Lehigh Valley Claims Fourth Straight Victory
January 29, 2016
Lehigh Valley, PA – Cole Bardreau scored two goals, including the overtime winner, Friday evening as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms earned a hard-fought, come-from-behind 4-3 triumph over the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in front of 8,740 fans at PPL Center. The win was the fourth straight for Lehigh Valley as the team improved to 21-21-2-1 overall this season and remains just four standings points back of the Providence Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
Bardreau’s two tallies continued an incredible offensive week for the first-year center from Fairport, New York who has now registered five goals and six points in three games this week.
But Bardreau wasn’t alone in sparking a Phantoms comeback that featured a trio of third period conversions before the overtime clincher.
Chris Conner notched a goal and an assist in the victory while Lehigh Valley captain Colin McDonald continued a jaw-dropping week of his own with an assist. McDonald has now produced four goals and eight points in just three games this week while Conner extended his scoring streak to six consecutive games. The 32-year-old winger has now recorded four goals, six assists and 10 points during his recent offensive surge. Davis Drewiske also converted for Lehigh Valley as the defenseman notched his third goal of the season and second of the week.
Goaltender Jason LaBarbera earned the victory between the pipes with 27 saves on 30 Penguins shots.
The rivalry showdown was skated in front of yet another PPL Center standing room-only sellout. The capacity crowd marked the 11th such crowd Lehigh Valley has enjoyed this season and the sixth sellout over the club’s last seven home games.
Friday’s game was also another “20 Years of Phantoms” nights as the team continued its celebration of the franchise’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. As part of the evening, Phantoms players wore specialty throwback jerseys and the first 3,000 fans in attendance each received the third of four commemorative poster giveaways. Friday evening’s poster highlighted the 2006-2011 seasons of Phantoms hockey and featured such former Phantoms as Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Flyers winger Matt Read and two-time NHL All-Star Danny Briere.
The Penguins opened the scoring with just over five minutes remaining in the first period when, while on the power play, Will O’Neill’s shot from the high slot produced a slight rebound off LaBarbera that was promptly punched in by Kostopoulos for his 12th goal of the season. Kael Mouillierat grabbed the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker netted 14:39 into the first period. The goal marked just the first time over the last five games in which the Phantoms haven’t snared the game’s first goal.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton doubled its advantage a little better than eight minutes into the middle frame when Archibald was just able to stay onside as he gathered Tom Sestito’s cross-ice feed before breaking in on the right wing and burying his eighth goal of the season. Reid McNeill garnered the second assist on the five-on-five conversion scored 8:34 into the second stanza. The goal continued a torrid month for Archibald who netted his eighth in 13 January contests.
The Phantoms kick started their comeback just under six minutes into the third period when a Drewiske drive from the right point changed direction off a Penguins skate before landing in the back of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goal. Maxim Lamarche and McDonald assisted on the five-on-five conversion tallied 5:55 into the final frame.
Lehigh Valley then leveled the contest less than five minutes later when a nifty pass by Conner from behind the net found Bardreau at the side of the goal who made no mistake in sending in his sixth goal of the season. Danick Martel garnered the secondary assist on the even-strength strike scored 10:50 into the third period.
The Phantoms then claimed their first lead of the night with just under four minutes left in regulation when, while on the power play, Conner’s attempted cross-crease pass deflected off the stick of Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry before rolling over the goal line. Taylor Leier and Andrew MacDonald assisted on Conner’s ninth goal of the season. The man-advantage tally, which came 16:16 into the final frame, marked the fourth straight game in which Lehigh Valley has netted a power play goal. Following a 1-for-5 performance on Friday, the team’s man-advantage has now gone 6-for-21 (28.6 percent) during its four-game winning streak.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton didn’t back down though and evened the contest just 26 seconds later when Mouillierat sprung on a rebound atop the Phantoms goal crease for his eighth tally of the year. O’Neill and Scott Wilson assisted on the equalizing marker scored 16:42 into the third period.
The Phantoms weren’t to be denied though.
Following a gutsy defensive zone shift in overtime in which Conner was without a stick, the Phantoms somehow loosened the puck free and charged into the attacking end. Fresh off the bench on a change, All-Star forward Nick Cousins fired a wrist shot from the high slot that Jarry deflected into the air only to see Bardreau swat it home sending the capacity PPL Center crowd into a frenzy. Cousins earned the only assist on Bardreau’s seventh goal of the year, which came 4:16 into sudden death overtime.
With the win, the Phantoms improved to 6-3 in games decided in either overtime or a shootout this season.
The Phantoms play their final game before the AHL All-Star break this Saturday, January 30 when Lehigh Valley heads to Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a 7:05 p.m. rematch with the Penguins. Be sure to catch all the action on FOX 1470-AM, online at www.fox1470.com or via the iHeartRadio app. Coverage begins at 6:20 p.m. with “Countdown to Faceoff.”
The Phantoms are then back in action at PPL Center on Wednesday, February 10 when they welcome the rival Binghamton Senators back to downtown Allentown. The game features a Career Fair with a host of representatives from area sports teams on hand. A limited number of tickets remain so be sure to secure yours now at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX  or in person at the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office at PPL Center [701 Hamilton Street].
RISE UP! Reserve your season tickets and groups 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)!
Upcoming Home Games:
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Binghamton Senators vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
Friday, February 12, 2016, Portland Pirates vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
Saturday, February 13, 2016, Utica Comets vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
(Post-Game Photographs with Phantoms Players.)
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).