|Alex Lyon will be taking over the net for the Phantoms. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms made it six wins in a row with a gritty 3-1 road win in Hershey Sunday evening, improving to 8-3-1 on the young season.
Anthony Stolarz was held out of action due to Michal Nuevirth's lower body injury, but it didn't matter as Alex Lyon came in and played his best game as a pro - stopping all but one of the 36 shots he faced to pick up his second win of the weekend.
Chris Conner, Reece Willcox and Will O'Neill scored for the Phantoms, whose six game win-streak is the longest in Lehigh Valley Phantoms franchise history and the longest for a Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate since the 2013-14 season when the team was the Adirondack Phantoms. Oddly enough, that win streak began in late October and ran into mid-November 2013.
Sunday's win sets up a battle of the top two teams in the Atlantic Division when the Phantoms welcome the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (10-2-1) to the PPL Center on Wednesday night for the first of 12 scheduled meetings between two bitter rivals in the state of Pennsylvania.
Quick recap of events after the jump.
The Phantoms and Bears played to a scoreless tie in the opening period, as both goaltenders were put to the test and came up with some big saves to keep it a 0-0 game heading into the middle frame.
In the second period, the two teams traded power plays early on and while the Phantoms couldn't capitalize on the man advantage they soon took a 1-0 lead on a greasy goal during a net-front battle for a loose puck.
Radel Fazleev, Chris Conner and Greg Carey crashed the crease of Vanecek and after several hacks and whacks Conner was able to put it home for his 3rd goal of the season. Carey and Fazleev were credited with assists on the game's opening goal.
Later in the period, the Bears tried to rim a puck around the boards and out of their defensive zone but it was intercepted by Reece Willcox for a one-timer off the wall that whistled past Vanecek's ear and extended the Phantoms' lead to the 2-0 with 2:30 left before the second intermission.
Lehigh Valley took the 2-0 lead into the third period due in large part to the play of Alex Lyon in net, who stopped all 24 shots he faced in the opening 40 minutes.
Hershey didn't go away quietly into the night, having lost on Friday and Saturday. They really took it to the Phantoms from the drop of the puck in the final frame, buzzing around in the Phantoms' offensive zone and making it a one-goal game with 17:09 left in regulation.
Max Lamarche lost a foot race to a clear into the Phantoms' end, and Alex Lyon dove out of his crease in an attempt to poke check the puck into the corner. Instead it was blocked back into the middle off a stick and right to Travis Boyd, who flung the puck into the empty net for 2nd goal of the season.
But from there Alex Lyon and the Phantoms defense held on to a strong surge from the Bears and prevailed for the win.
Will O'Neill put the icing on the cake with a power play goal in the final minute of regulation to complete the 3-1 score.
Alex Lyon (35 saves - 36 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms in Hershey, as the Flyers announced this afternoon that Michal Neuvirth will miss the next four to six weeks with a lower body injury. Anthony Stolarz is expected to be called up to Philadelphia.
Robert Hagg (head) and Andy Miele (undisclosed upper body) remained out of the lineup with their injuries, and Tyrell Goulbourne was the lone healthy scratch. No changes to the lines/pairings besides the change in net.
Petr Straka was traded to the New Jersey Devils Saturday in exchange for a conditional 7th round draft pick in either 2017 or 2018. I caught up with Straka for an exclusive interview to gather his thoughts on the trade, and a chance to get into some games.
Scratches: Robert Hagg (injured), Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy) and Andy Miele (injured)
Taylor Leier (A) - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Greg Carey - Jordan Weal - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Cole Bardreau - Mark Zengerle
Corban Knight - Radel Fazleev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Max Lamarche
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz
14:21: LV - (PP) Zengerle, minor (delay of game)
16:31: HER - (PP) Stephenson, minor (hooking)
2:10: LV - (PP) Zengerle, minor (high-sticking)
4:54: HER - (PP) Williams, minor (hooking)
7:27: LV - Conner (3) - Carey, Fazleev
8:46: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (hooking)
17:30: LV - Willcox (2) - Aube-Kubel
2:51: HER - Boyd (2) - Carey
8:56: LV - (PP) Brennan, minor (cross-checking)
18:32: HER - (PP) Carey, minor (high-sticking)
19:39: LV - PPG O'Neill (1) - Brennan, Weal