Phantoms Survive in Shootout Win over Hershey

Friday, November 27, 2015
Connor Knapp had an unorthodox win in his Phantoms debut tonight against Hershey.
The Phantoms and Bears combined for 10 goals in regulation, but it seemed neither team could find a game-winning goal in both the overtime and the shootout. After a scoreless overtime period sent the 5-5 game to the shootout, Phantoms goaltender Connor Knapp stood tall - stopping all five shots and getting just one goal from his teammates to hold on for the win.

Knapp was called up from Reading (ECHL) today and was thrown right into the lineup after Anthony Stolarz was injured Wednesday night in Utica. Stolarz, per Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon, got an MRI today and was waiting to confer with the doctors about a time-table for his return.

Post-game reaction from Taylor Leier and Connor Knapp after the jump, as well as a recap of a bunch of goals.


Taylor Leier on returning to the Phantoms:
The last day or so has kind of been a whirlwind, but it was exciting to come back and see the guys. Obviously tonight was a huge game for us after the loss in Utica Wednesday. I just wanted to come back and bring some energy and help the boys win here.
Leier on his goal in his first game back with the Phantoms:
We were practicing that play this morning where I do a give-and-go with [Conner]. I kind of had my head up and saw the goalie cheating. He was playing the pass and I just got lucky and put it up top
Leier on setting up Straka's goal in the 2nd period:
It was the exact same play. I bumped it to [Conner] and he gave it back to me. Instincts kind of just kicked in, I made a move around a guy and went back-door to [Straka] who made a good finish there.
Leier on goaltender Knapp standing tall:
He obviously did a really good job in the shootout to give us five chances to win it. [Brent] made a hell of a move to seal the deal for us.
Connor Knapp on battling in third/overtime:
It seemed like it was just a back and forth game all night. Both teams showed a lot of effort. Once you go to overtime it's a whole new and same with the shootout you have to put everything behind you and focus on the next one. And I did.
Knapp on what happened to him late in 3rd period:
I cramped up. It's only ever happened to me one other time in my career but when I get them it's pretty bad. When it happens my legs just lock up sometimes. It was definitely uncomfortable but probably due to the rink being hot here and the pace of the game too.
Knapp on the shootout stop on Bourque:
You just try to be patient. They're going to make a move and try to get you to bite. you just have to stand your ground, wait for them to make that final move and move with him.
Knapp on getting the win in his Phantoms debut:
I've been out of the AHL awhile. I was excited to find out I was playing in this game. You always want to win, I think that's the biggest thing for a goalie is to be known as a winner. It was good to get this one tonight and the boys really battled out there for me.

The Phantoms had the early jump in their step, taking a 1-0 lead just 1:22 into the contest. Robert Hagg shot a puck into the zone and as it rimmed around and Hershey tried to break up ice, Kevin Goumas scooped in and quickly fed Tyrell Goulbourne in the slot for a quick goal.

From there, Hershey got to their game. After relentless pressure in the Phantoms' defensive zone, Bears defender Mike Moore got the rebound of a blocked shot and fired one past Knapp to tie things up at 1-1 with 11:22 left in the opening period.

Hershey continued to pressure Lehigh Valley and took a 2-1 lead on another goal from a defenseman in rookie Tyler Lewington. In his AHL debut, Lewington kept a puck in at the blue line and flung one towards the net that eluded heavy traffic on it's way to the top corner of the net. Lewington's 1st career AHL goal gave the Bears the lead with 7:36 left in the opening frame.

Less than a minute after Lewington's go-ahead goal, the Phantoms were awarded a power play and took advantage of it - tying the game at 2-2 with 5:51 left before the first intermission.

Taylor Leier, in his first game back after six games in the NHL with the Flyers, took a pass from Chris Conner and came barreling down the left wing. He beat a defender and, from a bad angle, somehow was able to sneak a puck behind Dan Ellis to the short side. Andrew MacDonald added an assist on the power play tally as well, which ended an 0-for-20 drought across five games for the Phantoms.

