Leier, Lyon Lead Lehigh Valley Past Penguins

Thursday, April 13, 2017
Taylor Leier's game-tying goal in third period forced game into overtime and clinched Lehigh Valley a spot in 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms' win clinches Flyers' AHL affiliate's first postseason berth since 2009

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

WILKES-BARRE - For the first time since 2009, the Philadelphia Flyers' top minor league affiliate will appear in the Calder Cup Playoffs - the first time since the AHL franchise relocated to downtown Allentown for the 2014-15 season - following a thrilling 2-1 shootout win over rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday night.

The Penguins had shut out the Phantoms the past three meetings, and held a 1-0 lead on Lehigh Valley in the third period before Taylor Leier ended the shutout streak at 268 minutes and 49 seconds, tying the game, forcing overtime and as a result clinching the Phantoms a playoff berth.

It was Corban Knight playing the role of hero in the shootout, tallying the lone goal to lift Lehigh Valley to the win. Knight is now 2-for-2 in shootouts this season. Both of his shootout goals are game winners.

Alex Lyon said it was a very bizarre night and the first time he was ever in that kind of a situation, entering the game just 92 seconds into action after Anthony Stolarz sustained a lower body injury on the second shift of the hockey game. Lyon came in and didn't skip a beat, stopping all but one of the 34 shots he faced while also stopping all three Penguins' shooters in the shootout.

Phantoms' Playoff Update

With the shootout win, the Phantoms clinched a 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs berth. Their new magic number relates to clinching the second seed in the Atlantic Division for home ice advantage in the first round, and Lehigh Valley needs any combination of two points in their final two games this weekend to do it.

Potential first round preview Friday when Providence comes to town. The PBruins lost in regulation Wednesday night to Springfield, and still need two points to clinch a playoff spot. They currently sit two points behind Lehigh Valley in third place in the Atlantic Division.

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 - Corban Knight - Cole Bardreau
Danick Martel - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Mark Zengerle - Radel Fazleev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel 
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox 
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg - Max Lamarche 
Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon
Scratches: Mark Alt, Will O'Neill, Mark Friedman, Boyd Gordon, Tyrell Goulbourne and Steven Swavely


It was an action-packed start to Wednesday night's contest for Lehigh Valley, but not because they were scoring goals or allowing them.

Sam Morin retrieved a puck behind his net on the second shift of the game and was hit up high by Garrett Wilson - the Penguins' forward Morin received a two-game suspension for hitting from behind almost two months ago.

Wilson missed 16 games due to a shoulder injury from the hit, and was looking for revenge - dropping the gloves and starting a fight with Morin. For the first time in his Lehigh Valley career, it looked like Morin was trying to avoid a fighting major 38 seconds into the contest although he eventually dropped the gloves.

On the next shift, Anthony Stolarz had to be helped off the ice - putting no weight on his left leg after an apparent knee injury he sustained attempting to slide from his right to left. It appeared his left leg got caught awkwardly underneath him. Alex Lyon came into the game just 92 seconds in, and Stolarz did not return to the bench for the rest of the contest.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had the better chances and sustained pressure in the opening 20 minutes, but the two teams headed to the first intermission scoreless after a strong effort by the Phantoms' penalty kill in negating Morin's double-minor high-sticking penalty in the final 4:05 of the first frame.

The Penguins continued to force the issue in the second period, racking up a 7-1 shots advantage in the period in the early stages of the middle frame. Things seemed to open up a bit in the period as a whole, with both teams exchanging rushes up ice and playing with much better pace than the opening period.

Still, the game's first goal was yet to be had.

Lehigh Valley started to generate some consistent offensive pressure in the second half of the period, registering six of the final 10 shots in the middle frame and nearly taking the 1-0 lead when a scramble in Casey DeSmith's crease saw the puck go up and land on top of the net before falling off the back and landing behind the net.

The Phantoms really turned things up a gear in the third period, playing their best hockey of the night in the opening minutes before finding themselves trailing 1-0. 

Dominik Simon's rebound goal off a shot from Teddy Blueger gave the Penguins the lead, but Lehigh Valley continued to force the issue - scoring their first goal against the Penguins in 268 minutes and 49 seconds to tie the game at 1-1.

On a play similar to the Penguins' goal, it was Taylor Leier beating DeSmith on a rebound put back to get the Phantoms on the board with 6:49 left in regulation. Max Lamarche and Colin McDonald added assists on the game-tying and eventual playoff-clinching goal as the game headed to overtime tied at 1-1.

There was a ton action in the three-on-three overtime as both teams had legitmate chances to end the game before the shootout. In the waning seconds, Lyon tried to flip a puck up the middle to spring his team on a rush the other way but the puck was picked off by the Penguins and they nearly scored on the ensuing rush of their own.

In the shootout, Corban Knight's second round goal was the lone tally - giving the Phantoms two points and inching them closer to clinching home ice advantage in the first round. They can do so with a win Friday against Providence, or any combination of two standings points in their final two games of the regular season this weekend.



1st Period

0:38: WBS - Wilson, major (fighting)
0:38: LV - Morin, major (fighting)
3:46: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (tripping)
10:38: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (slashing)
15:55: LV - (PP) Morin, double-minor (high-sticking)

2nd Period

No scoring/penalties

3rd Period

5:10: WBS - Simon (15) - Blueger, Dea
13:11: LV - Leier (12) - Lamarche, McDonald


No scoring/penalties



Brennan - no goal
Knight - GOAL


Aston-Reese - no goal
Kostopoulos - no goal
Sundqvist - no goal


Lehigh Valley  0 - 0 - 1 - 0 = 2 (SO)
W-B/Scranton   0 - 0 - 1 - 0 = 1


Lehigh Valley   9 - 7 - 16 - 2 = 35
W-B/Scranton   13 - 11 - 8 - 3 = 35


LV - Anthony Stolarz (1 save - 1 shot in 1:32 of game play) Alex Lyon (33 saves - 34 shots)
WBS - Casey DeSmith (33 saves - 34 shots)

Power Play

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

Penalty Kill

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

Attendance: 5,013


Anthony Stolarz (1 save - 1 shot) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley Wednesday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Alex Lyon (33 saves - 34 shots) served as the team's backup goaltender, but was thrust into action just 1:32 into the game after Stolarz hyperextended his left leg - needed to be helped off. Stolarz never returned and was seen with crutches exiting the Phantoms' locker room after the game.

With Stolarz reassigned by Philadelphia, Martin Ouellette was returned to Reading (ECHL) to help the Royals in the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs. The injury will likely bring Ouellette back up to Lehigh Valley.

A change on defense as Mark Alt sat out of tonight's game. Mark Friedman has been a regular participant in the team's warmup skate on game days, but he has yet to make his pro debut to date.

Steven Swavely was called up prior to Wednesday night's game, serving as a healthy scratch against the Penguins.


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