Stolarz Stars in Phantoms Shutout Win Over Rival Hershey

Friday, December 19, 2014
With Rob Zepp recalled by the Flyers, rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz will shoulder the load in net.
In another East Division match up for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate got another big win - riding rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz and his 32-save shutout to the bank to cash in two more points in the standings.

Stolarz was going to start tonight regardless of whether or not Rob Zepp got called up by the Flyers, per head coach Terry Murray. The rookie made the most of his opportunity.

"Stolarz was really good," Murray said. "He's the reason why we won the game."

The regulation win over Hershey moves the Phantoms to within one point of the Bears for second place in the East Division. The Phantoms have a game in hand on the Bears, while also having two games in hand on the division leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins despite trailing the Pens by five points.

The Phantoms finish their weekend in Connecticut with a 5:00 p.m. ET face-off against Hartford before enjoying a five-day break from Sunday December 21st through Christmas Day Thursday.

The Phantoms (13-10-3-1) needed to rely heavily on their goaltender in the first period. They got some early pressure in the opening minute, but from there it was all Hershey in the 1st frame. The Bears had the decided edge in play and puck possession and an even bigger advantage in the shot column heading into the first intermission, at 16-1.

Luckily for the Phantoms, Stolarz came ready to play in the first 20 minutes. In his four appearances in December, Stolarz is 3-0-0 with a 1.39 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage.

"My confidence the last few games has definitely skyrocketed," Stolarz said. " I just try to stop as many pucks as I can and try to give the guys a chance to win.

The Bears continued to pepper Stolarz with pucks in the second period, but a pass break up by Brett Hextall at the tail end of a Phantoms penalty turned out to be a huge play. Hextall caught the Bears at the end of a shift on a power play and fed Jason Akeson a pass up the middle for a shorthanded breakaway goal halfway through the middle period to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.

Though largely out-chanced and out shot (24-6 after two periods), the Phantoms held the one-goal lead heading into the third period. Stolarz continued to be a difference maker, making several big stops on snipers like Andrey Burkakovsky and Stanislav Galiev. If you didn't know that Zepp has been the team's primary starter much of this season, you wouldn't have noticed much of a difference in Stolarz's efforts tonight.

"For Zepper [Rob Zepp] to get called up, its a great opportunity for him," Stolarz said, adding, "it's a great opportunity for me as well and I'm looking to make the most of it."

In the third, Stolarz continued to stop everything that came his way and the team in front of him put forth a much stronger effort to hold onto the lead. Jason Akeson added an empty net goal with 0.6 seconds left to complete the final score.


1st Period

7:46: LV - (PP) Manning, minor (hooking)

2nd Period

1:19: HER - (PP) Schilling, minor (holding)
8:55: LV - (PP) Goumas, minor (holding)
10:50: LV - SHG Akeson (4) - Hextall
14:04: LV - Hagg, minor (roughing)
14:04: HER - Newbury, minor (roughing)

3rd Period

3:36: HER - (PP) Volpatti, minor (slashing)
11:50: HER - (PP) Byers, minor (high-sticking)
19:59: LV - ENG Akeson (5) - Manning, Jones


With Rob Zepp called up, Anthony Stolarz (32 saves - 32 shots) got the start in net. It was Stolarz's 5th win of the season and his second shutout on his rookie campaign.

Zepp's late call up forced the Phantoms to make a quick addition as the team signed current goalie coach at the University of Delaware in Matt Di Girolamo to back up Stolarz.

No changes on defense as Jesper Pettersson was again a healthy scratch. No changes up front either, as Derek Mathers was the healthy scratch at forward.

Scratches: Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL surgery) and Derek Mathers (healthy)


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

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

Anthony Stolarz - Matt Di Girolamo


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