Sundher Strikes Twice To Lift Phantoms Past Providence

Friday, November 20, 2015
Phantoms kicked off the road trip with a big win.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7-8-1-0) got off to a great start on their season-high four game road trip tonight in Providence, getting a pair of goals from Kevin Sundher to take a 2-1 lead to the third period and two insurance markers in the final frame by Danick Martel and Petr Straka to seal the victory.

Anthony Stolarz (6-3-1, 1.81 GAA, . 934 SV%) continues to play phenomenally in net, stopping 29 o the 30 shots he faced to help the Phantoms get to one game from .500 hockey and extending Lehigh Valley's points streak to four games at 3-0-1 in their last four contests.

The Phantoms continue to get scoring up and down their lineup, strong play in net and are starting to really grasp the new system they've been playing under head coach Scott Gordon.

After the jump, exclusive post-game reaction from the Phantoms' head coach as well as forwards Kevin Sundher and Colin McDonald.

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Scott Gordon on starting the weekend off right:
I think we played a smarter game. At times, we were a little passive - just probably playing a little too safe where we probably could have kept pucks in that we didn't. The guys stuck with it and for me it was a huge game because we are getting closer to .500. We just have to keep moving forward. 
Gordon on Kevin Sundher:
He's been good, really good. He's a smart player and when you're doing the smart things all the time usually good things happen and that's been the case with him.
Gordon on Anthony Stolarz's performance:
He has been [playing great]. For any team to be successful, you have to have good to great goaltending and he's been doing that. For me, he hasn't really had an off-night and he needs to keep doing that.
Gordon on getting production from all over the lineup:
Obviously, when you get the third and fourth goal you can breathe a little bit easier and not hang on every play. We had some good plays off of a lot of hard pressure by Providence, but I was just happy to see us get possession of the puck and find a way to get [scoring] chances.
Kevin Sundher on his two goals:
Just a solid face-off win and a good pass up. I was able to sneak it through. 
I thought his five-hole was open. Good play by Goumas right off the bat to get the puck into the neutral. Good PK. I was able to come down and saw five-hole and put it there.
Sundher on how to keep it going:
Continue to play hard. Have the right habits. Get pucks in, win battles. Hard in front of our net and get in front of their net. I think if we can do all of that we have a pretty good chance to beat anybody. 
Colin McDonald on getting back in and how he felt tonight:
I felt pretty good. I play a pretty simple game to begin with so I focused on doing that even more. It was a good start and keep building off.
McDonald on not shying away from physical play in his 1st game in over six weeks:
If I don't do that, I'm not very effective so I just have to play physical. That's my responsibility, my role. I have to do that. I cannot use my injury as an excuse.
McDonald on his line with Goulbourne and Sundher:
I felt we had a really good week of practice. I don't know [Goulbourne and Sundher] very well, so I think we focused and dialed into practice and it carried over into tonight.
McDonald on keeping this going throughout the weekend:
We're getting better. I think we're starting to figure out the system and how we need to play. It takes time. We have a really good team here and we just have to keep going. Enjoy this one for an hour or two and then focus on tomorrow.

A bit of a sluggish start for the Phantoms in Providence tonight. The PBruins had the jump from the opening face-off, creating turnovers and spending a majority of the first half of the first period in the Phantoms' defensive zone.

The Phantoms started to generate pressure with their fore-check as the period wore on, and it made a difference in the puck possession as the Phantoms began getting some chances in the offensive zone.

Off a neutral zone face-off win, Mark Alt got a puck ahead to Kevin Sundher and he quicky took a quick shot just inside the offensive zone blue line that eluded Subban to gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead with 8:29 left in the opening period.

The Phantoms had momentum on their side after the game's opening goal, but the PBruins had a few dangerous scoring chances in the final minutes of the period before heading to the locker room for the first intermission trailing Lehigh Valley 1-0.

Things started to open up in the second frame, with both teams exchanging chances and odd-man rushes in another fast-moving period. After the two teams traded unsuccessful power plays, the PBruins evened the score at 1-1 on a nice individual effort from Ben Sexton.

