Phantoms Top Charlotte 4-3, Can Win Series Thursday
April 18, 2023
Charlotte, NC – Tyson Foerster struck for a pair of goals to lead the Lehigh Valley Phantoms past the Charlotte Checkers 4-3 in Game 1 of their Best of 3 Calder Cup Playoff series on Tuesday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Olle Lycksell recorded a pair of helpers and Cooper Marody had a goal and an assist while Sam Ersson turned aside 28 Checkers’ drives including a terrific save up on the stick with just three seconds remaining to deny Mackie Samoskevitch the potential equalizer.
The Phantoms held a 4-1 lead after two periods after striking three times in the first five minutes of the middle frame. But Charlotte had a strong push in the third and Lehigh Valley had to hang on for the one-goal win.
The Phantoms will have a chance to advance to Round 2 with a victory on Thursday in Game 2. Lehigh Valley would next play the Providence Bruins in the Division Semifinals.
Lucas Carlsson opened the scoring on a pinballing puck in the Phantoms zone. When a rebound popped out to the hard-shooting defenseman in the high slot he was there to bury it stick side at 8:28 into the contest to give the Checkers a 1-0 lead.
The Phantoms picked off a puck in the Checkers zone to set up their first score with Adam Brooks firing in the rebound of an Olle Lycksell shot that bounded off the body of goaltender Mack Guzda. Marody also assisted on the play and the game was tied at 1-1 at the first intermission.
Lehigh Valley knocked in a pair of goals just 13 seconds apart to open the second period beginning with Tyson Foerster’s shot on the rush just 49 seconds into the frame on a lead pass from Louie Belpedio. Foerster cut back to the middle and rifled one through Guzda for a 2-1 lead.
Just 13 ticks later it was Marody from the left circle on a rebound of an Adam Brooks shot to make it 3-1 at 1:02 into the second period. It was the fastest goals the Phantoms have scored all year. The previous quickest consecutive tallies were on February 18, 2023 when Egor Zamula and Alex Kile scored 16 seconds apart against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Foerster would score again at 4:46 into the second period right off a faceoff win by Artem Anisimov. Foerster’s drive from the high slot went off the bottom of the left pad of Guzda and still barely had enough to keep going and eventually dribble across the line to give the Phantoms a 4-1 lead.
Mack Guzda made way for backup goaltender J-F Berube who held off the Phantoms the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Checkers were putting together a ferocious comeback effort.
Charlotte peppered away for 15 shots in the third period and broke through for a pair of tallies about midway through the frame on a Riley Nash goal down low on the power play at 9:40 and then a Santtu Kinnunen goal from the right circle at 10:18.
Suddenly, Lehigh Valley’s lead wasn’t feeling as comfortable anymore and Ian Laperriere called timeout to conference with his players.
The Phantoms kept blocking and deflecting until Samoskevich rushed up the right wing and cut around a defender to go one-on-one at Ersson. The newcomer from the University of Michigan offered a strong shot towards the upper-left corner but Ersson got a piece of it high on the stick and knocked it away with just three seconds remaining to lock down the win.
The Phantoms have a 1-0 lead in the Best of 3 series. Game 2 is Thursday night at Charlotte. Game 3, if necessary, would be on Friday night.
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1st 8:28 – CLT, L. Carlsson (J. Sourdif, C. Conacher) 0-1
1st 12:54 – LV, A. Brooks (O. Lycksell, C. Marody) 1-1
2nd 0:49 – LV, T. Foerster (1) (L. Belpedio) 2-1
2nd 1:02 – LV, C. Marody (A. Brooks, O. Lycksell) 3-1
2nd 4:46 – LV, T. Foerster (2) (A. Anisimov) 4-1
3rd 9:40 – CLT, R. Nash (L. Carlsson, A. Heponiemi) (PP) 4-2
3rd 10:18 – CLT, S. Kinnunen (C. Morrison, C. Bunnaman) 4-3
LV 25 – CLT 31
LV 0/2, CLT 1/2
LV – S. Ersson (W) (1-0) (28/31)
CLT – M. Guzda (L) (0-1) (13/17), J-F Berube (ND) (8/8)