Laz Late Launch Lifts Lehigh Valley

Tuomaala with Goal and Assist at Charlotte

December 21, 2023

Charlotte, NC – Tanner Laczynski (7th) roofed an overtime-wining goal from beneath the right-wing dot over the left shoulder of goaltender Spencer Knight to vault the Phantoms to a 3-2 triumph at the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night. Laczynski’s second career overtime goal was also the third overtime victory of the season for the Phantoms as well as the team’s second straight overtime decision in games against Charlotte including a December 13 game at PPL Center when Ronnie Attard finished the night in style.

Samu Tuomaala (8th) had a goal and an assist to take the team lead in scoring at 8-17-25. The 20-year-old right wing is now third in the AHL in rookie points and first among Eastern Conference first-year players.

J.R. Avon (7th) lit the lamp for a second game in a row with a critical tying tally at the end of the second period.

Charlotte (13-10-3) took the initial lead on a Patrick Khodorenko (6th) breakaway goal at 6:12 into the game sliding the puck five-hole past Felix Sandstrom.

Lehigh Valley (12-11-4) evened the score at 1-1 when Tuomaala smartly dragged and held for a tick on the rush before his wrister from the top of the right circle zipped past the shoulder on Knight with just 30.5 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Victor Mete’s cross-ice pass from his own blue-line sent Tuomaala speeding in for the score.

But the even count lasted only 11 seconds as a Phantoms turnover would be buried by Riley Bezeau (3rd) with just 19.5 seconds left to give Charlotte a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The back-and-forth action had the Checkers outshoot the Phantoms 13-12. But Lehigh Valley cut down on the chances they would allow and the improved play would eventually lead the team to victory.

The Phantoms outshot the Checkers in the second period 17-6 but couldn’t break through against Knight until the very end of the period when Lehigh Valley picked up its second power play of the night. The best power play in the Eastern Conference (23.4%) entering the game would make it 14 out of 15 games with a power-play goal when Avon rfled his shot past Knight with 30.3 seconds left in the period. Tuomaala did strong work in the corner dining the puck away and knocking it out with skate to Laczynski who connected with the open 20-year-old rookie, Avon, for the conversion to tie the game at 2-2.

The Phantoms had a critical penalty kill in the last two minutes of the third period to keep the game deadlocked. Charlotte only had 10 shots on goal after the first intermission.

Laczynski cruised up the right wing and blasted his shot from beneath tie right-wing dot over the shoulder of Knight for the overtime winner at 58 seconds into the game with Olle Lycksell and EMil Andrae recording assists on the play.

The Phantoms improve to 3-4 in overtime games and have won their last two in a row, both against Charlotte.

Lehigh Valley is 3-0-0 this season against the Checkers and looks to maintain its perfect record in a Friday rematch at Charlotte beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center for a three-game homestand to close out 2023 beginning on Wednesday, December 27 against the Utica Comets.

1st 6:12 – CLT, P. Khodorenko (6) (C. Fitzgerald) (0-1)
1st 19:29 – LV, S. Tuomaala (8) (V. Mete) (1-1)
1st 19:40 – CLT, R. Bezeau (3rd) (1-2)

2nd 19:29 – LV, J. Avon (7) (T. Laczynski, S. Tuomaala) (PP) (2-2)

OT 0:58 – LV, T. Laczynski (7) (O. Lycksellm, E. Andrae) (3-2)

LV 35 – CLT 23

LV 1/2, CLT 0/4

LV – F. Sandstrom (W) (21/23) (3-2-2)
CLT – S. Knight (OTL) (32/35) (8-4-3)

Lehigh Valley (12-11-4)
Charlotte (13-10-3)

Thursday, December 21 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers
Friday, December 22 (6:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers

Wednesday, December 27 (7:05) – Utica Comets at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Pregame $2 Beers
Saturday, December 30 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Phantoms Knit Caps
Sunday, December 31 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – World’s Largest Puck Drop!