Bears Escape Lehigh Valley With OT Win

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Colin McDonald re-directs Sam Morin's point shot past Pheonix Copley to give Phantoms a 2-1 lead 8:34 into third period. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms come up short in overtime against rival Hershey

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - While tonight's overtime loss to the Hershey Bears only provides one point in the standings for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (44-22-5), the past two games against their bitter Atlantic Division rival has seen a stark change in the way the team has played.

"It's been night and day different," head coach Scott Gordon said of the team's last two games against Hershey compared to last Friday and Saturday's dreadful efforts in back-to-back regulation losses. "And to get 3 out 4 possible points against a desperate team like that?" Gordon added.

The Phantoms did indeed control large portions of the contest tonight despite not taking their first lead until about eight and a half minutes into the third period. In the end, a Hershey Bears team fighting for its playoff lives - currently in 5th place in the division - found a way to get it done during the 3-on-3.

The standings point is still important, as Lehigh Valley reduced their magic number to five points to clinch the Flyers' AHL affiliate's first playoff berth in the last eight seasons. A pair of home contests this weekend against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield gives the Phantoms more opportunity to chip away at their magic number. Remember also that the magic number is also reduced when the 5th place team's max potential points is lowered.

Full recap of tonight's action after the jump. Post-game interviews will be uploaded and added shortly on our YouTube channel

Phantoms' Playoff Update - Atlantic Division Standings through 4/5's games:
X - WBS (98 points, 6 games remaining)
LV (92, 5 GR)
PRO (91, 6 GR)
BST (90, 5GR)
HER (89, 4GR)
SPR (69, 5GR)
HFD (52, 6GR)
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 5 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

Phantoms' Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

T.J. Brennan - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Max Lamarche

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette

Scratches: Will O'Neill (upper body since Mar 11), Radel Fazleev (healthy), Chris McCarthy (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body since Feb 8th) and Mark Friedman (healthy)


The Phantoms found themselves shorthanded on the game's opening shift Wednesday night against Hershey. As the Bears won the opening face-off and were setting up a point shot, Robert Hagg attempted to box out a Bears forward cutting to the net looking for a rebound and was whistled for interference just 17 seconds into the contest.

Lehigh Valley was able to kill of Hagg's minor penalty, but the early penalty gave the Bears some momentum in the opening minutes as they enjoyed a 5-2 edge in shots.

As the period wore on, however, the Phantoms started to get to their game and were breaking the puck up ice - connecting on some stretch passes to create odd-man rush opportunities.

On one particular play with just over half the opening period remaining, Mark Zengerle nearly took a floating stretch pass up the middle cleanly - sneaking behind the Bears defense on a mini-breakaway on Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley. Unfortunately, the puck was on edge and Zengerle couldn't get a clean shot off, instead swatting at a puck and aiming for the five-hole where Chris Conner tallied a hat trick on Sunday.
The Phantoms continued to pressure on the attack in the second half of the period, turning a once 5-2 deficit in the shots column into a 9-5 advantage heading into the final minutes before the first intermission.

In fact, Lehigh Valley held the Bears without a shot for nearly 14 minutes. A point shot was gloved by Lyon with 1:03 left in the first period, giving Hershey its first shot since some early chances on the game's opening shifts.

An offensive zone face-off win by Travis Boyd, however, ended up giving Hershey a 1-0 lead with exactly a minute left to play in the period. Boyd's face-off went over to Jakub Vrana in the left-wing face-off circle. Vrana's quick shot was stopped by Lyon, but the rebound darted right out in front to Liam O'Brien who quickly put in the rebound for his 10th goal of the season to give Hershey a one-goal lead heading into the middle frame.
It was a sloppy start to the middle frame for Lehigh Valley, turning pucks over in their own zone during the first few shifts of the period. Then, Bears enforcer Liam O'Brien slew-footed Phantoms leading goal scorer Greg Carey along the left-wing boards - giving the Phantoms a an early 2nd period power play.

The Phantoms cashed in on their second man advantage of the night, tying the game at 1-1 at the 3:14 mark after Travis Sanheim got a puck across to Scott Laughton at the left-wing circle. Laughton collected the pass & wound up for a slap pass to Taylor Leier at the top of the crease, and Leier was able to tip one in past Copley for his 11th of the season.
From there, Lehigh Valley was downright dominating Hershey in large portions of the period despite taking a pair of penalties themselves and being shorthanded for four minutes.

