|A familiar sight for those in attendance at PPL Center tonight. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ALLENTOWN - Sometimes in a 76-game American Hockey League season, literally not a single thing goes a team's way and they get mercilessly blown out. Unfortunately for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (26-11-2), tonight was that night at the hands of the Providence Bruins (23-10-4-3)
Perhaps coming off a big 5-3 win on home ice against the AHL's top team the night prior had something to do with this sour game, but it was clearly evident in the second period tonight that it wasn't going to be the Phantoms' night.
A 2-0 game entering the second period turned into a 7-0 deficit for Lehigh Valley, who just couldn't get out of the rut they were in. It ended up being a 9-1 final score after Phantoms' captain Colin McDonald broke Malcolm Subban's shutout bid with 1:19 left in regulation.
Tonight's 9-1 loss tied a franchise record for the worst home loss in Lehigh Valley Phantoms history. The Phantoms saw an eight-goal differential in an 8-0 loss to Hershey last season on March 23, 2016.
After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, goaltender Mark Dekanich and forward Cole Bardreau.
Head coach Scott Gordon
On a let down after last night's big win a surprise:
Not that you expect a loss, but certainly not to lose like that. That's never expected in any situation.On game getting out of control in 2nd:
The start of the game, the two power plays, we had good pace, good shots, good chances on the power play and then they got the goal after the power play. Then we had a blocked shot that never should have happened and then it's 2-0. And the game just fell apart from there.On the game snowballing:
Every game you're going to have maybe 2 or 3 guys that don't have their best. Tonight, it was everybody except our goalies. We can probably forgive them for giving up the nine goals because there were a lot of goals that, in defense of them, they were put into situations they shouldn't have be in. I think when you're going to have that many guys that just aren't going, that's the type of thing that's going to happen.Goaltender Mark Dekanich
On his Phantoms' debut going how it did:
It's never fun getting shelled like that. I've played 10 minutes of game action the last five weeks, so it was a tough one for me and it's frustrating all around.On putting this one behind you:
That's all you can do. If I thought too much about it, I'd probably want to quit hockey. It's tough, it;s frustrating, but the sun will come up tomorrow and it's another day.Forward Cole Bardreau
On not expecting a game like this after Friday's big win:
Obviously the score tells the story there. We didn't come ready to play. There's not much really to say. Have to put that behind us. It's a long season, it's going to happen every once in awhile. Have to go to work tomorrow.On a decent start in 1st, then down spiraled from there:
Drew a couple power plays early and get some bad bounces, and it can spiral like that. Moving forward, we just, we do, I don't know, just put it behind us I guess.RECAP
The Phantoms got an early power play when Providence was whistled for a too many men infraction in the opening minute, but it was the Bruins killing the penalty without much dangerous chances by Lehigh Valley and taking a 1-0 lead shortly after the penalty expired.
Jake DeBrusk came out from behind the Phantoms' net and although his centering attempt for Colby appeared to be blocked down by the leg of a Phantoms' defender, the puck conveniently fell in front of Cave's feet and he was able to get a quick shot from the slot past Alex Lyon 2:59 into the contest.
From there, the Phantoms had their chances - particularly on a power play 6:13 into the period - but were unable to get the equalizer. PBruins goaltender Malcolm Subban came up with some big stops to keep Lehigh Valley off the board.
Later in the period, with about five minutes to go, PBruins forward Danton Henien slipped behind the Phantoms' defense and had a partial breakaway attempt on Lyon. Lyon came up with the stop, but the PBruins continued to pressure and Heinen sent a cross-ice pass from below the face-off circles across to Sean Kuraly for a one-timer that Lyon had zero chance to stop. Kuraly's 8th of the season put the Phantoms behind 2-0 with 3:20 left before the first intermission.
At that point, the Phantoms were neck and neck with Providence in terms of scoring chances generated but on the wrong end of a 2-0 score.
The middle frame proved to be a completely different story.
Five goals for the PBruins in the second period blew the game wide open. A pair of Peter Cehlarik goals ended Alex Lyon's night with 12:58 left in the period. Lyon finished with 12 saves on 16 shots in 27:02 of game action.
Enter Mark Dekanich, who was called up to Lehigh Valley earlier this afternoon after Anthony Stolarz tweaked something in last night's game against the Penguins.
On the next shift after the goalie change, Dekanich faced a breakaway and a heavy barrage of shots - coming up with a few stops before Chris Porter made it 5-0 just 1:13 after Cehlarik's second goal of the period.
Things went from bad to worse as the period continued and by the time the middle frame ended the Phantoms were staring at a 7-0 deficit on the scoreboard.
Providence added two more tallies in the third to extend their lead to 9-0 before Colin McDonald ended Malcolm Subban's shutout bid with 1:19 left in regulation to complete the 9-1 final score.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (12 saves - 16 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley tonight, with Mark Dekanich (26 saves - 31 shots) - recalled Saturday afternoon from ECHL Reading - backing him up.
Goaltender Anthony Stolarz suffered an apparent minor lower body injury in Friday night's game, a source close to the situation told Highland Park Hockey before tonight's game. Head coach Scott Gordon said post-game that he waiting to hear from the doctor on Stolarz's injury.
Jordan Weal was a late scratch from the lineup tonight as well. Gordon said he expects Weal will play tomorrow after missing tonight's game with an undisclosed injury.
Back from Reading after a one-game ECHL stint, defenseman Reece Willcox and forward Radel Fazleev returned to Lehigh Valley and were healthy scratches tonight.
Scratches: Anthony Stolarz (lower body), Radel Fazleev (healthy), Jordan Weal (injury) and Reece Willcox (healthy)
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Danick Martel - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Cole Bardreau - Cole Bardreau - Mark Zengerle
T.J. Brennan - Robert Hagg
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Alex Lyon - Mark Dekanich
0:46: PRO - (PP) bench minor, too many men
2:59: PRO - Cave (9) - DeBrusk, Casto
6:13: PRO - (PP) DeBrusk, minor (slashing)
9:46: LV - (PP) Gordon, minor (kneeing)
16:40: PRO - Kuraly (8) - Heinen, Randell
2:05: PRO - Cehlarik (16) - Simpson, Szwarz
7:02: PRO - Cehlarik (17) - Simpson, Szwarz
8:15: PRO - Porter (1) - Casto
15:57: PRO - DeBrusk (11) - Mueller, Grant
17:59: PRO - Marshall (2) - Acciari, Grant
4:09: PRO - Szwarz (10) - Heinen, Casto
7:30: PRO - Simpson (12) - Cehlarik, Szwarz
12:33: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (interference)
18:41: LV - McDonald (15) - Leier, Laughton