Saturday's Morning Skate 2/6

Saturday, February 6, 2016
The Phantoms and Bears meet up again tonight at Giant Center. Photo; Nina Weiss/The Home News
ATTENTION: Tonight's Lehigh Valley Phantoms game in Hershey could be my last live road game coverage. Would you like to see my coverage of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 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 donation to my GoFundMe page.

All 30 teams in the American Hockey League are in action tonight on the first weekend after the AHL's All-Star break, with teams jostling for playoff position heading down the stretch.  Goals came in bunches for Eastern Conference teams last night, as five of the seven games featured a team scoring at least five goals and all seven featured a winner scoring at least four goals.

Tonight, I'll be live from Giant Center in Hershey as the Phantoms take on their Atlantic Division rival Hershey Bears at 7:00 p.m. ET. Follow me on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock for the latest from tonight's game and stay tuned online for a full recap of the action complete with exclusive player reaction from the locker room that you can't get anywhere else.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 2/5's games)

1. W-B/Scranton: 45 games played, 30-13-1-1 = 62 points (.689 PCT)
2. Hershey: 47 games played, 25-13-3-6 = 59 points (.628 PCT)
3. Portland: 44 games played, 26-17-1-0 = 53 points (.602 PCT)
4. Providence: 45 games played, 20-15-8-2 = 50 points (.556 PCT)
5. Bridgeport: 46 games played, 24-19-2-1 = 51 points (.554 PCT)
6. Hartford: 46 games played, 24-20-2-0 = 50 points (.543 PCT)
7. Lehigh Valley: 47 games played, 22-22-2-1 = 47 points (.500 PCT)
8. Springfield: 45 games played, 17-22-3-3 = 40 points (.444 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

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.

The Phantoms take on the Hershey Bears at Giant Center Saturday, while Bridgeport heads to Wilkes-Barre to take on the Atlantic Division leading Penguins.

Hartford - 5 at Portland - 0

The Hartford Wolf Pack have now won 10 of their last 11 games following a blowout win in Portland Friday night over a Pirates team that entered the night second in the Atlantic Division.

Magnus Hellberg stopped all 35 shots he faced to pick up his 3rd shutout of the season for Hartford, improving to 17-11-2 on the season while five different guys tallied goals - Nicklas Jensen, Ryan Graves, Ryan Bourque, Tommy Hughes and Adam Tambellini.

Pirates All-Star goaltender Mike McKenna was pulled 7:56 into the second period after allowing four goals on 25 shots. Sam Brittain stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief.

Hartford looks to continue to stay hot in Albany Saturday evening, while Portland remains home looking to avenge the blowout loss with a Saturday night face-off against the Providence Bruins.

W-B/Scranton - 4 at Springfield - 3 (OT)

The Penguins nearly let a 2-0 first period lead slip away and turn into their seventh loss in eight games, but were able to survive in overtime thanks to Carter Rowney's game-winning power play goal 24 seconds into the extra session.

Matt Murray returned to the Penguins' net and stopped 42 of 45 Springfield shots to improve to 17-8-0 on the season. Rowney led the way with a game-high three points for the Pens, while Anton Zlobin tallied a goal and an assist in his season debut.

Springfield tied things up in the third period on a pair of Greg Carey goals, while former Penguins defenseman Philip Samuelsson and forward Craig Cunningham tallied two assists each in the loss for the Falcons.

The Penguins return home to host a Bridgeport team that has won five in a row, while Springfield heads to Syracuse for a Saturday night match against the Crunch.

Hershey - 6 at Binghamton - 2

In Binghamton, the Bears exploded for six goals in the middle frame in route to extending their points streak to 10 games (7-0-2-1).

Hershey had six different goal scorers and was firing on all cylinders with six goals on eight second period shots. Jakub Vrana, Carter Camper, Riley Barber and Scott Gomez all tallied a goal and an assist each for the Bears in the win, while Dan Ellis improved to 15-6-4 on the season with 25 saves on 27 shots.

Nick Paul and Kyle Flanagan tallied third period goals for the BSens, but that's as close as they would get to mounting a comeback from a six-goal deficit.

The Bears return home to host rival Lehigh Valley Saturday night at Giant Center, while Binghamton remains home and hopes to rebound in a game against Rochester.

Albany - 4 at Providence - 3 (SO)

In about as even a game as they come, the Albany Devils prevailed in the shootout over the host Providence Bruins Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in a game that featured just one minor penalty in 65 minutes of play.

Brian O'Neill and Corey Tropp tallied a goal and an assist each for the Devils, who got goals in the shootout from Mike Sislo and Jim O'Brien to get the two points in a game they never trailed. Yann Danis stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced while also stopping both Providence shooters in order to pick up his 18th win of the season.

Alexander Khokhlachev tallied a goal and an assist for Providence to lead them offensively, while Seth Griffith tallied his 15th of the season with 2:48 left in regulation to force overtime. Malcolm Subban also stopped 21 of 24, but was only able to stop one of the three Albany shooters in the shootout.

Albany returns home to host Hartford Saturday, while Providence heads north to Portland to take on their Atlantic Division rival at Cross Insurance Arena.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Utica - 5 at St. John's - 2
Rochester - 5 at Syracuse - 4

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Toronto at Manitoba, 1:00 p.m. ET
Hartford at Albany, 5:00 p.m. ET
Utica at St. John's, 6:00 p.m. ET
Lehigh Valley at Hershey, 7:00 p.m. ET
Providence at Portland, 7:00 p.m. ET
Springfield at Syracuse, 7:00 p.m. ET
Rochester at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET


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