Källgren Stymies Phantoms

Utica’s Hot Goalie Holds Off Lehigh Valley 3-0

March 1, 2024

Utica, NY – Erik Källgren was a difference-maker. And got some friendly bounces and breaks along the way. Utica’s goaltender had not produced very good numbers but played his best game of the season in somehow keeping the Phantoms off the board in a 3-0 final on Friday evening.

Källgren made 28 saves and his best of the bunch came in the third period. Jacob Gaucher on the breakaway and later Wade Allison with Brendan Furry crashing the net were two of the chances in the third. Later, a rebound found the stick of Rhett Gardner on the backdoor and his quick put-back went off the shoulder of Källgren then the post and then off the back of the Comets goaltender. It rolled along the line but somehow the Comets fortunes continued and the puck just wouldn’t go in.

Those were some of the many glorious chances for Lehigh Valley throughout the night including multiple shots right on the doorstep for Garrett Wilson.

But through the rough-and-tumble game and goaltenders’ duel, the Comets preserved a 1-0 lead for the majority of the night before a pair of late tallies finished off a decision that the Phantoms probably did not deserve.

Lehigh Valley (22-21-7) was blanked for a fourth time this season while Utica (22-22-7) earned a split in the season series in which the home team prevailed in both matchups.

Two former Phantoms were vital on the only occasions in which the Comets were able to break Cal Petersen who was playing his first game back with the Phantoms since January.

Tyler Wotherspoon’s stretch-pass connected with veteran Justin Dowling at the Lehigh Valley line who split the defense and slammed home a blast on the move at 7:11 into the game for a 1-0 Utica lead.

The first period also featured some significant dust-ups as the Flyers and Devils carried over their rivalry to the AHL level. After some close contact in the crease, Källgren attempted to go after Garrett Wilson and even tried to get around players and officials who were trying to hold him back. Eventually, the players were separated and no serious punches were thrown. But the tone was set.

The Phantoms pushed through a critical 5-on-3 kill for the first 55 seconds of the second period and continued to improve on its connections and rushes.

Lehigh Valley made its best pushes in the third period but somehow Källgren stopped them all…including a little help from the post and  a bouncing puck right along the line that somehow didn’t go in.

In the meantime, the Comets received their sixth power play of the game and captain Ryan Schmelzer scored his 10th of the year with under five minutes remaining on a handoff across the slot from former Phantom Max Willman.

Chase Stillman’s length-of-the-ice empty-netter with 2:15 remaining after Schmelzer blocked a point-shot from Emil Andrae would be the last tally of the night.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Saturday night against the Bridgeport Islanders on Hockey is for Everyone Night and then host the Hershey Bears on Sunday, March 3 at 3:05 p.m. on meLVin’s Birthday!

1st 7:11 – UTC, J. Dowling (10) (T. Wotherspoon) (0-1)

3rd 15:27 – UTC, R. Schmelzer (12) (M. Willman, G. Clarke) (PP) (0-2)
3rd 17:45 – UTC, C. Stillman (11) (R. Schmelzer) (EN) 0-3)

LV 28 – UTC 20

LV 0/2, UTC 1/6

LV, C. Petersen (L) (17/19) (5-9-2)
UTC, E. Kallgren (W) (28/28)(4-5-2)

Lehigh Valley (22-21-7)
Utica (22-22-7)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Saturday, March 2 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders—Hockey is for Everyone, SNHL ft. DJ Brad Scott
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?!