Phantoms with Momentum Entering Well-Deserved Holiday Break
December 23, 2022
Springfield, MA – Pat Nagle turned aside 30 out of 31 Thunderbirds shots and carried a shutout into the final five minutes of the game as Lehigh Valley persevered and competed its way to a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Springfield on Friday night. Artem Anisimov (10th) and Cal O’Reilly (3rd) provided the offense while the Phantoms defense and penalty kill came up big when counted on including a critical 4-on-6 kill for the last minute of the game.
It was the second time this month the Phantoms hung onto a hard win with a perfect P.K. and a tough 4-on-6 at the end having done similar on December 9 in a 2-1 victory at PPL Center against Charlotte.
The Phantoms didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard as some aggression off a neutral-zone faceoff win created the team’s fastest goal of the season just 23 seconds into the game. Tyson Foerster went charging in to force a turnover off the skate of a T-Birds defenseman popping the puck free out to Olle Lycksell in the slot who spectacularly flicked the puck between his skates over to his right for an open Anisimov who fired it home past goaltender Vadim Zharenko. Anisimov’s 10th goal of the season in just 12 games with the team gave Lehigh Valley the 1-0 advantage that they would hold until well into the third period.
Anisimov has scored seven goals in six games since signing his AHL contract for the 2022-23 season with the Phantoms after initially arriving on a PTO.
Check out this assist from Lehigh Valley's Olle Lycksell – setting up the Artem Anisimov goal just 23 seconds into the game in Springfield tonight. Video: @TheAHL Call: @BobRotruck w/ the @LVPhantoms pic.twitter.com/UUyYeu03Bo
— Dan Moscaritolo (@DanMoscaritolo) December 24, 2022
Pat Nagle, and the rest of the Phantoms defense, kept working and blocking and denying the Thunderbirds to protect the one-goal lead. Springfield was afforded three power-play opportunities in the second period but the Phantoms held strong.
Springfield had an early push in the third period outshooting the Phantoms 7-1 at one point but Lehigh Valley found its game again. Cal O’Reilly blasted a drive from the left dot off the blocker of Zharenko and into the net for a 2-0 lead with 7:32 remaining. Adam Brooks helped pop the puck free on the forecheck after Ronnie Attard had worked the puck down low. It was the second goal the Phantoms scored off of forecheck aggression creating a turnover.
Mitchell Hoelscher got Springfield on the board with his second career AHL goal with just 4:34 left on the rebounds of a wraparound off the pads of Nagle breaking the shutout bid. But that’s all the Thunderbirds would get.
Tyson Foerster was assessed a delay of game penalty when his effort to clear the zone with one minute remaining went over the glass but Lehigh valley killed the subsequent 4-on-6 to hang on for the victory.
The Phantoms have three days off for their holiday break before practice on Tuesday and a game at PPL Center on Wednesday night against the Bridgeport Islanders.
1st 0:23 – LV A. Anisimov (10) (O. Lycksell) 1-0
3rd 12:28 – LV C. O’Reilly (3) (A. Brooks, R. Attard) 2-0
3rd 15:26 – SPR M. Hoelscher (2) (S. Jandric, K. Washkurak) 2-1
LV 23 – SPR 31
LV 0/1, SPR 0/4
LV – P. Nagle (W) (1-2-1) (30/31)
SPR – V. Zherenko (L) (3-5-1) (21/23)
Lehigh Valley (13-11-3)
Friday, December 23 (7:05) at Springfield Thunderbirds
Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders
Friday, December 30 (7:05) at Utica Comets
Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS
Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Pregame Happy Hour, $2 Miller Lites and Yuenglings
Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – New Year’s Eve Celebration presented by Penn Community Bank. Including festivities and great fun on Hamilton Street right after the game right with the World’s Largest Puck-Drop to ring in 2023!