There was no shortage of action in the second either. After former Phantoms forward Austin Fyten set up Travis Boyd with a pass from behind the net to Boyd in front 4:35 into the period, Petr Straka continued his goal-scoring dominance he's shown all season long.

First, Straka finished off a great effort by Taylor Leier for the Phantoms' 2nd power play goal of the night. Leier was tripped up heading down the left wing and from his knees was able to shovel the puck across the crease to Straka, who able to bank one in off the inside of Ellis' leg pad and in through the five hole to tie the game back up, at 3-3 with 9:09 left in the 2nd period.

After Straka's goal there was a scrum behind Knapp's net on the following shift, which resulted in a big mistake by Lewington - dropping his gloves with Tyrell Goulbourne. Goulbourne landed several big-time punches in a one-sided affair and gave the Phantoms more energy at the 11:16 mark of the period.

Straka netted his second goal of the period - his league leading 14th of the season - to give the Phantoms the lead back at 4-3 with 3:02 left before the 2nd intermission. Davis Drewiske fired a point shot in on Ellis and although the initial shot was stopped, Ellis kicked the rebound out into the slot and Straka swooped in and fired the rebound home.

The third period was perhaps the most frantic of them all, as the two teams continued to go back-and-forth.

Nathan Walker put home his own rebound with 7:52 left to tie the game at 4-4. Just about four minutes later, the Phantoms re-gained the lead on Goulbourne's 2nd of the night. The 5-4 Phantoms lead lasted just 20 seconds as Paul Carey got one past Knapp to make it a 5-5 game with 3:27 left in regulation.

Both teams has chances in the overtime, with several odd man rushes for both teams in the 3-on-3 overtime. After it was all said and done, the Phantoms got the lone goal of the shootout in the fifth round on a nice forehand to backhand move by Tim Brent.


Connor Knapp (23 saves - 28 shots) got his first AHL start of the season tonight for the Phantoms. With Anthony Stolarz injured Wednesday & unable to play tonight, Knapp was recalled from Reading (ECHL) and got the start. Martin Ouellette served as the team's backup.

Nick Cousins was called up to Philadelphia, while Taylor Leier was returned to the Phantoms after a six-game stint with the Flyers.

Forward Brandon Alderson was re-assigned to Reading and the Phantoms continued to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Both defenseman Mark Alt and forward Kevin Sundher left the game due to lower body injuries. Neither returned and there weren't any updates on their statuses moving forward.

Phantoms Scratches: Jason LaBarbera (injured), Anthony Stolarz (injured), Cole Bardreau (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) & Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

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

Connor Knapp - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

1:22: LV - Goulbourne (5) - Goumas, Hagg
8:38: HER - Moore (1) - Carrick, Boyd
12:24: HER - Lewington (1) - Collins, Walker
13:18: HER - (PP) Carrick, minor (slashing)
14:09: LV - PPG Leier (5) - Conner, MacDonald

2nd Period

4:35: HER - Boyd (3) - Fyten
9:42: HER - (PP) Moore, minor (high-sticking)
10:51: LV - PPG Straka (13) - Leier, Conner
11:16: LV - Goulbourne, major (fighting)
11:16: HER - Lewington, major (fighting)
16:58: LV - Straka (14) - Brent, Drewiske
17:34: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (interference)
17:47: HER - (PP) Ness, minor (cross-checking)

3rd Period

1:12: LV - (PP) Brent, minor (roughing)
7:17: HER - (PP) Bourque, minor (tripping)
12:08: HER - Walker (3) - Sill, Collins
12:35: HER - (PP) Gazley. minor (goaltender interference)
16:13: LV - Goulbourne - Rankin, Goumas
16:33: HER - Carey (9) - Barber, Camper


No scoring



Leier - no
Straka - no
Goulbourne - no
Palushaj - no
Straka - YES


Carey - no
Carrick - no
Bourque - no
Gazley - no
Collins - no


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