Lehigh Valley Returns from Break in Style

Matt Brown Strikes with Game-Winning Shootout Goal

February 9, 2024

Allentown, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms returned from the 2024 AHL All-Star Break primed and claimed a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night. Wade Allison (10th), Rhett Gardner (5th), Brendan Furry (3rd) and J.R. Avon (9th) all registered goals for Lehigh Valley, and newly called-up forward Matt Brown provided the clutch heroics in the skills competition.

The Phantoms (19-18-7) traded blows with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for 65 minutes in a game that saw various lead changes and momentum shifts. Eight total goals scored in regulation began with an open-ice delight for Lehigh Valley late in the first period while skating 4-on-4. After the puck was worked from low-to-high in Penguins territory, Emil Andrae slid a pass across the blue line to Wade Allison. With time and space, Allison wired home a perfect shot, low-blocker side, off the post and past Joel Blomqvist at 16:40.

For Wade Allison, he is the fourth Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ player to reach double-digit goals this season. It is also his third goal in his last five games since returning from a brief, two-week injury layoff.

Lehigh Valley’s 1-0 advantage was short-lived, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton countered with a deuce before first intermission. Vinnie Hinostroza converted on the power play only 33 seconds after Allison’s opening marker, and Peter Abbandonato got a deflection at the net front to give the Pens a 2-1 lead at 18:23.

But fresh out of the dressing room for the second period, Lehigh Valley quickly erupted for three goals in a span of less than two minutes. Pushing the pace and moving the puck north, the vision and creativity of Bobby Brink, Elliot Desnoyers and Adam Brooks all setup respective scoring plays. Tremendous hand-eye coordination by Bobby Brink denied a Penguins’ shorthanded clearing bid. Brink proceeded to circle the perimeter and find an open Rhett Gardner at the net front for the power-play tap-in at 4:06 to equalize at 2-2.

Barely over a minute later, the Orange and Black took full advantage of a Pens’ neutral zone turnover. Allison intercepted a flat pass near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blueline and immediately fed Desnoyers along the right wing. As the puck was funneled to the blue paint, Furry persistently jammed home the go-ahead goal after three whacks at the loose puck.

Only 44 seconds later, the quick scoring onslaught continued courtesy of J.R. Avon. Lehigh Valley blitzed 200 feet north beginning with a crisp, defensive zone draw won by Adam Brooks and an outlet pass by Emil Andrae to spring an offensive rush. Polei and Brooks connected on the rush, and Brooks set up Avon going hard to the middle of the ice for the perfect redirect.

The Penguins did not go down without a fight, as Alex Nylander and Ty Smith both tallied in the third frame to force sudden-death overtime and the eventual shootout. In the skills competition, Avon improved to 3-for-4 this season with a silky move in Round 1. Lukas Svejkovsky responded for the Baby Pens in Round 2 to tie the shootout at 1-1. Wade Allison put Lehigh Valley back in front with a Round 3 shootout goal, but it was soon taken off the board following video review. But in Round 4, Matthew Brown’s wicked wrister tickled the twine, and was soon followed with one final stop by Felix Sandstrom to complete the 5-4 marathon and Phantoms’ victory.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will conclude its brief, two-game weekend on Saturday night with a 7:05 p.m. road tilt against the Bridgeport Islanders. Lehigh Valley is set to return to PPL Center on Saturday, February 17 versus the Syracuse Crunch. It’s Youth Jersey Night courtesy of our friends at Velaspan and Service Electric.

1st 16:40 – LV, W. Allison (10) (E. Andrae, A. Brooks) (1-0)
1st 1713 – WBS, V. Hinostroza (8) (J. Gruden, A. Nylander) (PP) (1-1)
1st 18:23 – WBS, P. Abbandonato (8) (X. Ouellet, V. Hinostroza) (1-2)

2nd 4:06 – LV, R. Gardner (5) (B. Brink) (PP) (2-2)
2nd 5:14 – LV, B. Furry (3) (E. Desnoyers, W. Allison) (3-2)
2nd 5:58 – LV, J. Avon (9) (A. Brooks, E. Polei) (4-2)

3rd 2:55 – WBS, A. Nylander (14) (V. Hinostroza, J. Gruden) (4-3)
3rd 8:43 – WBS, T. Smith (8) (J. Gruden, A. Rueschhoff) (4-4)

LV 32 – WBS 23

LV 1/4, WBS 1/5

LV – F. Sandstrom (W) (9-6-2) (19/23)
WBS – J. Blomqvist (L) (14-7-4) (27/31)

Lehigh Valley (19-18-7)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (24-16-7)

Saturday, February 10 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport

Saturday, February 17 (7:05) – Syracuse at Lehigh Valley – Youth Jersey Night from Velaspan and Service Electric