Martel's Hat Trick Not Enough to Keep Phantoms Win Streak Alive

Friday, February 5, 2016
The Phantoms fell short in their quest of six straight wins.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first nine and a half minutes, looking to be on their way to a season-high sixth straight win. According to forward Chris Conner, the Phantoms simply were out-worked from that point on - being outscored 6-1 in the final 50 minutes in route to a 6-3 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena.

Danick Martel provided all the offense for Lehigh Valley, tallying his first career professional hat trick. His third goal of the night, which came 6:52 into the middle frame, gave him 17 goals on the season which is the most goals by a rookie in the AHL. It just wasn't enough tonight.

Bracken Kearns completed his hat trick with an empty net goal with 5.3 seconds left for Bridgeport, while former Adirondack Phantoms Ben Holmstrom and Andrew Rowe each tallied goals for the Sound Tigers in the win.

Things don't get any easier for Lehigh Valley (22-22-2-1), who head to Hershey tomorrow for a game against a Bears team coming off a six-goal second period against Binghamton tonight and an unbeaten streak of 10 games (7-0-2-1).

Post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, as well as forwards Chris Conner and Danick Martel after the jump.


Scott Gordon on his team's early 2-0 lead, final 50 minutes:
It was okay. I didn't think it was great, but it was okay. We got a power play goal, but a lot of sloppy play overall [tonight].
Gordon on what went wrong for Phantoms tonight:
I think the biggest thing is we got away from moving the puck north and started turning the puck over. When you get an opportunity to get the puck in [to the zone], and you don't get it in and it comes back in, you're guaranteed to give up a shot. We did that several times, especially in the third, and that's the hole we dug ourselves in.
Gordon on Martel's performance tonight:
Obviously he's getting his shot off tonight. It's a positive for us, he's been a little snake bitten recently so it's good to see him score.
Danick Martel on his three-goal night:
I worked hard today, that's where the goals came from. First one, good forecheck and after the puck came to me in the slot I needed to put it in, and that's what I did. The second one, a power play goal with a good entry. Third one, bringing it to the net. I brought the puck to the net, I worked hard today so I'm proud of my game but I would love to do the hat trick in a win instead of the loss.
Martel on what went wrong in the final 50 minutes:
I think they worked harder than us today. When they were in the offensive zone they were bringing everything to the net, and on the puck in the corners they were always the first in on pucks. Tomorrow, we have to start the game working harder than the other team and win that game. 
Chris Conner on the difference tonight:
I feel like we just got outworked today. When you're up on the road, you have to work harder for those loose puck battles. It was one of those games where we just got out-battled. That's something at this time of the year, we can't be worrying about if we are going to battle or not, it's something that should come automatically. We have to fix that quick and move on to tomorrow.

The Phantoms had to kill off the infamous early period penalty they've been accustomed to taking this season but after the game went back to five aside hockey, Danick Martel forced a turnover and gave Lehigh Valley an early 1-0 lead.

Martel picked off a backhand pass from Kyle Burroughs in the left wing face-off circle and after a quick toe drag to the slot he fired one high-glove on Christopher Gibson 5:08 into the first period for his 15th goal of the season. The goal came unassisted.

A little over four minutes later with the Phantoms on a power play of their own, Colin McDonald sent a cross-ice feed from atop the right-wing face-off circle over to Martel for a shot into what was basically an empty net to give Lehigh Valley the 2-0 lead on Martel's 16th of the season - tying Martel for the most goals by rookie in the AHL.

Bridgeport got some momentum in the second half of the period, as Taylor Beck caused an Andrew MacDonald turnover and fed it across to an open Bracken Kearns for a tap in goal past Jason LaBarbera to cut the Phantoms' lead in half with 9:23 left in the opening frame.

The Sound Tigers evened things at 2-2 early in the middle frame on a bad angle goal by former Adirondack Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom. It was just Holmstrom's 2nd of the season, but the trend of former Phantoms players scoring on Lehigh Valley continued - erasing what was a 2-0 lead in the first period.

The Phantoms' power play struck again a little over four minutes after Bridgeport had tied it up to re-gain the Lehigh Valley lead at 3-2. Danick Martel took a pass from MacDonald and although he was looking to pass he threw one on net that bounced off the skate of Bridgeport's defender Kevin Czuczman and in past Gibson to complete Martel's first career professional hat trick

Martel's 17th goal of the season also put him in the league for goals scored by a rookie. Chris Conner picked up the second assist on Martel's hat trick goal, extending his points streak to eight games (five goals, eight assists).

Bridgeport wouldn't go away quietly, tying the game back up at 3-3 midway through the period. Christian Marti broke his stick on an offensive zone face-off and in transition Carter Verhaeghe flew behind the net and sent one in front to Kearns, who put one past LaBarbera for his second goal of the contest with 9:22 left before the second intermission.

The Sound Tigers had a decided edge in play in the second half of the period, spending large portions of time in the Phantoms' defensive zone and out shooting Lehigh Valley 11-6 in the middle frame. The two teams headed to the locker room tied at 3-3, with both teams looking to extend their respective winning streaks.

The trend of former Phantoms scoring against Lehigh Valley continued as former Adirondack Phantoms forward Aaron Rowe gave Bridgeport a 4-3 lead 2:46 into the final frame on a sneaky turnaround shot through traffic that LaBarbera never saw.

Bridgeport made it 5-3 with 12:12 left in regulation after Alan Quine entered the zone with speed and collected a drop pass from Mike Halmo before getting to the edge and driving the net on his way to picking a corner on LaBarbera.

With the Phantoms netminder pulled for the extra attacker, Kearns completed his hat trick with an empty net goal to complete the 6-3 final score.


Jason LaBarbera (26 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms, with the recently recalled Martin Ouellette serving as the team's backup.

Anthony Stolarz was called up to Philadelphia on Tuesday to fill in for the injured Michal Neuvirth, who is expected to miss a week to 10 days.

Nick Cousins was called up to Philadelphia this afternoon as the Flyers announced center Sean Couturier will miss the next four weeks with a lower body injury suffered Thursday night in Nashville.

Aaron Palushaj returned to the lineup after sitting out the team's last three games.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher (lower body), Michael Parks (upper body), Max Lamarche (healthy), Petr Straka (lower body), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery), Jay Rosehill (undisclosed) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Danick Martel - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier - Phil DeSimone - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Kevin Goumas - Aaron Palushaj
xxxxx - Joe Rehkamp - Pavel Padakin

Andrew MacDonald - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Christian Marti 
Adam Comrie

Jason LaBarbera - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

2:24: LV - (PP) - DeSimone, minor (holding the stick)
5:08: LV - Martel (15) - unassisted
8:30: BST - (PP) Cullity, minor (cross-checking)
9:30: LV - PPG Martel (16) - McDonald, MacDonald
10:37: BST - Kearns (14) - Beck
13:54: BST - (PP) Leduc, minor (holding)

2nd Period

2:46: BST - Holmstrom (2) - Vaive, Florek
3:04: LV - (PP) Alt, minor (delay of game)
5:41: BST - (PP) bench minor, too many men (served by Halmo)
6:52: LV - PPG Martel (17) - MacDonald, Conner
10:38: BST - Kearns (15) - Verhaeghe, Lafranchise

3rd Period

2:46: BST - Rowe (3) - Markison
5:05: BST - (PP) Wright, minor (holding)
7:48: BST - Quine (8) - Halmo, Lafranchise
19:54: BST - ENG Kearns (16) - Verhaeghe, Beck


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