Phantoms Crunched By Syracuse 6-1

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Phantoms drop their fourth straight game in blowout fashion to Syracuse tonight.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were up against it tonight from the opening face-off on through to the final horn - falling behind 2-0 for the fourth straight game and losing their fourth in a row in an ugly 6-1 blowout loss to the Syracuse Crunch, eerily similar to last Saturday night's loss to Worcester.

It's been the same old story for Lehigh Valley these last four games after a three-game win streak gave hope of a push towards the postseason. Tonight's loss leaves the Phantoms with just 12 games left to make up a 10-point deficit on 8th place Springfield (idle tonight).

Post-game player reaction from Brett Hextall after the jump.


Brett Hextall on Kunyk's hit on Mark Alt late in 2nd period:
It fires everybody up, everybody gets pissed off. Mandog goes after that guy there and everyone is happy to see that. Kind of feel like you get even, Mandog kind of gives that guy what he deserves.
Hextall on Manning:
That guy is a warrior. I love having him on my team. He takes on all comers and he did it twice for us tonight.
Hextall on the weird bounces early tonight:
I think it was the first shift there when that one puck bounced weird on Zepper and they got a scoring chance out of that and I was like holy.. I mean that's part of the game - weird bounces off the glass and stuff like that. Hopefully one of these games they'll go our way.

In a penalty-filled first period which saw both teams exchange power play chances back and forth, it wasn't until the Phantoms went on their second power play of the night 11:00 into the opening period that the scoring began.

On what is one of the more strange goals you will see all season long, the Crunch caught the Phantoms up ice and on a shorthanded rush took a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal credited to Joey Mormina. Cody Kunyk stole a puck in the neutral zone and let a drop pass to Mormina at the left point, whose slap shot banked in past Zepp off of Phantoms defenseman Mark Alt's leg with 8:14 left in the first frame to give the Crunch the early lead.

Things went from bad to worse for Lehigh Valley in the middle frame after they nearly tied when Scott Laughton's shot rung off the post. Jonathan Marchessault picked up the loose puck in the corner of his own end and skated it up-ice into the offensive, letting loose a shot blocked by Adam Comrie. Marchessault found the puck in the slot and let loose a wrister wired to the top shelf past Zepp to make it a 2-0 Crunch lead 8:45 into the middle period.

Slater Koekkoek made it 3-0 Syracuse 2:11 later on an uncontested slap shot from just inside the blue line. From there, tempers started to flare.

Cody Kunyk blasted Mark Alt head-first into the boards behind Zepp's net with 2:27 left before the second intermission, causing a scrum to break out and a very frustrated Brandon Manning throwing punches into Kunyk with linesman in between them attempting to break up the altercation.

The end result was a Phantoms power play of 2:33 to start the final frame and a chance for Lehigh Valley to get back into the game. It just wasn't meant to be for the home team tonight.

The Crunch killed off the power play to start the third period, but not before scoring their 2nd shorthanded goal of the night on Marchessault's 2nd tally 2:19 into the final frame to push the Crunch's lead to 4-0.

Rob Zepp was pulled after that goal, finishing the night with 16 saves on 20 shots in 42:19 of work. Anthony Stolarz came on in relief and didn't fare any better - allowing two goals on 12 shots in the final 17:41 of regulation.

Blair Jones broke Kristers Gudlevskis' shutout bid with a power play goal with 10:38 left in the third to get Lehigh Valley on the board at a 6-1 deficit but that's where the scoring ended.

Late in the third, Crunch forward Tanner Richard went after Brandon Manning in an attempt to settle the score after Manning pummeled Cody Kunyk for blasting Mark Alt late in the middle frame, but the Phantoms defender claimed his second fight victim with 1:56 left before being ejected for his 2nd fighting major of the game.


Rob Zepp (16 saves - 20 shots) got the start in net tonight vs. Syracuse with rookie Anthony Stolarz serving as Zepp's backup. Zepp was pulled 2:19 into the 3rd and Stolarz (10 saves - 12 shots) was pressed into action.

On defense, Steven Delisle returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday's game to rest/recover from a nagging injury he suffered Saturday in Worcester. Jesper Pettersson was the healthy scratch on the back end to make room for Delisle

Up front, two changes as Blair Jones served his one-game suspension and returned to the lineup and Austin Fyten also returned after sitting out Sunday's game vs. W-B/Scranton with a lower body injury. Derek Mathers and Darroll Powe were scratched to make room.

Powe left Sunday's game after taking a hit in the 1st period and didn't return. He didn't practice with the team during the week either and is out with what is termed an upper body injury.

Mark Alt never returned after being blasted head-first into the end boards behind the Phantoms net late in the 2nd period. No update on his condition, but he was seen walking out of the Phantoms locker room in a suit before media began their post-game interviews.

Scratches: Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL injury), Derek Mathers (healthy), Darroll Powe (undisclosed) and Nick Luukko (healthy)


Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Jason Akeson
Zack Stortini - Blair Jones - Andrew Gordon
Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Brett Hextall
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Kevin Goumas

Brandon Manning - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Oliver Lauridsen
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

1:27: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (hooking)
4:27: SYR - (PP) Witkowski, minor (high-sticking)
8:30: LV - (PP) bench minor (too many men)
11:00: SYR - (PP) Lynch, minor (hooking)
11:46: SYR - SHG Mormina (4) - Kunyk
19:51: LV - Lauridsen, minor (unsportsmanlike)
19:51: SYR - Mormina, minor (unsportsmanlike)

2nd Period

1:59: LV - (PP) Delisle, minor (hooking)
6:11: LV - Hextall, major (fighting)
6:11; SYR - Cote, major (fighting)
8:45: SYR - Marchessault (20) - unassisted
10:56: SYR - Koekkoek (5) - Martindale, Gourde
17:33: SYR - (PP) Kunyk, major (boarding)
17;33: SYR - Kunyk, major (fighting)
17:33: SYR - Kunyk, game misconduct
17:33: LV - Manning, minor (instagating)
17:33: LV - Manning, major (fighting)
17:33: LV - Manning, ten-minute misconduct (continuing altercation)

3rd Period

2:19: SYR - SHG Marchessault (21) - unassisted
4:47: SYR - Courtnall (7) - Vermin
5:26: SYR - (PP) Ashton, minor (helmet-violation)
8:12: SYR - Martindale (11) - Courtnall, Dotchin
8:50: SYR - (PP) Ashton, minor (tripping)
9:22: LV - PPG Jones (7) - Comrie, Gordon
13:28: LV - (PP) Hextall, minor (slashing)
16:35: LV - (PP) Comrie, minor (hooking)
18:04: SYR - Richard, minor (roughing)
18:04: SYR - Richard, major (fighting)
18:04: LV - Manning, major (fighting)
18:04: LV - Manning, game misconduct (Third major/second fight 20.4)


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