Phantoms Dominant In Loss To Hartford

Friday, February 17, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms Come Up Short To Start Three-Game Weekend

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - Yes. You read the headline correctly.

Sometimes in a hockey game, one team seemingly dominates a majority of the contest - out shooting, out chancing and out working their opponent - and still comes away with no points in the standings. Tonight's game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hartford WolfPack is a perfect example of that.

Outside of the first six minutes of the game, Lehigh Valley out shot Hartford by a 43-13 count in the final 54 minutes of regulation but still ultimately came up short in a 3-2 loss Friday night at the PPL Center - in front of the 10th sellout crowd of the season for the Phantoms with 8,520 fans in attendance.

Here's a good frame of what took place in Allentown tonight that sums up the game perfectly.
Some timely scoring by the WolfPack that included the eventual game-winning goal - a spinning shot from the corner boards deflecting first off of goaltender Alex Lyon's stick, then Travis Sanheim's skate before crossing the goal line - was enough to give Hartford two points.

Tonight's loss marks a season-high three game losing skid for the Phantoms (32-16-2) and while that may be concerning, if Lehigh Valley continues to play like they did in the final 54 minutes of tonight's game the losing skid likely won't continue much longer - if not by the end of the weekend.

After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon and video interviews with Scott Laughton and Danick Martel.

And a new addition to our Phantoms' coverage - goal GIF's!


Alex Lyon (15 saves - 18 shots) got the start in net tonight against Hartford. Anthony Stolarz, who surrendered five goals in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night, should be back in net Saturday in a rematch against these same WolfPack.

Scott Laughton returned to the Phantoms' lineup this weekend, which should help the team's depth down the middle.

Sam Morin will miss his first Phantoms' game tonight, serving the first of a two-game suspension for a cross-checking hit in Tuesday's loss to the Penguins. Morin had appeared in 125 straight games for the Phantoms up to this point, not missing a single game in his pro career to date.

Taylor Leier will miss his seventh straight game with an undisclosed injury he re-aggravated before the team's first game back from the All-Star break in Albany two weeks ago. He was seen getting on the ice after Phantoms' practice Monday, skating with other injured forwards Scott Laughton and Boyd Gordon, but doesn't appear to be close to a return at this point.

Boyd Gordon, who left in the Wednesday home game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, is expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury.

Scratches: Sam Morin (suspension), Chris McCarthy (healthy), Taylor Leier (undisclosed injury) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Travis Sanheim

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz


It was another sluggish start at home for the Phantoms, who were out shot 5-1 and seemed one step behind the Wolf Pack in the opening six minutes. Luckily for Lehigh Valley, it didn't prove costly in the opening stanza.

The lone bright spots for the Phantoms in the first period was the trio of Greg Carey, Andy Miele and Chris Conner along with goaltender Alex Lyon.

The team's defacto top scoring line, the Carey-Miele-Conner unit was active in the first period - creating scoring chances and drawing the Phantoms a pair of power plays.

Lyon came up big a few times in the opening period - stopping Nicklas Jensen's drive to the net and following it up seconds later with a sharp glove save on a point shot from Ryan Graves.

While the Phantoms appeared outplayed in the opening half of the period, they seemed to gain some momentum to close the opening frame. 

But it was Hartford striking first early in the middle frame to take the 1-0 lead. A turnover in the neutral zone sent WolfPack forward Chris Brown into the Phantoms' defensive zone with speed and a 2-on-1 with Justin Fontaine.

Brown's pass to Fontaine was going to be off the mark, but a back-checking Phantoms' forward actually got a piece of the pass and slowed it down enough for Fontaine to collect it and hit a trailing Marek Hrivik. Hrivik fired a quick shot past Lyon from the slot 2:39 into the middle frame.
From there, the Phantoms dominated play - outshooting Hartford 11-3 in the period, out-chancing the WolfPack and ultimately out-playing the WolfPack in the middle frame. Lehigh Valley just wasn't able to find an equalizer in the second stanza, heading to the third period trailing 1-0.

It was certainly a much better effort in the second period, but nonetheless a one goal deficit for the Phantoms.

Things were getting tense in the second half of the period, and Hartford's Nicklas Jensen seemed to be involved in most of the altercations.

First, Jensen took offense to an open ice hit he took from Mark Zengerle - retaliating immediately and shoving Zengerle into the Hartford team bench and throwing a forearm into his helmet as he pinned the Phantoms' forward against the half-wall along the team bench.

