Comeback Kids - Lehigh Valley Does It Again

Sunday, March 26, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms complete comeback against Bridgeport

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - While things were looking pretty grim as the final seconds of the second period ticked off the scoreboard with the score reading 3-1 Bridgeport, tonight's game was another case of this year's Lehigh Valley Phantoms team never saying never.

Mark Zengerle made things interesting midway through the third period, catching a pass from Max Lamarche in stride entering the offensive zone and picking a corner on Stephon Williams from the left wing to make it a one-goal game.

Still, the clock continued to tick down with Lehigh Valley trailing 3-2. Then, the Phantoms' big break came with 2:58 left in regulation.

A Phantoms' power play unit that was, up until that point, 0-for-14 on the weekend seemingly had one final chance to even things up.

Andy Miele wasted no time, taking a pass from T.J. Brennan in the neutral zone and flying down the right wing before picking a corner on Williams with 2:42 left in regulation to even the score at 3-3.
Miele wasn't done there either, finishing it off in the 3-on-3 overtime session in the final seconds - crashing the crease and stuffing home Taylor Leier's attempt with just over 30 seconds left to complete the thrilling comeback in front of another sellout crowd at PPL Center.

Full recap of tonight's game complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon along with video interviews with forwards Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle after the jump.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms' overtime win combined with Bridgeport's overtime loss lowers Lehigh Valley's magic number by three points with a chance to drop that number another four with a regulation win on Friday in the rematch against Bridgeport.

There wasn't any help elsewhere in the division, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Providence and Hershey all won their games on Sunday.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 11 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.


Anthony Stolarz (29 saves - 32 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley against Bridgeport Sunday. Alex Lyon played last night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Greg  Carey missed Sunday's game due to an undisclosed injury he sustained Saturday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Carey left the game early in the third period after an awkward collision with a teammate. Carey did not return and head coach Scott Gordon didn't have an update on his status moving forward.

Carey's absence allowed Mark Zengerle to slot back into the lineup after missing the previous three games as a healthy scratch.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed their 2014-3rd round draft pick, defenseman Mark Friedman, to an entry level contract beginning in the 2017-18 season. The former Bowling Green State Univeristy product, who tallied 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 40 games this season in the WCHA, will join the Phantoms this weekend on a tryout contract for the remainder of the season. He participated in his first on-ice practice with the Phantoms Friday in Whitehall.

Taylor Leier returned to the lineup Saturday in Wilkes-Barre after missing the previous 19 games with lingering symptoms of a concussion he suffered back in late January. We debuted Leier's story in our new 'Friday Feature' weekly series.

Chris Conner, who did not travel with the team to St. John's and also missed last Saturday's game and last night's game with an injury per head coach Scott Gordon. As per usual, no further details were provided on Conner's status moving forward.

Defenseman Will O'Neill left early in the 1st period of Saturday's 4-1 win against Utica on March 11th after an apparent upper body injury he sustained jamming his left hand/wrist after a fall into the boards.

Steven Swavely was reassigned to ECHL Reading on Tuesday per the league's transactions, and it appears he'll be getting back into action soon.

Jesper Pettersson was also reassigned to ECHL Reading earlier this week. With Hagg's expected return to the lineup and Friedman's arrival from the collegiate ranks, the Phantoms had nine healthy defensemen on the roster.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was initially expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. He was seen at last Friday night's game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants.

Scratches: Robert Hagg (healthy), Will O'Neill (upper body), Greg Carey (undisclosed), Chris Conner (undisclosed), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Mark Friedman (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier (A)  - Andy Miele (A) - Mark Zengerle
Danick Martel - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Chris McCarthy

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Max Lamarche

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon


It was a bit of a sloppy start for both teams in the opening minutes of the contest, as passes weren't crisp and there was a lot of back and forth puck possession in the neutral zone.

