Phantoms Put Pressure On Hershey In Final Week of Season

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms rallied for four unanswered goals in a win over rival Hershey.
Despite being out of postseason contention and down to just four healthy defensemen early in the second period, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms battled their way to a 4-1 win over East Division-leading Hershey Tuesday night at the PPL Center.

The Bears took an early 1-0 lead 4:14 into the contest, but big stops from Rob Zepp (39 saves) throughout tonight's contest kept the Phantoms within a goal until Scott Laughton's goal in the opening minute of the middle period evened things up at 1-1.

The Phantoms continued to battle in the third period, getting a go-ahead goal from Petr Straka on a nice patient play from Kevin Goumas and an insurance marker from Jason Akeson before a Danick Martel hustle play resulted in an empty net tally to seal the deal - Martel's first pro goal in just his second AHL game.

The win puts pressure on Hershey, who now holds just a three point lead over W-B/Scranton in the East Division for a guaranteed top-three seed - now lending the Penguins a game in hand as well after picking up no points in a regulation loss tonight.

After the jump, thoughts from Danick Martel on his first pro goal, Oliver Lauridsen on playing literally half of the third period, Terry Murray on "showing a lot of character" and more post-game reactions from the Phantoms' win tonight.


Danick Martel on his first pro goal:
Empty net is an easy one, but I powered for it and got it. The D-man was standing still, so I just passed by him with my speed. It proves I have a lot of speed, I just need to use it. 
Martel on playing the wing:
I'm playing with Cousins and Gordon, they have a lot of speed and a lot skills. That was more of my game. We played really well together. We got our chances and didn't score during the game, but we got the empty net at the end. It still makes the game a little bit better.
More Martel on playing the wing:
Before juniors I always played on the wing, so it's not a big change. For sure, I haven't played there in 2-3 years but still I think we just need to play our game.
Oliver Lauridsen on battling through with just four defensemen:
The forwards realized it and helped out a bit. I think we actually played with four for the majority of the second and third. It was a lot of minutes to be played by the last four of us here, it's always really tough but we talked about it in between the periods and let the forwards know we only have four d here and we need simplicity and some harder back checks and I think the boys gutted it out and got away with a win here.
Lauridsen on still leading rushes up ice and skating the full 200 feet of the rink despite being shorthanded on the back end:
It's early in the week still. We'll chat after the game on Sunday and see if there's still the same energy if we keep playing with four. It's only Tuesday, so plenty of energy out there.
Terry Murray on beating a top team in the Eastern Conference:
To me, it showed a lot of character in the third period. The situation we're in against arguably one of the best teams in the league. It was good for us to get a win out of that. It required everyone to be on board and be on the same page.
Murray on the play of Kevin Goumas lately:
I want him to play with that speed all of the time. If he would learn that, and he will - it's part of the process - he can be a pretty effective player when you have that kind of speed. But give him credit, he recognized the situation and took advantage of the opportunity of having the speed at the right time. He showed a lot of composure to hold the puck and make the play that he made. More of that, please.

Rob Zepp was tested early in often in the opening period, keeping Lehigh Valley afloat amidst waves of offensive pressure from Hershey. Zack Stortini was whistled for charging 13 seconds into play and while the Phantoms were able to keep the Bears' power play off the scoreboard, the Bears took the 1-0 lead moments later anyway.

Dustin Gazley got a puck behind the net to Jakub Vrana, who fired one in front to Jim O'Brien in the slot for a quick snipe past Zepp to the top left corner high to the glove side. It was Vrana's first point in the AHL in his North American debut after a productive season (12G-12A in 44 GP) in Sweden with Linkopings HC in the Swedish Elite league.

Zepp was sharp in the middle part of the period, stopping Chris Conner on a breakaway and later kicking out a right pad to break up a naked 2-on-1 from the blue line in to keep the Phantoms within a goal.

Steven Delisle left the game about six minutes into play after a collision in the neutral zone with Zack Stortini, who had a Hershey Bears forward lined up for a big hit. Delisle didn't return and head coach Terry Murray said he was wobbly after the hit and was kept out as a precaution, though he said post-game he didn't expect he'd be very active tomorrow at practice.

