Phantoms Frozen By Comets on Thanksgiving Eve

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
As evidenced by this in-game action shot, it was a chippy game tonight in Utica. Photo: Nina Weiss
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were unable to get much going in Utica tonight. A four-goal second period for the Comets, including three in a span of 3:24, broke open the game in a 7-1 blowout of the Phantoms on Thanksgiving Eve

The biggest news of the game comes in the form of an apparent injury Anthony Stolarz suffered in the 1st period of the game. Stolarz appeared to be fine after some late period contact in his crease, finishing the first period before Martin Ouellette led the the team out for the second period. Ouellette saw his first AHL action of the season, playing the remaining 40 minutes and while he allowed six goals tonight it's hard to blame him for the outcome. The Phantoms' team defense hung him out to dry.

Aaron Palushaj scored the Phantoms' lone goal off a forced turnover by Danick Martel. The Phantoms four-game road swing is over with a 2-2 record during their time away from home. Lehigh Valley returns to action Friday night at the PPL Center against Atlantic Division rival Hershey.


The Comets and Phantoms clashed on Thanksgiving Eve at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, with the Comets taking an early 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by Alex Friesen.

Anthony Stolarz stopped a breakaway by Linden Vey, but on the ensuing offensive zone face-off Friesen got control of the puck and fired one past the Phantoms goaltender 2:33 into the contest. It was Friesen's 2nd of the season.

The Phantoms got a power play chance a minute later but were unable to get much of anything going on the man advantage.

The third line of Tyrell Goulbourne, Kevin Sundher and Evan Rankin had a strong first frame for the Phantoms, most notably having a strong shift towards the middle of the period - generating scoring chances and extended offensive zone time.

The biggest story of tonight's game came at the start of the second period when starting goaltender Anthony Stolarz did not come out of the tunnel. Martin Ouellette came on in relief of Stolarz and there was no update on Stolarz's condition.

It's hard to blame Ouellette for how the game got out of control in the middle frame. He started the period with saves on seven of the first eight shots he saw - all in the first half of the period.

Taylor Fedun scored a power play goal to make it 2-0 at the 5:28 mark, and Ouellette continued making saves to keep his team afloat.

Things unraveled on the Phantoms in the tail end of the second period as the Comets scored three goals in a span of 3:24 to break the game open.

Alex Biega tallied his first of the season on a one-timer from the high slot to make it 3-0 with 4:34 left before the 2nd intermission. Then, Wacey Hamilton tapped one in from in front of Ouellette to extend the lead to 4-0 with 2:44 left.

Sam Morin tried to provide the Phantoms with a spark, dropping his gloves on the ensuing face-off after Hamilton's goal. Morin went to town on Comets forward Joseph LaBate, but the Phantoms surrendered a goal to former Phantoms forward Blair Jones to head to the locker room trailing Utica 5-0.

Jones added his second of the night early in the third to make it a 6-0 game, before Aaron Palushaj ended Joe Cannata's shutout bid with 10:49 left in regulation. Danick Martel forced a turnover in the Phantoms' offensive zone and quickly dished it to Palushaj for a score to make it a 6-1 game.

The Comets tallied their seventh goal with 5:26 left to cap the scoring at 7-1.


Anthony Stolarz (8 saves - 9 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms - his 7th straight start. Martin Ouellette (18 saves - 24 shots) served as the backup before finishing the final 40 minutes after Stolarz was unable to return to the game.

With Colin McDonald called up to Philadelphia, the Phantoms were able to dress another veteran. They went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen and Matt Lashoff returned to the lineup.

Kevin Sundher returned to the lineup up front after missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury, which Scott Gordon termed a lingering/nagging issue.

Brandon Alderson was a healthy scratch.

Phantoms Scratches: Jason LaBarbera (injured), Christian Marti (injured), Cole Bardreau (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Brandon Alderson (healthy), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Danick Martel - Tim Brent - Aaron Palushaj
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Kevin Sundher - Evan Rankin
Kevin Goumas - Pavel Padakin

Andrew MacDonald - Jesper Pettersson
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Robert Hagg
Matt Lashoff

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

2:33: UTI - Freisen (2) - unnassisted
3:39: UTI - (PP) Sautner, minor (cross-checking)
13:26: UTI - LaBate, minor (slashing)
13:26: LV - MacDonald, minor (slashing)
19:06: LV - (PP) Pettersson, minor (interference)

2nd Period

4:30: LV - (PP) Rankin, minor (high-sticking)
5:28: UTI - PPG Fedun (3) - Biega, Friesen
5:45: LV - (PP) Pettersson, minor (interference)
13:01: UTI - (PP) Jones, minor (slashing)
15:26: UTI - Biega (1) - Vey, Jensen
17:16: UTI - Hamilton (2) - Bancks, Fedun
17:18: LV - Morin, major (fighting)
17:18: UTI - Labate, major (fighting)
18:50: UTI - Jones (5) - Archibald
18:58: LV - (PP) Alt, minor (interference)
19:56: UTI - (PP) Grenier, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

0:20: LV - (PP) Sundher, minor (holding)
3:03: UTI - Jones (6) Bancks, Hamilton
9:11: LV - Palushaj (5) - Martel
14:34: UTI - LaBate (1) - Kenins, Subban
16:58: LV - Lashoff, minor (roughing)
16:58: UTI - Archibald, minor (roughing)
18:39: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (cross-checking)


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