October 4, 2014
Lehigh Valley, PA – The Phantoms concluded their preseason schedule with a Saturday night showdown at PPL Center against the Albany Devils in front of nearly 6,000 hockey-crazed fans. Albany struck twice on the power-play and received stellar goaltending from Scott Wedgewood for a 2-1 victory in Lehigh Valley’s final tune-up for the 2014-15 campaign.
Rookie center Kevin Goumas scored for the Phantoms midway through the third period to ignite a comeback effort but Lehigh Valley’s attempts to obtain the equalizer would fall just short. 33-year-old veteran goalie Rob Zepp was impressive in goal while sporting the Phantoms’ jersey for the first time allowing zero even-strength goals and making 26 saves on 28 Albany shots.
For the third consecutive Phantoms game-night at PPL Center, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was in attendance watching the game from his dedicated Flyers booth in the press-box. Hextall continues to be impressed with the new facility provided for his organization’s young prospects.
“It’s phenomenal. We’re really excited about it,” Hextall said. “The facilities downstairs, the weight room, the locker room, are absolutely second-to-none. We’ve talked about being NHL-like and they clearly are. We’ve got a great spot for our young players to develop. And obviously for us (Flyers front-office) to be able to see them from an hour and fifteen minutes away is terrific for everyone.”
The 5,925 in attendance were brought out of their seats early in this one. Tough-guy Zack Stortini dropped the gloves with Albany’s Brandon Burlon about five minutes into the game for the first-ever hockey fight inside PPL Center. Stortini connected with several solid rights to win the bout and also had some big-time slug-fests in this preseason with the Philadelphia Flyers. He led the AHL with 299 penalty minutes last year while skating for the Norfolk Admirals and is certain to quickly become a fan favorite in Lehigh Valley.
Albany opened the scoring late in the first period on the power play after Tim Sestito’s shot deflected out to Raman Hrabanka in the left-circle who buried his rebound opportunity past the blocker of the lunging Rob Zepp. Albany lead 1-0 after the first period and maintained that advantage after a wild, back-and-forth albeit scoreless second period in which the Phantoms out-shot the Devils 15-11. Zepp for Lehigh Valley and Wedgewood for Albany were putting on their own impressive showcase of net-minding agility.
The Devils converted on the power play again early in the third period when Joe Whitney’s drive from the high-slot deflected off the stick of Graham Black about waist-high just inside the left post.
Lehigh Valley’s goal with almost 10 minutes remaining in regulation was an impressive, quick rush up ice as Brandon Manning’s long bank up the right-wing boards would send Mark Alt streaking behind the defense. Alt had an opportunity to shoot the puck himself but after a little pump-fake opted to dish to a wide-open Kevin Goumas crashing through the slot resulting in an easy tap in.
The Phantoms threatened a few more times in a frantic effort to notch the equalizer in a game that seemed to have the intensity of a regular-season rivalry. Lehigh Valley pulled goalie Zepp for the extra-attacker while both teams were down a man due to penalties but the Phantoms were unable to significantly challenge Wedgewood in the closing minute.
The Phantoms and Devils had previously been a top rivalry in the American Hockey League when the Phantoms played in their temporary home in Glens Falls, NY as the Adirondack Phantoms, just 50 minutes to the north of Albany. The two teams would square off 12 times each season but this year will run across each other only four times. Still, the familiarity of the players from their past encounters was clear. Both teams had their stretches of chippy play with some big hits and pushes and shoves after the whistle.
Head coach Terry Murray met with Flyers officials after the game to discuss the Phantoms roster for the beginning of the regular season. Nine extras were scratched from the lineup for this final game of the preseason which means that several members will be assigned to the Reading Royals of the ECHL in the near future.
The Phantoms open the regular season next Saturday night on the road at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first of 12 regular-season encounters between the affiliates of the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tickets are available by calling PPL Center at 610-347-TIXX (8499), logging on to PPLCenter.com , or visiting the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office located at 7th and Hamilton in PPL Center.
Individual Game Tickets for the regular season go on sale beginning this Monday at 10:00 AM. The Phantoms Opening Night contest on Friday, October 17 against the Adirondack Flames is sure to be a hot seller! Tickets are available by calling PPL Center at 610-347-TIXX (8499), logging on to PPLCenter.com, or visiting the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office located at the main entrance of PPL Center at the corner of 7th and Hamilton.
Check it out! Don’t miss the action and fun of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center in downtown Allentown! Contact the Phantoms Front Office for information on season tickets and affordable partial-season plans by calling 610-224-GOAL (4625)
Notes – October 4 marks the 18th anniversary of the first ever game for the Phantoms franchise. Peter White scored the first goal for the Philadelphia Phantoms in a 6-3 victory at the Springfield Falcons. White is the Phantoms’ franchise all-time leading scorer with 153 goals and was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame two seasons ago.
Albany Devils 2 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1 – Status: Final
Saturday, October 4, 2014 – PPL Center
Albany 1 0 1 – 2
Lehigh Valley 0 0 1 – 1
1st Period-1, Albany, Hrabarenka 2 (Sestito, Burlon), 15:10 (PP). Penalties-Burlon Alb (cross-checking, fighting), 4:43; Stortini Lv (fighting), 4:43; Manning Lv (slashing), 13:20; Stortini Lv (boarding), 18:28.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Lauridsen Lv (cross-checking), 2:43; Black Alb (hooking), 16:11.
3rd Period-2, Albany, Black 1 (Whitney, Burlon), 2:31 (PP). 3, Lehigh Valley, Goumas 1 (Alt, Manning), 9:56. Penalties-Straka Lv (high-sticking), 2:23; Scarlett Alb (hooking), 4:00; Carrier Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:06; Lauridsen Lv (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:06; Manning Lv (boarding), 18:32; Whitney Alb (holding), 19:18.
Shots on Goal-Albany 8-11-9-28. Lehigh Valley 6-15-7-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Albany 2 / 5; Lehigh Valley 0 / 4.
Goalies-Albany, Wedgewood 2-1-0 (28 shots-27 saves). Lehigh Valley, Zepp 0-1-0 (28 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Garrett Rank (48).
Linesmen-Jud Ritter (34), Bill Lyons (27).
Copyright 2006 The AHL. Powered by Leaguestat.com
Monday, October 6 (10:00 AM) – Individual Game Tickets on sale. Call PPL Center at 610-347-TIXX (8499) or log on PPLCenter.com
Saturday, October 11 (7:05 PM) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Regular Season Opener)
Friday, October 17 (7:05 PM) – Adirondack Flames at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – OPENING NIGHT!