Phantoms Come Up Short Against Rival Penguins

Friday, April 15, 2016
Anthony Stolarz was under siege tonight. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms played an even first period with rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday night at the PPL Center but were unable to match the Penguins' pressure in the final 40 minutes before ultimately coming up short 2-1 in the final meeting between the two teams this season.

Robert Hagg gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but it was quickly countered by the Penguins to even things at 1-1. Anthony Stolarz stood on his head at times to get Lehigh Valley to the third period still deadlocked, but the Penguins' third period push was enough to get them a go-ahead goal and the two points in the standings as they continue to strive for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs next week,

Stolarz finished with 40 saves on 42 shots and by the time he was heading off the ice for the extra attacker with just over a minute left, his job was done - giving his team a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation. Unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, they just weren't able to find the back of the net.

The Phantoms have two more games left on the schedule before calling it a season, starting Saturday in Hershey before the season finale Sunday at home against Syracuse. Post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, goaltender Anthony Stolarz and the goal scorer Robert Hagg after the jump.


Scott Gordon:
On solid first period, then disappointing final 40 minutes - The first period was probably as well as we moved the puck all year. Then right from the opening of the second period, we had a couple of bad shifts - icings, turnovers - and we were on our heels from that point on. I didn't think there was anything great about the second period and other than a few shifts in the third we definitely weren't the better team in the second and third periods.
Anthony Stolarz:
On being under siege - Right from the get go they were throwing everything at the net. As a goalie, you kind of don't mind that. You just have to keep your focus.
On early-game action getting him in a rhythm - When teams throw pucks at the net it kind of gets your confidence going. As the game goes on you get more and more confident. Their goals were just two deflections so hats off to them.
Robert Hagg:
On his 1st period goal, his recent goal-scoring success - It's always good to see the puck go in. Unfortunately we couldn't get a win, but it's always nice to see the puck go in. I didn't see it [go in] but it was a nice feeling.
On his improved play, unfortunate timing of it - These last 10-15 games maybe I'm playing better and better. It sucks the season is almost over.

The Phantoms and Penguins exchanged some good offensive chances in the opening minutes, with Lehigh Valley getting on the board first 3:12 into the hockey game. Adam Comrie sent a puck down low that was retrieved by Tim Brent and then sent up to the point to Robert Hagg, who did the rest with a point blast that was wired to the top shelf.

It was Hagg's third goal and fourth point in six games in the month of April after entering the final month of the season with six points (two goals, four assists) in 57 games played. He's been a noticeably different player the past 8-10 games, and in a good way. He's shooting the puck quicker and as a result his shots are getting through.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton responded just over two minutes later as Jean-Sebastien Dea re-directed Will O'Neill's point shot past Anthony Stolarz for his 20th of the season to even the score at 1-1. From there, it was a whistle-filled end to the opening frame without much flow. The two teams entered the locker room tied 1-1 and even in shots at 11-11.

The Phantoms were hemmed in their zone a bit to start the middle frame in a period that favored the Penguins. Lehigh Valley was out shot 14-7 in the period, but thanks to 24 stops by Anthony Stolarz the two teams headed to the final frame even at one apiece.

The Pens kept up the pressure in the third period, racking up 13 shots in the first eight minutes of the final frame before finally taking a 2-1 lead on Lehigh Valley. Stolarz had made several big time stops with the Phantoms shorthanded in the opening minutes, but Jake Guentzel was able to re-direct Carter Rowney's shot past him with 12:14 left  for the go-ahead goal.

Lehigh Valley couldn't muster up enough offense in the late stages of the contests to pressure for the game-tying goal, falling 2-1 to the Penguins in the final meeting between the two rivals this season.


Anthony Stolarz (40 saves - 42 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley, with Connor Knapp serving as his backup.

Leading scorer Chris Conner was not in the Phantoms' lineup tonight after skating on a 5th line in practice Thursday morning. Petr Straka returned to the lineup up front for Lehigh Valley after being a healthy scratch in the team's last game Sunday in Bridgeport.

Travis Sanheim made his home debut with the Phantoms tonight after appearing in last Friday and Sunday's games on the road. Reece Willcox was the odd man out.

Scratches: Jason LaBarbera (out for the season), Christian Marti (healthy), Michael Parks (out for the season), Aaron Palushaj (healthy), Radel Fazleev (out for the season), Chris Conner (healthy), Dalton Smith (healthy), Jay Rosehill (healthy), Logan Pyett (out for the season) and Reece Willcox (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Oskar Lindblom - Tim Brent - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Taylor Leier - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald
Petr Straka - Phil DeSimone - Danick Martel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Steven Swavely - Pavel Padakin

Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Travis Sanheim
Adam Comrie - Robert Hagg

Anthony Stolarz - Connor Knapp


1st Period

3:12: LV - Hagg (5) - Brent, Comrie
5:16: WBS - Dea (20) - O'Neill, Simon

2nd Period

14:07: LV - (PP) Padakin, minor (slashing)
15:02: WBS - (PP) Simon, minor (hooking)

3rd Period

0:45: LV - (PP) Aube-Kubel, minor (hooking)
8:16: WBS - Guentzel (2) - Rowney, Kostopoulos
12:30: WBS - (PP) Mouillierat, minor (high-sticking)
16:33: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (cross-checking)


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