Phantoms Stymied By WolfPack Saturday Night

Saturday, November 26, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms' high-powered offense held in check

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - For just the second time this season - and second time this week - the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-5-1) were held to one goal on the score sheet.

While Wednesday's one-goal effort in Binghamton was enough to get two points, it wasn't enough tonight against a motivated Hartford team that entered the game with Lehigh Valley coming off a blown 3-1 lead in the third period the night prior.

Nicklas Jensen put Lehigh Valley in a 1-0 hole in the opening minute of the game, Matt Carey added to the deficit later in the first period and the WolfPack were able to accomplish what they were hoping for Friday night - protecting a two-goal lead in the third period.

It wasn't for a lack of effort or shots (Lehigh Valley finished with 31 shots on goal) that prevented the Phantoms from mounting a third period comeback. The quality of shots and scoring chances, in large part, weren't there for the home team.

Head coach Scott Gordon wanted it known in his post-game press conference that he's unhappy with his team's power play units. The Phantoms went 0-for-3 on the man advantage tonight, and 0-for-7 in their three games this week,

Full recap after the jump, complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, Colin McDonald and a video interview featuring Sam Morin.


Head coach Scott Gordon

On not being able to get pucks through:
On a lot of our better opportunities we didn't even get a shot on goal. The second period in particular. We had some grade-A chances but they didn't connect.
On Hartford getting their first regulation win since opening night tonight:
I think the frustrating part is.. I don't think we did enough to make it harder for them.
On the power play:
Our power play, we just want to hold onto the puck. We don't want to shoot the puck. We're looking for a perfect play. We have defensemen that have great shots that don't use them on the power play. 
You see we do a great job of killing the penalty, and one point shot and it's in the back of our net. That's part of the way you generate offense on your power play. It's not always going to be tic-tac-toe. A lot of times those lead to second and third opportunities. That's one area that we have stopped generating offense from is shots from the flanks or up top.
Forward Colin McDonald

On it being an off night for the team:
Work ethic was there, it was just one of those games. For whatever reason we just didn't have it tonight, and that's going to happen. We've been on a pretty good run here. We're not going to win every game, we just have to learn from this. We've been talking about it all year - good teams don't lose back to back games. We just have shift our focus to Toronto, they're going to be a lot more hungry that game from the last time we played them and it'll be a good test for us.
On what Hartford was able to do tonight:
We had enough shot attempts but we just couldn't them through, and it seemed like when we did we didn't have forwards at the net. We have to give them credit. I thought they played a really good road game. That team hasn't won a lot of this year - they're desperate for wins. We're not going to surprise anyone anymore. We're going to get every team's best when we play from them, We just have to learn from them. 


Just as fans at the PPL Center were getting to their seats for the start of the game, it was Hartford jumping out to an early 1-0 after a quick breakout up the ice caught Lehigh Valley flat-footed at the defensive zone blue line.

Boo Nieves got a puck up to Justin Fontaine, who quickly shuffled one along for Nicklas Jensen. Jensen attacked the blue line with speed, made a quick deke and went right around Will O'Neill and to the net, where a slick forehand to backhand move eluded Alex Lyon's poke check and left an empty net for Jensen to tap in his 7th of the season. The goal came on the second shift of the hockey game.

The Phantoms had a chance 5:11 into the first frame to even things up on the power play, but were unable to do so. Instead, the WolfPack killed off the Phantoms' power play and extended their lead to 2-0 moments after the penalty expired.

Again it was Fontaine setting things up for Hartford, this time in the offensive zone - getting a puck up top to the center point for a blast from Ryan Graves. The point shot trickled through Lyon's pads and Matt Carey (brother to Phantoms' forward Greg Carey) got to the loose puck in the crease first and tapped it home at the 7:36 mark for his 5th of the season.

It just seemed like the Phantoms' offensive chances were either being blocked down and not getting through to Magnus Hellberg, or near-misses that were missing the mark.

The trend continued into the second period, as the Phantoms had a few shifts in the first few minutes of the middle frame where they possessed the puck in the offensive zone but were unable to get significant Grade A scoring chances.

Colin McDonald attempted to poke check the puck away from a Hartford defender in the offensive zone 4:45 into the period, and caught the legs of said defender - sending the Phantoms to the penalty kill.

Hartford cashed in on the man advantage to extend their lead to 3-0 moments later. Adam Tambellini got a puck up top to Graves, who dished it across to Mat Bodie for a point shot that beat a screened Lyon at the 5:22 mark. Chris Brown was credited with the deflection on the screen in front of Lyon on the play.

From there, the Phantoms started pressuring and forcing the issue - getting several odd man chances. Most notably a 2-on-1 with Greg Carey and Sam Morin with about eight minutes left in the middle frame that Hellberg made a big stop on Carey to keep it at 3-0.

You just had the feeling late in the second period that it was only a matter of time before the near-misses and blocked shots would start getting through, and past, the Hartford goaltender.

That moment came with 3:10 left before the second intermission. Chris Conner got a puck to Carey, who found a trailing Sam Morin open atop the left-wing circle. Carey's pass was in Morin's wheelhouse and the big defenseman stepped into one - beating Hellberg high blocker to get Lehigh Valley on the board.

Morin's goal marked the 18th different Lehigh Valley Phantoms skater to score a goal this season, in their 18th game of the season. Talk about some serious scoring depth.

The Phantoms had a chance to make it a one-goal game early in the third period when Chris Conner received a high hit from Michael Paliotta, but Lehigh Valley was unable to cash in on the ensuing power play.

While the WolfPack were unable to secure a 3-1 third period lead last night on home ice, they clamped down on an offensively potent Phantoms team in the final frame and managed their first regulation win since opening night.


Alex Lyon (22 saves - 25 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley, for his seventh straight start. Martin Ouellette served as the team's back up.

No lineup changes for the Phantoms tonight.

Scratches: Andy Miele (injured) and Reece Willcox (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier (A) - Corban Knight - Colin McDonald (C)Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Chris Conner
Greg Carey - Cole Bardreau - Mark Zengerle
Steven Swavely - Radel Fazleev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

T.J. Brennan - Max LamarcheSam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Will O'Neill (A) - Robert Hagg

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette

1st Period

0:44: HFD - Jensen (7) - Fontaine, Nieves
5:11: HFD - (PP) Bodie, minor (holding)
7:36: HFD - Carey (5) - Graves, Fontaine
18:15: HFD - (PP) Carey, minor (interference)
18:33: LV - Bardreau, ten-minute misconduct

2nd Period

4:45: LV - (PP) McDonald, minor (tripping)
5:22: HFD - PPG Brown (5) - Bodie, Graves
16:50: LV - Morin (1) - Carey, Conner

3rd Period 

3:34: HFD - (PP) Paliotta, minor (roughing)


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