Phantoms Come Up Short Against St. John's

Friday, October 30, 2015
Derek Mathers and Eric Neilson dropped the gloves in a 2nd period fight. Photo credit: Nina Weiss
In a hotly contested rematch from Wednesday night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and St. John's IceCaps battled until the final horn in a game the Phantoms dropped a 3-2 decision to the visitors.

Unfortunately for the Phantoms, the IceCaps' game-winning goal caused a bit of a controversy. Head coach Scott Gordon, with the benefit of a slow-motion replay after the game, confirmed in his post-game press conference that the IceCaps' go-ahead goal with 11:11 left in the 3rd was scored on an offside play at the Phantoms' blue line.

While the Phantoms saw the return of Danick Martel from the injured list, Lehigh Valley could be without two more forwards for Sunday's game in Hershey as Evan Rankin and Nick Cousins both left with ailments in the third period and didn't finish the contest.


Scott Gordon on the 2nd period:
They had some opportunistic bounces. One came right off the end board and came right to their guy. The second one was on their power play which probably both of our defenseman could have got to that guy on their feet. It was kind of similar to the other one where you get the goalie moving the wrong way.
Chris Conner on getting to the net:
That's something I try to do every game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We got a couple chances going to the net today.
Andrew MacDonald on the start to the game:
Not the start we wanted. Obviously, they were working us a bit there to start the game. Pretty poor first period. As the game went on, we got better. In the third, it's a little bit too little too late to try and come back to tie it.

As anticipated, the IceCaps came out with the early edge in play after being blown out here on Wednesday night - taking an early 5-2 lead in the shots column and really controlling the puck in the Phantoms' defensive zone.

The Phantoms weathered the storm in the first half of the period and got to their game in the final ten minutes of the opening period, but their best chance in the first frame came 3:46 into the contest. Kevin Goumas sent a pass from the left wing across the left-wing face-off dot to a wide open Evan Rankin, who stepped into a wrist shot with no one between him and the net, but was robbed by the glove of Zachary Fucale.

The physical play was evident in the first 20 minutes too.

IceCaps' tough guy Eric Neilson sent Shayne Gostisbehere flying into his own net, smacking his face off the goal post early in the contest. Gostisbehere appeared fine and stayed in the game. After Chris Conner collided with IceCaps' goaltender Fucale after a whistle with 4:50 left in the period, a small scrum broke out with IceCaps defender Dalton Thrower on top of Petr Straka.

While the first frame was largely uneventful, the middle period was the opposite.

The IceCaps took a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the 2nd period after a strange bounce off the back boards behind Stolarz's net. Bud Holloway missed with the initial shot wide to the left, but the puck bounced out to an open Sven Andrighetto just below the right-wing face-off circle for an easy tap in goal with Stolarz reacting to the intial shot that went wide to the other side.

After a high-sticking minor on Danick Martel, the IceCaps extended their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal. Holloway took the puck behind the net and appeared to be attempting a wrap around on Stolarz, but stopped on a dime and dished a pass back out in front to Charles Hudon for a quick shot and goal while the Phantoms goalie was sliding towards the other side of the net.

From there the IceCaps proceded to take back-to-back minor penalties, giving the Phantoms 33 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time to work with. One second after the first penalty had expired, the Phantoms got on the board.

Chris Conner took a pass from Andrew MacDonald and jolted down the right-wing, making a strong move to the net and lifting one past Fucale to make it a 2-1 game 9:11 into the 2nd period.

Then, the heavyweight fight of the night. Derek Mathers and Eric Neilson dropped the gloves at center ice about a minute later, with Mathers landing some quick right handed punches before losing his footing and falling to the ice.

The Phantoms had a glorious opportunity to tie the game with a four minute power play opportunity with about eight and a half minutes before the second intermission, but to no avail. The two teams headed to the locker room with the Phantoms staring at a one-goal deficit.

Lehigh Valley killed off an early 3rd period power play and tied the game 5:55 into the final frame after a dangerous hit left Cousins visibly dazed at the Phantoms' defensive blue line. Cousins took a hit to make a play and sent Martel and Conner 2-on-1 up the ice. Martel slid a pass across to Conner, who one-timed one past Fucale to even things at 2-2.

The tied score was short lived, however, as Michael McCarron finished off the shot of Mark Barberio less than three minutes later to put the IceCaps back in front by a score of 3-2. The Phantoms were upset with a blown offside call on the play which led to what would be the eventual game-winning goal.

The game was physical tonight as the IceCaps were certainly not happy with their performance Wednesday and wanted to set the tone early. In the third period, both Evan Rankin and Nick Cousins were lost with injuries. Rankin took a Gostisbehere point shot off the side of his face, while Cousins took a big hit from Dalton Thrower at the Phantoms blue line. Cousins took one shift, which happened to be the shift where St. John's scored the go-ahead goal. Both of their statuses moving forward were unknown after the game.


Anthony Stolarz (23 saves - 26 shots) got the start in net again tonight for the Phantoms tonight. Jason LaBarbera, back from Philadelphia, served as the backup.

With LaBarbera back from the NHL, the Phantoms returned Martin Ouellette to Reading.

No changes on defense, as Jesper Pettersson remained the lone healthy scratch.

Robert Hagg has been skating in a yellow non-contact jersey at practice this week, but isn't ready to return to the lineup.

Danick Martel, the other guy who has been skating at practice this week, returned to the Phantoms' lineup after missing five games with an injury sustained in Springfield back on October 16th.

Brandon Alderson sat out as a healthy scratch to make room for Martel. Jay Rosehill was again the veteran scratch.

Phantoms Scratches: Robert Hagg (injured), Cole Bardreau (injured), Jesper Pettersson (healthy) Colin McDonald (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Brandon Alderson (healthy) and Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier - Tim Brent (A) - Aaron Palushaj
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - Evan Rankin
Tyrell Goulbourne - Pavel Padakin - Derek Mathers

Shayne Gostisbehere - Andrew MacDonald (A)
Davis Drewiske (A) - Matt Lashoff
Sam Morin - Mark Alt

Anthony Stolarz- Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

15:10: LV - Conner, minor (goaltender interference)
15:10: STJ - Thrower, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

0:30: STJ - Andrighetto (4) - Holloway, Barberio
5:48: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (high-sticking)
6:56: STJ - PPG Hudon (3) - Holloway
7:10: STJ - (PP) de la Rose, minor (cross-checking)
8:37: STJ - (PP) McCarron, minor (roughing)
9:11: LV - PPG Conner (3) - MacDonald, Lashoff
10:36: LV - Mathers, major (fighting)
10:36: LV - Mathers, minor (unsportsmanlike - helmet violation)
10:36: STJ - Neilson, major (fighting)
10:36: STJ - Neilson, minor (unsportsmanlike - helmet violation)
11:14: STJ - (PP) Andrighetto, minor (charging)
11:14: STJ - (PP) Andrighetto, minor (roughing)

3rd Period

0:48: LV - (PP) Gostisbehere, minor (slashing)
5:55: LV - Conner (4) - Martel, Cousins
8:49: STJ - McCarron (5) - Barberio, Thomas


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