|Photo: Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook
BRIDGEPORT - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2-2-1) battled back from two separate two-goal deficits in the first 40 minutes, but some costly turnovers in the 3rd period ultimately did them in in a 5-4 regulation loss Saturday night in Bridgeport.
The Phantoms' power play continued to have success - scoring two more man advantage goals tonight - with Jordan Weal leading the offensive attack with two goals and an assist. Colin McDonald also tallied two goals - including an extra attacker goal with 1:03 left to make it a one-goal game - but it was too little to late for Lehigh Valley.
Lehigh Valley heads home overnight, but will head to Hershey Sunday for a 5 p.m. meeting at the Giant Center against the Hershey Bears.
Post-game reaction from assistant coach Kerry Huffman and captain Colin McDonald after the jump.
Assistant coach Kerry Huffman
On matching the effort/intensity in 2nd game vs. BST:
Yeah, I just think it was a strange game in the fact that those two 5-on-3 put us behind the eight ball a little bit but we showed a lot of character and battled back from the two-goal deficit twice. Was it the same as last week, no.On costly turnovers:
I just think that there's still some things we need to tighten up. It's a 3-3 hockey game heading into the final 10 minutes there. We have to manage the puck a little bit better.On the mental aspect possibly causing the turnovers:
It could be. We're playing the second game on the road after a big win the other night. Sometimes those things happen but like I said you get yourself in a close game 3-3 in the third period and we just have to bear down and finish the job. We just didn't do that tonight.Colin McDonald
I thought we played pretty well, just key mistakes at key times ended up costing us. Overall I liked the way we played - power play, 5-on-5, it was just those costly mistakes.On matching intensity:
I thought we had a good week of practice. It was a wake up call for us facing these guys last weekend. I liked the way the whole week has been going, to be honest. From practice to last night to tonight, just some costly mistakes tonight.RECAP
The Phantoms jumped out to a good start in the opening few shifts, but from there Bridgeport controlled the play in the first half of the period in the sort of muck and grind type game that best suits their strengths and the way they want to play.
Lehigh Valley got into penalty trouble in the middle of the period and it cost them dearly - taking three minor penalties in a span of 1:18 and allowing two five-on-three power play goals to fall behind 2-0 on the scoreboard.
First, Alex Lyon came up big twice on Michael Dal Colle - hugging the post and making a skate save that nearly got the Phantoms out of danger. Instead, Josh Ho-Sang scooped up a loose puck behind the net and connected with Bracken Kearns in the slot for a quick shot past Lyon at 12:33 to open the scoring for the home team.
On the next shift, Travis Sanheim was whistled for slashing and the Sound Tigers cashed in on their second two-man advantage of the night shortly after, with Jon Landry setting up Ho-Sang for a one-timer from the left circle for his first pro goal to give Bridgeport a 2-0 lead.
Scary moment with 3:44 left in the period, as an awkward collision between Kyle Burroughs and Danick Martel saw the Phantoms' forward writhing on the ice in what looked to be serious pain. Martel was helped off the ice after receiving the worse end of a knee-on-knee collision and wasn't putting any weight on his left leg. He didn't return to the game and there wasn't an update on his condition after the game.
Burroughs was assessed a major penalty for kneeing, and the Phantoms quickly made it a one-goal game - scoring six seconds into the ensuing power play. Jordan Weal won a face-off and the puck came to Mark Zengerle in the slot, whose shot was re-directed past Gibson by Weal. Taylor Leier added an assist on the Phantoms' power play goal that cut the deficit in half heading into the second frame.
The Sound Tigers got back to their game - clogging things up and not allowing the Phantoms' attack to get anything going. The period began with some extra feisty play from both teams before the pace opened up. The goals weren't far behind.
Connor Jones took a chip into the zone from his brother Kellen Jones in stride and blew past the defense for a mini-breakaway that he put past Lyon's five-hole to give Bridgeport a 3-1 lead at the 7:52 mark.
