Phantoms Fall 5-2 To Bridgeport

Friday, October 21, 2016
Colin McDonald tallied a 2nd period power play goal on Ed Snider Tribute night at PPL Center. Photo: Highland Park Hockey
Breakdowns Against Bridgeport Prove Costly For Phantoms

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

Allentown - The effort and intensity was there for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight on Ed Snider Tribute night, but unfortunately the execution wasn't in a 5-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of 7,072 fans at the PPL Center Friday night.

Defensive breakdowns in the neutral zone proved costly, as three of the five Sound Tigers' goals came off the rush on odd-man rushes - including two 2-on-1's and a 2-on-0 shorthanded bid that Phantoms' netminder Anthony Stolarz was hung out to dry on.

Perhaps more surprising was the Phantoms' lack of generated shots on goal, just 12 through the opening 40 minutes and 20 for the game. There were several shifts of consistent offensive pressure, but not enough sustained chances to make a difference.

Colin McDonald and Greg Carey scored for the Phantoms in the loss, who have a quick turnaround when they face Hartford Saturday night in Allentown.


Head coach Scott Gordon

On the lack of execution, post-game thoughts:
They're one of the harder working teams in the league. Combine that with our poor decisions on turnovers from the time they got their first goal to their second and third - they were all turnovers. As a result, we're chasing the game. 
We had a decent first period as far as we didn't give up anything in the first period, maybe one shot threat and that was it. We had some chances that we didn't capitalize but the 2nd period we shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers.
Our decisions cannot be the reason why we lose. We certainly have enough offense on our team to score goals, but if we're going to take chances and make high-risk plays - you don't have to look any further than that. Their 2nd and third goal - that's all it was. Then on top of it, the turnovers that we made that didn't get go in maybe gave us a false sense that things are okay, but the reality was the 2nd period wasn't a good period and the third period might have been worse. 
Will O'Neill 

On the costly turnovers:
We had some turnovers that really cost us. I thought we didn't manage the puck well - myself included. We can do a better job with that. I thought the intensity was good, the effort good early just turnovers killed us.
On Bridgeport's pressure:
I thought they did a good job fore-checking. They work hard, made it tough on us. I don't think that we made necessarily easy on ourselves. I think we can do a better a job moving the puck out. 
On the shorthanded goal:
It was an entry. I tried to make a play, turned it over and it cost us. I can't be doing that.
On only getting 19 shots:
Yeah, I mean. Obviously tou think you're going to come out and pile shots on as much as you can and turn them into chances. You're going to look to put pucks at the net. And we'll do that tomorrow - a little more zone time. It's a hard league. We didn't come out and play the way that we wanted to but tomorrow is another day. 

The Phantoms and Sound Tigers combined for just one registered shot on goal in the opening half of the first frame, but not due to a lack of excitement or offensive chances. One too many passes, pucks going on edge or shots simply being blocked down and not getting through.

Tyrell Goulbourne was noticeable in the first 20 minutes - dropping the gloves with Ross Johnston 3:51 into the contest and also putting a big hit on Carter Verhaeghe not too long after returning to game action. Later in the period, he was slashed on his way to the net after getting behind the Bridgeport defense and the Phantoms power play got to work.

Lehigh Valley wasn't able to score on the man advantage, but it seemed like it was a matter of when, not if, the Phantoms would get one past Sound Tigers goaltender Chris Gibson. After furious pressure, several good keep ins at the blue line by Jordan Weal and plenty of chances - the Sound Tigers escaped the penalty kill unscathed.

In fact, the two teams headed to the first intermission scoreless thanks to some sharp saves from Gibson and Phantoms' goaltender Anthony Stolarz.

It didn't take long for the scoreless game to get it's first goal of the contest when the middle frame began.

Bracken Kearns brought the puck out of the corner boards in the Phantoms' defensive zone and flung one toward the net that bounced off the skate of Joshua Winquist and past Stolarz 47 seconds into the period. The goal was reviewed, but it ultimately stood as a good goal and gave Bridgeport a 1-0 lead.

It seemed like the passes were just missing or not being handled cleanly for the Phantoms in much of the first half of regulation. Just as Lehigh Valley's power play was getting to work late in the 2nd period, Bridgeport stole a puck and scored shorthanded on what was essentially a shorthanded 2-on-0 breakaway. Kellen Jones sent a pass from Stolarz's right to his left on the tape for Connor Jones, whose knee-drop one-timer beat Stolarz to the left post.

Lehigh Valley cut the deficit in half on the next shift, cashing in on the tail end of the man advantage. Travis Sanheim got a puck across the point to Jordan Weal, who inched in and fired a shot from the left-wing faceoff circle. Gibson stopped Weal's shot with his left pad, but kicked the puck out into the slot where Colin McDonald was able to put the rebound in and give the home fans at the PPL Center something to cheer about.

The one-goal game was short-lived, however, as Bridgeport struck gold in the final seconds of the period on a 2-on-1 chance that saw Josh Ho-Sang put a perfectly placed pass on the tape of Michael Dal Colle to give the Sound Tigers a 3-1 lead with 1.5 seconds left before the second intermission.

Bridgeport seemingly put the game out of reach on the opening shift of the third period, extending their lead over Lehigh Valley to 4-1. Another early period odd-man rush resulted in trouble for the home team, as Ross Johnston fed a puck across to Colin Markison on a 2-on-1 bid that beat Stolarz to the spot just 42 seconds into play.

The Phantoms didn't go down without a fight. The top line connected on a goal which ended with a great effort from Greg Carey - going forehand to backhand with a defender on his back to bring the Phantoms within two at a 4-2 deficit with 13:51 left in regulation.

Carter Verhaeghe put the proverbial final nail in the coffin with 9:36 left in regulation, scoring from down low on a bad angle to make it a 5-2 score.


Anthony Stolarz (26 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net for tonight's game. Alex Lyon served as the team's backup and is expected to make his AHL regular season debut tomorrow against Hartford.

Cole Bardreau was thought to be nearing a return to the lineup, but he sat out again tonight.

Scratches: Cole Bardreau (healthy) and Petr Straka (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Greg Carey - Andy Miele (A) - Chris Conner
Taylor Leier - Mark Zengerle - Colin McDonald (C)
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Corban Knight

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Will O'Neill
Robert Hagg - Travis Sanheim

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon


1st Period

3:51: LV - Goulbourne, major (fighting)
3:51: BST - Johnston, major (fighting)
3:51: BST - (PP) Johnston, minor (interference)
11:08: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, minor (charging)
16:43: BST - (PP) Burroughs, minor (slashing)

2nd Period

0:47: BST - Winquist (1) - Kearns, Verhaeghe
11:18: LV - (PP) Carey, minor (hooking)
13:45: BST - (PP) Mayfield, minor (holding)
14:31: BST - SHG C. Jones (1) - K. Jones
15:37: LV - PPG McDonald (1) - Weal, Sanheim
19:58: BST - Dal Colle (1) - Ho-Sang, Fritz

3rd Period

0:42: BST - Markison (1) - Johnston
1:20: BST - (PP) Verhaeghe, minor (tripping)
6:09: LV - Carey (1) - Miele, Conner
10:24: BST - Verhaeghe (1) - Pelech, Kearns
18:26: BST - (PP) Leduc, minor (high-sticking)


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