If this St. Patrick’s Day matchup doesn’t scream “rivalry,” I don’t know what does.
This game was an important one for both teams. For the green-wearing Phantoms, a win would mean they would be 2 points closer to the Penguins, who lead the Atlantic Division. As for the Penguins, a win would mean adding another 2 points to stay away from the rest of the division.
The game began with a penalty committed by Sahir Gill for hooking at 4:18. This caused a wrist shot goal from the slot scored by Maxim Lamarche assisted from by Mark Zengerle and Travis Sanheim with 7 seconds remaining in the power play for a 1-0 lead. Just minutes later, a turnover by the Penguins resulted in a shot on goal that Tristian Jarry had to save with a glove while sliding laterally. Although a goal was scored, the game seemed very uneventful during the 1st with the teams mostly being forced to the outside along the boards with the occasional set-up play in the offensive zone. Nonetheless, it was a fast-paced game up and down the ice with both sides taking shots mostly on the rush and plenty of blocked shots.
After an extended amount of time in the offensive zone at the end of the period, Corban Knight took a one-timer that hit the crossbar. This resulted in a quick net-front battle until the puck squeezed out and the Penguins could finally clear it.
The 2nd period began with a couple of great scoring chances by the Penguins about 5 minutes in. First, there was a centered puck that didn’t get all the way through, and then there was a rebound opportunity that was slowly cleared by the Phantoms. Just minutes later, Kevin Porter whiffed on a centering pass just in front of the crease as the slot area seemed to open up for both teams.
A slashing penalty by Oskar Sundqvist at 7:49 gave the Phantoms their second power play of the game. The Phantoms then gave up a shorthanded goal that was scored by Josh Archibald with the assist from Teddy Blueger. With the game tied at 1, Maxim Lamarche took an interference penalty a minute later for a short 4-on-4 until Sundqvist got out of the box for a Penguins power play. It was killed by the Phantoms.
The Penguins first lead of the game came with just under 6 minutes left in the period off the stick of Ryan Haggerty. Haggerty received a bank pass behind the net from Frank Corrado that he could not settle down, and his shot was a knuckler at Alex Lyon. The puck went off Lyon’s back and into the net.
Cole Bardreau set the tone of the 3rd with a couple hits to try and boost his teammates’ play.
The first half of the period went quickly as it was again back-and-forth and up-and-down the ice until Tom Kostopoulos scored off the faceoff on a pass from centerman Kevin Porter at 10:27 to put the Penguins ahead 3-1.
A boarding penalty committed by Kevin Porter with 4 minutes remaining sent the Phantoms on the power play. They eventually pulled Alex Lyon for a 6-on-4, but it was not enough for them to pull within 1. The Penguins eventually were able to win a neutral zone faceoff, where Dominik Simon was able to bury the empty netter as the final stake in the coffin for the Phantoms was placed.
FINAL: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-1
SHOTS: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins 32-30
- The Phantoms were in for a hard time on the Powerplay against the Penguins, who lead the league in PK%, fending off 86% of their offenses.
- After 4 consecutive games with points, the 2nd place Phantoms (82 points) were looking to catch up to the WBS Penguins who have 85 points and are gaining ground in the Atlantic Division.
- Alex Lyon made his 3rd consecutive start after 2 wins and an overtime loss in his previous game against the Syracuse Crunch.
- The Penguins PK was once again effective against their opponent as the Phantoms went 1/3 on the power play
- Anthony Stolarz will likely have the net for the Phantoms Saturday as the Phantoms will hope to play a better game than on Friday. Alex Lyon said, “I don’t think we were alternating, I think it just worked out that way.” It seems like Scott Gordon will be riding the hot hand until it gets cold during their battle for first place in the Atlantic.
The Phantoms and Penguins will face off on Saturday again, but this time it will be in Wilkes Barre. The Phantoms will hope to beat the Penguins in regulation to make up the lost ground from Friday’s loss.
Phantoms Coach Scott Gordon said, “We’ve got to get back to simplifying some things, build some momentum, get the other team on their heels, and we didn’t do that.” That realization is one of the most crucial thoughts the Phantoms need to bounce back on Saturday night.
The next scheduled Phantoms game for GNGHockey will be March 31 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Andrew Ostrosky is a writer and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms reporter for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @HockeyGuyFromSL.