The Great Escape - Lehigh Valley Leaves Wilkes-Barre With Win

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms hang on for 3-2 win over rival Penguins

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

WILKES-BARRE - Coming off a 4-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins less than 24 hours prior, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms knew that another regulation loss to the Penguins probably meant their hopes of nabbing the top spot in the Atlantic Division for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs would be an unrealistic mindset to have.

After all, sitting at five points behind the Pens for first place entering Saturday night's game at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza the proverbial four-point game changes things regardless of the outcome. The difference between seven points back and three points back is monumental.

Luckily for Lehigh Valley, an opportunistic Phantoms team took an early 3-0 lead into the third period and held on for dear life in the final frame - escaping the Penguins' relentless attack and holding on for a 3-2 win to cap the weekend series with a split against the Pens.

Anthony Stolarz was a big part of the Phantoms' ability to stay in front as he stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced in what was just his second start in the team's last eight games. Lehigh Valley got goals from Tyrell Goulbourne, Reece Willcox and Danick Martel in the win but it was a special night for Taylor Leier who returned to the lineup after missing the last 19 games with lingering symptoms of a concussion he said occurred in the games leading up to the AHL All-Star Classic.

Full recap of tonight's game complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon along with video interviews with goaltender Anthony Stolarz and forward Taylor Leier.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms' regulation win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cuts the gap to first place down to five points with 13 games remaining in the regular season. Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division, no outside help for Lehigh Valley as all three of the other teams in the playoff race - Providence, Hershey and Bridgeport - all won to keep pace in the division.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 22 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.


Anthony Stolarz (37 saves - 39 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms tonight against the Penguins, after Alex Lyon had started in six of the team's seven previous games coming into tonight's contest.

Taylor Leier returned to the lineup after missing the last 19 games with lingering symptoms of a concussion he suffered back in late January.

The latest casualty to the injury bug is Chris Conner, who did not travel with the team and missed the 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 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 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. He was seen at Friday night's game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants.

Scratches: Robert Hagg (lower body), Mark Zengerle (healthy), Will O'Neill (upper body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Chris Conner (undisclosed), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Jesper Pettersson (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier (A) - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Cole Bardreau
Danick Martel - Andy Miele - 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 didn't look good for Lehigh Valley in the opening minutes Saturday against the Penguins.

The Pens' speed was evident. They were getting to loose pucks first and fired four of the first five shots on net, with the Phantoms needing some tough saves early from Anthony Stolarz to keep the game scoreless in the opening five minutes.

Then, the Phantoms' fourth line turned the tides with the trio of Chris McCarthy, Radel Fazleev and Tyrell Goulbourne combining their efforts on an odd man rush to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead 6:01 into the first frame.

McCarthy entered the zone on the right wing 3-on-2 with his linemates and sent the puck to the middle to Fazleev, who continued it to the left wing to Goulbourne for a quick rising shot past Tristan Jarry for Goulbourne's first AHL goal of the season.

With momentum on their side, the Phantoms had three power plays in the second half of the opening period including 51 seconds of five-on-three man advantage time. Lehigh Valley had several chances, but were unable to add to their lead before the first intermission.

Similar to last night in Allentown, the Penguins put together a very strong performance in the 2nd period. Not similar to last night, the Phantoms were opportunistic early in the middle frame - scoring two goals 15 seconds apart to quickly extend their lead to 3-0.

First, Jarry stopped McCarthy and fell onto his back. During the ensuing scramble, Jarry couldn't get up and into position quick enough and Reece Willcox was the first to a loose puck in the left-wing circle - blasting it into the empty top half of the net. Willcox's 3rd of the season came 4:07 into the middle frame.

On the next shift after Willcox's goal, Danick Martel beat Jarry for his 19th of the season and just like that it was 3-0.

Still, the Penguins dominated large portions of the middle frame - out shooting Lehigh Valley 21-8 in the second stanza. Thanks to Anthony Stolarz, starting just his 2nd game in the Phantoms' last eight contest, the Phantoms were able to hold the 3-0 lead heading to the third period.

The Pens kept coming in waves in the third period right from the jump, appearing to score their first goal of the night 4:36 into the final frame on a delayed penalty call. Instead, it was reviewed and deemed no goal - giving the Penguins a power play that they wasted no time capitalizing on to cut the Phantoms' lead to 3-1.

Captain Tom Kostopoulos was able to stuff one past Stolarz on the Penguins' 35th shot of the night to get the Penguins on the board. The power play tally was Kostopoulos' 23rd of the season.

There was still plenty of time left for the Penguins with 14:49 still to play in regulation, and the home team was feeling the energy from the sold out crowd - firing the first six shots on net.

Lehigh Valley had a glorious chance to extend their lead to 4-1 and put the game away with another stint of 5-on-3 power play time but were unable to do so, letting their 2nd two-man advantage of the night go by the wayside and keep the Penguins in the game with just under eight minutes left in regulation.

The Phantoms' inability to put the game out of reach led to the Penguins continued pressure.
In fact, on a power play late in the third period a turnover led to things getting very interesting.

The Pens made it a one goal game with just under five minutes to play when Oskar Sundqvist stole a puck and broke in beating Stolarz to the glove side with 4:57 left in regulation for a shorthanded goal that further gave the Penguins momentum heading into the waning moments.

It took a full team effort to close the deal for the Phantoms, as a late penalty saw the game end with a 6-on-4 penalty kill for the black and orange. Luckily for Lehigh Valley, they were able to get it done and keep the Penguins from tying the game - taking two points and getting ready for a flight to Newfoundland, Canada Sunday in advance of two games against the St. John's IceCaps on Tuesday and Wednesday night.



1st Period

6:01: LV - Goulbourne (1) - Fazleev, McCarthy
9:58: WBS - (PP) Haggerty, minor (goaltender interference)
15:22: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (high-sticking)
16:31: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (cross-checking)

2nd Period

4:07: LV - Willcox (3) - McCarthy
4:22: LV - Martel (19) - Morin, Knight
5:22: LV - Bardreau, minor (roughing)
5:22: WBS - Kostopoulos, minor (roughing)
5:54: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (cross-checking)
16:47: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (cross-checking)

3rd Period

4:36: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (hooking)
4:49: WBS - PPG Kostopoulos (23) - Simon, Prow
8:50: WBS - (PP) Stern, minor (hooking)
9:58: WBS - (PP) Archibald, minor (slashing)
14:06: WBS - (PP) DiPauli, minor (tripping)
15:03: WBS - SHG Sundqvist (17) - unassisted
18:20: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (slashing)


Lehigh Valley  1 - 2 - 0 = 3
W-B/Scranton  0 - 0 - 2 = 2


Lehigh Valley  11 - 8 - 10 = 29
W-B/Scranton  10 - 21 - 8 = 39


LV - Anthony Stolarz (37 saves - 39 shots)
WBS - Tristan Jarry (26 saves - 39 shots)

Power Play

LV: 0-for-6
WBS: 1-for-4

Penalty Kill

LV: 3-for-4
WBS: 6-for-6

Attendance: 8,175


Post a Comment