Phantoms Respond With Wednesday Night Win Over Binghamton

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The Phantoms came out ready to go tonight in a big win over Binghamton.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms kicked things off on the five-game home stand with a major response after back-to-back losses last weekend. Taylor Leier netted his first career professional hat trick, Phil DeSimone recorded three assists and Colin McDonald (1G-1A), Chris Conner (1G-1A) and Cole Bardreau (0G-2A) tallied two points each in a big 7-2 win over the Binghamton Wednesday night.

The Phantoms tallied early and often, tallying two goals on a five-minute major power play and jumping out to a 3-0 lead halfway through the first period. They didn't let their proverbial foot off the gas and never looked back.

Scoreboard Watch: In the only other Atlantic Division game tonight, Bridgeport comes from behind after trailing Hershey 5-3 to win in a shootout for the Sound Tigers' 7th straight win. Hershey still extends their unbeaten in regulation streak to an impressive 13 games with the shootout loss. The Phantoms trail 4th place Providence by five points with two more games played and trail 5th place Bridgeport by six points with one more game played.

Thoughts from head coach Scott Gordon and forwards Phil DeSimone and Taylor Leier after the jump.

Scott Gordon on a response game after last weekend:
It was certainly disappointing last weekend. I think we caught a team missing a ton of players and we took advantage of it, especially on our power play at the beginning of the game to start the game off on the right foot. It was probably a big relief for everybody.
Gordon on the message to the team heading into tonight's game:
Biggest thing I stressed is our skating. Whether out of our zone or through the neutral zone, back-checking, fore-checking we need to bring speed early.
Gordon on Taylor Leier's performance:
He's a threat to score any time he has the puck. Tonight, he just got into spots where he identified some opportunities to shoot. If you ask anyone on our team, everyone talks about how good a shot he has so it's not surprising.
Phil DeSimone on kicking off the home stand with a big win:
Tonight we got a few quick ones. We wanted to make sure we kept our foot on the gas and stayed within our system. I'd say that's a pretty solid 60 minutes. We have two more this week at home and obviously we have to keep going if we want to slide into playoffs.
DeSimone on getting comfortable with Phantoms:
The first four games I just tried to play smart hockey, not a lot of minutes but trying to earn everyone's respect. Fortunately, Cousins got called up and I got a chance to play with Conner and Leier. Tonight they went in. Obviously it's nice to get opportunities on the power play and play with two great players like that, so I just wanted to make the most of it. 
Taylor Leier on the response:
Last weekend was terrible for us. Everyone here has a team-first mentality and we came out and played our game tonight and things worked out.
Leier on his first career pro hat trick:
It's an exciting night, it's one of our biggest wins of the season for our team. It's a special night for me. The plays the guys made before I scored were big parts of that. Chris and Phil played well tonight and I can't thank them enough.

The Phantoms came ready to play tonight, taking an early 1-0 lead 2:49 into the contest after some good fore-checking work by Cole Bardreau and Danick Martel. Martel forced a turnover on a BSens defender trying to bring the puck out from behind Binghamton's net and the loose puck went right to Colin McDonald, who was all alone atop Chris Driedger's crease and was able to stuff one past the BSens netminder to get the Phantoms going.

Bardreau took a heavy check from Michael Sdao about five minutes after the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead on a hit that seemed to target the Phantoms forward's head. Sdao was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and Lehigh Valley wasted no time on the ensuing man advantage, taking a 2-0 lead just nine seconds into the power play.

Some good puck movement at the blue line by Andrew MacDonald and Colin McDonald opened up the BSens' penalty killers and McDonald was able to spot Taylor Leier down low, who from just below the left-wing face-off dot was able to roof one past Driedger to extend the Phantoms' lead to 2-0.

Exactly two minutes later, while still on the man advantage, more good puck movement by the Phantoms' second unit opened the game up to the tune of a 3-0 Lehigh Valley lead. Phil DeSimone - seeing an increased role with Nick Cousins in the NHL with Philadelphia - got the puck down low to Aaron Palushaj, who spotted Robert Hagg atop the left-wing face-off circle. Palushaj sent Hagg a perfect pass that the Swedish born defenseman was able to one-time to the top shelf past Driedger. It was Hagg's first point in his last 15 games and his second goal of the season was his first in his last 16 game played.

