Good Knight - Phantoms Hang on for Big Win Over Hershey

Friday, March 10, 2017
Phantoms scramble for a near goal in the 2nd period. Photo: Amanda Statland/Highland Park Hockey
Late third period goal by Knight lifts Lehigh Valley

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (38-18-3) dominated large portions of tonight's game against the Hershey Bears, but some timely scoring late in both the first and second periods helped Hershey keep the game within reach.

It was the Phantoms with the final answer in the third, with Corban Knight's game-winning goal with 2:18 left in regulation lifting Lehigh Valley to another big win this week - inching themselves closer and closer to their first Calder Cup Playoffs berth as a franchise in Lehigh Valley and their first playoff berth since 2009-10 when the team was still in Philadelphia.

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

Phantoms' Playoff Update - Tonight's 3-2 regulation win over Hershey was a proverbial four-point swing as the Phantoms' magic number drops from 31 to 27 points since the Bears, in 5th place in the division, failed to get any points in the standings tonight. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins routed the Hartford WolfPack 8-1 to maintain their four-point lead over the Phantoms for first place in the division. Providence was idle tonight in advance of a Saturday showdown in Wilkes-Barre tomorrow night. Bridgeport lost in regulation to the Utica Comets, who won their sixth straight game. The Sound Tigers remain two points ahead of Hershey for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.


Anthony Stolarz (19 saves - 21 shots) got the start in net with Alex Lyon coming off of his fourth shutout of the season Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre. Lyon is expected to get the start in net tomorrow night versus Utica.

Defenseman Robert Hagg (suspected lower body) and forward Danick Martel (suspected concussion protocol) both exited with injuries in the second period last Friday night in Springfield. Neither skated with the team at practice this week.

Tyrell Goulbourne was called up to Lehigh Valley and joined the team in Hartford Saturday morning. giving the Phantoms 12 healthy forwards.

Reece Willcox had been the team's extra defenseman, but with Hagg's injury is 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 (suspected concussion symptoms) will miss his 15th straight game, having not played since the AHL All-Star challenge on January 30th. Leier skated briefly with the team at practice last week 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 February after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was expected to miss a few weeks with a lower body injury. No update from HC Scott Gordon on any potential timetable for a return to the lineup for Gordon or any of the injured players as per his usual vagueness with updating injured players.

Scratches: Robert Hagg (lower body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Danick Martel (suspected concussion protocol), Taylor Leier (suspected concussion symptoms) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

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

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon


The Phantoms and Bears appeared to be feeling each other out in the first period, as it was the first meeting between the two teams in nearly two months.

Hershey had some dangerous chances in the opening minutes, but the Phantoms settled in and starting creating consistent offensive pressure - evidenced by a pair of power play opportunities in the first 11:24 of the contest.

Perhaps the best chance of the opening period for Lehigh Valley came midway through the period on a back-check steal by Chris Conner. Conner stole a puck just inside the Phantoms' offensive zone blue line and broke in on a mini-breakaway - putting an off-speed shot toward Bears' goaltender Pheonix Copley's five-hole that nearly caught him off guard.
The Phantoms racked up a 10-4 advantage in shots heading into the final minutes of the opening period, but the game remained scoreless due in large part to Copley's sharp saves in the Bears' net.

It wasn't until the final minute of the first frame that the game's first goal was scored, and it came off a turnover at the side of the Phantoms' net.

After a hard-working play by Zach Sill down low got the puck toward the net, it was Ryan Bourque in the right place at the right time to pick up a loose puck in Anthony Stolarz's crease and shuffle one past the Phantoms' netminder to give Hershey a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
A bit of a tough play on the first goal of the night for Travis Sanheim, who was a little late getting to the net front to cancel out Bourque, but as head coach Scott Gordon said of Sanheim after tonight's game - he didn't let the bad play ruin his game for the rest of the night.

The Phantoms came out for the middle frame on a mission. They opened the scoring 1:30 into the period after the two teams exchanged four-on-two rushes.

Sanheim and Sam Morin teamed up to break up Hershey's four-on-two rush and started a 4-on-2 of their own the other way with Greg Carey getting a puck across to Corban Knight who hit a trailing Sanheim in the high slot for a hard wrist shot past Copley to even the score at 1-1.
Lehigh Valley continued to dominate the second period, putting the first nine  shots of the period on Copley's net - also holding Hershey without a shot in the middle frame until there was 6:13 left before the second intermission.

The relentless pressure paid off for Lehigh Valley shortly after the midway point of regulation, and shortly after a Phantoms' power play had expired. Cole Bardreau flipped an area pass into the offensive zone in the vicinity of Scott Laughton, and Laughton did the rest - sneaking behind the defense and picking the top left corner high-blocker on Copley to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead with 7:08 left in the period.
The Phantoms were all over the Bears in the middle frame, but some late period penalty trouble gave Hershey enough life to get back into the game just seconds before the middle frame came to an end.

Lehigh Valley was able to kill off their first penalty of the night with 5:15 left in the middle frame, but a Corban Knight hooking minor in the final minute of the period sparked the Bears' power play to a game-tying goal. Paul Carey finished off his 17th goal of the season with 3.6 seconds left in the 2nd period to send the game to the third period tied at 2-2.

It was a hard-fought third period between two Pennsylvania rivals, but in the end it was Lehigh Valley getting a timely goal from Corban Knight with 2:18 left to lift the Phantoms to a big 3-2 win.

Mark Zengerle picked up the puck just inside the offensive zone blue line and got to the edge with speed, stopping up at the right-wing faceoff dot and sending a perfect pass through four Bears defenders on to the tape of Corban Knight's stick for a quick shot and goal for Knight's 8th of the season.



1st Period

3:24: HER - (PP) O'Brien, minor (tripping)
11:29: HER - (PP) Sill, minor (slashing)
19:00: HER - R. Bourque (2) - Sill, Galiev

2nd Period

1:30: LV - Sanheim (9) - Knight, Carey
10:02: HER - (PP) Walker, minor (tripping)
12:52: LV - Laughton (15) - Bardreau, Morin
14:45: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (cross-checking)
19:18: LV - (PP) Knight, minor (cross-checking)
19:56: HER - Carey (17) - Boyd, Djoos

3rd Period

13:13: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (hooking)
17:42: LV - Knight (8) - Zengerle


Lehigh Valley  0 - 2 - 1 = 3
Hershey Bears  1 - 1 - 0 = 2


Lehigh Valley  11- 17 - 8 = 36
Hershey Bears  5 - 8 - 8 = 21


LV - Anthony Stolarz (19 saves - 21 shots)
HER - Pheonix Copley (33 saves - 36 shots)

Power Play

LV: 0-for-3
HER: 1-for-3

Penalty Kill

LV: 2-for-3
HER: 3-for-3

Attendance: 8,116


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