3 Shorthanded Goals Drive First Win of Season
October 15, 2023
Lehigh Valley, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms equaled a franchise record with three shorthanded goals in a game to rally from an early 2-0 deficit in a 5-2 victory over the Belleville Senators on Sunday afternoon at PPL Center. Tanner Laczynski paced the effort with one goal and two assists. Alexis Gendron scored his first career pro goal. And Parker Gahagen denied 26 consecutive Senators’ shots after allowing two early goals while also adding a goalie-assist in recording his first AHL win in three seasons.
Cooper Marody, Adam Ginning and Rhett Gardner all enjoyed the opportunity to score into the Belleville net while the Phantoms were on the penalty kill.
It was the first time ever for Lehigh Valley to score three shorthanded goals in the same game. The Phantoms franchise accomplished the feat twice back in the 1990s when the Philadelphia Phantoms accomplished a trifecta of man-down-markers on November 24, 1996 at the Kentucky Thoroughblades and on March 24, 1999 against the Syracuse Crunch.
The Sunday matinee was off and running at a furious pace with five combined goals in the first 11 minutes.
Belleville raced out to a 2-0 lead on consecutive strikes just 13 seconds apart. Egor Sokolov’s attempt to dish a power-play pass across the slot ended up banking off a diving Phantoms defender and into the net for a 1-0 lead at 3:34 into the game. Then it was Garrett Pilon ready to unload in the slot after the B-Sens worked the puck down low and suddenly it was 2-0.
It felt a bit like deja vu all over again for the Phantoms who similarly found themselves trailing 2-0 against the Cleveland Monsters in the opening minutes one night earlier.
“Same thing happened yesterday,” Tanner Laczynski said. “But today I think we answered. We just got to continue to play harder and harder. Lappy emphasized winning one-on-one battles and I think we did that all over the place and I think that contributed to our success tonight.”
The Phantoms’ comeback push began just moments later when a Belleville defender blew a tire and 19-year-old rookie Alexis Gendron was ready to seize the opportunity. The speedy winger stole the puck and converted on the breakaway at 4:20 into the game for the third goal in just 44 seconds to snag a souvenir puck for himself in his pro debut.
Just 1:38 later it was Laczynski winning the puck on the left boards while Cooper Marody was ahead of him hoping for his shorthanded change. When Marody took it to the house for the equalizer on the team’s first of three shorthanded goals in the game it was suddenly 2-2 less than six minutes into the contest. Marody has scored in each of the first two games this season.
The Phantoms took their first lead of the 2023-24 season just past the midway mark of the first. Laczynski sniped from the high slot past the glove of Belleville goaltender Kevin Mandolese for a 5-on-3 conversion to put Lehigh Valley ahead 3-2 and cap a frenetic opening 10-and-a-half minutes that saw five combined goals.
Lehigh Valley’s next shorty was 1:14 into the second period when Adam Gining received a long stretch pass from Victor Mete and stuffed a backhand beauty on the breakaway past the left skate of Mandolese.
That was all for the Belleville starting goaltender who was replaced by Mads Sogaard who turned aside all 22 shots he faced the rest of the way in giving the Senators an opportunity to rally.
But Gahagen had settled into the game nicely after his rocky start and turned aside 26 consecutive Senators’ shots the rest of the way to record his first AHL win since the 2020-21 season when he went 2-0-0 in three games with the Colorado Eagles. Today was just the 13th AHL game in the career of the 30-year-old netminder who has spent the bulk of his time in the ECHL with various teams.
The Phantoms finished the day with a record-tying third shorthanded marker when Laczynski and Rhett Gardner teamed up to score into Belleville’s empty net with just 28 seconds remaining to provide for the team’s second consecutive 5-2 decision. But this time it was Lehigh Valley who was on the right side of the scoreboard.
Lehigh Valley will begin its first road trip of the season this weekend when the Phantoms travel to Springfield and Hartford for a pair of games of Friday and Saturday.
The next home game for the Phantoms is Sunday at 3:05 against the Springfield Thunderbirds featuring Trick-or-Treating on the concourse and a Kids’ Costume Parade on the ice at the intermission.
UP NEXT – The Phantoms play their first road game of the season when they travel to western Massachusettes for a Friday showdown with the Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.
1st 3:34 – BEL, E. Sokolov (1) (M. Highmore, M. Gaunette) (PP) (0-1)
1st 3:47 – BEL, G. Pilon (1) (C. Reinhardt, B. Imama) (0-2)
1st 4:20 – LV, A. Gendron (1) (Unassisted) (1-2)
1st 5:58 – LV, C. Marody (2) (T. Laczynski) (SH) (2-2)
1st 10:23 – LV, T. Laczynski (1)(C. Marody, L. Belpedio) (PP, 5×3) (3-2)
2nd 1:14 – LV, A. Ginning (1) (V. Mete, P. Gahagen) (SH) (4-2)
3rd 19:32 – LV, R. Gardner (1) (T. Laczynski) (EN, SH) (5-2)
LV 35 – BEL 30
LV 1/6, BEL 1/6
LV – P. Gahagen (28/30) (W) (1-0-0)
BEL – K. Manolese (8/12) (L) (0-1-0)
BEL – M. Sogaard (22/22) (ND)
Lehigh Valley (1-1-0)
Friday, October 20 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, October 21 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hartford Wolf Pack
Sunday, October 22 (5:05) – Springfield Thunderbirds at Lehigh Valley Phantoms