|Photo: Amanda Statland|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms ended their six-game homestand on a sour note Monday night at the PPL Center, dropping a 5-2 decision to division rival Hershey in front of the 50th sellout crowd in franchise history.
Paul Carey's game-winning goal extended his points-scoring streak to an impressive 19 straight games, while Chris Bourque, Travis Boyd, Christian Thomas and Zach Sill all tallied goals for the Bears in the win.
The Phantoms held a 1-0 lead into the second period, but a pair of goals 53 seconds apart by Hershey shifted momentum that Lehigh Valley wasn't able to recover from. Andy Miele brought the Phantoms back within a goal late in the middle period, but the Bears re-gained control in the third with a pair of goals to seal the deal.
EDIT: Things got heated after the final horn, resulting in a match penalty assessed to Phantoms defenseman Will O'Neill for this incident.
A source close to the situation told Highland Park Hockey that Hershey was in fact seeking supplemental discipline for O'Neill's punch that bloodied Dietz's nose.Will O'Neill sucker punches Darren Dietz at the end of the game. pic.twitter.com/IBc0YFNJkK— Chocolate Hockey (@ChocHockey) December 27, 2017
After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, captain Colin McDonald and Andy Miele.
Head coach Scott Gordon:
On momentum shift in 2nd period proving costly:
I don't agree with that. It was 3-2 in the beginning of the third period and we make a bad turnover that wasn't really pressured and now it's a 4-2 game. We had some really good chances at the start of the third period. That to me pretty much stopped us from having an opportunity to come back. We had a questionable offsides goal go in, a couple pucks go off bodies. We certainly generated enough chances, but I know we had at least five breakaways that we didn't score on.On the unforced errors:
Every team has them. I don't think they ever go away. They're winning the game 5-2 and what are they doing to give up five breakaways? There's certainly some situations that are going to happen for every team. It's the ones that are unexpected that they kill ya. You look in a situation where you're in control and then all of a sudden it's in the back of your net.
And to our guys' credit, after that Bridgeport game we had probably two of our better games as far as decisions with the puck and not making unforced errors.Andy Miele
On second period proving costly:
Yeah, I think we need to find ways to respond better to situations like that and get back to our game instead of dwelling on the negative. That's just something we will have to fix and get better at.On the long layoff not being a factor:
I mean, we're all professionals so we need to know how to take care of our bodies. If you need the rest over break, then take the rest. If you need to skate, then skate. I think we have a pretty smart group here. I think everyone took care of their body. We just need to put together a 60-minute game.On what sparked the scrum after the game ended:
I'm not really sure what sparked it. It's just two competitive teams that both dislike each other. One little thing goes wrong and everyone starts going into a melee. It's going to happen when you play a team so many times.Colin McDonald
On the second period momentum swing:
Yeah, for sure. We slipped a little bit there. A lot of special teams kind of took some guys out of it, but again we talk about it - there's no excuse. That's a good team over there. We had some really good chances, but again we got those guys a couple more times so we have to learn from this one. Two more big games before the new year.On his line with Cole Bardreau & Scott Laughton:
I like the way those two guys play, very similar to my style. There's no second guessing what we are going to do out there. I played with Bardreau a lot last year, and getting to know Laughton even more. We understand our role out there. Just trying to be solid at both ends and try to create some energy. Again, we got some good chances but weren't able to capitalize.RECAP
In the opening shifts of the contest, it was apparent that both teams were coming off a lengthy hiatus. The passes weren't crisp. There were several whistles - offside plays and icing calls from missed passes.
Still, the Phantoms had some early chances and nearly took a 1-0 lead off a nice rush by Jordan Weal, who caught a pass in stride in the neutral zone and entered the offensive zone with speed. Weal made a nice toe drag move and his shot handcuffed Vitek Vanecek, but the rebound was cleared out of the zone.
For the most part in the opening half of the period, Lehigh Valley was able to get in on the fore-check and give Hershey a hard time bringing the puck up ice. More times than not, the Bears were forced to flip the puck into the neutral zone and a reset.
Lehigh Valley got the game's first man advantage 9:39 into the period, but were unable to cash in - making it 13 straight power plays without a goal.
Later in the period, Cole Bardreau picked the pocket of a Bears' defender on a back check and nearly converted on the mini-breakaway but credit Vanecek coming up with a big time stop to keep the game scoreless in the final five and a half minutes of the opening period.
The Phantoms got a second man advantage with 4:40 left in the first frame, and it was number 13 Colin McDonald preventing the Phantoms' power play drought from reaching 14 straight.
Danick Martel got the puck to the center point for Travis Sanheim, who used good vision to locate McDonald atop the right-wing circle. Sanheim floated a pass to McDonald, whose shot appeared to change directions on its way past Vanecek.
Regardless, the game's first goal went to the Phantoms with 3:12 left before the first intermission to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead.
After the Phantoms' goal, Hershey had some of their best sustained pressure of the period. It didn't result in a goal, as Alex Lyon made a few timely saves, but they were awarded their first power play of the night with 2.9 seconds left in the period. It carried over into the middle frame.
