Phantoms Cook the Penguins in Game 1

Intense Effort Has Phantoms One Win Away from Advancing

April 24, 2024

Wilkes-Barre, PA – Adam Brooks and Rhett Gardner scored playoff-style goals as part of a hard-fought rivalry battle at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 2-1 win on Wednesday night. Louie Belpedio had a pair of assists and Cal Petersen recorded 21 saves on 22 shots to backstop the victory. The Phantoms now hold a 1-o edge in the Best of 3 series and have a chance to eliminate the Penguins on Friday night when the series arrives to PPL Center in Allentown.

Get the puck on net. And get to the net and get after the puck. Those basics were enough to push the puck past AHL All-Rookie Team goaltender Joel Blomqvist two times in the low-scoring playoff duel. And two goals was enough for a win.

A strong contingent of Orange-clad Phans made the trek up the Northeast Extension to cheer on their team. And they weren’t disappointed. After all the rivalry intensity resulted in a Phantoms win, Olle Lycksell and other players saluted the fans and the support they received. The Phantoms fans were impossible to miss.

Also enjoying the contest were Philadelphia Flyers management and coaches including Daniel Briere, Keith Jones, John Tortorella and Rocky Thompson among others. One imagines they were mostly pleased with what they saw from the contests.

In a physical battle befitting the first game of the postseason, the Phantoms continually pushed and also pushed back at the Penguins with one collision after another being the predictable result in the 13th meeting between the two teams in less than four months.

Cal Petersen had to be on his game early. A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton two-on-one opportunity almost led to the first goal of the game by Matt Filipe out in front had his shot for the left side of the cage deflect off the glove of the Phantoms lefty netminder for maybe his best stop of the night. Sam Poulin had also found himself with an open chance on the backdoor but missed behind the net as Petersen rotated over quickly to cut the angle.

The Phantoms struck first and a sneaky shot on the move with Adam Brooks putting it on net from a sharp angle. Joel Blomqvist had the puck hit off his shoulder and bounce straight down and scores the line for the 1-0 lead with barely more than five minutes left in the first. But it took a little bit. The officials did not initially credit the Phantoms with a goal. While Adam Brooks celebrated his conversion, Lycksell pointed to the puck to show the official where it had gone in. The subsequent video review was quick and the Phantoms led 1-0 via his four-on-four tally.

Also quick was the Phantoms’ score to open the second period. Louie Belpedio’s shot from center point handcuffed the AHL All-Rookie Team goaltender and bounded out to the slot where Gardner connected after a couple of swings on the bouncing biscuit to put the Phantoms ahead 2-0 with a goal just past the right pad of Blomqvist.

The Phantoms weren’t done. Lehigh Valley largely dominated the second period but somehow was unable to deliver the knockout punch and build on its lead further. Gardner had an open chance out in front but the puck bounces in funny ways sometimes and he never got off a shot. Helge Grans moved to the right dot and blasted a shot off the upper-far corner that dinged away. Emil Andrae had a chance as well. The Phantoms had the Baby Pens on the ropes. But somehow Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was hanging on.

But the Penguins pushed back and finally found a second wind after so many near misses and close calls for the Phantoms. Petersen made a big save on a short breakaway by Corey Andonovksi. With under two minutes remaining in the period, Sam Poulin in the left corner spotted newcomer Ville Koivunen in his pro debut to chip a vital goal off the underside of the top of the cage and effectively get the home team back in the game.

Both teams traded chances in the third period. Bobby Brink perhaps had the best opportunity of all after a nifty touch from Rhett Gardner in the middle following a set up by Cooper Marody in the corner. But Brink’s quick blast would result in Lehigh Valley’s second time denting the iron.

On the other end of the ice, it was a bit of a blocking clinic for Lehigh Valley. As well as a lesson in compete-level and denying space. The Phantoms’ suffocating defense frustrated the Penguins and eventually worked the clock down to zeros and a Phantoms’ opening game victory.

The Phantoms will look to finish the series on Friday night in Allentown as playoff hockey returns to PPL Center for the first time in six years. If Lehigh Valley wins the series against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton then the next opponent would be the first-place and defending champion Hershey Bears in a Best of 5 series in early May.


1st 14:37 – A. Brooks (A. Ginning, L. Belpedio) (4×4) (1-0)

2nd 0:58 – R. Gardner (L. Belpedio, C. Marody) (2-0)
2nd 18:16 – V. Koivunen (S. Poulin) (2-1)

LV 32 – WBS 22

LV 0/3, WBS 0/2

LV – C. Petersen (W) (21/22)
WBS – J. Blomqvist (L) (30/32)

Lehigh Valley leads 1-0 in the Best of 3

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE


Wednesday, April 24 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 – W-B/Scranton Penguins 1

Friday, April 26 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Game 2 – Calder Cup Playoffs

Sunday, April 28 (5:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Game 3 – Calder Cup Playoffs