Lehigh Valley Improves to 4-0 at PPL Center
October 25, 2017
Lehigh Valley, PA – Greg Carey (4th) blasted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to their fifth consecutive win Wednesday evening with a rocket of a slap shot in overtime that capped a 3-2 victory over the visiting Springfield Thunderbirds in front of 6,121 fans inside PPL Center. With the win, the Phantoms improved to 6-1-0-1 overall and remained undefeated (4-0-0) when skating in downtown Allentown this season. With 13 standings points to date, no team in the 30-team AHL has more standings points than the Phantoms.
Mike Vecchione (2nd) and Colin McDonald (1st) also found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley in front of goaltender Alex Lyon who improved to 5-1-1 overall this season after turning aside 25 of Springfield’s 27 total shots.
Wednesday’s outcome was the team’s first overtime decision of the 2017-18 season as the Phantoms moved to 2-1 in games decided in overtime/shootouts this year. Wednesday’s outing also showcased the resiliency of this year’s squad as Lehigh Valley jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the game’s opening period only to see the Thunderbirds level the contest in the middle frame before rallying for the overtime win.
The Phantoms registered a season-high 39 shots on goal in Wednesday’s effort and frequently had Springfield hemmed in its own defensive zone for long stretches throughout the contest. Thunderbirds’ goaltender Samuel Montembeault (36 saves) did all he could to keep Lehigh Valley at bay but the Phantoms offensive pursuit was simply too much in the end.
Wednesday’s game marked the return of a pair of familiar faces to Lehigh Valley’s lineup as McDonald and Cole Bardreau made their first appearances of the season after missing the first seven games due to injury. Coming off an impressive 25-goal campaign a year ago, McDonald jumped right back into the mix with a first-period tally while Bardreau used his aggressive style of play to intensify the Phantoms’ forecheck each and every chance he got.
The Phantoms opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period when, while enjoying a five-on-three power play, Chris Conner feathered a perfect cross-ice pass to the left wing that promptly punched in by Vecchione for his second goal of the season. Phil Varone collected the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker scored 10:57 into the opening period. Varone’s assist extended his scoring streak to five consecutive games as the dynamic 26-year-old forward has now compiled six points (goal, five assists) over his last handful of games.
Vecchione’s tally marked the fourth time in eight games this season that Lehigh Valley has scored as the Phantoms improved to 4-0 in such contests this year.
Lehigh Valley doubled its lead less than six minutes later when a takeaway by Mikhail Vorobyev in the attacking zone led to a right wing opportunity for McDonald who wound and blasted home his first goal of the season. Vorobyev garnered the only assist on the even-strength strike converted 16:33 into the opening period.
Springfield sliced the Phantoms’ lead in half less than six minutes into the second period when some open ice during a four-on-four sequence led to a scoring chance in the slot for Dryden Hunt that he was able to convert into his team-leading fifth goal of the year. Curtis Valk earned the only assist on the four-on-four tally netted 5:46 into the middle stanza.
The Thunderbirds then leveled the game at two apiece 9:49 into the second period when Thomas Schemitsch converted his first goal of the season. Maxim Mamin and Juho Lammikko assisted on the even-strength strike.
The Phantoms remained resilient though and despite being unable to solve Montembeault in the third period, Lehigh Valley rallied behind a power play opportunity in overtime to secure the victory. With Springfield’s Matt MacKenzie in the penalty box for cross-checking, Will O’Neill lifted a pass to Carey at the right point that was promptly hammered into the back of the Springfield net. Oskar Lindblom earned the secondary assist on the game-winning marker scored 4:02 into overtime.
Carey’s game-winning tally capped a strong night on special teams for the Phantoms as Lehigh Valley went 2-for-9 on the power play while the club’s penalty kill thwarted all six of Springfield’s man-advantage opportunities.
The Phantoms are back in action on Friday, October 27 when the team travels to the MassMutual Center in Springfield for a rematch with the Thunderbirds.
Lehigh Valley then returns to PPL Center on Saturday, October 28 when it hosts the Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, for the first time this season. Saturday’s game features a Post-Game Autograph Session with Phantoms Players where fans are encouraged to stick around after the game to snag an autograph from some of their favorite Phantoms. Only a limited number of tickets remain for Saturday’s game and can be purchased online by clicking HERE.