Captain’s Hat Trick Produces Third Straight Lehigh Valley Victory
January 27, 2016
Lehigh Valley, PA – Colin McDonald recorded the third hat trick in Lehigh Valley Phantoms history Wednesday evening as part of a massive five-point night as the Phantoms doubled up the visiting Binghamton Senators 6-3 in front of 7,160 fans at PPL Center. The victory was the third in a row for Lehigh Valley as the team improved to 20-21-2-1 overall this season and is now just four standings points back of the Providence Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
McDonald’s five-point outburst is the Phantoms’ first such outing since defenseman Erik Gustafsson registered five points (five assists) in the Adirondack Phantoms 6-0 shutout over the Rochester Americans back on April 4, 2011.
Lehigh Valley’s captain certainly wasn’t alone in sparking a Phantoms offense that produced six goals for the second consecutive game and sixth time this year. All-Star forward Nick Cousins recorded two goals and an assist in the triumph while Cole Bardreau notched a goal and an assist and Andrew MacDonald and Danick Martel each chipped in a pair of helpers.
With 36 points this season, Cousins continues to pace all Lehigh Valley skaters in scoring and is now in sole possession of eighth place among all AHLers in points. Meanwhile, Bardreau backed up a two-goal effort in Monday’s 6-5 shootout win over the Hershey Bears with his third multi-point effort over the last five games.
Lehigh Valley’s power play played a big part in the triumph as the Phantoms produced a pair of man-advantage markers in eight opportunities. During its recent three-game surge, Lehigh Valley has produced five power play conversions and has operated at a 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) clip.
All-Star goaltender Anthony Stolarz earned the victory between the pipes with a 30-save performance as he improved to 14-10-3 overall this year. The second-year netminder has now produced nine games with at least 30 saves this season.
Wednesday’s contest was the sixth of eight total meetings during the 2015-2016 regular season between Lehigh Valley and Binghamton.
The intensity of the rivalry showdown manifested itself almost instantly when the game’s first exhilarating moment came not from a goal, but from a bone-crushing collision when Tyrell Goulbourne upended Binghamton forward Buddy Robinson right into the Lehigh Valley bench,
The Phantoms then opened the scoring exactly seven and a half minutes into the rivalry tilt when, while on the power play, Cousins feathered a pass into the slot that was expertly redirected by McDonald into the back of the Binghamton cage for the captain’s fifth conversion of the season. MacDonald collected the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker as Lehigh Valley netted the game’s opening goal for the 22nd time this year.
Binghamton leveled the contest less than four minutes later when, amidst the open ice of 4-on-4 action, Chris Carlisle slipped a pass into the slot for a streaking Ryan Dzingel who promptly snapped his 11th goal of the season between the pads of Stolarz. Carlisle and Eric O’Dell assisted on the even-strength strike netted 11:17 into the opening frame.
With just over four minutes remaining the second period, the Senators then grabbed their first lead of the night with a power play tally of their own when a right wing blast by Michael Kostka produced a rebound on the left side that was quickly deposited by O’Dell into the Phantoms net for his 15th goal of the year. Cole Schneider garnered the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker scored 15:40 into the middle stanza.
Lehigh Valley was quick to respond though as the Phantoms evened up the back-and-forth affair less than three minutes later when McDonald chipped in his second goal of the game and sixth of the season. The play started with a tenacious effort on the forecheck by Bardreau who forced a Senators giveaway that was collected by Martel who found McDonald in the slot for the conversion.
The Senators reclaimed the advantage just over five minutes into the third period when O’Dell converted his second goal of the night and 16th of the season but Lehigh Valley wasn’t to be denied as the Phantoms rattled off three straight conversions to close the contest.
First, persistence by Bardreau atop the Binghamton goal crease paid off as he was able to stash home a rebound for his fifth goal of the season and third over the last two games. Martel and McDonald assisted on the equalizing marker netted 7:48 into the final frame.
Then, Lehigh Valley secured the lead for good just past the midway point of the period when, during a five-on-three power play, Cousins rifled in his 11th goal of the year from McDonald and MacDonald. The man-advantage marker secured the second straight multi-power play goal game for the Phantoms and the team’s sixth such night this season.
Less than three minutes later, Cousins netted his second goal of the night and 12th this year when Chris Conner fed a brilliant cross-crease pass to the left door step where Cousins made no mistake in converting his second multi-goal game this season and ninth multi-point outing of the year. Taylor Leier collected the secondary assist on the insurance marker scored 14:53 into the third period.
McDonald then completed his hat trick in the game’s final minute with an empty-net conversion that sealed the Phantoms’ triumph.
The Phantoms are back in action at PPL Center this Friday, January 29 for another “20 Years of Phantoms” night as they welcome the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to town for a 7:05 p.m. showdown. The Phantoms will be wearing specialty throwback jerseys during the game and the first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive the third of four commemorative posters celebrating the 20th Anniversary Season of Phantoms hockey. A limited number of tickets remain for Friday’s tilt so Beb sure to secure yours now at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX  or in person at the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office at PPL Center [701 Hamilton Street].
RISE UP! Reserve your season tickets and groups now for the 2015-2016 season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey. For more information on how to reserve your seat at PPL Center to the hottest ticket in town, call the Phantoms front office today at 610-224-GOAL (4625)!
Upcoming Home Games:
Friday, January 29, 2016, WB/Scranton Penguins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
(“20 Years of Phantoms” Night. Commemorative Poster Giveaway 3 of 4.)
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Binghamton Senators vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
Friday, February 12, 2016, Portland Pirates vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m. | TIX
In the midst of their 20th season of operation, the Phantoms are coming off their Inaugural Season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms playing at the brand-new PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 19 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).