The relentless Phantoms' attack generated 17 shots in the middle frame. If not for some big time stops by Copley, the Bears would have been heading to the third period trailing the Phantoms. Instead, the two teams headed to the second intermission deadlocked at 1-1.

Hershey began the final frame with some push back after the Phantoms were dominant in large portions of the middle frame. It didn't take long though for Lehigh Valley to get back on their horse and continue to work the Bears in the offensive zone with consistent offensive pressure.

It felt like it was only a matter of time until the Phantoms, who heading into the third period hadn't had a lead of their own in the game, would go on top.

That moment came 8:34 into the period after Leier got a puck to the left point for Sam Morin. Morin fired a low, hard shot that found its way past Copley by way of a Colin McDonald screen in front to give the Phantoms their first lead of the night. McDonald's 24th of the season came just days after scoring an NHL goal in his first game up with the Flyers this season. The captain has been known to score a timely goal for the Phantoms throughout the season, leading by example.
Again, credit to Hershey for sticking around and making it a game - getting a timely goal from Riley Barber with 6:13 left to tie the game back up at 2-2 despite the Phantoms controlling large portions of the game.

In fact, Hershey had several good scoring chances in the final frame - a team with their proverbial backs against the wall in a near must-win game to keep any playoff hopes realistic. The Bears out shot the Phantoms 10-3 in the third period and Barber's game-tying goal forced overtime.

In the extra session, an early offside play that was clearly the incorrect call was argued by Phantoms' assistant captain Andy Miele - who by wearing a letter on his jersey is allowed to talk to officials after whistles. The officials didn't take kindly to Miele's verbal abuse, ejecting him from the game 36 seconds into overtime on a ten-minute misconduct.

After back and forth action in the first half of OT, it was noted Phantoms' killer Travis Boyd notching the game-winning goal with 1:19 left before a tie-breaking shootout was to commence. The puck hit the back of the net and popped out so quickly it needed a review to confirm, but the goal stood (it was called a good goal on the ice live as well) and gave the Bears a fighting chance in the Atlantic Division playoff race.


Defenseman Sam Morin on his NHL debut with Flyers Tuesday, his busy last six days & more on our YouTube channel:


1st Period

0:17: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (interference)
12:42: HER - (PP) Walker, minor (holding)
13:15: LV - (PP) Carey, minor (tripping)
19:00: HER - O'Brien (10) - Vrana, Boyd

2nd Period

2:10: HER - (PP) O'Brien, minor (tripping)
3:14: LV - PPG Leier (11) - Laughton, Sanheim
7:41: LV - (PP) Lamarche, minor (hooking)
10:44: LV - (PP) Aube-Kubel, minor (cross-checking)

3rd Period

8:34: LV - McDonald (24) - Morin, Leier
13:47: HER - Barber (12) - Gilbert, Djoos


0:36: LV - Miele, ten-minute misconduct (abuse of officials)
3:41: HER - Boyd (16) - Barber


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


Lehigh Valley   9 - 17 - 3 - 1= 30
Hershey Bears  9 - 7 - 10 - 3 = 29


LV - Alex Lyon (26 saves - 29 shots)
HER - Pheonix Copley (28 saves - 30 shots)

Power Play

LV: 1-for-2
HER: 0-for-4

Penalty Kill

LV: 4-for-4
HER: 1-for-2



Alex Lyon (26 saves - 29 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley against Hershey Wednesday night. Martin Ouellette served as the team's backup goaltender.

Fresh off his NHL debut, Sam Morin was returned to Lehigh Valley prior to Wednesday night's game along with team captain Colin McDonald. Both were in the Phantoms' lineup.

Cole Bardreau shifted from wing to the fourth line center position in Lehigh Valley's lineup, making it Radel Fazleev's turn to sit as the team's healthy scratch at forward along with Chris McCarthy. Both Mark Zengerle and Nicolas Aube-Kubel had been designated as a healthy scratch in recent games as well as the rotation in the bottom-six continues to be rotated.

Mark Friedman has yet to make his pro debut with Lehigh Valley after joining the team two weeks ago on an amateur tryout contract. Last weekend, he participated in his first AHL warmup skate prior to last Saturday night's game in Wilkes-Barre - sitting out as a healthy scratch. He also took the warmup skate Sunday in Hershey.


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