Phantoms Conclude Preseason With Five-Goal Performance

Saturday, October 8, 2016
Mark Zengerle had a strong outing tonight for Lehigh Valley. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

One thing is certain following tonight's Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers to conclude their preseason schedule. This Phantoms team has plenty of weapons that can not only distribute the puck well around the ice, but finish plays off and score some goals - especially on the power play.

"It wasn’t that much different from last night, other than our mistakes were really bad [last night]," head coach Scott Gordon said after the game. "To the guys’ credit, tonight, they made the adjustments and that’s the way we should be able to play every single night. Obviously, we’re gonna have ups and downs during the course of the season. Seeing what gave us success tonight, that can apply to all teams we play against. At the end of the day we still have to execute it.”

Five different goal scorers tonight for Lehigh Valley - Will O'Neill, Corban Knight, Greg Carey, Chris Conner and Radel Fazleev - on 38 shots. You'd be hard pressed to find a Phantoms game last season where the team had 34 shots on the board with still ten minutes left in regulation like they did tonight.

Alex Lyon impressed in his Phantoms' debut, almost quietly going about his business stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced.

Still, it's preseason hockey and there were some miscues and sloppy play that needs to be cleaned up. Luckily for the Phantoms, they'll have another full week of practice to prepare for their regular season opener next Saturday night at home against the Springfield Thunderbirds.


Head Coach Scott Gordon

On the power play:
I think that the biggest thing is the guys up top. They can do so much as far as moving the puck and getting it into the forwards’ hands and in good positions. We have, between Travis, Will and T.J., a lot of teams are going to have to respect their shots. When you have guys who can score out there, all of sudden that loosens things up down low for the forwards. They’re all excited. Miele and Zengerle, you couldn’t get two better half-wall forwards. There’s gonna be some other forwards who are going to get some pretty good looks and shots.
On getting more shots:
“It wasn’t that much different from last night, other than our mistakes were really bad. To the guys’ credit, tonight, they made the adjustments and that’s the way we should be able to play every single night. Obviously, we’re gonna have ups and downs during the course of the season. Scanning what gave us success tonight, that can apply to all teams we play against. At the end of the day we still have to execute it.
On Alex Lyon:
He was solid. He had a lot of traffic in front of him. I thought he fought through screens really well. We did a much better job as far as eliminating opportunities off the rush. One goal they got was off the rush. Other than that, the breakaway. Most of it was him battling and finding pucks through screens and controlling rebounds. That’s probably the hardest part about the American league. Becoming pro, there’s more people that get to the net. It increases even more when you get to the NHL.
Defenseman Will O'Neill
On having fun out there with that power play unit:
That was a lot of fun, with Miele and T.J. on either flank and a goal scorer in the middle there in Carey. I thought we moved the puck pretty well. It was fun.
On getting the win tonight to finish the preseason:
We are all out there together trying to put a good game together. Most importantly, that's what we did. We worked hard and kept the game pretty simple and honest. I didn't think it would be a surprise the way we came out, with the way we got beat last night. A rebound game tonight.
On the gameplan, moving forward:
Put pucks into space and skate onto them. Our forwards did a good job getting in there. You're not always going to get rewarded on every single on of those plays. But chip it in and keep chipping in to keep the game going. You don't always get rewarded but if we keep playing that way everyone will get their chances.
Forward Mark Zengerle

On the power play:
I think it starts up top on the blue line. There's numerous guys up there that have lethal shots and they distribute the puck pretty well too. We kept it simple, moved it up ice as quickly as we could and got shots from the blue line. Pucks found a way to get into the net.
On his patient play to give Phantoms a 2-0 lead:
I just came off the bench and I could kind of see their guy trying to make a play up the middle. Fortunately, it ended up hitting my stick. There was a lot of commotion at the net. I kind of waited it out and Knighter did a good job of staying in front and waiting patiently as well. It was a nice play we had.
On getting the win to finish off the preseason:
Yeah, it's nice especially after a game like last night. obviously it's a little different playing together for the first time. It might not be the prettiest, but it's nice to have that first game happen and be that much better heading into the season. 

