Phantoms Remain Unbeaten on Road Trip

Thursday, December 31, 2015
Aaron Palushaj races for a loose puck against Hershey tonight at Giant Center. Photo credit: Nina Weiss/The Home News
For the first time since March 21st, 2010, a Phantoms hockey team has left the Giant Center win a regulation win.

The Hershey Bears were 16-0-2-1 against the Phantoms in their last 19 visits to Hershey, but after two goals from Danick Martel tonight as well as a power play tally from Aaron Palushaj and a dominant performance in net from Jason LaBarbera (27 saves - 28 shots) the Phantoms left Hershey with a 3-1 win on New Year's Eve to finish off the 2015 calendar year with a win.

The win puts the Phantoms at 2-0-1 on their current five-game road trip, which continues Saturday and Sunday with two games in Maine against the Portland Pirates.

Would you like to see the coverage of the team while they're on the road continue? Please lend a helping hand to keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a secure donation to my GoFundMe page.


The Phantoms were off and running on New Year's Eve in Hershey, playing a strong first period similar to their game Tuesday night in Binghamton - racking up 18 shots in the opening frame and taking a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Aaron Palushaj.

Palushaj's 7th of the season came as he poked a loose puck past Justin Peters at the tail end of the Phantoms' power play with 8:48 left in the 1st frame. Tim Brent and Sam Morin picked up the assists on the game's opening goal.

The Phantoms continued to pour it on in the 1st period, and if not for several strong saves from Peters the game would have not been a 1-0 game heading to the middle frame.

Hershey started to get pressure in on Jason LaBarbera late in the 1st period and nearly evened it up at 1-1 in the final minute of the period while on a power play of their own. LaBarbera made three strong saves to keep the Phantoms ahead heading into the 2nd period.

In the middle frame, the Bears had the Phantoms on their heels in the opening minutes but LaBarbera stood tall and the Phantoms' penalty kill made it 21 straight penalties killed off before Lehigh Valley extended their lead to 2-0.

Jesper Pettersson stole a puck in the neutral zone and got it ahead to the speedy Danick Martel, who did the rest beating Peters with a backhander to make it 2-0 Phantoms with 6:22 left in the 2nd.

LaBarbera continued to be strong in net, but unfortunately lost his shutout bid with 2:35 left in the third period with Hershey's goaltender off for the extra attacker. Christian Djoos picked a corner with a great shot for his 3rd of the season to get Hershey on the board, but that's as close as they would get.

Martel added his second of the night and 12th of the season, an empty net goal, with 1;01 left in regulation to complete the 3-1 win. Newcomer Sam Gagner tallied the primary assist on Martel's empty net goal for his first career AHL point in his AHL debut.


Jason LaBarbera (27 saves - 28 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms, with Anthony Stolarz backing him up.

Sam Gagner skated with the Phantoms at the team's morning skate in Whitehall, then made his Phantoms and AHL debut tonight in Hershey.

With Gagner entering the lineup and on the Phantoms roster, they needed to designate a third player as veteran scratch. Matt Lashoff had to sit out tonight, joining Jay Rosehill and Chris Conner (upper body) as the team's three veteran scratches.

Tyrell Goulbourne got into a fight with Hershey's enforcer Liam O'Brien early in the 1st period and didn't appear to return, missing the 2nd and 3rd periods and wasn't present on the bench.

Scratches: Christian Marti (upper body since 11/20), Evan Rankin (undisclosed since 12/19), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27) Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Brandon Alderson (illness), Maxim Lamarche (since 12/19), Chris Conner (upper body since 11/28), Matt Lashoff (healthy) Jay Rosehill (healthy) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Petr Straka - Tim Brent (A) - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier - Nick Cousins - Aaron Palushaj
Sam Gagner - Kevin Goumas - Danick Martel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Cole Bardreau - Joe Rehkamp

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

Jason LaBarbera - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

2:08: LV - Goulbourne, major (fighting)
2:08: HER - O'Brien, major (fighting)
4:08: HER - (PP) Stanton, minor (cross-checking)
6:59: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (interference)
9:25: HER - (PP) Mitchell, minor (boarding)
11:12: LV - PPG Palushaj (7) - Brent, Morin
18:53: LV - (PP) McDonald, minor (tripping)

2nd Period

6:46: LV - (PP) MacDonald, minor (tripping)
9:45: HER - (PP) Stanton, minor (kneeing)
13:28: LV - Martel (11) - Pettersson

3rd Period

7:02: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (delay of game)
17:25: HER - Djoos (3) - Bourque, Gazely
18:59: LV - ENG Martel (12) - Gagner, Brent


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