St. John's Slips Past Phantoms in OT

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Third period penalties end weekend on a sour note.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (8-6-2-0) picked up a point in tonight's 2-1 overtime loss to the St. John's IceCaps (7-8-4-1), but the same problems keep resurfacing for the Phantoms as they got away from their game in a 1-1 third period - taking penalties and keeping the team's offensively-minded players on the bench.

Petr Straka tallied the lone Phantoms goal in the first period on a good effort by him, fighting in the high-traffic area in front of the net to get to a loose puck and push a rebound into the net. Brenden Kichton and Justin Brouillete tallied goals for the IceCaps, but the real stars of the show tonight were the two guys in net.

Highly regarded goaltending prospect Connor Hellebucyk stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced for the IceCaps, making several second and third chance stops to keep his team in a game which quickly became a goaltender's duel between Hellebuyck and Rob Zepp. Hellebucyk was most impressive in the third period - a period in which his team was out shot 10-2.

Zepp continues to be solid in the Lehigh Valley net, keeping things close and bailing his teammates out with big stops on the penalty kill and amidst several bouts of pressure by the IceCaps, especially in the middle frame.

The Phantoms remain unbeaten in regulation on the current stretch of home games (3-0-1-0), and look to finish their five-game home stand on a winning note when they host the Springfield Falcons on Wednesday night.

The first period had good pace and flow, with few whistles and good up-ice rushes for both teams. Things were scoreless through the first half of the opening period, but the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead on a delayed double-minor high-sticking penalty on IceCaps defenseman Ben Chiarot.

Several Phantoms had a chance on some rebounds allowed from Hellebucyk, but it was Petr Straka on a second-effort play that got the Phantoms on the board 12:51 into the period. Zack Stortini and Brandon Manning tallied assists on the play.

Since the Phantoms scored on the delayed call, they were only given a two-minute power play instead of the full four minutes. Still, it's not often a team scores on a delayed call and still gets a power play.

The IceCaps came in waves in the middle frame, tying the game at 1-1 on a power play point shot from Brenden Kichton 2:22 into the period. Julien Brouillette and John Albert registered assists on what was at the time, the game-tying goal.

St. John's continued to press the issue throughout the middle frame and nearly took a 2-1 lead several times if not for some key saves from Zepp in the Phantoms' net. For as good as the Phantoms were in the first 20 minutes, the IceCaps were equally as good in the 2nd 20.

The Phantoms seemed to get to their game in the third, but untimely selfish penalties prevented them from re-gaining the lead. They forced the issue for most of period while 5-on-5 and severely out shot the IceCaps but ultimately they weren't able to get the job done tonight.

The Phantoms had a power play in the overtime but since there were matching minors beforehand, instead of a typical 4-on-3 in the extra session it was a 5-on-4 - adding extra bodies and changing up the strategy completely.

Credit the IceCaps for a strong penalty kill in OT, and it appeared they got the momentum from it as they scored on what was the first shift of the new 3-on-3 format in the final four minutes of OT, using short quick passes to get the puck to the goalmouth for a backhander by Brouillette to seal the deal.


1st Period

9:32: LV - (PP) Cousins, minor (hooking)
12:51: LV - Straka (4)  - Stortini, Manning
12:51: STJ - (PP) - Chiarot, double minor (high-sticking)

2nd Period

0:57: LV - (PP) Powe, minor (hooking)
2:22: STJ - PPG Kichton (3) - Brouillette, Albert
8:32: STJ - (PP) Lipon, minor (unsportsmanlike)
8:32: STJ - Lipon, minor (roughing)
8:32: LV - Fyten, minor (roughing)
16:54: LV - (PP) Manning, minor (slashing)

3rd Period

8:45: LV - (PP) Alderson, minor (slashing)
12:52: LV - (PP) Flemming, minor (cross-checking)
18:12: LV - Hextall, minor (unsportsmanlike)
18:12: LV - Brassard, minor (unsportsmanlike)
19:40: STJ - (PP) O'Dell, minor (boarding)


3:43: STJ - Brouillette (2) - O'Dell


Rob Zepp (24 saves - 26 shots) got the start in net tonight following rookie Anthony Stolarz's first pro win last night (36-save shutout).

No line changes for the Phantoms tonight.

Scratches: Mark Alt (upper body), Shayne Ghostisbehere (ACL) and Derek Mathers (healthy)


Taylor Leier - Blair Jones - Andrew Gordon
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Zack Stortini
Jay Rosehill - Daroll Powe - Brett Hextall
Austin Fyten - Kevin Goumas - Brandon Alderson

Brandon Manning - Steven Delisle
Robert Hagg - Jesper Pettersson
Brett Flemming - Oliver Lauridsen

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


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