Lehigh Valley answered back on the next shift, making it a one-goal game once again on Weal's second goal of the night. Weal broke into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 with Zengerle and chose to shoot - banking one off the far post and in past Gibson 35 seconds after Jones' goal appeared to give Bridgeport a comfortable lead.
From there, the Phantoms started to out-work the Sound Tigers and draw them into taking penalties. They were unable to convert on a Travis St. Denis delay of game minor, but Nicolas Aube-Kubel used his speed up the wing to draw an interference call on Jon Landry that eventually tied the game.
On the ensuing power play, Will O'Neill got the puck across the top to Travis Sanheim whose hard shot from the point was tipped past Gibson by team captain Colin McDonald with 6:25 left before the second intermission to make it a 3-3 game heading to the third period.
The Phantoms came out guns blazing to start the third period, really taking it to Bridgeport in the opening five minutes. If not for some big stops from Chris Gibson, Lehigh Valley would have taken at least a one-goal lead if not more. They had the Sound Tigers pinned in their own zone.
Then, a poor decision by T.J. Brennan proved costly. From his own zone, Brennan decided to throw a blind, no-look backhand pass up the middle of the ice that was intercepted in the slot by Kearns and fired past Lyon to give Bridgeport a 4-3 lead with 13:46 left in regulation. Kearns' second of the night was unassisted.
It didn't get any better for Brennan, either. His neutral zone turnover a few minutes later led to a 2-on-1 that Michael Dal Colle would eventually convert on - chasing down his own rebound at the side of the net and sneaking the put back past Lyon to make it a 5-3 game.
Lehigh Valley made it interesting with 1:03 left, getting an extra attacker goal courtesy McDonald's second re-direction goal of the night but it was as close as they would get in a 5-4 regulation loss.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (30 saves - 35 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms. Anthony Stolarz, who got the win last night in Hartford, served as the team's backup and is expected to draw the start Sunday in Hershey.
Only one lineup change for Lehigh Valley, as Tyrell Goulbourne returned to the lineup and Cole Bardreau sat out as a healthy scratch. Bardreau made his season debut last night in Hartford, and following off-season abdominal surgery the plan was to ease him back into the lineup.
Danick Martel took the bad end of a knee-on-knee collision with Kyle Burroughs and didn't return to the game. Assistant coach Kerry Huffman didn't have an update on Martel's status moving forward, but Martel was seen post-game walking around on the injured left leg and it sounded like it was a charlie-horse.
Scratches: Cole Bardreau, Max Lamarche and Petr Straka
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Colin McDonald (C)
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Chris Conner
Taylor Leier (A) - Mark Zengerle - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Corban Knight
Will O'Neill (A) - T.J. Brennan
Robert Hagg - Travis Sanheim
Sam Morin - Reece Willcox
Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz
11:35: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (holding)
12:18: LV - (PP) Fazleev, minor (high-sticking)
12:33: BST - PPG Kearns (3) - Ho-Sang, Dal Colle
12:53: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (slashing)
13:36: BST - PPG Ho-Sang (1) - Landry, Toews
16:16: BST - (PP) Burroughs, major (kneeing)
16:16: BST - Burroughs, game misconduct (kneeing 50.5)
16:22: LV - PPG Weal (2) - Zengerle, Leier
1:26: LV - (PP) Zengerle, minor (tripping)
7:52: BST - C. Jones (2) - K. Jones, Landry
8:27: LV - Weal (3) - Leier
8:52: BST - (PP) St. Denis, minor (delay of game)
11:47: BST - (PP) Landry, minor (interference)
13:35: LV - PPG McDonald (2) - Sanheim, O'Neill
6:14: BST - Kearns (4) - unassisted
10:47: BST - Dal Colle (3) - Mayfield
14:07: BST - (PP) J. Holmstrom, minor (tripping)
18:57: LV - McDonald (3) - O'Neill, Weal