A Night of “Firsts” in Lehigh Valley’s 4th Straight Win

First Shutout for Ouellette, First Goal for Willcox, First Point for Lindblom

April 2, 2016

St. John’s, NL, Canada – You never forget your first big achievement at the professional level. Three different Lehigh Valley Phantoms will certainly remember this game for a long time.

Martin Ouellette posted a 31-save masterpiece for his first-ever shutout in the American Hockey League. Newcomer Reece Willcox notched his first-ever goal in just his second pro game while fellow newcomer Oskar Lindblom similarly found the scoresheet for the first time with an assist also coming in just his second game. Led by the historic “firsts” for the trio of young players, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms extended their win-streak to four with a 4-0 victory against the St. John’s IceCaps on Saturday night at Mile One Centre.

Reece Willcox (1st), Tim Brent (8th), Colin McDonald (13th) and Cole Bardreau (12th) provided the offense for Lehigh Valley. McDonald and Bardreau both had two-point nights registering singleton assists to go along with their lamplighters. Lehigh Valley swept the weekend series at St. John’s by a combined 8-1 while extending their current win streak to four in a row.

Photos courtesy Colin Peddle/IceCapsAHL
Photos courtesy Colin Beedle/IceCapsAHL

Ouellette is making the most of his opportunity to serve as the team’s number one goaltender in the absence of Anthony Stolarz (with Philadelphia in the NHL) and Jason LaBarbera (out with injury). The second-year goaltender from the University of Maine has received eight separate call-ups from Reading of the ECHL this season alone but almost every time he has been implemented as a back-up while receiving very little game-action. This is his first chance to receive regular playing time with the Phantoms.

Ouellette had come just a few ticks away from recording the achievement exactly one week ago but Hartford broke up his shutout bid last Saturday with just 15.7 seconds remaining. On this occasionhe was not to be denied in his quest for his historic first-ever blank sheet at the American League level.

Martin Ouellette has been particularly magnificent in his last three games allowing just two goals on 96 shots while recording 94 saves. Posting a 3-0-0 record in the stretch, he boasts a gaudy save percentage of .979 and a microscopic goals-against average of 0.67.

26173094926_35562fed67_zTwo well-known tough guys had a couple early collisions before the Phantoms would kick off the scoring with their three-goal opening frame. Jay Rosehill of the Phantoms and John Scott of the IceCaps looked to flex their muscles at different junctures. Of course, Scott is the media-darling and now-well-known recent NHL All-Star Game MVP whose memorable and unpredictable performance in Nashville came while he was a member of the AHL St. John’s IceCaps.

Lehigh Valley would jump on veteran goalie Ben Scrivens making his St. John’s debut to post three goals on just six shots in the opening period.

Davis Drewise pounced on a turnover in the St. John’s zone and found Colin McDonald who connected cross-ice for rookie defenseman Reece Willcox on the right point. The Cornell University product stepped up to the corner and gunned through a sharp-angle strike on Scrivens for the 1-0 lead. Taylor Leier retrieved the puck that Willcox buried. It was the second consecutive “first goal” for Lehigh Valley; Steven Swavely had capped the previous night’s 4-1 triumph with a long-range empty-netter that was similarly good for his first ever goal at the professional level.

The next “first” would come just a few minutes later. Oskar Lindblom found Chris Conner who strung a centering pass for Tim Brent in the left slot. Brent’s backhander over the glove of Scrivens at 15:50 was good for his eighth goal of the season and was also the spark for the first point in the career of the 19-year-old Lindblom who was credited with the helper.

26106563852_89189442f0_zCole Bardreau found Colin McDonald up the right-wing who was able to dodge around a hard-charging St. John’s defenseman. McDonald’s maneuver resulted in a breakaway which he subsequently buried on a backhander going five-hole through Scrivens. With just over a minute left in the first period, the Phantom enjoyed a 3-0 lead.

From there it was the Martin Ouellette Show. St. John’s enjoyed one power-play opportunity after another but the Lehigh Valley penalty kill remained perfect for the weekend eventually finishing at 11-for-11.

Ouellette was forced to make a number of fine stops throughout the course of the second period while the Phantoms were out shot by the ‘Caps 16-6. Late in the second period, Jay Rosehill received a match penalty for a checking tot he head major that created a five-minute power-play chance for St. John’s at the end of the second and beginning of the third. With the crowd buzzing with anticipation at their team’s chance to climb back into the game, the Phantoms were able to suffocate the IceCaps yet again and help preserve the perfect slate for Ouellette.

On yet another power play for Lehigh Valley, it would be the Phantoms to strike for a shorthanded goal for the second time on the weekend. Cole Bardreau’s interception set up a 2-on-1 with Petr Straka racing away from the Phantoms zone. Bardreau ripped the shot himself from the right circle through the glove of Scrivens with 12:37 to go in the game for a 4-0 advantage. Bardreau’s unassisted and shorthanded goal was his 12th tally of the season and the team’s eighth shortie strike of the year.

St. John’s had a total of 13 minutes of power-play time on five separate man-advantages including the five-minute major yet the Phantoms actually outscored the IceCaps 1-0 in that lengthy stretch of being down a man.

CfExEH-W4AEUs-rSt. John’s out shot the Phantoms 31-23. The IceCaps were limited to 0-for-5 on the power and 0-for-11 on the weekend series. Lehigh Valley finished 0-for-3 on the night. The Phantoms won the season series over the IceCaps by a 3 games to 1 margin for the second season in a row.

The Phantoms return to action on Friday night at Wilkes-Barre renewing their rivalry against the Penguins.

Just three home games remain in the regular season. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms strive for their 12th consecutive sellout when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday, April 9 at PPL Center. A limited number of tickets remain for Saturday’s game and can be secured online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX [8499] or in-person at the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office at PPL Center [701 Hamilton Street].

RISE UP! Reserve your season tickets for the 2016-2017 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)!

Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4 at St. John’s IceCaps 0 – Status: Final
Saturday, April 2, 2016 – Mile One Centre

Lehigh Valley 3 0 1 – 4
St. John’s 0 0 0 – 0

1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Wilcox 1 (McDonald, Drewiske), 10:50. 2, Lehigh Valley, Brent 8 (Conner, Lindblom), 15:50. 3, Lehigh Valley, McDonald 13 (Bardreau), 18:55. Penalties-Padakin Lv (hooking), 19:50.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Padakin Lv (hooking), 6:37; Johnston Stj (hooking), 9:00; Rosehill Lv (match – check to the head), 18:03.

3rd Period-4, Lehigh Valley, Bardreau 12 8:23 (SH). Penalties-Martel Lv (high-sticking), 3:17; Leier Lv (slashing), 7:16; Scrivens Stj (interference), 15:29; Gregoire Stj (cross-checking), 19:47.

Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 6-6-11-23. St. John’s 7-16-8-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 0 / 3; St. John’s 0 / 5.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, Ouellette 4-3-0 (31 shots-31 saves). St. John’s, Scrivens 2-7-0 (23 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Alex Garon (64), Ben Moser (3).
Linesmen-Joe Maynard (24), Jim Vail (75).

Upcoming Home Games:

Saturday, April 9, 2016, Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
(Faith Night. Canned Food Drive presented by Giant Foods.)

Friday, April 15, 2016, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday, April 17, 2016, Syracuse Crunch vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 5:05 p.m.

In the midst of their 20th season of operation, the Phantoms are coming off 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 in Philadelphia 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 19 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).