Bad Blood Continues Between Binghamton & Lehigh Valley

Friday, April 3, 2015
Derek Mathers and Darren Kramer chirping each other at center ice early in the third period. These two teams don't like each other one bit.
As evidenced by the photo above, the bad blood continued between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Binghamton Senators tonight in the southern tier. There were several questionable hits, a trio of fights and even a stand-off at center ice after the final horn but the Phantoms came up short 4-3 to the BSens.

A bad bounce at Phantoms' own blue line with less than two minutes remaining ended up in the back of their net and proved to be the difference. Lehigh Valley clawed their way back into the contest after falling behind 2-0, twice tying the game up but never able to take control with a lead of their own.

Jason Akeson started the Phantoms comeback midway through the 2nd period - setting up Blair Jones for his 8th of the year. Akeson also set up Mark Alt's goal 11 seconds into the 3rd period that tied the game at 2-2 and scored his 22nd of the season halfway through the third to even the score up at 3-3 in a three point night (1G-2A) for the Phantoms' leading scorer.

Rob Zepp stopped 31 of the 35 shots that came his way, but kept the Phantoms in it early on when they were out shot 9-0 in the opening 10 minutes of play.

The Phantoms are out of the playoff picture, but they will be playing the role of spoiler in their final eight games of the regular season - starting tomorrow night in Wilkes-Barre against another East Division rival in the Penguins.

Exclusive post-game reactions from Derek Mathers (two fights - ejected 6:20 into the 3rd) and Mark Alt (goal 0:11 into the 3rd) after the jump.


Derek Mathers on the bad blood between these two teams:
I don't know. I think it's a mixture of, we obviously play them a lot, and they have a tough team. We have a pretty tough team too. I guess when two tough teams like that come together, stuff is going to happen. So far, most games it has happened. I mean, that's part of the game. It's fun. It's fun for the fans. It's fun for the guys on the team and it's a good rivalry.
Mathers on what he expects tomorrow vs. WBS:
It's going to be a battle for sure. Obviously, they are fighting for a playoff spot - moving up and stuff. We just, we're playing for pride right now. We're going to work hard. It's going to be another battle and hopefully we come out on top.
Mathers on what Phantoms' focus is the last eight games (less pressure to win, develop):
It's tough. To be out of the playoffs with this many games left, it's tough. You have to find something to get up for. When playoffs are out of the picture, you have to play for pride and play for a spot next year too. You can't just let things go, you have to play hard and still try to win.

A tough start for the Phantoms against Binghamton tonight, as Lehigh Valley went nearly half of the opening period without registering a shot. Rob Zepp kept the Phantoms in the game in the first half of the period - making a big glove save on a Shane Prince breakaway and several rebound stops from point blank range in a scrum - but it was to no avail as the BSens tallied two goals 2:15 apart in the middle of the first frame.

On a power play, Chris Wideman got a puck to Shane Prince at the right-wing half wall - who fed a perfect cross-ice to an open Troy Rutkowski for a one-timer that beat Zepp 12:28 into the first period. Just over two minutes later, an Alex Grant point shot was re-directed past Zepp by Derek Grant (no relation) to extend the BSens lead to 2-0. Buddy Robinson added a secondary assist on the goal 14:43 into the contest.

The Phantoms had a much better effort in the middle period, cutting the deficit in half with 7:00 left in the 2nd period on Blair Jones' 8th tally of the season. Taylor Leier got a puck to Jason Akeson behind the net, who brought it out to the side of the net and fed a pass across the top of the crease to Jones for a one-time shot that BSens goaltender Chris Driedger had no chance of stopping.

Jones drew a cross-checking minor on Alex Grant 24 seconds after his goal, but the Phantoms were unable to tie it on the ensuing man advantage. Lehigh Valley got another power play chance with 4:11 left before the second intermission, but again the BSens penalty kill stood strong.

The Phantoms tied things up 11 seconds into the final frame after a drop pass from Akeson just inside the offensive blue line gave Alt a clear shooting lane. Alt picked the top-left corner to even the game at 2-2 before a Steven Delisle penalty and subsequent power play goal from Prince (his 25th of the season) restored the BSens one-goal lead exactly three minutes after Alt's goal to open the period.

The Phantoms didn't pack it in from there, instead tying the game back up at 3-3 with 10:53 left in regulation after a snipe from the slot by Akeson, his 22nd of the season. Lehigh Valley continued to pressure, looking for a go-ahead goal in the final two minutes, but instead a puck hopped over the stick of defenseman Robert Hagg at the defensive zone blue line and gave Ryan Dzingel a clean breakaway that he would convert to put the BSens back on top for good at 4-3.

The Phantoms had a late flurry that produced at least a half-dozen shots with goaltender Rob Zepp off for the extra attacker, but they couldn't find another game-tying goal as time expired.

Just because the final horn sounded, the action wasn't over. Darren Kramer elbowed Blair Jones at center ice on Jones' way to the locker room and nearly caused a full out team on team brawl with both teams standing at opposite sides of the red line. The season series between these two teams is over for 2014-15, but this rivalry and bad blood will almost certainly continue in 2015-16.


Rob Zepp (31 saves - 35 shots) got the start in net tonight against Binghamton. Rookie Anthony Stolarz served as backup.

Robert Hagg, who missed Wednesday's 4-3 win over Norfolk with the flu, was back in the lineup for Lehigh Valley tonight. Nick Luukko was scratched to make room for Hagg on the back end.

Austin Fyten remained out of the lineup with a lower body injury suffered last Sunday versus Manchester.

Jay Rosehill served the 2nd game of his 4-game suspension.

Darroll Powe remains out with concussion-like symptoms and is likely out for the season.

Lines (Starters in Bold & Italics)

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Jason Akeson
Petr Straka - Blair Jones - Andrew Gordon
Zack Stortini - Cole Bardreau - Brett Hextall
Kevin Goumas - Andrew Johnston - Derek Mathers

Robert Hagg - Steven Delisle
Adam Comrie - Mark Alt
Oliver Lauridsen - Jesper Pettersson

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

3:22: LV - Mathers, major (fighting)
3:22: BNG - Lepine, major (fighting)
3:29: LV - (PP) Pettersson, minor (interference)
9:09: BNG - (PP) Hobbs, minor (hooking)
10:45: LV - (PP) Leier, minor (slashing)
12:28: BNG - PPG Rutkowski (1) - Prince, Wideman
14:43: BNG - D. Grant (19) - A. Grant, Robinson

2nd Period

13:00: LV - Jones (8) - Akeson, Leier
13:24: BNG - (PP) A. Grant, minor (cross-checking)
15:49: BNG - (PP) Hobbs, minor (charging)
15:49: BNG - Hobbs, major (fighting)
15:49: LV - Comrie, major (fighting)

3rd Period

0:11: LV - Alt (2) - Akeson, Hagg
1:37: LV - (PP) Delisle, minor (high-sticking)
3:11: BNG - PPG Prince (25) - A. Grant, Johnson
3:35: BNG - (PP) Rutkowski, minor (slashing)
6:20: LV - Mathers, major (fighting)
6:20: LV - Mathers, game misconduct (3rd major/2nd fight rule)
6:20: BNG - Lepine, major (fighting)
6:20: BNG - Lepine, game misconduct (3rd major/2nd fight rule)
9:07: LV - Akeson (22) - Johnston, Goumas
18:06: BNG - Dzingel (16) - Johnson
20:00: LV - Kramer, ten-minute misconduct (unsportsmanlike)



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