Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Claims Season Finale at PPL Center
April 19, 2015
Lehigh Valley, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms capped their Inaugural Season of play at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown Sunday evening in front of 8,689 rabid supporters. The contest, which was claimed 5-1 by the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, marked the 22nd standing room-only sellout through 38 home contests in Lehigh Valley’s first season of play in the state-of-the-art arena.
In all, 310,199 total fans enjoyed Phantoms hockey at PPL Center throughout the 2014-2015 season leaving Lehigh Valley with the fourth-highest average attendance (8,163 fans/game) in the 30-team AHL. Sunday’s crowd was the 13th-largest enjoyed by the Phantoms this season as Lehigh Valley finished the year 12-8-2 when skating in front of capacity crowds in downtown Allentown.
All told, the Phantoms finished the year 17-15-5-1 at home and 33-35-7-1 overall.
Oliver Lauridsen accounted for the Phantoms lone goal Sunday evening as the fourth-year pro established a new career high with four goals in a season.
Neither Nick Cousins nor Jason Akeson were able to produce a point in the season’s final outing leaving Cousins as Lehigh Valley’s leading scorer through the 2014-15 campaign with 56 total points. The youngest skater to lead the Phantoms in scoring since Akeson during the 2011-12 campaign, Cousins also paced the Phantoms this year with 34 assists. Meanwhile, after leading the team in scoring in each of the last three seasons, Akeson finished second on the squad with 53 points but did pace all Lehigh Valley skaters with 23 total goals.
Sean Escobedo led the offensive effort for the Penguins Sunday evening with a goal and two assists while Carter Rowney and Conor Sheary chipped in a pair of assists each for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Through 12 games against its in-state rivals, Lehigh Valley finished 5-6-1 against the Penguins this year.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game when, in the midst of a two-man advantage, Danny Syvret’s drive from the high slot produced a rebound at the left side of the goal that was promptly punched in by Jean-Sebastien Dea. Sheary earned the secondary assist on Dea’s 10th conversion of the year.
The Penguins doubled their advantage less than a minute later when, just moments after the conclusion of the second of two early Lehigh Valley penalties, Tom Kuhnhackl curned off the right wing wall before driving into the slot and snapping home his 12th goal of the season. Escobedo and Rowney assisted on the even-strength strike netted 4:09 into the opening period.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton extended its lead to a 3-0 advantage less than three minutes into the middle frame when Bobby Farnham went to the backhand just atop the Lehigh Valley goal crease in sending in his seventh goal of the season. The five-on-five tally came 2:56 into the second stanza with Escobedo claiming the lone assist.
The Phantoms remained resilient though and made their first dent on the score sheet just prior to the midway point of the game when Lauridsen executed a dazzling end-to-end rush resulting in his fourth goal of the season. After receiving a cross-ice feed from Robert Hagg, the 6’6″ Lauridsen began galloping up the left wing and, after eluding a Penguins defender at the blue line, he stashed a left-side offering off the pad of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jeff Zatkoff and into the back of the Penguins cage. Hagg and Danick Martel assisted on the even-strength strike netted 9:27 into the second period, which established a new career high for goals in a single season for Lauridsen.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sealed the game though with a pair of third-period conversions. First, Escobedo notched first career AHL marker 1:29 into the final frame off a perfect cross-ice connection on the power play from Rowney. Then, just past the midway point of the third period, Megna buried his 26th goal of the season from Sheary and Josh Archibald.
Zatkoff earned the victory in goal for the Penguins thanks to 32 saves on 35 Phantoms shots. Meanwhile, Rob Zepp was handed the setback despite his fourth straight 30-save performance and ninth such performance over his last 10 starts. In all, Zepp turned aside 30 of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 35 total offerings Sunday evening.
The Penguins finished 2-for-5 on the power play Sunday evening while the Phantoms failed to connect on five man-advantage opportunities of their own.
Check it out! Reserve your season tickets now for the 2015-2016 season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey. For more information on how to reserve your seat at PPL Center to the hottest ticket in town call the Phantoms front office today at 610-224-GOAL (4625)!
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1 – Status: Final
Sunday, April 19, 2015 – PPL Center
W-B/Scranton 2 1 2 – 5
Lehigh Valley 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, W-B/Scranton, Dea 10 (Syvret, Sheary), 3:20 (PP). 2, W-B/Scranton, Kuhnhackl 12 (Escobedo, Rowney), 4:09. Penalties-Laughton Lv (holding), 1:43; Goumas Lv (delay of game – faceoff violation), 2:05; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (roughing), 5:31; Stortini Lv (roughing), 5:31; Boak Wbs (cross-checking), 8:27; Seymour Wbs (elbowing), 15:56; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:03; Rosehill Lv (roughing, roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:03.
2nd Period-3, W-B/Scranton, Farnham 7 (Escobedo), 2:56. 4, Lehigh Valley, Lauridsen 4 (Hagg, Martel), 9:27. Penalties-Lauridsen Lv (slashing), 13:02; Hextall Lv (high-sticking), 20:00.
3rd Period-5, W-B/Scranton, Escobedo 1 (Rowney, Kuhnhackl), 1:29 (PP). 6, W-B/Scranton, Megna 26 (Archibald, Sheary), 10:59. Penalties-Boak Wbs (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:35; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:35; Payerl Wbs (double minor – high-sticking), 11:35; Lauridsen Lv (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:35; Stortini Lv (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:35; Farnham Wbs (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:54; Uher Wbs (goaltender interference), 19:54; Hextall Lv (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:54.
Shots on Goal-W-B/Scranton 18-8-9-35. Lehigh Valley 16-3-14-33.
Power Play Opportunities-W-B/Scranton 2 / 5; Lehigh Valley 0 / 5.
Goalies-W-B/Scranton, Zatkoff 18-14-3 (33 shots-32 saves). Lehigh Valley, Zepp 21-20-1 (35 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Jon McIsaac (45), Garrett Rank (48).
Linesmen-Tom George (61), Ryan Knapp (73).
In their 19th season of operation, the Phantoms are currently in the midst of their Inaugural Season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms playing at the brand-new PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 18 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).