Phantoms Finish Weekend With Win Over Rochester

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms sweep weekend set with Rochester

Written by: Tim Riday - Twitter

ALLENTOWN - Sometimes, the box score doesn’t tell the whole story.

It can give the illusion that some games are closer than they really appear.

Case in point? The Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ weekend sweep of the Rochester Americans.

On Friday, it was a 4-3 win. Then the Phantoms (17-7-1-0) wrapped things up with a 4-2 victory over the Americans (9-14-0-1) on Saturday. One- and two-goal contests. Pretty close, right?

Not so much.

The Phantoms dominated both nights, firing over 70 combined shots on net during the back-to-back at PPL Center.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev, Jordan Weal and T.J. Brennan all found the back of the net during Saturday’s “Teddy Bear Toss” game in Allentown. Alex Lyon was steady in net as well, turning aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced.

Not a bad way to kick off a six-game homestand, huh?
After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, Danick Martel and an extra video interview with Nicolas Aube-Kubel.


Head coach Scott Gordon:

On the overall performance
“My thoughts on the game were that we had the power play in the second period at the midway point, we were playing the way we played the last two games. Then we took our foot off the gas. We got sloppy with some turnovers. A missed coverage on the goal. We played at times a little bit better in the third. Still a little bit reckless, a little bit casual. I think you gotta give the players a break in that regard. We just finished up playing 16 of 20 on the road. Now we’re playing three games in four nights. I think guys are going to welcome the day off tomorrow. We’ll practice Monday and Tuesday but it’s not a situation where we have to play the next night so they get a two-day break from the games. It’s been a long, tough stretch. We’ve gotta take the time to recover and be ready for Wednesday’s game.”
On returning home and earning back-to-back wins
“Usually when you play for a stretch on the road and you come back home it can be a letdown. It was anything but a letdown last night. For 30 minutes, I thought we were the same team as last night. I didn’t think that Rochester did anything different. That second half we weren’t as good as we have been.”
On the play of the offense
“You’re talking about offense coming from different places at different times. All our lines contributed. The only line that didn’t score tonight was our best line. Two-hundred foot game both ways. [Bardreau-Laughton-McDonald] was our best line. They shut down their top line. The one time they weren’t on the ice, Rochester got a goal. The stat line doesn’t tell the whole story. When you have a line that can play really good defense and you have three other lines that our scoring, even saying that, that line can score too. It’s tough to defend.”
Forward Danick Martel

On setting up Aube-Kubel 59 seconds into game for Teddy Bear Toss goal:
For sure getting the goal right at the beginning of the game - all the teddy bears on the ice . If it happens in the second period and we get a goal when we have momentum and we have to wait 5-10 minutes to get the bears off. I think it's better to get it in the first minute, and we did that tonight.
On setting up Weal, his line playing well:
I think our line played pretty well the last two games. Yesterday nothing was going in, but I think today we had a lot of chances around the net - Wealer got one and Q got one so I think we played pretty well today.
On his clipping penalty on the much bigger Justin Vaive:
I'm small, he's tall. I think I did a good back-check on that and I just wanted to cut in front of him. He called clipping. Later after that, the guy tried to hit me when I didn't the puck and he called it so it's even up. What can I do though, it's his call.


If you arrived at the PPL Center late, you may have missed your opportunity to throw something on the ice without getting in trouble.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel wasted no time to get the fur ... err ... stuffed fur flying on "Teddy Toss Night." On the very first shot of the game, Aube-Kubel deposited a nice feed from Danick Martel on a 2-on-1 rush to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds in.

Then it briefly rained teddy bears in Allentown. That caused about a 10-minute delay before play resumed.

When Lehigh Valley and Rochester got back to action, the Phantoms were rewarded for another strong forecheck after Nick Baptiste was whistled for tripping.

The ensuing power play didn't generate many chances though. The Phantoms missed the net on two shots from the point and the Americans were able to muster up three defensive-zone clears on the kill.

Lehigh Valley kept pressing, however. And it wasn't long before they cashed in again.

Four minutes into the first period, Corban Knight forced a turnover, collected it and made a quick pass to a breaking Chris Conner, who got down low and used his patented fake wrap-around to dish the puck to a wide-open Radel Fazleev on the backdoor of the goalline. The Russian rookie then banked his shot off of Rochester goalie John Muse's back for his second goal of the year.

It looked like it was going to be all Phantoms early on. Call it cruise control.

Unfortunately, Cole Bardreau took an unnecessary penalty that halted momentum when he was called for cross-checking at the 5:08 mark. It was minimal contact along the boards but Bardreau has to hold up and avoid a hit when he sees the opposing player's number.

The infraction led to basically a power-play goal for Rochester. Five seconds after the minor penalty expired, 18-year-old Alex Nylander made a nice tip out of the air while crashing the net hard to beat Alex Lyon and make it a 2-1 game. Lyon had no chance.

Then the shooting gallery continued.

Lehigh Valley racked up 16 shots on net in the first period and almost made it a two-goal lead when Greg Carey found Conner off the rush. Carey made a brilliant stretch pass that banked off the boards and landed directly on Conner's stick. Conner turned on the jets and wound up on a breakaway but Muse made a glove save - barely. The first attempt went high in the air and Muse was forced catch it before it crossed the goalline. It was a close call.

The Phantoms were caught taking another undisciplined penalty early in the second period. Just 12 seconds in, Reece Willcox went off for holding.

Lyon made a nice leg save on Rochester's lone quality scoring chance and was backed up by Sam Morin, who cleared the rebound in front and sent the puck the length of the ice.

