - (PP) Hextall, minor (instigating) 
17:40: LV - Hextall, major (fighting)
17:40: LV - Hextall, game misconduct (instigator in last 5:00)
17:40: ALB - Thompson, major (fighting)
18:34: LV - Cousins, ten minute misconduct


Anthony Stolarz (11 saves - 14 shots) got the start in net, before being pulled date the first period. Martin Ouellette (11 saves - 12 shots) came on in relief of Stolarz and manned the Phantoms net the rest of the way. Murray wouldn't comment on who gets the start in net tomorrow vs. Norfolk.

On defense, it was Brett Flemming slotting back into the lineup and Jesper Pettersson sitting out as a healthy scratch.

Up front, it was a complete overhaul of the lines with Jason Akeson returning to the Phantoms from Philadelphia and Brandon Alderson re-assigned to Reading (ECHL).

Scratches: Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Ghostisbehere (ACL injury) and Derek Mathers (healthy)


Taylor Leier - Blair Jones - Zack Stortini
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Jason Akeson - Darroll Powe - Brett Hextall
Jay Rosehill - Kevin Goumas - Austin Fyten

Brandon Manning - Steven Delisle
Robert Hagg - Mark Alt 
Brett Flemming - Oliver Lauridsen

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


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