Sexton took a pass from former Flyers forward Max Talbot and in one swift motion skated in and made a nice move at the left-wing face-of circle before going high to the blocker side on Stolarz with 7:18 left in the 2nd period.

It appeared as though Providence had momentum on their side. After Sexton's first of the season tied the game, the PBruins got another power play chance on the next shift. They had several nice set ups on the man advantage and had the puck in the Phantoms' defensive zone for most of the two minutes, but some big stops by Stolarz kept the game tied.

As Sundher exited the penalty box after a successful Phantoms penalty kill, Kevin Goumas flipped a puck to Sundher at the blue line. Sundher broke in all alone and went five-hole on Subban with a backhanded shot to give the Phantoms the lead back at 2-1 with 4:46 left before the 2nd intermission. It was Sundher's 2nd tally of the night.

The Phantoms had a glorious chance with 4:28 left in the period to extend the lead as Andrew Cherniwchan came flying into an unsuspecting Christian Marti, which resulted in a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a Phantoms power play to end the 2nd period. Marti never returned to the game and his status for the rest of the weekend is very much in question.

Lehigh Valley was unable to capitalize in the 2nd period and took the 2-1 lead to the final frame. After the Phantoms were unable to get anything going on the 32 seconds of carry-over power play time, the PBruins started pressuring - looking for a tying goal.

After matching minors to Aaron Palushaj and Brandon DeFazio saw the two teams play 4-on-4, the Phantoms top line gave their team an insurance marker 9:11 into the final frame.

Palushaj worked a puck from behind the net out to the slot to Tim Brent, who's shot was blocked. The puck took a friendly Phantoms bounce right to the stick of Danick Martel, who was standing to the left of Subban's net. Martel roofed the rebound past Subban to give the Phantoms a 3-1 lead with 10:49 left to play.

The 2nd line of Straka-Cousins-Conner was quiet for most of the game, but the trio combined on a pretty passing display to give the Phantoms a commanding 4-1 lead with 6:58 to play. Cousins got it to Conner who took the puck to the slot and fed Straka on the door step for an easy tap in. It was Straka's 10th of the season which for the time being has him tied for 1st in the AHL in goals.

The Phantoms got a few more stops from Stolarz and had a few bids at an empty net, but held on for the 4-1 win heading into Saturday's game against Hartford.


Anthony Stolarz (29 saves - 30 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms tonight to start the road trip.

With Jason LaBarbera out for the weekend with an undisclosed injury, Martin Ouellette joined the Phantoms from Reading (ECHL) as served as Stolarz's backup.

On defense, the Phantoms went back to the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen lineup which saw Matt Lashoff sit out as a healthy/veteran scratch.

Forward Brandon Alderson was also scratched to make room for the two forwards returning from injury.

Up front, forwards Colin McDonald (missed last 14 games) and Aaron Palushaj (missed last four games) returned to the Phantoms lineup.

Phantoms Scratches: Cole Bardreau (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Brandon Alderson (healthy), Matt Lashoff (healthy/veteran), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) & Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Danick Martel - Tim Brent (A) - Aaron Palushaj
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Kevin Sundher - Colin McDonald (C)
Evan Rankin - Kevin Goumas - Pavel Padakin

Andrew MacDonald - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske (A) - Christian Marti

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

11:31: LV - Sundher (2) - Alt

2nd Period

6:48: PRO - (PP) Cross, minor (interference)
9:24: LV - (PP) Padakin, minor (holding)
12:42: PRO - Sexton (1) - Talbot, Acciari
13:07: LV - (PP) Sundher, minor (boarding)
15:14: LV - Sundher (3) - Goumas
15:32: PRO - (PP) Cherniwchan, major (charging)

3rd Period

4:26: LV - Palushaj, minor (embellishment)
4:26: PRO - DeFazio, minor (holding)
9:11: LV - Martel (6) - Brent, Palushaj
13:02: LV - Straka (10) - Conner, Cousins
14:47: PRO - (PP) Cherniwchan, minor (slashing)


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