Phantoms Fall For Fifth Time in Last Six

Friday, January 30, 2015
Phantoms have been outscored a combined 9-2 in two games this weekend.
It's gut-check time for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms following a 6-1 loss to division rival Hershey tonight. The team held a bit of a players-only meeting after the game. The players' answers to the media were short post-game, but sincere.

"We're embarrassed," forward Andrew Gordon said, referencing being booed off the ice at home in back-to-back nights. "We want to win. We want to do the right things. We want to show up everyday and win, but we're not doing the things it takes to win."

Taylor Leier mirrored Gordon's response.

"We're trying," Leier said of the team's effort. "We are as good a team as anyone when we play the right way. Right now we are kind of in a rut. Every team goes through stuff like this. It does make you stronger because once you get rolling again you never want to go back to the way it was, the way it is right now."

The Phantoms have now lost five of their last six games, and have little time to sulk about it. The Phantoms look to end their three-game weekend on a high note Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre against a Penguins team that is coming in winners of four straight.

Poor puck management doomed the Phantoms in the first eight to ten minutes tonight. A careless giveaway in the defensive zone went right Liam O'Brien, who picked a corner on Stolarz for his first goal of the season 3:30 into play.

The Bears were dominant at times in the first half of the opening period. They took a 2-0 lead on another defensive breakdown by Lehigh Valley 10:11 into the first period, with Chris Conner netting his 10th of the season on assists by Connor Carrick and Tim Kennedy.

Down 2-0 and being out shot 12-2, head coach Terry Murray took his timeout with 8:44 left in the opening frame. Things looked like they were about to turn around for Lehigh Valley at the time. Taylor Leier dug out a loose puck in Grubauer's crease and put home his 10th of the season with assists to Nick Cousins and Jason Akeson. The goal with 7:58 left in the first made it a 2-1 game, but that was as close as the Phantoms would get.

The Bears took an early 3-1 lead on a power play blast from the point from Connor Carrick and chased Stolarz after Jon Landry got open the slot and finished off a feed from Casey Wellman to make it a 4-1 lead for Hershey.

Rob Zepp came on in relief of Stolarz (18 saves - 22 shots), but was victimized for a goal by Dustin Gazley on the first shot he faced 33 seconds after coming into the game. At 5-1 after 40 minutes, it was too steep a hill to climb to Lehigh Valley.

The Bears tacked on a 6th goal halfway through the third period off of another defensive zone turnover by the Phantoms to complete the 6-1 final score.

Times are tough right now for Lehigh Valley. They've seen two forwards get called up to the NHL and have two more on the injured list. Their recent slide has seen them fall behind eight points of first place Hershey and seven behind second place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a Saturday night matchup with the Penguins looming.


Anthony Stolarz (18 saves - 22 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms, but was replaced by Rob Zepp after allowing four goals in the first 35:29 of regulation. Zepp stopped 11 of 13 in relief of Stolarz.

Blair Jones will be out long term with his lower body injury, as head coach Terry Murray said in his post-game press conference that he expects Jones to miss upwards of seven weeks.

Darroll Powe is closer to returning, but still isn't completely symptom free of an upper body injury that has kept him out of the lineup since 12/27 against Norfolk.

Shayne Gostisbehere is skating and Flyers GM Ron Hextall said he's not far off from a mid-February anticipated return.

Mark Alt is out of a cast for his broken hand, but isn't quite ready to return to the lineup. Perhaps next week is when Alt will make his return.

Scratches: Mark Alt (broken hand - out since 12/31), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL injury), Blair Jones (lower body - out at least 6-7 weeks) and Darroll Powe (upper body).


Taylor Leier - - Akeson
Zack Stortini - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Brett Hextall
Derek Mathers - Kevin Goumas - Brandon Alderson

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

Anthony Stolarz - Rob Zepp


1st Period

3:30: HER - L. O'Brien (1) - unassisted
4:31: LV - (PP) Stortini, minor (check to the head)
10:11: HER - Conner (10) - Carrick, Newbury
12:02: LV - Leier (10) - Cousins, Akeson
12:03: HER - L. O'Brien, major (fighting)
12:03: LV - Rosehill, major (fighting)
14:17: HER - Brown, bench minor (too many men)
14:39: HER - Newbury, minor (slashing)
19:11: LV - (PP) Manning, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

2:56: HER - (PP) Newbury, minor (unsportsmanlike)
5:58: LV - (PP) Mathers, minor (charging)
6:50: HER - PPG Carrick (7) - Wellman, Galiev
15:29: HER - Landry (2) - Wellman
16:02: HER - Gazley (6) - Byers, Kennedy
16:42: LV - (PP) Mathers, minor (slashing)
18:53: HER - (PP) J. O'Brien, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

7:39: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (closing hand on puck)
11:27: HER - Stephenson (4) - unassisted
11:49: HER - (PP) Oleksy, minor (tripping)
16:39: HER - (PP) J. O'Brien, minor (slashing)
16:39: LV - Stortini, ten-minute misconduct


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