Avon and Allison Strike in Shootout

Great Gahagen! 34 Saves in 2-1 Triumph

February 10, 2024

Bridgeport, CT – J.R. Avon scored his league-leading fourth shootout goal of the season and Wade Allison knocked home the winner in the third round as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms won their second consecutive shootout game on the weekend with a 2-1 victory at the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday night.

Jacob Gaucher (6th) broke a scoreless tie on a power-play redirection in the third period and goaltender Parker Gahagen (5-4-3) was sensational with 34 saves in the exciting goaltenders’ duel.

The Phantoms might content that it actually should have been the first career AHL shutout for the 30-year-old Army Captain. Bridgeport (13-26-6) scored its only goal at 8:28 into the third period on a puck that was put into the net AFTER the goal had been dislodged from the pegs and following a collision into Gahagen. The initial ruling on the ice was no goal. But the officials went into the penalty box area for a video review and determined the shooter was in the process of scoring the goal when the cage was knocked free. The stunning goal stood eventually leading to Lehigh Valley’s 14th overtime game of the season, second-most in the AHL.

Lehigh Valley (20-18-7) pushed along through two back-and-forth periods as the Phantoms and Islanders battled to a scoreless tie after 40 minutes. It was the first time this year for Lehigh Valley that neither team had scored in the first two periods.

Gahagen was especially strong in the second period with a number of fine stops. Bridgeport goaltender Henrik Tikkanen was at his best in the first period with some of his more stellar denials.

Jacob Gaucher redirected Avon’s power-play drive from the right circle to get the Phantoms on the board at 7:36 into the third period. It was the second time in barely over a week that Gaucher had scored in a clutch situation with a go-ahead goal in the third period.

But Bridgeport’s controversial equalizer came just 52 seconds later to forge a 1-1 tie as Karson Kuhlman recorded his eighth of the year.

Both teams traded chances in overtime with two saves each for Gahagen and Tikkanen.

Avon made it 4-for-5 on the season in the shootout as his league-leading fourth tally in the skills competition gave the Phantoms the initial advantage in the first round. But Kuhlman equalizer for Bridgeport also in the first round. Wade Allison steered the winning goal past the stick-side of Tikkanen in the third round and Bridgeport’s Otto Koivula lost the handle when he tried to cut across a sharply anticipating Gahagen as the puck rolled away providing the Phantoms with the thrilling win.

The Phantoms return to action next Saturday night at PPL against the Syracuse Crunch on meLVin Youth Jersey Night presented by Velapsan and Service Electric.

3rd 7:36 – LV, J. Gaucher (6) (J. Avon, E. Samson) (PP) (1-0)
3rd 8:28 – BRI, K. Kuhlman (8) (O. Koivula, T. Thompson) (1-1

LV – Avon GOAL, Brink X, Allison GOAL
BRI – Kuhlman GOAL, DuFour X, Koivula X

LV 33 – BRI 35

LV 1/4, BRI 0/1

LV – P. Gahagen (W) (5-3-1) (34/35)
BRI – H. Tikkanen (4-3-2) (31/32)

Lehigh Valley (20-18-7)
Bridgeport (13-26-6)

Saturday, February 17 (7:05) – Syracuse at Lehigh Valley

Wednesday, February 21 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Saturday, February 24 (4:00) – Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Sunday, February 25 (1:00) – Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Friday, March 1 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley at Utica