Scott Laughton continues to look like a confident hockey player. On the penalty kill, Laughton blew past the Bears defense in the opening seconds and just missed the top right corner of the net on his breakaway attempt or else it's 2-0 Phantoms.0
To their credit, Hershey had some dangerous scoring chances on the period-opening power play after Laughton's shorthanded chance. At the tail end of the man advantage, a blistering point shot caught Lyon's mask and the rebound darted out into the right-wing circle. Luckily for Lehigh Valley, the puck bounced over Chandler Stephenson's stick.
The Phantoms killed off the penalty, but momentum quickly swung in Hershey's favor.
The Bears' top line of Stephenson, Garrett Mitchell and Chris Bourque completed a series of passes that ended with Bourque firing a quick shot past Lyon to even the score at 1-1. Mitchell entered the Bears' offensive zone with the puck and flipped it ahead to Stephenson, who slid a pass across to Bourque on a 2-on-1 down low for the finish.
On the next shift, Sam Morin was tagged for a high-sticking minor and the Bears quickly converted on the power play to take a 2-1 lead on goals just 53 seconds apart.
At the center point, Christian Djoos sent a pass to the left-wing face-off dot where Travis Boyd stepped into a one-timer that went bar down past Lyon. Liam O'Brien picked up a secondary assist on Boyd's 10th of the season.
From there, Lehigh Valley had trouble staying out of the penalty box. The Phantoms were assessed four minor penalties in the period, the last of which - a Travis Sanheim delay of game minor with 4:54 left before the second intermission - appeared to prove costly.
The Phantoms were able to kill off Sanheim's minor, but as he left the ice and skated toward the defensive zone Hershey tallied their third goal of the period to extend their lead to 3-1.
Chris Bourque's point shot was tipped past Lyon by Paul Carey, who with the goal extended his points-scoring streak to an incredible 19 straight games. Carey hasn't been held off the scoresheet since October 23rd - over two months ago! Insane.
Lehigh Valley wasted no time, scoring on the next shift directly after Paul Carey's goal to give the Phantoms some life with 2:28 left in the second stanza.
Reece Willcox was able to shield the puck in the corner and as he headed toward the back of the net he flipped a pass out in front to Andy Miele, who beat Vanecek to the spot for his third marker of the season. Nicolas Aube-Kubel added a secondary helper on Miele's tally, which brought Lehigh Valley back to within one heading to the third period.
The Phantoms opened the final frame forcing the issue. Laughton drew a hooking minor behind the Bears' net and fed Bardreau atop the crease for a chance that Vanecek came up big on.
Lehigh Valley was unable to convert on the ensuing power play 1:34 into the period and Hershey extended their lead back to two goals a few shifts later on an awkward bounce.
Zach Sill got a puck behind the net that hit off a Phantoms' defender and popped out to Ryan Bourque below the left-wing faceoff dot. Bourque then fired a shot toward the net that hit Christian Thomas in the chest right on the Bears' logo of his jersey before it went in past Lyon to make it a 4-2 game with 14:23 left in regulation.
Sill blasted a slap shot past Lyon with 5:58 left in regulation to complete the 5-2 final score.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (25 saves - 30 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley tonight. He has now started 17 of the team's last 18 games. Martin Ouellette served as the backup goaltender.
Radel Fazleev took his turn as the odd man out up front for Lehigh Valley before the holiday break, but returned to the Phantoms' lineup tonight.
Tonight's healthy scratch at forward was Corban Knight, allowing Steven Swavely to remain in the lineup. Word has it that Knight's return flight to Lehigh Valley was delayed, and that had something to do with his absence from the lineup. Similarly enough, Hershey's Madison Bowey also missed tonight's game due to travel issues returning to Pennsylvania from the holiday break.
On defense, Max Lamarche and Reece Willcox have been rotating as the 6th and 7th defenseman in recent weeks. Tonight, Lamarche sat out as a healthy scratch.
Scratches: Corban Knight (healthy) and Max Lamarche (healthy)
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Steven Swavely - Radel Fazleev - Mark Zengerle
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Will O'Neill - Robert Hagg
Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette
9:39: HER - (PP) Williams, minor (interference)
15:20: HER - (PP) R. Bourque, minor (interference)
16:48: LV - PPG McDonald (13) - Sanheim, Martel
19:57: LV - (PP) McDonald, minor (tripping)
4:22: HER - Bourque (8) - Stephenson, Mitchell
4:46: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (high-sticking)
5:15: HER - PPG Boyd (10) - Djoos, O'Brien
5:35: HER - (PP) R. Bourque, minor (roughing)
11:18: LV - (PP) Aube-Kubel, minor (slashing)
13:35: LV - Hagg, minor (roughing)
13:35: HER - Galiev, minor (roughing)
15:06: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (delay of game)
17:09: HER - Carey (9) - Ness, Stephenson
17:32: LV - Miele (3) - Willcox, Aube-Kubel
19:01: HER - (PP) C. Bourque, minor (slashing)
1:34: HER - (PP) Bourque, minor (hooking)
5:37: HER - Thomas (13) - R. Bourque, Sill
14:02: HER - Sill (6) - Thomas, Labrie
20:00: LV - O'Neill, match penalty (10-min)