Much like last night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms scored on their first man advantage of the night. Tonight, they didn't wait until the second period - taking a 1-0 lead 4:24 into the contest.

After some great chances to start the Phantoms' power play, Mark Zengerle got a puck back to the point and Will O'Neill let loose a blast that eluded everyone on its way past Daniel Altshuller. T.J. Brennan added an assist on the play.

The Phantoms really brought their skating legs from the opening face-off, and as such spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. All four lines were creating chances early as they rolled the lines in the opening half of the period.

Alex Lyon didn't see many pucks his way until the latter half of the first frame, but he made some Grade-A saves when he needed to, most notably a save and rebound stop on Mike Kirkpatrick all alone atop the crease. Lyon tracked the loose puck perfectly after making the first save and held onto the second shot for a whistle.

Lehigh Valley added to their lead 8:40 into the 2nd period, as Corban Knight finished off a feed from Mark Zengerle to make it a 2-0 Phantoms lead. Zengerle exhibited extreme patience - out-waiting Altshuller and pulling him out of his net before wrapping around the puck to Knight in front for an easy tap in.

The Checkers cut Lehigh Valley's lead in half twelve and a half minutes into the period, connecting a series of passes in the offensive zone that saw Andrew Poturalski feed Erik Karlsson backdoor for a quick shot and goal that Lyon never had a chance to stop.

Despite a largely Phantoms-owned first 40 minutes, the two teams headed to the third period in a one-goal game.

The Phantoms man advantage struck gold again early in the third period to take a 3-1 lead. T.J. Brennan got a puck to Danick Martel who was stopped by a diving Altshuller, but the rebound caromed out to Greg Carey atop the left-wing face-off and Carey made no mistake about it - blasting one into a half-empty net. The goal was Carey's second in back-to-back nights this weekend.

Chris Conner took a stretch pass from Carey and slipped a breakaway attempt through Altshuller's five-hole to put the game out of reach midway through the third period.

Clark Bishop got the Checkers within two moments later on a similar stretch pass for a breakaway goal, but that's as close as they'd get tonight.

Radel Fazleev finished the scoring off with an empty net goal in the Phantoms' 5-2 win to conclude the preseason.


Alex Lyon (26 saves - 28 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley. Anthony Stolarz served as the team's backup.

Colin McDonald was held out of the lineup, but not to worry - he's healthy. The fact that he played in three NHL preseason games and some Phantoms' players didn't get in any preseason action likely factored into the decision to sit the Lehigh Valley captain.

Cole Bardreau didn't dress for tonight's game either, but he's still hoping to be ready for next Saturday's regular season opener against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Head coach Scott Gordon wouldn't commit to saying Bardreau will be in the lineup on opening night, but that he was going to get a few hard practices in this week leading up to the opener and if he wasn't in next week he'd definitely be ready to go the following weekend.

Scratches: Robert Hagg, Cole Bardreau, Steven Swavely, Colin McDonald, Derek Mathers, Kevin Sundher, Jesper Pettersson, Daniel New and Justin Crandall

Lines  (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Taylor Leier - Mark Zengerle - Petr Straka
Danick Martel - Radel Fazleev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Corban Knight - Chris McCarthy

Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Max Lamarche

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

3:12: CHA - (PP) Kirkpatrick, minor (interference)
4:24: LV - PPG O'Neill (1) - Zengerle, Brennan
4:58: CHA - (PP) Wesley, double minor (high-sticking)
5:37: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (hooking)
6:05: CHA - (PP) Chelios, minor (tripping)

2nd Period

3:04: LV - (PP) Brennan, minor (holding)
4:27: CHA - (PP) Zykov, minor (tripping)
8:40: LV - Knight (1) - Zengerle
12:36: CHA - Karlsson (1) - Poturalski, Tennyson

3rd Period

3:12: CHA - (PP) Wesley, minor (delay of game)
4:41: LV - PPG Carey (2) - Martel, Brennan
7:18: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (cross-checking)
10:46: LV - Conner (1) - Carey
16:36: CHA - Bishop (1) - Harris, Hagel
16:58: LV - ENG Fazleev (1) - Aube-Kubel, Martel


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