Phantoms Fans Enjoy Tons of Giveaways Amidst Fan Appreciation Night
March 31, 2017
Lehigh Valley, PA – Anthony Stolarz turned in a tremendous 34-save performance Friday evening but his counterpart, Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ netminder Eamon McAdam, was no slouch either denying 20 of Lehigh Valley’s 21 total shots in a genuine goaltending duel at PPL Center. In the end, it was the visiting Sound Tigers who prevailed with a 3-1 win against the Phantoms in front of 7,666 raucous fans in downtown Allentown.
With Friday’s result, the Phantoms moved to 43-21-4 overall this season and maintained sole possession of second place in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division. Lehigh Valley’s magic number (standings points needed to guarantee a playoff berth) remains at just 11 with the Phantoms set to face off against the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday before heading to Hershey for a collision with the Bears on Sunday. Both Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey were handed setbacks of their own Friday evening as the Penguins suffered a 3-1 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds while the Bears lost a 3-0 contest at the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Phantoms’ captain Colin McDonald (23rd) found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley on Friday. With his conversion, the 32-year-old winger became the sixth Phantoms player this season to pass the 40-point plateau. McDonald remains second among all Lehigh Valley skaters with 23 goals this season.
Friday’s game was a tribute to the best fans in the American Hockey League as the Phantoms celebrated their annual Fan Appreciation Night. Tons of prizes were given away throughout the game to the orange-clad faithful in attendance and Friday’s attendance (7,666) moved the team over 270,000 total fans to have enjoyed Phantoms’ regular season hockey at PPL Center this season.
Michael Dal Colle (15th), Joshua Winquist (14th) and Jake Bischoff (1st) provided the offense for the Sound Tigers in front of McAdam who improved to 12-5 this year. Dal Colle and Bischoff’s goals were part of multi-point efforts as they each recorded a goal and an assist in the rivalry showdown.
Bridgeport opened the scoring just prior to the midway point of the first period when, while on the power play, Dal Colle slipped a pass into the slot for a wide-open Bischoff who quickly pumped in his first career professional conversion. Tanner Fritz collected the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker tallied 9:26 into the opening frame.
The Phantoms bounced right back though and leveled the contest just over two minutes later when a tremendous stretch pass through neutral ice by Travis Sanheim connected with McDonald on the right wing who promptly blasted home his 23rd goal of the year with a cannonating slap shot. Mark Zengerle garnered the second assist on the even-strength strike landed 11:34 into the opening frame. Zengerle’s assist extended his scoring streak to four straight games as the 27-year-old winger has tallied four points (goal, 3 assists) during his recent surge and has now managed at least one point in seven of his last eight games played.
The Sound Tigers responded early in the second period though as Bridgeport was able to reclaim its lead less than five minutes into the middle stanza when Dal Colle chipped in his 15th goal of the season from just atop the Lehigh Valley goal crease. Patrick Cullity and Bischoff assisted on the go-ahead conversion netted 4:19 into the second period.
Bridgeport then made the final dent on the score sheet just past the midway point of the third period when a centering feed by Kane Lafranchise bounded off Winquist before settling in the back of the Lehigh Valley goal. Connor Jones garnered the secondary assist on the five-on-five tally scored 12:05 into the final frame.
All told, the Phantoms out shot the Sound Tigers 37-21 in the game. Lehigh Valley’s power play was 0-for-3 on the evening while Bridgeport converted one man-advantage marker in two opportunities.
The Phantoms cap this week’s action with a pair of Atlantic Division rivalry showdowns. First, on Saturday, April 1, Lehigh Valley invades the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a 7:05 p.m. bout with the Penguins. Then, on Sunday, April 2, the Phantoms head to Giant Center in Hershey for a 5:00 p.m. clash with the Bears.