|Mark Zengerle put on a show back in his hometown of Rochester Wednesday night. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ROCHESTER, NY - In a chippy game Wednesday night in Rochester, New York it was the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (21-8-1) taking care of business in a 4-2 victory over the Americans (12-18-1). A strong performance from Rochester native Mark Zengerle (two goals) and a stingy Phantoms defense - limiting Rochester to just 16 shots in an impressive team-defense effort - highlighted the night.
The Phantoms are now a perfect 3-0 against Rochester in the season series and will look to complete the sweep when these two teams rematch on Friday night.
After the jump, a quick recap of the action.
It was a slow start for both teams early on. Neither team was credited with a shot on goal in the first six and a half minutes of play.
It wasn't until there was 13:29 left in the opening period that the Phantoms started to generate some offensive pressure after whiffing on a power play in the opening minutes. Robert Hagg, with some impressive skating, got the game's first shot - wheeling it around behind the net for a wrap around attempt.
The Phantoms held Rochester without a shot through the first half of the period, not allowing the Amerks many clean breakouts from their own end. Amerks leading scorer Nick Baptiste appeared to have a mini-breakaway, but he was unable to get a shot off due to a pesty back-check from Danick Martel.
Things started to open up a little in the second half of the first.
Lehigh Valley got on the board first with 5:16 left in the 1st period. Jordan Weal along the half-wall boards was able to slip a pass to Hagg at the center point, whose one-timer changed direction after Rochester's Tim Kennedy tried to block the shot and actually ended up giving the Phantoms a perfect deflection - the puck went up and over the shoulder of Linus Ullmark. Max Lamarche added a second assist on Hagg's 2nd goal of the season.
Rochester threatened late in the period. Sam Morin was forced into a tripping minor with 1:23 left on Amerks' best pressure of the period. Still, Lehigh Valley appeared to be in control through 20 minutes with a one-goal lead and an 8-3 shots advantage.
The Phantoms killed off the carry-over minor to begin the middle frame, and a subsequent Morin minor early in the period before the game took a turn towards some scrappy physical play.
Andy Miele was boarded behind the Amerks' net near the midway point of the period and the 5-foot-8 forward took it upon himself to stand up for himself, dropping the gloves with Evan Rodrigues before taking the Amerks forward to the ice in a spirited bout. Miele is small in stature, but is a feisty player that isn't afraid to get his nose dirty.
Lehigh Valley didn't officially score on the resulting power play, but Mark Zengerle tallied a goal just one second after the boarding penalty expired to extend the Phantoms' lead to 2-0. Lamarche picked up his second assist of the night and with a secondary assist on the play, Travis Sanheim extended his points-scoring streak to three games. Sanheim now has six points (four goals, two assists) in his last seven games.
Things continued to get chippy as the second period wore on. It seemed like anytime Alex Lyon faced a shot (they did seem few and far between) the Rochester forwards were crashing his crease hard. After Jean Dupuy came flying into Lyon late in the period, a scrum broke out and Sanheim dropped his gloves to stick up for his goaltender.
The Phantoms were in control in a dominating effort through 40 minutes, but just like the two previous meetings between these teams Rochester found a way to kind of keep it close in the third period - making it a one goal game when Justin Bailey's quick snap shot from the slot beat Lyon with 12:46 left.
The response from Lehigh Valley couldn't have been any better. Just 1:27 later, Zengerle went top shelf on a back door play with a great setup from Corban Knight to put the Phantoms back in control for good.
Their 3-1 lead was later extended to 4-1 with 2:36 left to play as a pretty passing display at the tail end of a power play from Andy Miele to T.J. Brennan to Greg Carey allowed Carey to tally his 15th of the season into what was basically an empty net a few seconds after the power play expired.
Cal O'Reilly got the Amerks a late goal in the waning moments to complete the 4-2 final score.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (14 saves - 16 shots) got the start in net tonight against Rochester. He's started all but one of the team's last 19 games.
Defenseman Will O'Neill sat out tonight's game to serve his one-game suspension from the left-handed swat at a Hershey player after the final horn in Monday's loss to the Bears. Taking his place in the lineup was Max Lamarche.
Mark Alt is nearing a return to the Phantoms' lineup after a shoulder injury in NHL preseason action resulted in surgery and a lengthy absence. He hasn't been officially reassigned from Philadelphia yet, though he did travel with the Phantoms to Rochester.
Corban Knight had some travel delays that resulted in him being held out of Monday night's game, but he re-entered the lineup tonight up front.
Scratches: Will O'Neill (suspension) and Steven Swavely (healthy)
Phantoms Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Cole Bardreau (A) - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele (A) - Chris Conner
Steven Swavely - Radel Fazleev - Mark Zengerle
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg - Max Lamarche
Alex Lyon - Martin OuelletteGAME SUMMARY
1:34: RCH - (PP) Fedun, minor (hooking)
14:44: LV - Hagg (2) - Weal, Lamarche
18:37: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (tripping)
2:36: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (hooking)
7:31: LV - Miele, major (fighting)
7:31: RCH - Rodrigues, major (fighting)
7:31: RCH - (PP) Rodrigues, minor (boarding)
9:32: LV - Zengerle (7) - Lamarche, Sanheim
13:44: RCH - (PP) Cornel, double-minor (high-sticking)
17:02: LV - McDonald, minor (roughing)
17:02: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (roughing)
17:02: RCH - Dupuy, minor (roughing)
2:15: LV - (PP) Lamarche, minor (roughing)
7:14: RCH - Bailey (13) - Rodrigues, Strachan
8:41: LV - Zengerle (8) - Knight
15:20: RCH - (PP) bench minor, too many men
17:24: LV - Carey (15) - Brennan, Miele
18:51: RCH - O'Reilly (6) - unassisted