Phantoms Fall to Bridgeport in Special Teams Affair

Saturday, December 26, 2015
Phantoms wore a special purple jersey to commemorate the 20th season of Phantoms hockey. Photo: Nina Weiss
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (14-16-1-0) were unable to capitalize on the power play again tonight, at least not until there was one second left on their ninth attempt, in a 2-1 loss to Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of a sellout crowd of 8,886 fans at the PPL Center tonight.

In fact, Bridgeport's goals came directly after Phantoms' power plays had expired - with Taylor Beck exiting the box and scoring in the first period and Sebastien Collberg leaving the box late in the second period to set up Joe Whitney's 12th of the year on an odd-man rush.

Robert Hagg tallied his first goal of the season, on the power play, with 6:30 left in regulation but it was as close as the Phantoms would get. Anthony Stolarz stopped 27 of 29 and kept it close, but was tagged with the loss despite another solid showing in net.

In total, 17 minor penalties were handed out by the referees tonight including four in a span of 2:52 early in the second period.

It doesn't get any easier for Lehigh Valley, who travels to Wilkes-Barre to face a Penguins team tomorrow afternoon that is coming off a 5-0 home loss to Hershey.


Robert Hagg on his 1st of the season, also critical of himself:
It was nice to get the first goal, but it didn't help tonight. I'm more frustrated with the turnover I had in the 2nd period that cost this win for the team, so I'm pretty disappointed with myself.
Hagg on the power play struggles:
We need to shoot more pucks. Like we played in the third period, putting pucks to the net and creating a lot of offense. We need to do that for a full 60 minutes. Put the pucks to the net and see what happens after that.
Aaron Palushaj on the power play:
With how many opportunities we had, we had to be better. We are getting our chances which is good, but at the end of the day with opportunities we had tonight - it's the difference in the game. [If] we score one more power play goal, we're sending the game to overtime.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were able to draw penalties in the opening period, but were unable to cash in on any of the four straight power plays they were given. In fact, after their first man advantage had ended the guilty Sound Tigers forward gave Bridgeport a 1-0 lead.

Taylor Beck exited the box and thirteen seconds later, he scored his eighth of the season on a bit of a busted play. Beck skated into the Phantoms' defensive zone and Mark Alt fell down, allowing Beck to skate into the slot and fire a shot to the top shelf high to the glove side on Anthony Stolarz. Bracken Kearns and Jared Gomes recorded assists on Beck's goal 5:24 into the 1st period.

From there, the Phantoms drew three more power plays and got some quality chances on Sound Tigers' goaltender Christopher Gibson but he made some sharp saves to keep his team ahead 1-0 heading to the second period. Gibson twice denied Petr Straka, the second of which was his best save of the period - sliding from his right to left to rob Straka's one-timer with a pad save with the Phantoms on the power play.

The second period could best be described with two words. Penalty parade.

Seven minor penalties, including four in a span of 2:52 early in the middle frame, made the period largely a special teams battle. This time, it was the Phantoms needing to kill off penalties - including two different stints of 5-on-3 PK time - to keep it at a 1-0 deficit.

Credit the penalty killers and Stolarz for keeping the team in it, but the Phantoms' power play failed to convert on three more chances in the period to make it 0-for-7 on the night after 40 minutes of play.

Sebastien Collberg was whistled for a holding minor with 2:50 left, but similar to Beck's exit from the box in the 1st period, Collberg came back into play and took advantage of an untimely Phantoms line change to give the Sound Tigers a 2-0 lead with 38,8 seconds left before the second intermission.
Collberg led a 3-on-1 rush in on Sam Morin and fed Joe Whitney for his 12th of the season to put a two-goal deficit on the Phantoms.

It wasn't until there was one second left on their ninth power play of the night that the Phantoms cashed in on the man advantage. Robert Hagg took a pass at the point from Aaron Palushaj and floated one into the top shelf with 6:30 left in regulation to cut the Phantoms' deficit to 2-1.

Unfortunately for the Phantoms, it was too little too late and the game ended just the way it began - with a minor penalty on the home team. Lehigh Valley pulled Stolarz for the extra attacker with about 30 seconds left to play but to no avail.


Anthony Stolarz (27 saves - 29 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms, with Jason LaBarbera serving as the team's backup.

Defenseman Christian Marti continues to skate at practice in a yellow, non-contact jersey. Marti took part in today's pre-game morning skate donning the yellow jersey again.

With Matt Lashoff (undisclosed) still out due to injury, the Phantoms recalled defenseman Jesper Pettersson from Reading (ECHL) to be their seventh defenseman.

Evan Rankin played in the Phantoms last game before the break in Binghamton last Saturday, but wasn't present at the team's morning skate today and sat out tonight.

Danick Martel skated in a yellow, non-contact jersey today at the team's morning skate but missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Tim Brent returned the lineup after missing the last four games to an undisclosed injury.

Scratches: 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), Maxim Lamarche (healthy), Chris Conner (upper body since 11/28), Matt Lashoff (undisclosed since 12/16) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)


Taylor Leier - Tim Brent - Colin McDonald
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Aaron Palushaj
Tyrell Goulbourne - Kevin Goumas - Brandon Alderson
Jay Rosehill - Cole Bardreau - Joe Rehkamp

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

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

1:43: LV - (PP) Cousins, minor (hooking)
3:11: BST - (PP) Beck, minor (hooking)
5:24: BST - Beck (8) - Kearns, Gomes
6:47: BST - (PP) - Graham, minor (hooking)
9:32: BST - (PP) - Mayfield, minor (delay of game)
15;44: BST - (PP) - Gomes, minor (interference)

2nd Period

2:14: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (boarding)
3:51: LV - (PP) Alt, minor (boarding)
4:54: LV - (PP) Goumas, minor (tripping)
5:06: BST - (PP) Beck, minor (holding)
9:21: BST - (PP) Finn, minor (tripping)
15:20: LV - (PP) Cousins, minor (holding)
17:10: BST - (PP) Collberg, minor (holding)
19:21: BST - Whitney (12) - Collberg

3rd Period

3:02: BST - (PP) Holmstrom, minor (high-sticking)
9:34: LV - Alderson, minor (holding)
9:34: BST - Finn, minor (tripping)
11:31: BST - (PP) Beck, minor (tripping)
13:30: LV - PPG Hagg (1) - Palushaj, Morin
18:23: LV - (PP) bench minor, too many men (served by Alderson)


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