Penguins Edge Phantoms To Begin Home and Home Series

Friday, March 17, 2017
Photo: Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms fail to play a full 60-minute game against Penguins

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (39-19-4) appeared to be off and running Friday night in front of the home crowd at PPL Center, taking an early 1-0 lead and asserting themselves in the opening 20 minutes of play.

The second period was a different story, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (42-17-3) tallied back-to-back goals in the middle frame and tacked on an insurance marker in the third period before adding an empty net goal to complete their 4-1 win over Lehigh Valley.

A shorthanded goal by Josh Archibald that got the Penguins on the board in the second period shifted momentum towards the road team and they never looked back. Ryan Haggerty, Tom Kostopoulos and Dominik Simon also scored goals for the Penguins, who got 29 saves on 30 shots from Tristan Jarry for his 25th win of the season.

Max Lamarche's first period power play goal was the lone tally for the Phantoms, who got 28 saves on 31 shots from Alex Lyon in the loss.

These two teams rematch Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.

After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from Max Lamarche, Alex Lyon and Chris Conner.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms' regulation loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sees the Penguins move five points ahead of Lehigh Valley for first place in the Atlantic Division. Elsewhere in the division, Hershey defeated Hartford in overtime to move into a playoff spot while Bridgeport's regulation loss to Providence has the Sound Tigers on the outside looking in in 5th place.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 23 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.


It was Alex Lyon (28 saves - 31 shots), not Anthony Stolarz, getting the start in net for the Phantoms Friday night in Allentown. It marked the first time since Stolarz returned from Philadelphia back on January 3rd that either goalie had gotten three starts in a row. With a pair of games on the schedule this weekend, Stolarz is more than likely slated to get the start in net Saturday in Wilkes-Barre in the rematch.

Taylor Leier (suspected concussion) missed his 19th straight game, but could be returning to the Phantoms lineup in the not so distant future. Leier - inactive since taking home AHL MVP honors in the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge - has skated in each of the last three on-ice practice opportunities this week and was seen not wearing a red, no-contact jersey at the team's morning skate according to Phantoms radio broadcaster Bob Rotruck.

The latest casualty to the injury bug was defenseman Will O'Neill, who left early in the 1st period of Saturday's 4-1 win against Utica after an apparent upper body injury he sustained - jamming his left hand/wrist after a fall into the boards.

Robert Hagg and Steven Swavely are also nearing returns to the lineup as both were skating at practice this week in red, no-contact jerseys. Hagg's injury was not as serious as initially feared, which is good news for the Phantoms with O'Neill also out with an injury currently.

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. 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), Will O'Neill (upper body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Taylor Leier (concussion), Chris McCarthy (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Jesper Pettersson (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

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

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

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz 


The Phantoms and Penguins seemed to both have nervous energy at the beginning of Friday night's contest. The passes were a little off, there were several whistles in the opening few shifts and not much of a rhythm/flow/pace for either side.

That changed when Travis Sanheim made a heads up play to join the rush on the Phantoms' attack just over four minutes into the game. Sanheim caught a pass as a trailer, and was hooked by Penguins' forward Sahir Gill - giving Lehigh Valley the game's first power play opportunity.

After some good scoring chances early on the man advantage, the Phantoms cashed in at the tail end of Gill's hooking minor.

Sanheim kept a puck in at the left point and quickly sent one across to Mark Zengerle at the right-wing circle. Zengerle faked a shot and sent a pass across the top of the face-off circles to Max Lamarche on the left wing. The pass was partially deflected by the Penguins' Jarrett Burton in the slot, but the puck had enough momentum to make it across to Lamarche - who one-timed it past Tristan Jarry to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead 6:11 into the opening frame.
Lamarche, called up from Reading due to injuries on the Phantoms' blue line to Robert Hagg and Will O'Neill, stepped right into the team's second power play unit and made the most of his opportunity. It was Lamarache's third goal in 15 games with the Phantoms this season, and his first in two games since his latest recall from the ECHL.