Lehigh Valley seemed to feed off of the kill. Three minutes and 27 seconds into the second, Jordan Weal notched his 10th goal of 2016-17 short side. Martel made the pass to Weal from behind the net and Aube-Kubel picked up the secondary assist.

Things started to get chippy midway through the frame with the Phantoms' lead at 3-1. Travis Sanheim stirred the pot in Lyon's crease, throwing a few shoves before Morin arrived on the scene almost as if he were a bouncer. The rough stuff couldn't have dissipated quicker. Nice to have that kind of security, eh?

Then the refs decided to pull their whistles out. Martel was assessed a "clipping" penalty after delivering a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder check. It was a suspect call but the Phantoms responded.

Willcox picked off a centering attempt, skated the puck a little bit and cleared it all the way down to kill a good 30 seconds. It was a nice read by Willcox, who had a strong defensive game.

The Phantoms received a make-up call just after the 10-minute mark, when Eric Cornel was given a weak interference penalty after finishing a check.

After a few back-and-forth power plays, the Americans made it a one-goal game yet again. Cal O'Reilly caught the Phantoms sleeping a bit when they were slow to regroup and sent a pass across the middle of the ice to Cornel, who buried his shot. Again, there was not much Lyon could do.

Some tired legs seemed to catch up with Lehigh Valley and Rochester in the third. The pace was significantly slower at the beginning of the frame and most of the play was stuck in the neutral zone. It led to several dump-and-change shifts and there wasn’t much to report.

The fans picked up on it, too. Around the 15:00 mark, we had our first “Woo” of the evening at PPL Center, a chant borrowed from Flyers fans - made famous of course by the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. I couldn’t leave that crucial piece of information out of this recap. I’m sorry.

Back to hockey. Lyon was first tested in the third with 11:44 remaining. After Willcox made a few solid keeps at the blue line, the Americans were able to finally win the puck and start a rush. The Phantoms backchecked hard but not after a hard one-time attempt by Nelson from the point. Lyon fought it off and collected it off his chest.

Sanheim showed some impressive footwork and puck control when he joined the rush just before the midway point. He skated with ease around both Rochester defends, performing a toe drag before he ran out of space and the puck was covered. If he had another foot, he would’ve been able to get a good shoot off.

The Phantoms then had a chance to ice the game with 6:29 remaining, when the Americans were whistled for delay of game. And that’s exactly what they did.

T.J. Brennan fired a laser on net 40 seconds into the man advantage that Muse got a piece of. He just didn’t get enough as it trickled in for Brennan’s eighth marker of the year.

That’s all they needed.

Lehigh Valley was on cruise control for the final four minutes, limiting Rochester’s chances and playing strong defensively. It resembled a game of keep away.

Then Rochester pulled its goalie. Using the 6-on-5 advantage, the Americans mustered several attempts on Lyon but he stood strong to preserve a 4-2 win for the home team.

Loose Pucks

Nicolas Aube-Kubel snapped an 11-game pointless streak on Saturday. He finished with a goal and an assist. ... Radel Fazleev also ended a lengthy drought. He recorded his first point in seven games with his second goal of the season. ... T.J. Brennan has a goal and two assists in his last two games. ... Corban Knight has five assists in his last four games. ... Scott Laughton has gone four straight games without a point. ... The official "Teddy Toss" clean up time was clocked at eight minutes and 27 seconds.

ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms 

Alex Lyon (25 saves - 27 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley. Martin Ouellette served as the team's backup goaltender.

No lineup changes for Lehigh Valley tonight from last night's game against Rochester. Max Lamarche and Steven Swavely were reassigned to Reading Friday with the Phantoms' ECHL affiliate home in nearby Reading, Pa.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Corban Knight - Radel Fazleev - Mark Zengerle

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

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

0:59: LV - Aube-Kubel (4) - Martel, O'Neill
1:29: RCH - (PP) Baptiste, minor (tripping)
4:13: LV - Fazleev (2) - Conner, Knight
5:08: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (boarding)
7:13: RCH - Nylander (5) - Bennett, Cornel
9:55: RCH - (PP) Nelson, minor (holding)

2nd Period

0:12: LV - (PP) Willcox, minor (holding)
3:27: LV - Weal (10) - Martel, Aube-Kubel
7:08: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (clipping)
9:26: RCH - (PP) Cornel, minor (interference)
11:56: RCH - Cornel (4) - O'Reilly, Schneider
12:11: RCH - (PP) Bonis, minor (boarding)

3rd Period

13:31: RCH - (PP) Schneider, minor (delay of game)
14:09: LV - PPG Brennan (8) - Miele, Weal


perttu junnonaho said...

Even now that Swavely is no longer a Phantom, i have to wonder why Tyler Coulbourne does not get a chance to play whit the Phantoms! So what it will take us to understand that Tyler must get regular playing time whit Phantoms fourth line left wing position, in order to take his game to another level! Cause every team needs player like Tyler to bring them much more character to they"re play, no matter how good and deep they are as a team! We must let Tyler grow as a player, because he still is a young and up-coming player who we should play instead of older players who will never able to grow the level of NHL players!

perttu junnonaho said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
perttu junnonaho said...

Even now that Swavely is no longer a Phantom, i have to wonder why Tyler Coulbourne does not get a chance to play whit the Phantoms! So what it will take us to understand that Tyler must get regular playing time whit Phantoms fourth line left wing position, in order to take his game to another level! Cause every team needs player like Tyler to bring them much more character to they"re play, no matter how good and deep they are as a team! We must let Tyler grow as a player, because he still is a young and up-coming player who we should play instead of older players who will never able to grow the level of NHL players!

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