Phantoms Double-Up The Birds 6-3

James De Haas First Pro Goal is Shorthanded Game-Winner in 3rd

November 24, 2017

Springfield, MA – Greg Carey (7th, 8th) scored a pair of goals and Phil Varone contributed a three-point effort on a goal and two assists but it was newcomer James De Haas who provided the game-winning difference in the third period en route to a 6-3 Phantoms victory at the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night.

Tied at 3-3 in the opening minutes of the third period, the Phantoms struck for the game-winner while on the penalty-kill. Corban Knight carried up the right boards and connected with James De Haas in the slot whose top-shelf chip was picture perfect for the go-ahead and game-winning goal with 13:27 remaining in regulation. The first career professional goal for the rookie out of Clarkson University came just two periods after De Haas and acquired his first-ever AHL point via an assist on a Greg Carey goal five minutes into the game. De Haas had been traveling with the team on its season-long six-game road-trip as an extra defenseman but the injury situation dictated an appearance in the lineup for the newcomer who was playing in just his fourth AHL game and his first since November 5.

The Phantoms improved to 3-0-0 in the series against the Springfield Thunderbirds and finished their longest road-swing of the season at an even .500 mark of 3-3-0. Lehigh Valley’s overall record improved to 11-6-2 hitting the one-quarter mark of the season (19 games played out of 76 total).

Phil Varone took over the Phantoms points leadership with one goal and two assists. Varone’s 21 points on the campaign pushed the seven-year veteran past Danick Martel and up to fourth in the AHL pending the outcomes of other games.

Greg Carey almost recorded his first AHL hat trick but his chance in the third period for a three-goal night hit off the left post and bounced away. Carey does have a couple of professional hat tricks to his credit with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL including a four-goal game on November 9, 2014.

Dustin Tokarski repelled 21 Springfield drives en route to improving to 5-1-1. The 28-year-old netminder saved some of his best stops for late when the Phantoms needed him most. A number of quality denials off the pads and one tremendous glove save helped preserve the result for Lehigh Valley.

Carey opened the scoring five minutes into the game on a backhand chip in the slot following a fine centering pass from Varone. Carey’s seventh of the year was also assisted by De Haas as the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead.

Springfield responded 48 seconds later with Anthony Greco’s eighth of the season straight off a power-play face-off win.

The Phantoms answered back at 7:20 into the game when T. J. Brennan slid a pass from center-point to Phil Varone on the top of the right circle who rifled home the tie-breaking power-play marker for a 2-1 lead. Oskar Lindblom also assisted on Varone’s sixth goal of the season.

The T-Birds soared back before the break with another power-play goal. This time the hosts’ conversion came via a scramble in the crease after an impressive left-pad save for Dustin Tokarski. Alexander Grenier’s toss over the right shoulder of Tokarski found the back of the net despite the efforts of De Haas to play it out in midair. Springfield’s 5-on-3 strike knotted the score at 2-2 entering the first break.

Springfield took their first and only lead of the evening in the opening minutes of the second period on a goal for Mikkel Aagaard (4th) assisted by Blaine Byron and Mike Downing at the 4:18 mark.

The Thunderbirds held onto the lead past the midway point of the game but then Lehigh Valley struck quickly out of their zone with some strong board play by Varone to win the puck and connect with Mark Friedman whose drive from mid-ice caromed right back out in front off the end-boards for the onrushing Greg Carey who converted on yet another backhand chip to the top shelf. Matt Read led the way on that push with a solid forecheck to shove a Springfield defender out of the way thus setting up the trailing Carey for the opportunity to tie the game at 3-3.

Carey is now tops among all active Phantoms players with eight goals. Danick Martel leads Lehigh Valley with 14 but is no longer with the Phantoms following his call-up to the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the week.

Springfield had the opportunity to break the 3-3 tie in the third period but Knight’s connection with De Haas for the shortie at 6:33 gave the Phantoms the lead instead. It was the Phantoms third shorthanded goal of the season.

Corban Knight would set up the next goal just four minutes later too when his clean face-off win was rocketed home on a right-point one-timer by Mark Alt who scored his third of the season. This was Alt’s second game back with the Phantoms after a stint of six games with the Philadelphia Flyers. The goal came from almost the exact same spot on the Springfield ice as his game-winner two seasons ago against the old Springfield Falcons when Alt broke a tie with just four seconds left.

Oskar Lindblom concluded the scoring with his length-of-the-ice empty-netter with 2:59 left which stood as his fourth of the season.

The Phantoms out shot Springfield 32-24. Lehigh Valley was 2-for-8 on the power play while Springfield finished at 2-for-5.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return home for the first time in almost three weeks on Saturday night when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers arrive for a 7:05 p.m. engagement on Legends of Wrestling Night featuring Whitehall’s very own “Nasty Boys.” Saturday is the opener of a season-long six-game homestand for the Phantoms. A live auction of game-worn jerseys will immediately follow the game as well. Secure your tickets at or by calling (610) 347-TIXX (8499).

Lehigh Valley Phantoms 6 at Springfield Thunderbirds 3 – Status: Final
Friday, November 24, 2017 – MassMutual Center

Lehigh Valley 2 1 3 – 6
Springfield 2 1 0 – 3

1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Carey 7 (Varone, de Haas), 5:02. 2, Springfield, Greco 8 (Valk, Erixon), 5:50 (PP). 3, Lehigh Valley, Varone 6 (Brennan, Lindblom), 7:20 (PP). 4, Springfield, Grenier 5 (Malgin, Valk), 19:10 (PP). Penalties-Carey Lv (slashing), 5:39; Turgeon Spr (cross-checking), 6:28; Greco Spr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:13; Farnham Spr (holding), 15:13; Vecchione Lv (holding), 17:38; Tokarski Lv (delay of game), 18:23.

2nd Period-5, Springfield, Aagaard 4 (Byron, Downing), 4:18. 6, Lehigh Valley, Carey 8 (Friedman, Varone), 12:18. Penalties-Schemitsch Spr (holding), 6:42; Aagaard Spr (slashing), 18:05.

3rd Period-7, Lehigh Valley, de Haas 1 (Knight), 6:33 (SH). 8, Lehigh Valley, Alt 3 (Knight), 10:25. 9, Lehigh Valley, Lindblom 4 (Myers), 17:01 (PP EN). Penalties-Vecchione Lv (high-sticking), 6:12; Aagaard Spr (holding), 8:16; Myers Lv (holding the stick), 11:49; McDonald Lv (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:55; Turgeon Spr (major – interference, game misconduct – interference), 14:55.

Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 10-7-15-32. Springfield 9-5-10-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 2 / 8; Springfield 2 / 5.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, Tokarski 5-1-1 (24 shots-21 saves). Springfield, Montembeault 3-8-1 (31 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Furman South (44), Pierre Lambert (47).
Linesmen-Mike Baker (11), Brent Colby (7).

Reserve your group outings for the 2017-2018 season of 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]!