Play evened out as the first period continued, with teams exchanging some offensive zone time & pressure up until the final five minutes before the first intermission. There weren't many whistlesa and the pace and intensity picked up - eclipsed with a big hit by Sam Morin on Penguins' forward Josh Archibald in the corner.
Lehigh Valley nearly made it 2-0 late in the opening period when the trio of Danick Martel, Andy Miele and Chris Conner had extended offensive zone time. Credit Sanheim making some great plays on the puck as well in that sequence as the rookie defenseman appeared to be seriously dialed in in the opening 20 minutes - making a half dozen or so really strong plays.

Corban Knight beat Jarry to the spot but rang a puck off the post and out in the final seconds of the period, sending Lehigh Valley into the middle frame leading the Penguins 1-0.

The Penguins came out for the middle frame determined to even the game at 1-1. They pressured the Phantoms in the opening three minutes, and nearly tied it if not for a heads up play in the slot by Corban Knight - throwing his body toward a puck on a Penguins forward's stick to block a bid at an empty net.
It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the Penguins would even up the score. They were out shooting the Phantoms 8-3 in the first seven and a half minutes of the middle frame and had the clear edge in play.

Instead, the Penguins' game-tying goal came near the midway mark of regulation with Lehigh Valley on a power play.

After the Penguins cleared a puck out of their defensive zone and towards Lyon's net, the Phantoms goaltender attempted to send one up the left wing boards to T.J. Brennan. The pass banked off the boards and over Brennan's stick and right to Teddy Blueger, who quickly sent a cross-ice pass to an open Josh Archibald at the left-wing circle for a well-placed shot that beat Lyon high to the short side with 11:26 left in the 2nd period.
The puck luck for Lyon continued to be unsatisfactory as the Penguins continued to dominate the middle frame. After a point shot from Frank Corrado whistled wide of Lyon's net, the puck bounced out to the other side where Ryan Haggerty was in the right place at the right time to fling one on net. The puck ended up banking off Lyon and going in to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead with 5:48 left before the intermission on back-to-back unanswered goals.
Lehigh Valley was lucky to escape the second period only down 2-1 after being out shot 15-8 and largely outplayed/outchanced in the middle frame. The Penguins responded after a sub-par first frame. The Phantoms needed a response in the third.

It wasn't a bad start to the final frame for the Phantoms, who generated some consistent pressure early in the period. They just couldn't find the equalizer.

One stop in particular, with Jarry caught sliding the wrong way and just sticking his right skate out to prevent a goal, proved to be a big stop and a turning point in the third period.
A few shifts later, with the Phantoms on a defensive zone face-off, the Penguins were able to win the draw and extend their lead to 3-1.

Kevin Porter won a face-off back to Tom Kostopoulos at the left wing, and the Penguins captain picked a corner on Lyon with 9:33 left in regulation to make it a two-goal deficit for Lehigh Valley.
The Phantoms continued to force the issue, but were unable to get back within a goal on a power play chance with 4:10 left before seceeding an empty net tally in a 4-1 loss to the Penguins.



1st Period

4:18: WBS - (PP) Gill, minor (hooking)
6:11: LV - PPG Lamarche (3) - Zengerle, Sanheim

2nd Period

7:49: WBS - (PP) Sundqvist, minor (slashing)
8:34: WBS - SHG Archibald (15) - Blueger
8:51: LV - (PP) Lamarche, minor (interference)
14:12: WBS - Haggerty (8) - Corrado, Warsofsky

3rd Period

10:27: WBS - Kostopoulos (22) - Porter
15:50: WBS - (PP) Porter, minor (boarding)
18:48: WBS - ENG Simon (12) - Blueger


Lehigh Valley  1 - 0 - 0 = 1
W-B/Scranton  0 - 2 - 2 = 4


Lehigh Valley  9 - 8 - 13 = 30
W-B/Scranton  7 - 15 - 10 = 32


LV - Alex Lyon (28 saves - 31 shots)
WBS - Tristan Jarry (29 saves - 30 shots)

Power Play

LV: 1-for-3
WBS: 0-for-1

Penalty Kill

LV: 1-for-1
WBS: 2-for-3

Attendance: 7,710


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