The Phantoms headed to a late first period after Nate Schmidt was called for holding with 1:36 left before the first intermission, but the Bears were able to hold off the Phantoms and get to the intermission with a 1-0 lead.

Lehigh Valley didn't score on the remaining 24 seconds of their man advantage to open the middle frame, but evened things up at 1-1 shortly after on a great shot from Scott Laughton in the slot. On a play similar to O'Brien's goal in the 1st period, Mark Alt fed a puck from below the goal line to Laughton in the slot, who buried his 13th of the season past Philipp Grubauer to even the score. Jason Akeson added a secondary assist on the play.

Early in the middle frame, defenseman Brandon Manning left the game with what Murray described as a middle-body injury (spasms) and did not return - leaving the Phantoms with just four healthy defensemen for most of the second half of the contest. The new pairings of Oliver Lauridsen - Mark Alt and rookies Robert Hagg - Jesper Pettersson shouldered the load on the back end from there on.

From there, Hershey re-gained the advantage in play - out shooting the Phantoms by as much as a 10-4 count at one point late in the middle frame - but unable to get one past Zepp as the teams headed to the third period even at 1-1.

The Phantoms showed good drive in the third period, given the circumstances on defense, and grinded out the win thanks to two great plays - one by Kevin Goumas about six and a half minutes into the final frame and the other by Laughton with just over seven minutes left.

First, Goumas stole a puck and led a 2-on-1 rush before out-waiting a sliding defender, wrapping around the net and sending a perfect pass to the top of the crease to Petr Straka - who scored just his third goal since the AHL All-Star break to put the Phantoms ahead 2-1.

Then, after some more saves by Zepp, Laughton stole a puck in the offensive zone - collecting a puck along the half wall and scooping it to Taylor Leier. Leier nudged it back to Akeson at the top of the left-wing face-off circle for a booming slap shot that beat Grubauer clean.

To top it all off, Danick Martel displayed that blazing speed that scouts and those in the QMJHL have been talking about - blowing past a defenseman at the blue line and despite being blatantly tripped stuck with the play to tally his first career pro goal in the final minute to complete the 4-1 win.


Rob Zepp (39 saves - 40 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley. Anthony Stolarz served as the team's backup.

All four of the players re-assigned from Philadelphia - Mark Alt, Brandon Manning, Jason Akeson and Nick Cousins - were in the Phantoms' lineup tonight.

The Phantoms re-assigned defenseman Adam Comrie and forward Andrew Johnston to the ECHL's Reading Royals for their Kelly Cup Playoff run.

Blair Jones and Jay Rosehill were also scratched from the lineup to make room for the four from Philadelphia.

Murray said Brandon Manning left early in the 2nd period after some spasms flared up. Murray said Delisle was a little bit wobbly and would likely have the day off tomorrow. Both were seen walking around in the locker room after tonight's game, so it doesn't appear either injury is serious.

Scratches: Matt Konan (healthy, cleared for contact), Austin Fyten (lower body - out for season), Shayne Gostisbehere (lower body - out for season), Blair Jones (healthy), Darroll Powe (upper body), Jay Rosehill (healthy) and Nick Luukko (healthy)


Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Jason Akeson
Danick Martel - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Zack Stortini - Cole Bardreau - Brett Hextall
Petr Straka - Kevin Goumas - Derek Mathers

Brandon Manning - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen - Jesper Pettersson

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

0:13: LV - (PP) Stortini, minor (charging)
4:14: HER - O'Brien (10) - Vrana, Gazley
18:24: HER - (PP) Schmidt, minor (holding)

2nd Period

0:51: LV - Laughton (13) - Alt, Akeson
12:57: HER - (PP) Mitchell, minor (slashing)

3rd Period

0:40: HER - (PP) Broda, minor (high-sticking)
6:41: LV - Straka (14) - Goumas
12:44: LV - Akeson (23) - Leier, Laughton
19:05: LV - ENG Martel (1) - Lauridsen


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