Gahagen, Penalty Kill Dazzles in Loss to Bridgeport

Cooper Marody Strikes for Phantoms in 2-1 Defeat

March 2, 2024

Lehigh Valley, PA – Parker Gahagen put forth a remarkable 39-save effort, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms could not find a late equalizer and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday Night at PPL Center. Cooper Marody tallied his 14th goal of the season to send a 1-1 game into the final period, and impressive, lengthy penalty kills gave the Orange and Black a fighting chance.

The opening period may have been scoreless, but plenty of action was on full display to satisfy the hometown faithful on Hockey is for Everyone Night. Gahagen’s American Hockey League career-best 39 saves began with a busy first period, when he stopped all 17 shots faced. The Amherst, New York native was tasked with a 5-on-3 penalty kill for 90 seconds late in the stanza, but Gahagen rose to the occasion with numerous stops.

Two goals and a marathon fight followed in the middle frame to the enjoyment of the packed house. The Isles struck first on William Dufour’s 11th goal of the season assisted by Otto Koivula at 4:55. But once again, the Phantoms’ penalty kill unit and Gahagen answered the bell when tasked at a pivotal moment. Ten seconds shy of regulation’s midway point, a double-minor high-sticking infraction put Lehigh Valley down a man for four minutes.

Lehigh Valley used another successful kill to build momentum, and this time it translated into a game-tying goal. The theme of solid special teams poetically continued, as the Phantoms took full advantage of a Bridgeport bench minor for too many men at 14:01. On the man-advantage, Emil Andrae quarterbacked the center-point and found Marody along the right wing. A perfect snipe from Marody evened the score with 5:34 left in the second period. Andrae’s assist was his 24th helper of the season in his 42nd game.

The period concluded with fireworks, as Adam Ginning and Tyce Thompson engaged in a classic, spirited bout that raised fans to their feet. The two warriors both received five-minute fighting majors with 30 seconds remaining in the stanza.

But unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, the Islanders would soon regain their one-goal edge only 2:30 into the third period. Matthew Maggio broke to the net and danced around Gahagen to bury his 11th marker of the campaign. Ruslan Iskhakov earned the lone assist on the scoring play.

Furious chances for the Phantoms followed, and perhaps none more opportune than a try for Wade Allison in the final seconds. After an initial shot attempt was blocked, the puck redirected perfectly to an open Allison with prime real estate between the face-off circles. But Allison fanned on the shot and looked to the rafters as time expired for the Orange and Black.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will look to bounce back and conclude its weekend on Sunday against the Hershey Bears at PPL Center. The Phantoms will celebrate their loveable mascot meLVin’s Birthday in style against their division rivals. Following the game, fans are invited to take part in a post-game skate with players presented by NJM Insurance. It’s also Faith Night at PPL Center with various local faith-based organizations on hand to enjoy Phantoms Hockey! The party will start at 3:05 p.m. with doors opening at 2 p.m. on the corner of Seventh and Hamilton Streets in Allentown.

2nd 4:55 – BRI, W. Dufour (11) (O. Koivula) (0-1)
2nd 14:26 – LV, C. Marody (14) (E. Andrae, R. Gardner) (PP) (1-1)

3rd 2:30 – BRI, M. Maggio (11) (R. Iskhakov) (1-2)

LV 29 – BRI 41

LV 1/3, BRI 0/4

LV, P. Gahagen (L) (39/41) (5-7-3)
BRI, J. Skarek (W) (28/29)(5-18-5)

Lehigh Valley (22-22-7)
Bridgeport (17-29-7)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Sunday, March 3 (3:05) vs. Hershey Bears—meLVin’s Birthday, Post-game skate with players presented by NJM Insurance, Faith Night

Friday, March 8 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Berks Dollar Dog Night. Can we break the hot dog record?!