Akeson’s Turn as Overtime Hero at PPL Center

Phantoms Down Bridgeport 2-1 Amidst Fourth Straight Sellout

March 6, 2015

Lehigh Valley, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms sure do have a flair for the dramatic.

Less than one week after Brandon Manning served up the overtime winner in a 3-2 triumph over the Binghamton Senators, it was Jason Akeson’s turn Friday evening as Lehigh Valley skated to a 2-1 overtime victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of 8,706 fans at PPL Center. With 19 post-regulation decisions this season, the Phantoms are now tied with the Oklahoma City Barons for the second-most overtime/shootout decisions in the entire AHL.

With Friday’s overtime win, the Phantoms improved to 7-6 in overtime this year and are now 12-7 overall in games decided beyond regulation time. Lehigh Valley has now seen seven of its last 10 games overall decided in either overtime or shootout and is 5-2 during that recent stretch of dramatic finishes.

P0306_0570Friday’s thrilling conclusion came in front of yet another standing room-only sellout at PPL Center. It was the 16th sellout overall for the Phantoms this season and the fourth straight capacity crowd generated by the loyal fans of the Lehigh Valley. With the win, the Phantoms improved to 11-4-1 in PPL Center sellouts this year.

Akeson ended things with his team-leading 18th goal of the season while Brett Hextall notched the Phantoms’ only conversion in regulation time. Dustin Jeffery managed the only conversion for the Sound Tigers with his 18th goal of the year.

While Akeson and Hextall provided the offense for Lehigh Valley, it was Rob Zepp who provided the defense at the other end with 26 saves on 27 Bridgeport shots en route to his 15th win of the season. Sound Tigers’ goaltender Kevin Poulin suffered the overtime defeat despite 25 total saves.

The Phantoms are now 26-23-6-1 overall this season and 14-9-4-1 at PPL Center. With 59 standings points, Lehigh Valley remains nine points back of Providence for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three games-in-hand on the Bruins.

P0306_0291The first period was a special teams-dominated frame as the Phantoms and Sound Tigers combined for four power play opportunities in the opening 20 minutes. Lehigh Valley enjoyed three of those man-advantage chances following three consecutive Bridgeport infractions in the final 12 minutes of the first period. As a result of those power play chances, the Phantoms produced the frame’s final seven shots as Lehigh Valley doubled up the Sound Tigers in shots 8 to 4 in the period. Zepp turned aside each of Bridgeport’s four early offerings while Poulin answered the Phantoms’ eight shots.

Lehigh Valley didn’t allow the game to stay scoreless in the second period for long though. The Phantoms opened the scoring just over two minutes into the middle stanza when a perfectly executed forecheck resulted in Hextall’s fifth goal of the season. The sequence began when Steven Delisle gathered a loose puck at center ice and chipped it into the right corner of the Bridgeport end. Austin Fyten then finished his hit in the corner freeing the puck for Jay Rosehill behind the net who lifted a pass into the slot for Hextall who made no mistake in snapping in his second goal over the last three games. The conversion was also Hextall’s second goal this season against Bridgeport after the 26-year-old winger recorded the Teddy Bear Toss tally as part of a 3-2 shootout setback against the Sound Tigers at PPL Center on December 6th.

Rosehill and Delisle assisted on the five-on-five conversion netted 2:18 into the second period. The goal marked the 30th time this season that Lehigh Valley has generated the game’s first goal as the Phantoms improved to 18-8-3-1 when scoring first this year.

P0306_0359Bridgeport leveled the contest just past the midway point of the third period when, just as the Sound Tigers’ third power play of the evening came to an end, Jeffrey pounced on a loose puck amidst a goal-mouth scramble before sending in his 18th conversion of the year. Alan Quine and Ryan Pulock assisted on the even-strength strike netted 10:56 into the third period that snapped a goalless streak of 192:39 for the Sound Tigers.

And even though it would take an additional 48 seconds beyond regulation time, Lehigh Valley would have the final say Saturday evening as Akeson launched the game-winning slap shot from the high slot that rattled off the crossbar en route to the back of the Bridgeport cage. Brandon Manning and Nick Cousins assisted on Akeson’s second game-winning strike this year. With the primary assist, Manning notched his 15th point over the last 12 games as the All-Star blueliner has amassed three goals and 12 assists over the last dozen games. Meanwhile, Cousins increased his team-leading point total to 49 points on the year.

The game-winning conversion was the only special teams tally in the game as Lehigh Valley’s power play went 1-for-5 while Bridgeport’s man-advantage was held scoreless in three opportunities. The Phantoms’ penalty kill has now held the opposition’s power play without a conversion in four straight games and has successfully killed the team’s last 15 straight man-down scenarios.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Saturday when they welcome the Portland Pirates to downtown Allentown for the first and only time this season. Saturday’s game is another Legends Night as all fans in attendance will receive a FREE Collector’s Edition Poster spotlighting 2005 Calder Cup Champion and AHL Hall of Fame defenseman John Slaney. A limited number of tickets for Saturday’s tilt are available now at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX (8499) or in person at the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office at PPL Center (701 Hamilton).

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)!

Bridgeport Sound Tigers 1 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 (OT) – Status: Final OT
Friday, March 6, 2015 – PPL Center

Bridgeport 0 0 1 0 – 1
Lehigh Valley 0 1 0 1 – 2

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Powe Lv (elbowing), 5:35; Czuczman Bri (hooking), 8:40; Quine Bri (hooking), 11:17; Reinhart Bri (roughing), 15:24; Zolnierczyk Bri (roughing), 15:24; Cousins Lv (diving/embellishment), 15:24.

2nd Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Hextall 5 (Rosehill, Delisle), 2:18. Penalties-Delisle Lv (high-sticking), 17:34.

3rd Period-2, Bridgeport, Jeffrey 18 (Quine, Pulock), 10:56. Penalties-Sutter Bri (cross-checking), 2:46; Pettersson Lv (delay of game), 8:54; Czuczman Bri (high-sticking), 19:33.

OT Period-3, Lehigh Valley, Akeson 18 (Manning, Cousins), 0:48 (PP). Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Bridgeport 4-13-10-0-27. Lehigh Valley 8-6-12-1-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Bridgeport 0 / 3; Lehigh Valley 1 / 5.
Goalies-Bridgeport, Poulin 14-14-1 (27 shots-25 saves). Lehigh Valley, Zepp 15-10-1 (27 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Garrett Rank (48), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Leo Boylan (97), Jud Ritter (34).

Upcoming Home Games:

Saturday, March 7, 2015 Portland Pirates vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 PM
(Legends Night! All fans in attendance will receive a FREE Collector’s Edition Poster spotlighting 2005 Calder Cup Champion and AHL Hall of Famer John Slaney.)

Sunday, March 22, 2015 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 PM
(Youth Street Hockey Stick Giveaway (first 3,000 kids ages 14 and under)! Charities Night!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Syracuse Crunch vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 PM
($2 Beer Night! $2 Coors Light drafts available from the time doors open until the start of the 2nd period.)

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).