Going The Distance - Phantoms Force Game 5

Saturday, April 29, 2017
Photo: Amanda Statland/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms' 4-1 win over Hershey sends series back to Lehigh Valley

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

HERSHEY - In the American Hockey Leauge's (AHL) 81-year history, there have been 99 five-game series that started with a 2-0 series lead.

Only 21 of those 99 teams down 0-2 had come back and forced a decisive fifth game before the Lehigh Valley Phantoms became the 22nd team to accomplish the feat following Saturday night's 4-1 win over the Hershey Bears in Game Four of the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

Now, the Phantoms are looking to re-write the AHL's history book. Only three times has a team lost the first two games of their best-of-five series on home ice and gone on to turn things around with three straight wins to complete the comeback. Lehigh Valley, with a win Sunday at PPL Center, could become the fourth.

Phantoms' Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

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

Martin Ouellette - Mark Dekanich

Scratches: Carter Hart (healthy), Anthony Stolarz (injured - out for season), Alex Lyon (MCL sprain), Phil Myers (healthy), Will O'Neill (upper body since 3/11), Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy), Radel Fazleev (healthy), Connor Bunnaman (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body since 2/8), Mark Friedman (healthy) and Reece Willcox (healthy)


As the majority of the series has gone, Saturday night's Game 4 was no different in the first period. The Phantoms came out strong, drawing an early power play and applying relentless pressure on Bears' netminder Pheonix Copley.

A bad retaliatory slashing minor on Travis Sanheim turned the tides a little bit in the early part of the period, but a good effort by the Phantoms' penalty kill seemingly got Lehigh Valley back on track.

It wasn't until late in the opening period that the Phantoms took the 1-0 lead, but their body of work in the second half of the period was rewarded.

Andy Miele forced a turnover at the half-wall in the offensive zone, and quickly fed it to Danick Martel who skated atop Copley's crease - going forehand to backhand and tallying his first goal of the postseason.
The Phantoms had momentum, and nearly made it 2-0 before the first intermission. Bears faithful at Giant Center booed their home team off the ice to end the period and rightfully so, being out shot 12-3 and besides a few chances in the first 20 minutes were largely outplayed by a more desperate-looking Phantoms team.

Hershey responded with a much better second period, starting with the opening few shifts of the middle frame.

Despite their strong play to start the period, the Bears found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-on-1 and the Phantoms capitalized to extend their lead to 2-0.

Mark Zengerle picked up a loose puck at the defensive zone blue line and skated up ice 2-on-1 with Sanheim. Zengerle played it perfectly, waiting for the defender to get into Copley's line of sight before shooting a low hard shot over the right pad on a screened shot.

For awhile, the Bears looked down and out - managing just nine shots on goal until late in the period when Chandler Stephenson brought Hershey back into the game on a quick shot past Martin Ouellette to make it a one goal game with 4:59 left before the second intermission.

In fact, the Phantoms were lucky to get it to the intermission with the lead. Hershey, and their crowd, grabbed momentum and were relentless until a late period penalty gave the Phantoms a power play and a chance to breathe.

The story of the season has been the third period for Lehigh Valley, usually needing a comeback in the final frame to pull out a win. Tonight, the Phantoms took their 2-1 lead to the third period and not only held on but added to their lead with a pair of goals from Scott Laughton.

His first tally of the period really sealed the deal for the Phantoms, and it was on a hard-working play - splitting the defense and lifting one over Copley's right shoulder with a defender on his back tugging on his jersey.
Ouellette might not have been a confident goaltender coming into Hershey on Wednesday night, looking behind himself after facing his first shot in Game 3. But the Phantoms' goaltender stood on his head in the last two games - capping the road portion of the first round with 15 saves on 15 shots in the third period of Game 4 Saturday night.

He finished with 57 saves on 59 shots in the two games in Hershey, and was a large part of the team's two wins in the series. Ouellette also got strong play in front of him by his defenders, who put in an overall strong team defensive effort - negating several Bears' chances in the slot with poke checks or blocked shots.

Laughton capped the night for Lehigh Valley in the waning seconds of regulation, netting an empty net goal to complete the 4-1 final score - giving the Phantoms a chance to finish the job and advance to the Atlantic Division Finals.



1st Period

3:25: HER - (PP) Williams, minor (hooking)
5:10: LV - (PP) Sanheim, minor (slashing)
16:51: LV - Martel (1) - Miele

2nd Period

4:25: LV - Zengerle (1) - Sanheim
11:21: HER - (PP) Stephenson, minor (interference)
15:01: HER - Stephenson (1) - Barber, Walker
15:34: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (roughing)
17:56: HER - (PP) Bourque, minor (interference)

3rd Period

4:48: LV - Laughton (1) - Hagg, Sanheim
5:49: LV - Bardreau, minor (high-sticking)
5:49: HER - Labrie, minor (roughing)
12:39: LV - (PP) Zengerle, minor (boarding)
19:48: LV - Laughton (2) - Morin, McDonald


Lehigh Valley 1 - 1 - 2 = 4
Hershey 0 - 1 - 0 = 1


Lehigh Valley  12 - 11 - 15 = 38
Hershey Bears  3 - 10 - 15 = 28


LV - Martin Ouellette (28 saves - 29 shots)
HER - Pheonix Copley (34 saves - 37 shots)

Power Play

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

Penalty Kill

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

Attendance: 8,133


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