Phantoms Double-Up Providence 6-3 to Clinch Division Title

Twarynski Scores First Career Goal, McDonald 3 Points Paces Offense

April 8, 2018

Providence, RI – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms exploded for four goals in the opening period en route to a 6-3 victory at the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon thus clinching the Atlantic Division title in the team’s final away game of the season. Colin McDonald notched one goal and two assists while rookie newcomer Carsen Twarynski started the surge with his first professional goal.

Greg Carey (31st), T.J. Brennan (14th), Colin McDonald (8th), Phil Varone (23rd) and Cole Bardreau (11th) as well as Twarynski all found the back of the net in the balanced scoring effort for a Phantoms offense that seemed to find their championship-caliber groove in their road-trip finale. The Phantoms scored a pair of power-play goals and also a shorthanded empty-netter en route to the invigorating division clinching triumph.

The result provided the Phantoms with their first division crown since 2003-04 and their fifth title all-time in franchise history. Lehigh Valley improved to 45-19-10 and thus also reached 100 points for the second consecutive season and the seventh time ever for the Phantoms franchise. The Phantoms had 101 points last year and will have an opportunity to break past that mark in the upcoming final two games of the season at PPL Center this weekend.

Perhaps it was an appropriate venue for Scott Gordon to clinch the division crown. The last time Gordon won a divisional title was in 2007-08 when he was bench boss for the Providence Bruins on his way to Louis A.R. Pieri Award honors as AHL Coach of the Year leading the team to a 55-win campaign.

The Providence Bruins fell into practically a third/fourth-place tie with the Charlotte Checkers. Whichever team finishes in fourth in the Atlantic will be the first-round playoff opponent for the Phantoms in the opening Best-of-Five series.

The Phantoms stormed out of the gates with a huge shots advantage against the stunned and overpowered Bruins and then Lehigh Valley broke through at 7:33 with 20-year-old Twarynski banging home the rebound of a shot by Nicolas Aube-Kubel off the pads of Bruins goalie Zane Mcintyre. Phantoms goalie John Muse received credit for his second assist of the season that allowed the Phantoms to take the initial lead at 7:33 into the contest.

Twarynski’s first-career professional goal came in just his third game with the team. The 20-year-old Edmonton native cranked up 45 goals and 72 points in 68 games for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets this season prior to joining the Phantoms. The third-round selection of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2016 signed his Entry Level Contract (ELC) with the organization last month and is on the Phantoms at the end of this season via an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO).

Just over four minutes later it was Greg Carey on the power play on some nifty work from Vorobyev in the corner to McDonald in the left circle who quickly touched a pass across to Carey to bury the one-timer for a 2-0 advantage. Carey’s 31 goals is the most for any Phantom since 2004-05 when Jon Sim scored 35 goals for the Philadelphia Phantoms. Carey is also one off the AHL lead in goals right now held by Valentin Zykov of Charlotte and Chris Terry of Laval who both have 32. Carey is striving to become the first Phantom to lead the AHL in goals since Peter White scored 44 goals in the inaugural season of the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1996-97.

Providence found the back of the net with 5:00 remaining in the period on a strike from rookie winger Trent Frederic (4th) from a sharp angle on the power play thus trimming the Phantoms’ lead to 2-1.

But Lehigh Valley quickly responded with another power-play conversion just 94 seconds later when T.J. Brennan would walk in score from the top of the left circle after a touch back by Phil Varone. Brennan’s 14th goal of the season is also his 148th all-time in the AHL pulling the popular 29-year-old blueliner within 18 goals of John Slaney’s all-time defensemen league-record of 166 goals.

The Phantoms tacked on another with just 1:50 left in the opening frame on a steal in the corner by Vorobyev who quickly spotted an open McDonald in the slot for the one-timer slam. Lehigh Valley’s four goals in the first 20 minutes tied the season high for goals in a period. The Phantoms out shot the P-Bruins 20-8 in the dominating display.

Lehigh Valley pushed their lead again with an “almost-power-play” lamplighter. This time it was Mark Friedman driving into the slot just as a Providence player was returning to the ice from the penalty box. Friedman’s shot off the pads of McIntyre was then backhanded home by Varone for a 5-1 margin at 4:42 into the second.

