Monday's Catch Up & Links 2/1

Monday, February 1, 2016
The AHL All-Stars warming up before Sunday night's Skills Competition.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are on a two-day hiatus for the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic, which saw the Western Conference All-Stars win last night's Skills Competition 19-14 over the Eastern Conference in Syracuse, New York.

Two highlights of last night for the Eastern Conference All-Stars came in the breakaway relay and the hardest shot competition. In the breakaway relay, Portland Pirates forward Rob Schremp pulled off some ridiculous lacrosse-like moves (the puck never touched the ice).

The hardest shot competition saw rookie defenseman Ryan Graves of the Hartford Wolf Pack blast the 3rd hardest shot in AHL All-Star history with 103.4 mph on the radar clock after his second attempt. I caught up with Graves after last night's Skills Competition to talk about that shot.

Ryan Graves on his 103.4 mph shot:
It's the only event that I was in. It was the only event I would really be any good at. I was happy with it. Overall, just taking in the experience and having fun and letting the fans enjoy it.
The AHL All-Star Challenge is tonight starting at 7 p.m. ET, which will see each division field their team of All-Stars in a round-robin style tournament in 9-minute mini games which will feature both 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 play. After every division has played one another, the two teams with the best records will face-off in a final game for the championship.

After the jump, the usual Monday update on the Phantoms, recapping last week's wins and looking ahead to the post All-Star break stretch run.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (22-21-2-1)

Last Week

Monday 1/25, Lehigh Valley - 6 at Hershey - 5 (SO)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hershey Bears played another wild game at the Giant Center, as the meeting that was postponed Saturday night was re-scheduled and played on a rare Monday night. It didn't disappoint.

The Atlantic Division rivals combined for ten goals in regulation, and after a three-on-three overtime didn't produce a game winning goal it was on to the shootout where Taylor Leier and Nick Cousins scored and Anthony Stolarz preserved the win by stopping two of three Hershey shooters.

It was the third shootout win against Hershey this season for Lehigh Valley, who kicks off a busy four-game week with a much needed two points in the standings. On the season, the Phantoms are 6-3 against the Bears with six of the nine games decided by one goal and four of the nine meetings (all Phantoms wins) extending past regulation.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were staring at another loss to the Binghamton Senators in the third period after Eric O'Dell tallied his 2nd power play goal of the night with 14:49 left in regulation to put Binghamton ahead 3-2.

The BSens have been a thorn in the Phantoms' proverbial side this season, defeating the Phantoms in four of the five previous meetings between the two team.

The Phantoms rallied for four unanswered goals in the final frame behind a five-point night from team captain Colin McDonald (three goals, two assists) and and back-to-back goals from Nick Cousins in route to their third straight win - marking a new season high and coming at a crucial time with the Phantoms trying to climb back up the standings.

Cole Bardreau had another strong game, following up his two-goal performance Monday night in Hershey with a goal and an assist tonight. In all, Bardreau has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in nine January games.

Friday 1/29, W-B/Scranton - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 4 (OT)

Through 40 minutes of play, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were out-worked and out-competed by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Luckily for the Phantoms, they were only down by a score of 2-0 entering the third period.

It was only then, with a little more than 14 minutes left in regulation that the Phantoms got on their horse and worked their way back into the game. Three straight goals, by Davis Drewiske, Cole Bardreau and Chris Conner, actually gave the Phantoms a brief lead before the Penguins tied it at 3-3 and sent the game to overtime.

At that point, the fact that the Phantoms had managed to get a point out of the game was impressive enough. What Bardreau did in the extra session to give the Phantoms their fourth straight win was something spectacular.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms swept the home and home series with the Atlantic Division leading Penguins by a 5-3 score Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, stretching their season-high win streak to five games as teams head into the AHL All-Star break.

Colin McDonald is a sure-fire candidate for the CCM/AHL Player of the Week Award, as he added to his already ridiculous offensive totals with two goals tonight - giving him 10 points (six goals, four assists) in four games this week,

The Phantoms also got goals from Taylor Leier, Chris Conner and Pavel Padakin, the latter of which tallied his first career AHL goal that turned out to be both controversial and the game-winner.

"It felt really good, especially when the team wins the game and my goal is the game-winning goal," Padakin said of his first AHL goal, adding, "Great work by Tyrell [Goulbourne] in front of the net because he kind of put the goalie down and that’s why I scored. And Phil [DeSimone] - all the guys did a huge job. I’m really thankful and happy."

After not getting any bounces their way during the five-game losing skid that preceded the five victories, the Phantoms aren't feeling sorry about getting the two points tonight and heading into the break with confidence.

"Of course it’s a streak, especially after the hard start to the season," Padakin said after the game. "I think we just need to keep it up and work hard. That’s all it is. Play the way we did tonight and yesterday in the third period and we can beat any team in this league."

The Week Ahead

Friday 2/5, Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport - 7:00 p.m. ET
Saturday 2/6, Lehigh Valley at Hershey - 7:00 p.m. ET

  • The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have two representatives at the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic competing on the Atlantic Division's team in tonight's tournament in goaltender Anthony Stolarz and forward Nick Cousins.
  • Defenseman Matt Lashoff has found a new home, signing overseas in Germany with Adler Mannheim in the DEL.
  • Forward Tim Brent is going to be out long term after having surgery last week on his hand/wrist.
  • In Brent's absence, forwards Colin McDonald (6G-4A) and Cole Bardreau (5G-1A) really stepped up their game in last week's four-game week. They have provided secondary scoring to the top line of Taylor Leier - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner at the most opportune time to help the team along in their season-high five game win streak.
  • Forward Aaron Palushaj is back on the injured list, having missed the last three games after a slew foot hit he received last Monday night in Hershey from Bears enforcer Liam O'Brien. Palushaj was thought to be ready for this past weekend's games after skating as a full participant in last Thursday's practice. Palushaj should be ready to go this weekend.
  • Pavel Padakin tallied his first career AHL goal Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, a somewhat controversial goal in the 2nd period that eventually stood as the game-winner.
Weekly Links

Last week at The Home News, the new guys were featured. Read about the return of Adam Comrie and the arrival of Phil DeSimone to the Phantoms. Stay tuned for this week's Phantoms story for The Home News' next edition, which will have several topics including some All-Stars coverage and the team's hot streak.

The Home News broke the story about Tim Brent's surgery with the help of Brent's wife Eva Shockey-Brent, who posted on Instagram while they were waiting in the hospital for the surgery Wednesday morning.

Here's my coverage from Syracuse of the Skills Competition and the first ever AHL All-Star Challenge.

As always, there was plenty of exclusive Phantoms content here online last week. I featured 2nd year forward Taylor Leier on how he is really becoming a leader on this team. I also caught up with rookie forward Pavel Padakin, who returned to the Phantoms after a much-needed stint in the ECHL with Reading to build confidence and reliability in his game.

Over the weekend, I posted my weekly look around the AHL's Eastern Conference in Saturday's Morning Skate (1/30).

I caught up with newly acquired Hartford Wolf Pack forward Nicklas Jensen, who started his Wolf Pack career with eight straight wins. It's safe to say the change of scenery is working well for Jensen so far.

Also at Hockey's Future, I posted my monthly notebook article on the AHL's Eastern Conference - featuring the red hot Providence Bruins, the Wolf Pack's winning streak and the always dominant Toronto Marlies.


Post a Comment