Every Monday, GNGHockey will recap the past week for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Here is everything that happened for the week of Dec. 4…
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (15-8-1-2, 33 points, 4th in Atlantic)
Wednesday, Dec. 6th – vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (5-0 win)
The Phantoms looked to come out strong against their archrival in the fifth game of their current six-game home stand. They would look to bounce back after a devastating overtime loss to Laval that saw them give up the game-tying goal late in the third. The Penguins got seven shots in just over four minutes to start, but Dustin Tokarski stood tall. The Phantoms got a power play shortly after, but were unable to convert, as the man advantage play for the team remains ice cold.
Just past the halfway mark of the first, the Phantoms got two goals in about one minute to take a lead that they would not relinquish. With time winding down, Oskar Lindblom got Lehigh Valley their third goal of the night off a great feed from Corban Knight on a 2-on-1. Three minutes into the second, the Phantoms were on the penalty kill, but Tyrell Goulbourne scored shorthanded 30 seconds later to extend the lead to 4-0. That would end the night for Wilkes/Barre Scranton goaltender Anthony Peters, who was pulled for Sean Maguire after stopping just 15 of 19 shots.
The Phantoms tacked on one more from Matt Read with just under seven minutes to play in the third. Lehigh Valley cruised to a win with Tokarski earning a shutout against a strong divisional opponent. It’s something to build on while Alex Lyon is up with the Flyers.
The penalty kill, which has struggled for most of the year so far, has now killed 20 straight.
Friday, Dec. 8th, 2017 – vs. Hershey Bears (5-4 win)
The Phantoms headed into the last game of their home stand boasting a 3-1-0-1 record, with all three wins coming against divisional opponents. Last game, they blew out rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with Philippe Myers, Samuel Morin, and Reece Willcox injured and Mark Alt, T.J.Brennan, and starting goaltender Alex Lyon with the Flyers. Needless to say, it would be considered a successful stretch, even with a loss Friday night. But the Phantoms wanted to put a cherry on top.
Four minutes in, Tyrell Goulbourne scored his third goal in four games to put the Phantoms up 1-0. With three minutes left in the first period, the Bears got on the on the board with a goal from John Albert. Lehigh Valley retook the lead about two minutes later when Adam Comrie put one past Pheonix Copley from the circle, ending the first period with the Phantoms up 2-1.
Early in the second, Mike Vecchione scored an absolute beauty of a goal when he originally appeared to have held on to the puck for way too long on a 2-on-1. Down by the goal line, Vecchione roofed it over Copley’s shoulder to put the Phantoms up 3-1 and end Copley’s night. For the second straight game, Lehigh Valley chased their opponent’s goaltender out of the net. The Phantoms failed to convert on two power plays in the second period, but kept Hershey shotless for the first 14 minutes of the period. After killing off a penalty, Phil Varone scored off a nice centering pass from Nic Aube-Kubel to give Lehigh Valley a commanding 4-1 lead. Greg Carey scored Phantoms’ fourth unanswered goal 1:24 into the third to put them up 5-1. Hershey tried to claw their way back into the game with a third period rally, but the Phantoms lead was insurmountable. Lehigh Valley won the game, 5-4.
Brennan was returned from the Flyers prior to the game, but sat due to Lehigh Valley being up against the veteran cap. The penalty kill extended their streak to 23 straight kills.
Saturday, Dec. 9th, 2017 – at Hershey Bears (4-2 loss)
The Phantoms were right back in action against the Bears, this time in their opposition’s building.
Lehigh Valley was late getting to the rink due to the snow, which caused the game to be delayed 15 minutes. Dustin Tokarski got the start again in net, with T.J. Brennan and Reece Willcox making their returns to the lineup. The Phantoms were given a gift early on when the Bears were called for both tripping and a delay of game within two minutes of puck drop. This led to a 5-on-3 advantage, but the Phantoms struggling power play yet again did not seize the opportunity.
It would come back to bite them. Lehigh Valley was called on back-to-back penalties of their own, and the Bears didn’t let their chances slip so easily. On the second power play, they converted, taking a 1-0 lead off a weird bounce that ended up on Lucas Johansen’s stick in front of Tokarski. The Phantoms’ penalty kill streak ended at 24-straight kills. Danick Martel had a grade-A opportunity with three minutes left, but Lehigh Valley ended the period scoreless.
Five minutes into the second period, Chris Bourque put the Bears on the board again when Tokarski let a big rebound into the slot. Shots from the point have not been his strong suit this season. With time winding down in the second, Hershey’s Jonas Siegenthaler threw a cheap hit from behind on Mike Vecchione that put him face-first into the boards. Nic Aube-Kubel took exception to that, and dropped the gloves.
The second period ended with the Phantoms down 2-0, but winning the shots battle 16-9. Oskar Lindblom got an early goal for the Phantoms in the third; when Bears’ goaltender Vitek Vanecek punched a rebound to him right in the slot. Lindblom capitalized on the chance.
Hershey, however, struck right back, with Garrett Mitchell scoring off another bounce similar to the Bears’ first of the night. Mikhail Vorobyev answered just under a minute later to bring the Phantoms back within one. But Tyler Graovac scored halfway through the third to put the game out of reach. The Bears took this one 4-2.
The Phantoms’ penalty kill lost their streak, but were still killed off four-of-five penalties on the night. Tokarski had some terrible luck, as two of Hershey’s four goals came off bad bounces. Vecchione appeared to be wincing after the hit from Siegenthaler. It would be a huge loss for the Phantoms if Vecchione were to miss time.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Tuesday, 12/12 at Charlotte Checkers; Wednesday, 12/13 at Charlotte Checkers; Saturday, 12/16 vs. Syracuse Crunch; Sunday, 12/17 at Bridgeport Sound Tigers