The Phantoms were unable to score on that man advantage in the final five minutes, but were awarded another late period power play when Ryan Graves slashed Danick Martel's stick out of his hands. After the whistle for that penalty, Jensen skated to a chirping Martel and tried to start another fracas, but Martel wisely halted retailiation - giving the Phantoms their fourth power play of the night with 1:17 left before the second intermission.

Lehigh Valley did everything they could in the final frame to try to turn things around, but it just wasn't meant to be. The Phantoms fired a Lehigh Valley Phantoms franchise record 25 shots on Brandon Halverson in the third period - and scored twice - but some timely scoring by the WolfPack with some friendly puck luck along the way led to Lehigh Valley's demise.

Unable to score on some carryover power play time to start the third period, the Phantoms were pressuring nearly nonstop in the first two and a half minutes and went back on the man advantage. Again, they created a ton of scoring chances but the goals did not fall.

Then, with Martel in the box for slashing and the Wolf Pack on just their second power play of the night tallied to extend their lead to 2-0 on the Phantoms courtesy Jensen's 22nd goal of the season with 5:20 gone in the third period.

The Phantoms didn't pack it in despite their obvious frustration of putting in the work and not getting the results. In fact, they made it a one-goal game again just 1:35 after Jensen's goal.

Corban Knight dug out a puck along the half wall and sent it to Will O'Neill at the center point. O'Neill paused for just a second before sliding a puck across to Mark Alt, who stepped into a one-timer and rifled one past Halverson to make it a 2-1 Phantoms' deficit with 13:05 left to play.
This one was such a nice shot, here's a second angle.
Lehigh Valley continued to spend the third period on the attack and in the WolfPack's defensive zone, racking up shots and scoring chances with regularity. They simply couldn't buy the game-tying goal.

It wasn't until the WolfPack dumped a puck into the corner with just under six minutes left to play that they would seemingly create a scoring chance. Robin Kovacs sent the puck to the corner and Philip McRae got to it, spinning and throwing a puck towards the net that bounced of Lyon's stick, then hit Travis Sanheim's skate and went in past Lyon to give Hartford a two-goal cushion again.

Still, the Phantoms continued to press on and as the team pulled Lyon for the extra attacker Sanheim sent a puck over to Scott Laughton at the right-wing circle for a well-placed shot past Halverson to again make it a one-goal game with 2:59 left in regulation. It was Laughton's 12th of the season and his first in his first game back after a brief two-game injury absence.
In the end, the WolfPack leaned on Halverson and came away with the win - setting up an interesting rematch Saturday night at PPL Center.


Head coach Scott Gordon

On dominating the final 40 but coming away with the loss:
We worked so hard to get the two goals. I don't think we can ask the players to play any better. Yeah, could we have scored a goal on the power play? Maybe that makes the difference, but we did generate some pretty good chances on the power play too.
When it's all said and done, we asked our players if there's one thing we could do a little bit better in the third period just get to the net a little more and get traffic, and we did that and it still wasn't enough. Whenever you play a game and out shoot a team 36-8 over the last two periods, and I think their first eight shots for them came in the first six minutes in the game so there was a lot of hockey we played in their end tonight. And unfortunately it didn't matter where we spent the game, we didn't win.


1st Period

9:42: HFD - (PP) McRae, minor (hooking)
9:54: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (high-sticking)
13:37: HFD - (PP) Kampfer, minor (holding)
14:38: HFD - Summers, minor (roughing)
14:38: LV - Martel, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

2:39: HFD - Hrivik (11) - Fontaine, Brown
14:16: HFD - (PP) Jensen, minor (roughing)
18:43: HFD - (PP) Graves, minor (slashing)

3rd Period

2:24: HFD - (PP) Carey, minor (hooking)
5:03: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (slashing)
5:20: HFD - PPG Jensen (22) - McRae, Bodie
6:55: LV - Alt (1) - O'Neill, Knight
9:01: HFD - (PP) Hughes, minor (elbowing)
14:13: HFD - McRae (8) - Kovacs, Hughes
17:01: LV - Laughton (12) - Sanheim, McDonald
19:25: HFD - (PP) Kampfer, minor (delay of game)


Lehigh Valley 0 - 0 - 2 = 2
Hartford   0 - 1 - 2 = 3


Lehigh Valley   8 - 11 - 25 = 44
Hartford    10 - 3 - 5 = 18


LV - Alex Lyon (15 saves - 18 shots)
HFD - Brandon Halverson (42 saves - 44 shots)

Power Play

LV: 0-for-7
HFD: 1-for-2

Penalty Kill

LV: 1-for-2
HFD: 7-for-7

Attendance: 8,520 - 10th sellout crowd at PPL Center this season


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