Joe Rehkamp was whistled for a double-minor late in the opening period, but Jason LaBarbera stood tall - making several good stops including robbing BSens' Michael Kostka with a blocker save on a fore-hand to backhand move. LaBarbera stopped all 12 first period shots he faced to prevent the BSens from gaining any late period momentum heading into the middle frame.

The BSens got on the board early in the middle period after a face-off win by Kyle Flanagan to Connor Allen. Allen cut to the middle and sent a screened shot past LaBarbera 1:34 into the 2nd period to cut the Phantoms' lead to 3-1.

Lehigh Valley slowly got back to their game towards the middle of the period, scoring back-to-back goals 1:11 apart to extend their lead to 5-1.

First, DeSimone sent Chris Conner on a breakaway for a highlight-reel goal. With a BSens' defender on his back, Conner slowed things up and went fore-hand to backhand on Driedger - out-waiting the sliding goaltender until the net opened up for him. Then, DeSimone tallied his third assist of the night on a perfect setup to Adam Comrie for a quick one-timer past Driedger.

Binghamton got one of those back on a bit of a busted play late in the second period to cut the Phantoms' lead to 5-2. Adam Comrie fell into LaBarbera, knocking the goaltender's stick out of his hands and behind the net. BSens' forward Buddy Robinson picked up the loose puck in the corner and threw one on net that banked in past LaBarbera off MacDonald's skate in front with 5:12 left before the second intermission.

Leier tacked on two more goals for the Phantoms in the third period to complete his hat trick and the final score in the 7-2 win for Lehigh Valley. MacDonald set Leier up for his 2nd power play tally of the night 5:50 into the third, while Sam Morin added the primary helped on Leier's hat trick goal with 4:42 left in regulation.

The Phantoms have two more home games this weekend as they look to claw their way back into the postseason conversation. Friday night, they host the Portland Pirates and Saturday night they welcome the Utica Comets to PPL Center. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. ET.


Jason LaBarbera (20 saves - 22 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms, with Martin Ouellette serving as the team's backup. After the game, Ouellette was seen talking to head coach Scott Gordon in the hallway before the goaltender packed up his gear in the Phantoms' locker room during post-game media interviews.

Petr Straka returned to the Phantoms' lineup after missing exactly one month with a lower body injury.

With Straka's return, the Phantoms had two healthy scratches tonight. Pavel Padakin and Maxim Lamarche were the odd men out. Robert Hagg, Christian Marti & Lamarche had been rotating as the lone healthy scratch on defense prior to Straka's addition to the lineup.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Max Lamarche (healthy), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery), Jay Rosehill (undisclosed) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely).

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

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

Jason LaBarbera - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

2:49: LV - McDonald (10) - Martel, Bardreau
7:29: BNG - (PP) Sdao, major (elbowing)
7:38: LV - PPG Leier (13) - McDonald, MacDonald
9:38: LV - PPG Hagg (2) - Palushaj, DeSimone
14:14: LV - (PP) Rehkamp, minor (cross-checking)
14:14: LV - (PP) Rehkamp, minor (unsportsmanlike)

2nd Period

1:34: BNG - Allen (2) - Flanagan
6:42: LV - Goulbourne, major (fighting)
6:42: BNG - Sdao, major (fighting)
11:28: LV - Conner (11) - DeSimone
12;39: LV - Comrie (1) - DeSimone
14:48: BNG - Robinson (9) - Flanagan
15:00: BNG - (PP) McCormick, minor (high-sticking)
18:13: BNG - (PP) Schneider, minor (boarding)

3rd Period

2:51: LV - (PP) Marti, minor (cross-checking)
5:46: BNG - (PP) Harpur, minor (delay of game)
5:50: LV - PPG Leier (14) - MacDonald, Bardreau
9:10: LV - (PP) - Straka, minor (hooking)
11:37: BNG - (PP) Stortini, minor (slashing)
15:18: LV - Leier (15) - Morin, Goumas
18:45: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, double-minor (high-sticking)


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