After the teams settled in, it was the Phantoms taking a 1-0 lead 7:10 into the first frame. Danick Martel nudged a puck down low behind the net, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel won a race to the loose puck. Aube-Kubel pulled the puck out from behind the net and fed Corban Knight just below the left-wing faceoff dot for a quick shot that beat Stephon Williams for Knight's ninth tally of the season.
The lead was short lived, however, as Bridgeport tied the game at 1-1 just 30 seconds later on the next shift of the hockey game. A pair of passes at the blue line from Jon Landry to Ryan Pulock opened up a shooting lane, and Pulock's point blast bounced off the backside of Tim Wallace and in past Anthony Stolarz for Wallace's first of the season in his second game with the Sound Tigers.

From there, the Phantoms started to generate more consistent offensive pressure - drawing themselves three power plays in the second half of the first frame. Unfortunately, despite several good scoring chances, Lehigh Valley was unable to break the tie and the two teams headed to the middle frame deadlocked at 1-1.

A brief lapse by Lehigh Valley proved costly in the middle frame. A hooking minor on Sam Morin put the Phantoms on the penalty kill for the first time on the night. Unlike the Phantoms, Bridgeport was able to capitalize on their man advantage and took the lead when Andrew Rowe tapped one in past Stolarz - finishing off a 3-on-1 odd man rush after the Phantoms' penalty killers got caught up ice on a shorthanded bid.
On the next shift, the Phantoms' defense misplayed a Sound Tigers' rush into the offensive zone - letting Ben Holmstrom send a clean cross-ice pass to Ross Johnston for a quick shot past Stolarz. Just like that - two goals in 60 seconds - the Phantoms found themselves trailing 3-1 with 13:13 left in the middle frame.
Head coach Scott Gordon took his timeout after Johnston's goal, fuming on the bench & attempting to regroup his team after allowing two goals in a minute.

Things didn't fix themselves right away. In fact, the Phantoms came out of the timeout with a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Luckily for Lehigh Valley, they were able to kill the penalty off and get back to work on the 3-1 deficit.

The Phantoms had a golden opportunity to get back into the game with 1:52 left before the second intermission when a Kellen Jones tripping minor turned into a full two-minute, five-on-three power play after a post-whistle scrum sent Jones' twin brother Connor to penalty box with an additional roughing minor.

Instead, the Phantoms' power play woes continued into the third period before completing their seventh third period comeback of the season.

Zengerle, in his first game back after a recent stint as a healthy scratch this week, started the Phantoms comeback midway through the third - picking a corner on Williams from the left-wing circle and setting the stage for Miele's late-game heroics.



1st Period

7:10: LV - Knight (9) - Aube Kubel, Martel
7:40: BST - Wallace (1) - Pulock, Landry
9:27: BST - (PP) Burroughs, minor (hooking)
13:29: BST - (PP) Dal Colle, minor (hooking)
18:48: BST - (PP) B. Holmstrom, minor (tripping)

2nd Period

4:58: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (hooking)
6:47: BST - PPG Rowe (13) - Verhaeghe, Burroughs
7:47: BST - Johnston (8) - B. Holmstrom, Landry
7:47: LV - (PP) bench minor, unsportsmanlike conduct (served by Martel)
12:46: LV - Alt, minor (hooking)
12:46: BST - Burroughs, minor (interference)
18:08: BST - (PP) C. Jones, minor (roughing)
18:08: BST - C. Jones, minor (roughing)
18:08: BST - (PP) K. Jones, minor (tripping)
18:08: LV - Martel, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

0:50: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (tripping)
9:27: LV - Zengerle (13) - Lamarche, Miele
13:37: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (delay of game - puck over glass)
17:02: BST - (PP) B. Holmsrom, minor (boarding)
17:18: LV - PPG Miele (9) - Brennan, Sanheim
17:18: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (unsportsmanlike conduct)


4:25: LV - Miele (10) - Leier, Brennan


Lehigh Valley  1 - 0 - 2 - 1 = 4
Bridgeport       1 - 2 - 0 - 0 = 3


Lehigh Valley  13 - 11 - 8 - 6 = 38
Bridgeport       13 - 11 - 7 - 1 = 32


LV - Anthony Stolarz (29 saves - 32 shots)
BST - Stephon Williams (34 saves - 38 shots)

Power Play

LV: 1-for-6
BST: 1-for-5

Penalty Kill

LV: 4-for-5
BST: 5-for-6

Attendance: 8,501 - the 16th sellout at PPL Center this season.


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