Captain Clutch - McDonald Lifts Lehigh Valley Past Hartford

Saturday, March 4, 2017
Photo credit -> Ricky Milliner (@Milliner06)
McDonald's third period goal gives Phantoms second win of the weekend

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

It hasn't been easy, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (36-17-3) are finding ways to win this weekend following their second consecutive win Saturday evening in Hartford.

Friday night in Springfield, the Phantoms' injuries continued as Danick Martel and Robert Hagg have joined the injured list. The WolfPack did not play last night and were waiting for the Phantoms on a quick turnaround - hoping to catch them amidst some adversity.

Instead, the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead on Chris Conner's 19th of the season in the second period and when Hartford tied it up in the third were able to get a timely goal from captain Colin McDonald with 1:56 left in regulation to help the Phantoms to a 3-1 win at the XL Center.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - Lehigh Valley's win Saturday afternoon drops their magic number down to 33 points with the possibility of it going to 31 points if Hershey loses in regulation tonight to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After the jump, a quick recap of this afternoon's action.

Alex Lyon (32 saves - 33 shots) got the start in net this afternoon for Lehigh Valley against Hartford. Anthony Stolarz, who stopped 44 of 48 Friday night in Springfield, is expected to get the start Sunday in Providence but perhaps Lyon's strong outing today makes it a hard decision for head coach Scott Gordon.

Defenseman Robert Hagg and forward Danick Martel both exited with injuries in the second period. Neither are expected to play the rest of this weekend.

Tyrell Goulbourne was called up to Lehigh Valley and joined the team in Hartford this morning. giving the Phantoms 12 healthy forwards. Reece Willcox had been the team's extra defenseman, but with Hagg's injury will slot back into the lineup alongside T.J. Brennan.

Steven Swavely blocked a shot during the third period in Utica two weekends ago, and left the game. It's safe to say Swavely will likely miss several weeks as he was seen at last Thursday's practice with his left hand/wrist in a cast.

Taylor Leier (concussion) missed his 13th straight game, having not played since the AHL All-Star challenge on January 30th. Leier skated briefly with the team at practice last Thursday at PPL Center, but was the only skater wearing a green jersey and he exited the ice about 15-20 minutes after I arrived for the 10:30 practice. There are no updates being given on Leier's status or a timetable for his return from Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton on [date] 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: Robert Hagg (lower body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Danick Martel (undisclosed), Taylor Leier (concussion) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)


Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Mark Zengerle
Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Chris McCarthy - Radel Fazleev

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz


The first frame was a bit of a feeling out process for both teams, and the bad blood from the last meeting between the two teams didn't immediately carry over either - just one minor penalty for hooking.

The Wolf Pack nearly opened up a 1-0 lead in the opening seconds, as Adam Tambellini beat Alex Lyon with a quick shot but it rang off the post 15 seconds into the contest.

Hartford held an early edge in play, and in shots with a 5-2 advantage, but the Phantoms got to their game and had some quality chances on WolfPack rookie goaltender Brandon Halverson. One sequence saw Andy Miele nearly score, but some acrobatic stops from Halverson - who lost his stick on the play - kept the game scoreless.

When the first period was all said and done, there wasn't too much to report. Lehigh Valley held a 10-7 edge in shots and had a late first period power play carry over into the middle frame.

The Phantoms weren't able to capitalize on the carryover power play time to begin the 2nd period, and had to kill a penalty of their own shortly after when Corban Knight was whistled for playing the puck over the glass in the defensive zone.

Lehigh Valley was able to kill off Knight's delay of game minor, and took a 1-0 lead moments later.

T.J. Brennan sent a stretch pass up ice to Nicolas Aube-Kubel, catching the WolfPack defense in transition. Aube-Kubel entered the offensive zone practically 2-on-0 with Chris Conner; the Hartford defense trailing the speedy Phantoms' forwards. Aube-Kubel sent a pass across to Conner who tapped one in past Halverson atop the crease for his 19th of the season.
From there, it was up to Alex Lyon to preserve the Phantoms' 1-0 lead the rest of the middle frame. The rookie goaltender did just that.

Shorthanded two more times in the period on a pair of penalties assessed to Scott Laughton in the middle part of the period, the Wolf Pack pressured the Phantoms' defense often - racking up 15 shots in the period and forcing Lyon to come up with some bigtime stops.

First, he came up with a flashy glove save on an odd-man rush. Later in the period, Lyon did the splits - making a left skate save with his toes to keep rookie defenseman John Gilmour's attempt from crossing the goal line.
Unfortunately for Lyon and the Phantoms, Hartford broke the shutout bid six minutes into the third period.

After losing a puck battle below the goal line, the Phantoms' defense did a poor job of tracking Matt Carey in the slot and Greg Carey's younger brother tied the game at 1-1 on his 15th of the season.
The Phantoms didn't panic, instead continuing to play their game. It didn't come until there was under two minutes to play, but Cole Bardreau created a turnover in the offensive zone and made a play - sending a cross ice pass to McDonald who finished it off by picking the short side top corner over Halverson's shoulder to give the Phantoms the go-ahead goal.

Scott Laughton added an empty net tally with 1.9 seconds left to complete the Phantoms' 3-1 win.


1st Period

18:27: HFD - (PP) Kampfer, minor (hooking)

2nd Period

3:36: LV - (PP) Knight, minor (delay of game)
6:32: LV - Conner (19) - Aube-Kubel, Brennan
8:03: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (boarding)
12:08: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (tripping)
13:07: HFD - (PP) Beck, minor (high-sticking)

3rd Period

3:21: HFD - (PP) Noonan, minor (holding)
6:00: HFD - Carey (15) - Tambellini, Beck
13:14: HFD - (PP) Graves, minor (cross-checking)
18:04: LV - McDonald (20) - Bardreau
18:58: LV - ENG Laughton (13)


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


Lehigh Valley 10 - 7 - 16 = 33
Hartford       7 - 15 - 11 = 33


LV - Alex Lyon (32 saves - 33 shots)
HFD - Brandon Halverson (30 saves - 32 shots)
Power Play

LV: 0-for-4
HFD: 0-for-3

Penalty Kill

LV: 3-for-3
HFD: 4-for-4

Attendance: 6,527


Post a Comment