Monday's Catch Up & Links 12/21

Monday, December 21, 2015
Danick Martel (left) is the latest Phantoms' player to leave the lineup due to injury. Photo: Nina Weiss
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms enter a much-needed break for the holidays, with no games until Saturday night at home against Bridgeport. Still one game under ,500, several guys on the roster can use the time off to heal up and get ready for the second half of the season.

After the jump, a recap of last week's action, a look ahead to this week, some news & notes and my weekly reading links.

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Lehigh Valley Phantoms (14-15-1-0)

Last Week

Wednesday 12/16, W-B/Scranton - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 0

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms had trouble generating much in the offensive zone and ultimately, it resulted in a 3-0 shutout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Jason LaBarbera's return to the net after 38 days between starts.

The Phantoms mustered just eight shots on net in the first 40 minutes of play, with several shot attempts not getting through or missing the net entirely. The defensive zone play wasn't terrible, but spending too much time defending and not enough attacking will slow down just about any team.

Friday 12/18, Hershey - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 6

After taking a 1-0 lead early in the contest, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms surrendered three straight goals and trailed the Hershey Bears 3-1 with 8:06 left in the opening period.

Team captain Colin McDonald lined up Bears defenseman Ryan Stanton with a big hit in the corner, and although a penalty wasn't called when Zach Sill dropped his gloves and attempted to fight McDonald it gave Lehigh Valley the momentum swing they were looking for to turn the tides.

The Phantoms got a power play on the very next shift and cashed in, propelling them to five straight goals to break open the game and bounce back with a big 6-4 win. Lehigh Valley went 3-for-6 on the power play, tallying a season-high three man advantage goals in the win.

The Phantoms had six different goal scorers and six players pitched in multi-point efforts, including a game-high three points from Nick Cousins (1G-2A). The 8,111 fans at the PPL Center were sent home satisfied, concluding the Phantoms' five-game home stand on a positive note and giving the team a chance, with a win tomorrow night in Binghamton, to head into the week long break for the holidays with a winning record on the season.

Saturday 12/19, Lehigh Valley - 1 at Binghamton - 2

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms left it all out on the ice in third period, trailing 1-0. They were able to tie things up with 6:37 remaining in regulation on a great effort by Taylor Leier, but it wasn't meant to be for the Phantoms.

With less than two and a half minutes to play, after the Phantoms had controlled a majority of the third period, a puck at the near boards took a weird bounce off a body and bounced right to Nick Paul who was away from the play in the slot. Paul made no mistake, burying one into basically an empty net for his first pro goal and the BSens prevailed with the 2-1 win.

Jason LaBarbera deserved a better result, stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced tonight - making several big time stops to keep his team in it and only trailing 1-0. It was the epitome of the way LaBarbera's season has gone so far, just not getting the end results despite doing a lot of things right.

The Week Ahead

Saturday 12/26, Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Sunday 12/27, Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 4:05 p.m. ET


  • Goaltender Jason LaBarbera is back in action, making his first start last Wednesday for the first time in 38 days. He played well Saturday despite the loss to Binghamton, stopping 30 of the 32 shots that came his way. That's a bid of confidence heading into the break that LaBarbera can return to form for the stretch run.
  • Injured defenseman Christian Marti (upper body) had been skating at practice with the team leading up to the break, albeit in a yellow non-contact jersey. Hopefully, the week off will allow Marti to return to action Saturday against Bridgeport.
  • Defenseman Matt Lashoff didn't finish Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and did not play in either of the games over the weekend. Much like Marti, the break comes at a good time for Lashoff to heal up.
  • Head coach Scott Gordon confirmed after Saturday's 2-1 loss in Binghamton that forward Danick Martel missed the game due to an injury he sustained in Friday night's game at home against Hershey. Gordon offered no other update on his status moving forward.
  • Forward Tim Brent didn't play this week with an undisclosed injury, likely upper body. He skated Tuesday in a regular jersey, but as a rotating forward not among the top four lines. He was reported to have skated Thursday in a non-contact jersey and head coach Scott Gordon declined to provide any updates on when Brent might return to action.
  • The Phantoms will have a decision to make on forward Evan Rankin, who will appear in his 25th and final game of his current professional tryout contract with the team the next time he suits up. The Phantoms will have to either re-sign him to another PTO of 25 games or give him a standard player contract to retain his services.
Injured List: Christian Marti (upper body since 11/20), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Danick Martel (undisclosed since 12/18), Chris Conner (upper body since 11/28), Matt Lashoff (undisclosed since 12/16), Tim Brent (undisclosed since 12/11) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Weekly Links

Last week at The Home News, my weekly featured the return of Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Cole Bardreau and the season-high five-game home stand at the PPL Center, Teddy Bear toss photo included. This week, I have a surprise feature that I think you'll really enjoy so stay tuned for that leading up to Christmas.

Over the weekend, I posted my weekly look around the AHL's Eastern Conference in Saturday's Morning Skate (12/19).

Before Wednesday's game, I caught up with Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg about his slow start to this season. An injury in the team's second game of the year caused Hagg to miss three weeks and he's just starting to get into a rhythm now playing on the top pairing alongside Andrew MacDonald.

I also caught up with Phantoms goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who just returned from a lengthy injury of his own. My 1-on-1 interview with the veteran netminder was focused on his getting back in net Wednesday night for his first start in 38 days. It's been a rocky start for LaBarbera to say the least.

Phantoms forward Tyrell Goulbourne and Hershey Bears defenseman Madison Bowey were best friends while the two played hockey together in the WHL with Kelowna. While still good friends off the ice, Goulbourne and Bowey find themselves on opposite sides of a bitter AHL rivalry between Lehigh Valley and Hershey in the pro ranks.


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