Special Teams Push Phantoms Past Devils

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Photo: Amanda Statland/Highland Park Hockey
Special teams lead Phantoms to bounce back win

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - Goals have been hard to come by for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this weekend, but a strong effort in net by Alex Lyon (31-save shutout), a Greg Carey power play goal and a Scott Laughton shorthanded goal were enough for the Phantoms in a 2-0 win over the Albany Devils Saturday night.

The win gets the Phantoms back on track after Friday's loss in Hartford, and gives them a chance to get four out of six points on the weekend when they host Utica on Star Wars Night at the PPL Center Sunday evening.

After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, forward Corban Knight and a special video interview with Scott Laughton.


Head coach Scott Gordon

On the special teams performance being the difference:
It really was. They're probably one of the harder teams to play against because defensively they don't usually give up a lot of shots. They're really good in the neutral zone as far denying you entry in the zone and I thought our players did a tremendous job not getting boxed in and as a result we were able to get in zone time, draw some penalties and get on the power play.
On the power play goal, then penalty kill goal:
I think Travis made the quick up and caught them deep on the forecheck. And all of a sudden we get the power play goal and we follow it up with the PK goal and like you said, 7 kills on the PK was huge for us.
On timing of PK goal, Laughton finally getting one to go in for him:
Really happy for Scott Laughton. He had just as many quality chances in Hartford and didn't score and has been a little bit snake bitten. It was good to see him score because he's worked hard, done a great job killing penalties and playing against other teams top lines.
Forward Corban Knight

On the PK:
It was nice to have a big night on the PK. Obviously, it can be a big part of the game with momentum change. I think for the most part we did a really good job tonight. With the depth we have we have a lot of guys who can get the job on the PK. It was nice to have a good night.
On special teams being the difference:
Absolutely. When you play a team like Albany that you don't get anything easy on those guys, you have to take advantage of the special teams and it was nice to see Carey pop one in there. It's always a good feeling a PK'er to help the team win and get the job done. I think we did the job tonight.
On bouncing back from first back-to-back losses this season:
It was big. We take a lot of pride in how we bounce back from a loss. Coming back here, we love playing at home and that energizes us. I don't think we played a bad game last night, so we didn't have to change much just small tweaks here and there. For the most part we knew we were going to have to work hard against this team and play smart. And [Alex Lyon] had a solid night back there for us making big saves. I think we rolled lines pretty well and the D did their job so it was an overall good win for the team tonight.


For two teams who were facing each other for the first time near the midway point of the season, it was an awfully chippy first period between the Phantoms and Devils.

After a big hit in the neutral zone by Devils forward Blake Coleman, Nicholas Aube-Kubel jumped in and dropped the gloves for his first pro fight 5:17 into the period. Unfortunately for NAK and the Phantoms, he was assessed an instigation minor and racked up 17 minutes in penalties on the play.

The Phantoms killed off the ensuing power play and enjoyed a brief power play of their own, but the game remained scoreless.

Later in the period, the Phantoms started to generate consistent offensive pressure. During one sequence in the final minutes, Mark Zengerle's shot was stopped by Ken Appleby and the rebound attempt by Danick Martel was pushed just wide. Later on the same shift, there was a scramble for a loose puck in the crease and it was kicked out to T.J. Brennan at the center point but his shot was also stopped by Appleby.

Lehigh Valley had a chance to take the 1-0 lead before the first intermission, but a penalty shot attempt from Jordan Weal missed the mark after Weal was hooked on a breakaway with 1:23 left in the opening period.
The Phantoms got much more consistent offensive pressure in the middle frame, and took a 1-0 lead while on the power play near the midway point of the hockey game. Greg Carey got a pass from Jordan Weal in the slot and although his initial shot was blocked by Vojtech Mozik, the puck came right back to Caret and he fired it into what was basically an empty left half of the net for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

The goal marked Carey's 10th power play goal of the season, tops in the AHL. Chris Conner added a secondary assist on the play.

The Devils had a chance to tie up the game before the second intermission with Travis Sanheim off for high-sticking with 2:33 left, but instead a big shorthanded goal by Scott Laughton extended the Phantoms' lead to 2-0 heading to the third period.

Laughton stole a puck off an Albany defender at the Phantoms' offensive zone blue line and broke in on a mini breakaway, going top shelf on Appleby with 1:33 left in the middle frame. It was Laughton's first goal in his last five games.

Albany didn't quit in the third period, firing 10 more shots on Alex Lyon but the Phantoms goaltender and the defense in front of him held on for the 2-0 win.

A too many men call with 1:20 left gave the Devils their 7th power play of the night, but a great showing on the penalty kill by the Phantoms allowed them to go 7-for-7 on the PK in the shutout win.


Alex Lyon (31 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms. Anthony Stolarz played Friday night in Hartford in first AHL start since November 12th.

Mark Alt did not play tonight, though the plan going into the weekend was to ease him back into the lineup and only play him on Friday and Sunday.

Corban Knight was the healthy scratch Friday night in Hartford, but he re-entered the lineup tonight on the fourth line for Radel Fazleev.

Scratches: Mark Alt (healthy) and Radel Fazleev (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicholas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Mark Zengerle - Corban Knight - Cole Bardreau

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

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

5:13: ALB - Coleman, major (fighting)
5:13: LV - (PP) Aube-Kubel, minor (instigation)
5:13: LV - Aube-Kubel, major (fighting)
5:13: LV - Aube-Kubel, ten-minute misconduct
5:56: ALB - (PP) Sexton,  minor (tripping)
7:53: LV - (PP) Brennan, minor (roughing)
10:07: ALB - (PP) MacWilliam, minor (holding the stick)
17:16: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (hooking)

2nd Period

4:19: LV - (PP) Brennan, minor (high-sticking)
6:33: ALB - (PP) Sexton, minor (high-sticking)
9:38: ALB - (PP) Kujawinski, minor (elbowing)
9:55: LV - PPG Carey (17) - Weal, Conner
13:33: LV - (PP) Willcox, minor (hooking)
17:27: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (high-sticking)
18:27: LV - SHG Laughton (4) - unassisted

3rd Period

11:17: ALB - (PP) Camper, minor (holding)
15:03: LV - Martel, major (fighting)
15:03: ALB - MacWilliam, major (fighting)
17:40: LV - (PP) bench minor, too many men (served by Conner)


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