Stolarz Steals Shootout Win For Phantoms

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Phantoms began the week with a Wednesday night matchup against Syracuse.
It wasn't pretty, but much like Sunday's nail biter in Hartford the Lehigh Valley Phantoms pulled away from the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York with two points.

Anthony Stolarz stole the show and the game for Lehigh Valley, stopping 51 of the 53 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and capped it off by stopping all three Syracuse Crunch shooters in the shootout to preserve the 3-2 win and the extra point in the standings.

Danick Martel tallied his 20th goal of the season to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead and Cole Bardreau put his team ahead 2-1 with 10:30 left in regulation, but Syracuse forced overtime with an extra attacker goal with 21.9 seconds left on the clock.

Scoreboard Watch: The Hartford Wolf Pack defeated Bridgeport in a shootout tonight, helping the Phantoms close the deficit to the final playoff spot to five points.


Scott Gordon's thoughts:
It was obviously huge to get the two points. Tough bounce on the game-tying goal, but Stolarz played a great game. It's unfortunate we didn't win in regulation, but we're pretty happy right now.
Gordon on the amount of shots allowed:
I said to our guys after the second period, we are spending time in our defensive zone because we're not spending enough time in the offensive zone. When you do that, and you're not defending well because you're doing it too much you're eventually going to give up a lot of shots and that's what happened tonight.
Cole Bardreau on the shootout win:
That's kind of been our M.O. there. It's not pretty, but we get the job done. I think that's what good teams do, they find a way to get the job done. Hopefully down the road it will make it a little easier on ourselves and go for a playoff push.
Bardreau on Stolarz:
Especially for a goalie in this league to be playing as much Stolarz is. It's unbelievable what he's doing. I don't think people give him enough credit. Especially the three-in-three's. He's been the anchor. It's been pretty sloppy for us as of late and he's the one holding us in there and giving us the chance to win. I can't say enough about him.

Not the best start for Lehigh Valley in the opening period in Syracuse tonight. The Crunch seemed to be spending most of the first frame in the Phantoms' defensive zone - forcing turnovers and winning those 50/50 puck battles in the corners to extend shifts in the offensive zone.

If not for Anthony Stolarz, making his 8th straight start in net, there was no way the Phantoms would have made it to the first intermission deadlocked in a scoreless tie. Stolarz stopped all 17 Syracuse shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes and kept the team afloat early on when the shots read 12-4 in favor of the home team.

Crunch goaltender Adam Wilcox, who oddly enough picked up his first career AHL win against the Phantoms back on November 7th, wasn't tested as repetitively as Stolarz but still had to be sharp especially late in the period to keep it 0-0 heading into the middle frame.

The Phantoms had a much better start to the second period, drawing themselves their first power play of the contest 1:02 into the period and taking a 1-0 lead shortly after it had expired.

Aaron Palushaj got a puck to the point to Max Lamarche, who put one toward the net that Danick Martel was able to re-direct past Wilcox 3:15 into the middle frame for his 20th goal on the season.

From there, the ice started to tilt back into the Crunch's favor. They continued to pepper Stolarz with pucks, and tied the game at 1-1 just after the midway mark of regulation on their 30th shot of the night.

Anthony DeAngelo got a puck across to Jeff Tambellini, whose point shot was off the mark. The rebound bounced off the boards behind Stolarz's net and out the other side to Mike Blunden, who buried the bad angle shot past the sprawling Phantoms goaltender with 8:21 left before the second intermission.

Stolarz again kept his team in the game, stopping all but one of the 17 shots he faced in the middle frame. Entering the third period, he had already stopped 33 of 34.

The Crunch jumped out to a 5-2 shots advantage early in the third period and it appeared that Stolarz was going to need to make 60 saves just to get the Phantoms to overtime. He made a brilliant sliding pad save on former Phantom Tye McGinn early, stealing one away from Syracuse to keep it tied.

Sometimes all it takes is one mistake, and for that one mistake to be taken advantage of. After a long shift spent in the Phantoms' defensive zone, a turnover in the neutral zone gave the Phantoms a 3-man rush up ice with their top line. Petr Straka dished it up to Colin McDonald and Cole Bardreau was the trailer. McDonald fed Bardreau between the face-off cirlces and the rookie from Cornell let it rip - eluding the Syracuse goaltender and giving the Phantoms a 1-0 lead with 10:30 left in regulation.

The Phantoms clung to the one-goal lead from there, only to surrender a game-tying goal with 29.1 seconds left in regulation. With the goaltender pulled, Syracuse saw an attempted pass in the offensive zone bounce right to a blue jersey in the slot for a 2-on-1 down low that former Phantoms forward Tye McGinn would put home to force overtime.


Anthony Stolarz (51 saves - 53 shots) his 8th straight start in net for the Phantoms tonight. There wasn't any reported update on injured goaltender Jason LaBarbera from practice this week and Martin Ouellette hasn't been reassigned to ECHL Reading, so Ouellette is likely Stolarz's backup in Syracuse tonight.

Speaking of Reading, defenseman Jesper Pettersson was reassigned to the Phantoms' ECHL affiliate on Tuesday - a sign that one or both of Mark Alt and Maxim Lamarche are ready to return after missing Sunday's game due to a flu bug that has been making its rounds through the locker room. Both Alt and Lamarche were full participants in yesterday's practice.

Dalton Smith made his Phantoms debut tonight against Syracuse, a team he spent parts of two seasons with prior to this year.

Christian Marti and Jay Rosehill were healthy scratches.

The World Cup of Hockey playing rosters were announced today. Back in mid-January, Team USA named current Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon as an assistant coach for USA's World Cup of Hockey team. It's Gordon's 8th time representing USA hockey in some capacity at the international stage, and he doesn't take those opportunities lightly.

Scratches: Christian Marti (healthy), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Dalton Smith (healthy), Jason LaBarbera (upper body), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery), Jay Rosehill (healthy) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely).

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

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

Davis Drewiske (A) - Max Lamarche
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Adam Comrie - Robert Hagg

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

5:45: LV - Comrie, major (fighting)
5:45: SYR - Ikonen, major (fighting)
14:11: LV - (PP) Conner, minor (tripping)

2nd Period

1:02: SYR - (PP) Witkowski, minor (interference)
3;15: LV - Martel (20) - Lamarche, Palushaj
10:45: LV - (PP) Lamarche, minor (hooking)
11:39: SYR - PPG Blunden (19) - Tambellini, DeAngelo

3rd Period

1:12: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (delay of game)
9:30: LV - Bardreau (10) - McDonald, Straka
19:38: SYR - McGinn (18) - Erne, Blunden


No Scoring



DeSimone - no goal
Leier - GOAL
Straka - no goal


Peca - no goal
Erne - no goal
Blunden - no goal


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