Despite OT Loss, Phantoms Extend Points Streak to Four Games

Saturday, January 2, 2016
Pretty even game tonight in Portland.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms squandered another chance to get above the .500 mark record-wise tonight in Portland, but remain unbeaten on the five-game road trip (2-0-1-1) with one game left on it after an overtime loss to the Portland Pirates tonight. At 16-16-2-1, the Phantoms can finish the road trip with a win and go over .500 mark tomorrow when these two teams rematch.

All in all, a pretty even game. Petr Straka tallied his league-leading 17th of the year on the opening shift of the hockey game and after the Pirates responded with three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead Lehigh Valley tallied two goals late in the second period just 47 seconds apart.

Mark Alt and Aaron Palushaj tallied goals to send the two teams to the third period tied at 3-3 and despite several chances by both teams in the third, 60 minutes was not enough to decide a winner. In the extra session Kyle Rau finished the game with his second goal of the night for the Pirates.


Scott Gordon on tonight's game:
I thought we had a great game. We generated a lot of quality scoring chances off the rush, had some great O-zone pressure and as far as the final goal it's just one mistake. It was a more consistent effort throughout the 60 minutes.
Gordon on the 2nd period turnaround:
We gave up two goals that were just mistakes that shouldn't happen. Self-inflicted. That being said, we worked hard to get our goals. We had one called back that I thought was a good call and could have been up 2-0.
Gordon on the message:
I don't have any complaints. If we play like that all the time we're going to get plenty of wins. 
Aaron Palushaj on facing a new opponent for a change:
It's nice. A change of scenery for sure, I have never played here personally so it was cool playing in a new barn. They have a good team. I thought we played pretty well. There was a few times we shot ourselves in the foot, but I think we'll come tomorrow and get the win and call it a good weekend and get three out of four points.
Palushaj on the comeback:
It was big. It was a bad turnover by our line on the third goal, so we knew we had to come out and get one. Once Alt got one, the bench was up after that goal and then I got a fortunate bounce to put me on a breakaway and it went in for me. It was nice to tie it up.

Just as fans at Cross Insurance Arena were getting to their seats, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms scored on their first shot of the hockey game.

Sam Morin got the puck behind his net and started a breakout - chipping one up the boards to Tim Brent, who skated into the offensive zone on a 3-on-2 rush. Brent found Petr Straka trailing in the high-slot and Straka made no mistake about it, tallying his AHL leading 17th goal of the season to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the contest.

The Portland Pirates settled in from there and the first ten minutes of play were pretty even, with both teams exchanging rushes and chances. After a series of pressure from the Pirates, they evened the game at 1-1 with 9:14 left in the period.

Jonathan Racine took a puck behind the net and tried to get it to his teammate in front, but it was pushed away by a Phantoms defender before Rob Schremp raced in at the side of the net to the loose puck and roofed one past Anthony Stolarz for his 13th of the season.

The Phantoms appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the period, scoring a goal after a ferocious battle in Mike McKenna's crease. The referee behind the Pirates' net waived the goal off almost immediately and the ruling was that there was interference on the goaltender.

Instead, it was the Pirates taking a 2-1 lead a little over a minute later. Stolarz extended his glove to the ice to cover up a loose puck, but his glove was lifted by Garrett Wilson's stick and poked past him.

The pace of play continued in the middle frame, as the Phantoms got pressure on several shifts start the period until an errant high-stick from Sam Gagner put them shorthanded 4:41 into the period.

The Phantoms killed off Gagner's minor and the teams continued to exchange chances until Schremp forced a turnover in the Phantoms' defensive zone with just under 5:00 left in the middle frame. Schremp nudged a puck to Kyle Rau, who skated into the left-wing face-off circle and fired a shot over Stolarz's shoulder to extend the Pirates lead to 3-1.

The Phantoms went right back to work.

Mark Alt took a pass from Cole Bardreau after the Phantoms cycled the puck down low and Alt's shot from the point found its way past McKenna to make it a one-goal game with 3:24 left in the 2nd. On the next shift, just 47 seconds later, Taylor Leier fed a pass up ice to Aaron Palushaj who came in on a mini-breakaway and put one past McKenna to send the Phantoms and Pirates to the third period tied at 3-3.

The teams exchanged chances in the third period but the 3-3 score held. The pace of the game was incredible. Even with the overtime and a lengthy full-ice dry scrape before the extra session, the game was completed in under two and a half hours.


Anthony Stolarz (28 saves - 32 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms, with Jason LaBarbera serving as the backup after getting the win in Hershey Thursday night.

Maxim Lamarche skated during warm ups and is healthy after missing a few games with injury, but did not return to the lineup tonight in Portland.

No other lineup changes personnel-wise for the Phantoms from their lineup Thursday, though during the line rushes the second and third lines were swapped and some defense pairings were switched up as well.

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 (healthy), Maxim Lamarche (healthy), Chris Conner (upper body since 11/28), Matt Lashoff (healthy/veteran) Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)


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

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

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

0:15: LV - Straka (17) - Brent, Morin
10:46: POR - Schremp (13) - Racine, McFarland
12:46: POR - (PP) Wilson, minor (hooking)
17:02: POR - Wilson (4) - Simpson, Olson

2nd Period

4:41: LV - (PP) Gagner, minor (high-sticking)
14:53: POR - Rau (14) - Schremp
16:36: LV - Alt (3) - Bardreau, Goulbourne
17:23: LV - Palushaj (8) - Leier, MacDonald

3rd Period

No Scoring/Penalties


1:46: POR - Rau (15) - Grimaldi, Gaunce


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