Hershey Hangs on for 4-3 Win Over Phantoms

Friday, December 2, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms third period push comes up short

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (13-6-1) appeared to be dead in the water down 4-1 in the opening minute of the third period, but a late third period surge had the Phantoms one shot away from sending the game into overtime in the final 9.9 seconds of regulation.

"We had a good push at the end," head coach Scott Gordon said following the game. "We had the guy we wanted to shoot the puck with seven seconds left and when it's all said and done we didn't get two points, but I liked the way they battled in the third period."

The Phantoms battled back from the three goal deficit, getting goals from Jordan Weal and Robert Hagg in the final frame to make it a one-goal game in the final minutes of play. Unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, it was too little too late as the Bears hung on for the win.

These two teams will rematch Saturday night at the Giant Center in Hershey.

After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with exclusive player reaction from Robert Hagg and head coach Scott Gordon, and a post-game video interview with Jordan Weal.


Head coach Scott Gordon

Initial Thoughts:
I want to say all four goals were our mistakes, bad mistakes. They cashed in on them and good for them. When I look at the game, I'd say the first period we play differently than what we normally do. We didn't give up a lot, and after that we got into some penalty trouble in the second period. There's a lot more good than bad. We generated a lot of chances tonight and didn't spend a lot of time in our own zone.
On shots missing net:
When you look at our shot totals, pretty consistently we are under 30 but we take a lot of shots. I think that's when you have goal scorers they are pretty good at picking their spots. Two of our better chances tonight hit posts. They don't count as shots but they were certainly quality chances. 
On liking his team's effort despite losing:
I liked the way we played. I feel more comfortable going into the game the way we played losing than I would if I was Hershey going into tomorrow's game having won the game. I would rather have the two points, 100%, but it didn't work that way ... If we played like we did in the third period, everything will take care of itself.
Defenseman Robert Hagg

On his goal in 3rd that made it one-goal game:
I think the third period was our best period tonight. The puck just went into the corner and Miele came up and I took a chance to get to the middle and it went off of Carey's skate and luckily on my tape and I just tried to hit the net.
On getting back into the swing of things following injury absence:
 I'm feeling better and better every game. It's hard to get back from a concussion but I'm starting to feel better.
On noticing slow starts at home:
Honestly, we have been struggling a lot here at PPL. I don't have an answer for that, but that's something we need to figure out because that can't happen. We need to get the crowd going early in the game and have a good start to build momentum much easier as a team to play better as a team. I don't know what it is, but we have to figure it out.


The Phantoms and Bears kicked off the home and home series with a first period that appeared to be a feeling out process for both teams. As the period progressed, Hershey got to their game and the Phantoms appeared to be playing reactive to what the Bears were doing instead of playing their own game.

Hershey's hard work in the first 15 minutes paid off with 2:27 before the first intermission.

Travis Boyd skated into the Phantoms' defensive zone with speed and tried to get a puck on net. His low, hard shot never got through but after an attempted swat at the puck by T.J. Brennan squirted into the slot it was Madison Bowey in the right spot at the right time - blasting a shot past an already down Alex Lyon - to give Hershey the early 1-0 lead.

Lehigh Valley turned it up a notch to start the middle frame, and Colin McDonald nearly tied the game at 1-1 on the opening shift of the period - catching the post on a quick shot in tight.

An early period penalty gave the Phantoms another chance to even up the game, but to no avail. Hershey's 2nd ranked penalty kill held strong.

Penalties continued to be the story of the second period early on as a pair of Phantoms penalties put the home team shorthanded five-on-three for 1:06 but a pair of courageous shot blocks by Corban Knight kept Lehigh Valley within a goal.

The Bears added to their lead midway through regulation on a great individual effort from Christian Thomas. After Liam O'Brien directed Max Lamarche's attempted breakout into the boards, Thomas pick-pocketed Lamarche and skated from the right-wing face-off circle to the net - firing a quick shot short side top shelf on Lyon to make it a 2-0 Bears lead.

