Aube-Kubel (12th) and Huntebrinker (2nd) Score for Phantoms
February 23, 2019
Charlotte, N.C. – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms looked for another dramatic third-period comeback on Saturday night at Charlotte but a late goal that was negated by the officials helped boost the host Charlotte Checkers to a 5-2 win.
Carsen Twarynski thought he had scored with 9:58 remaining to potentially cut the lead down to 4-3. He fired the puck into the back of the net on a rebound from close range during a delayed penalty against the Checkers but the lamplighter was immediately washed out by the official who potentially deemed that Charlotte may have regained possession at some point in the sequence.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (12th) and Mike Huntebrinker (2nd) scored for Lehigh Valley in the road contest while the Checkers benefited from a pair of third-period tallies by Julian Gauthier (6th, 7th) and also received goals by Josiah Didier (2nd), Morgan Geekie (15th) and Andrew Poturalski (19th).
Mike McKenna took the loss for the Phantoms while turning aside 26 shots. Alex Nedeljkovic recorded his league-leading 26th win of the season with 28 denials including several big stops in the third to thwart the comeback efforts of the Phantoms.
Rookie forward Pascal Laberge made his season debut. The 20-year-old prospect has been rehabbing all season following his hip surgery in September and was finally ready to get into the lineup this weekend.
Didier’s goal on a pick-off at the high-slot was sniped to the upper-left corner less than 6:00 into the game to provide Charlotte a 1-0 lead.
Aube-Kubel scored close-range after an intercept at the blue-line by Connor Bunnaman who promptly connected down low for the momentum-lift into the locker room on the score with just 12.7 seconds left in the first period for a 1-1 tie.
Charlotte scored a pair in the second period. From the left of the cage, Potuarlski flipped a puck over the right pad of a sprawled McKenna that bounced to the line but was pulled out on the stick of the Phantoms goaltender on what appeared to be a miraculous save. But video-review confirmed that the puck had indeed barely crossed the line for a 3-1 lead for the Checkers.
Gauthier scored early in the third for a 4-1 lead but the Phantoms quickly struck back with 13:00 remaining when Huntebrinker pounced on the rebound of a Reece Willcox shot following a nice pass across from Mike Vecchione. The Huntebrinker goal pulled the Phantoms to within two that almost became one on the Twarynski shot into the net that didn’t count.
The Phantoms shortly thereafter went on an extended 5-on-3 power play for a 1:52 but several key locks from Charlotte defenders helped erase the best chance for Lehigh Valley to cut into the lead further.
Gauthier scored in the last minute of the game on a delayed penalty to provide for the 5-2 final score.
Charlotte out shot the Phantoms 31-30 but Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms continued their penalty kill success and held the Checkers to 0-for-3 on the power play. Lehigh Valley is first out of 31 teams on the penalty kill. The Phantoms were 0-for-3 on their power-play attempts.
Shortly before the game, it was announced that Corban Knight had received a promotion to the Philadelphia Flyers. Knight had six points in just four games since arriving to the Phantoms a couple weeks ago following shoulder surgery in October.
The Phantoms return to action next Friday night at the Syracuse Crunch. The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Saturday, March 2 against the Utica Comets on Game Show Night. Then on Sunday, March 3 in a 3:05 p.m. start it will be Youth Jersey Day for the first 2,000 kids age 14 and younger. Tickets are available at PPLCenter.com
Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 at Charlotte Checkers 5 – Status: Final
Saturday, February 23, 2019 – Bojangles’ Coliseum
Lehigh Valley 1 0 1 – 2
Charlotte 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Didier 2 5:31. 2, Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel 12 (Bunnaman), 19:47. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Geekie 15 (Nastasiuk, Kuokkanen), 8:10. 4, Charlotte, Poturalski 19 15:35. Penalties-Froese Lv (hooking), 5:17; Brennan Lv (slashing), 16:34.
3rd Period-5, Charlotte, Gauthier 16 (Didier, Lorentz), 3:04. 6, Lehigh Valley, Huntebrinker 2 (Willcox, Vecchione), 7:03. 7, Charlotte, Gauthier 17 (Geekie, Lorentz), 19:16. Penalties-Schilkey Cha (slashing), 10:02; Fleury Cha (tripping), 10:11; Aube-Kubel Lv (roughing), 16:19; Brennan Lv (cross-checking), 16:19; Bishop Cha (roughing), 16:19; Pu Cha (slashing), 19:55.
Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 13-5-12-30. Charlotte 8-14-9-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 0 / 3; Charlotte 0 / 3.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, McKenna 5-5-0 (31 shots-26 saves). Charlotte, Nedeljkovic 26-6-4 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Sean Fernandez (72), Jeremy Tufts (78).
Linesmen-Paul Carnathan (93), Terry Wicklum (58).