Varone’s two-point effort gives the 27-year-old pivot 70 points on the season thus pushing him into a tie for the league leadership in scoring with Chris Terry of the Laval Rocket. The last Phantom to win the AHL scoring crown was Peter White who did so via back-to-back seasons of 105 points in 1996-97 and 1997-98 in the first two years of the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Even thought that was the only goal of the second period, the Phantoms again dominated the play with a 13-4 shots advantage and a 5-1 lead on the scoreboard after 40 minutes.

Providence was not content to mail it in the rest of the way and the P-Bruins cut the four-goal deficit in half to make matters far more interesting in the closing minutes.

Rookie Zach Senyshyn (10th) struck on a breakaway that was initially poke-checked away by John Muse but the first-round talent was able to retrieve the puck far to the right of the cage and convert from a sharp-angle just 34 seconds into the third period cutting the Phantoms’ lead to 5-2.

Then it was a nice touch-drop by Jack Studnicka setting up Jakub Zaboril’s (4th) goal from the left circle on the power play past the blocker of Muse for a 5-3 margin with still 6:33 remaining.

John Muse made a number of fine saves in the subsequent minutes to preserve the two-goal margin and then the Phantoms penalty-killers had to step up their game in a pair of 6-on-4 situations before Cole Bardreau blasted a clear all the way down ice for an empty-net goal to cap the evening with just fractions of a second remaining.

The P-Bruins’ third-period attack included a shot-advantage of 23-5 that kept Muse busy right up to the finish before Bardreau finished off the night.

And with that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms had locked up the division title and their second consecutive 100 point season. But there is still work to be done before the commencement of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Phantoms have a pair of upcoming home games on Friday against Bridgeport and Saturday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to conclude the 2017-18 campaign.

The Phantoms out shot Providence 38-35. Lehigh Valley was 2-for-6 on the power play while Providence finished at 1-for-5.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center for their final home games of the regular season on Friday, April 13 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Saturday, April 14 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Tickets for the final Phantoms home engagements before the exciting Calder Cup playoffs are available HERE.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms 6 at Providence Bruins 3 – Status: Final
Sunday, April 8, 2018 – Dunkin’ Donuts Center

Lehigh Valley 4 1 1 – 6
Providence 1 0 2 – 3

1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Twarynski 1 (Aube-Kubel, Muse), 7:33. 2, Lehigh Valley, Carey 31 (McDonald, Vorobyev), 11:51 (PP). 3, Providence, Frederic 4 (Hargrove, Zboril), 15:00 (PP). 4, Lehigh Valley, Brennan 14 (Varone), 16:34 (PP). 5, Lehigh Valley, McDonald 8 (Vorobyev), 18:10. Penalties-Zboril Pro (high-sticking), 10:59; Aube-Kubel Lv (goaltender interference), 13:04; Porter Pro (slashing), 15:53.

2nd Period-6, Lehigh Valley, Varone 23 (Friedman, McDonald), 4:42. Penalties-Payerl Pro (holding), 0:05; Sherman Pro (delay of game), 2:38; Aube-Kubel Lv (fighting), 7:05; Frederic Pro (fighting), 7:05; Goulbourne Lv (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:31; Martel Lv (tripping), 10:31; Payerl Pro (tripping), 16:51; Zboril Pro (interference), 18:10.

3rd Period-7, Providence, Senyshyn 10 (Porter), 0:34. 8, Providence, Zboril 4 (Studnicka, Clifton), 13:38. 9, Lehigh Valley, Bardreau 11 19:59 (EN). Penalties-Willcox Lv (interference), 2:36; Lamarche Lv (delay of game), 16:33; Lamarche Lv (interference), 19:30.

Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 20-13-5-38. Providence 8-4-23-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 2 / 6; Providence 1 / 5.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, Muse 11-2-1 (35 shots-32 saves). Providence, McIntyre 24-15-4 (37 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Nick Gill (65), Conor O’Donnell (6).
Linesmen-Dmitrii Antipin (77), Chris Leavitt (65).