It started to seem like it just wasn't going to be the Phantoms' night when Hershey extended its lead to 3-0 late in the 2nd period. With just over five minutes left before the second intermission, O'Brien and Thomas paired up again - with O'Brien feeding Thomas on a 2-on-1 rush. Lyon made an incredible glove save on Thomas' shot, but the puck bounced out into the middle and hit Jordan Weal's skate - bouncing right into the Phantoms' net. Call it a bad bounce.

The Phantoms appeared to gain some momentum after a Bears' too-many men penalty in the final 2:24 of the period. Jordan Weal got a puck at the center point from Mark Zengerle and faked a shot, sliding one down to T.J. Brennan at the left-wing face-off circle. Brennan stepped into one at the left-wing dot and whistled one past Cannata through a McDonald screen in front to get Lehigh Valley on the board with 1:05 left in the middle frame.

Any momentum the Phantoms might have had entering the third period was shot down almost instantly when the puck was dropped and play resumed for the final frame. Christian Djoos entered the Phantoms' defensive zone and flipped a puck into the middle for Boyd and both he & O'Brien teamed up to give Hershey a 4-1 lead in the opening shift of the third.

Lehigh Valley didn't show any signs of quitting, though. In fact, they made a game of it. With 1:03 of five-on-three power play time, Jordan Weal put on a show. He directed Alex Lyon to leave a puck atop the crease for him, and then went coast to coast - coming down the left wing boards and cutting to the net from the goal line to stuff one home and bring the Phantoms back within two goals at a 4-2 deficit.

Things got really interesting with 4:12 left in regulation when Robert Hagg sniped one bar down for his first of the season to make it a one-goal game. Miele brought a puck out from the corner and got it to Hagg, who tried to through into the middle to Greg Carey. Instead, the puck bounced off Carey's skate and right to Hagg who's hard shot was wired to the top shelf.

Hershey was clinging to the one goal lead and took a high-sticking penalty with 9.9 seconds left, giving Lehigh Valley one last offensive face-off to tie the game. The face-off play they drew up was run to perfection, with Weal winning the draw back to Will O'Neill at the point. O'Neill waited and sent a perfect pass to the top of the left-wing circle for Carey, whose shot just whistled wide and trickled out of the zone to end the game.


Alex Lyon (19 saves - 23 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley tonight, his ninth straight start in net. Martin Ouellette again served as Lyon's backup.

No changes on defense, as Reece Willcox remained the 7th defenseman and a healthy scratch.

Up front, Andy Miele returned to the Phantoms' lineup after missing the last 10 games with an upper body injury. Steven Swavely was a healthy scratch to make room.

Scratches: Steven Swavely (healthy) 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 - Andy Miele - Mark Zengerle
Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Radel Fazleev - Cole Bardreau

T.J. Brennan - Max Lamarche
Will O'Neill - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

11:21: HER - (PP) Bourque, minor (slashing)
17:33: HER - Bowey (3) - Boyd, Thomas

2nd Period

1:10: HER - (PP) Djoos, minor (holding)
4:01: LV - (PP) Fazleev, minor (hooking)
4:55: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (tripping)
9:57: HER - Thomas (10) - unassisted
11:40: HER - (PP) Mitchell, minor (roughing)
14:59: HER - Thomas (11) - O'Brien
15:23: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (roughing)
17:36: HER - (PP) bench minor, too many men (served by Bourque)
18:55: LV - PPG Brennan (6) - Weal, Zengerle

3rd Period

0:59: HER - Boyd (5) - O'Brien, Djoos
3:22: LV - (PP) Lamarche, minor (high-sticking)
6:13: HER - (PP) Labrie, minor (hooking)
6:45: HER - (PP) Lewington, minor (tripping)
8:08: LV - PPG Weal (8) - Lyon
15:48: LV - Hagg (1) - Carey, Miele
19:50: HER - (PP) Ness, minor (high-sticking)


Post a Comment