Phantoms Early Lead Extinguished by Late Hartford Bounces

Reading Native Steven Swavely Makes Pro Debut

March 12, 2016

Hartford, CT – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms raced out to a 2-0 lead in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday afternoon but the Wolf Pack overcame the early deficit to claim a 4-2 conclusion at XL Center.

Chris Conner (13th) and Colin McDonald (12th) tallied for the Phantoms in the first period staking the visitors a 2-0 lead. But the tables turned just after the midway point of the game as Hartford rallied with goals from former Phantom Tyler Brown (2nd), Jayson Megna (12th), Marek Hrivik (8th) and Mat Bodie (6th).

Jason LaBarbera received the starting opportunity in net after Anthony Stolarz was recalled earlier in the day by the Philadelphia Flyers. Playing in his former home arena where he excelled for four seasons and won AHL MVP honors in 2003-04, LaBarbera was on his game from the start and put the Phantoms in position to snag a hard-earned road triumph.

Newcomer Steven Swavely made his professional debut and carried himself well as the team’s fourth-line center. The Reading, Pennsylvania native is a life-long Flyers fan who grew up watching many Philadelphia Phantoms games at Spectrum as well as the Flyers games he attended. The former captain at the University of Maine referred to his opportunity to sign a pro contract in the Flyers system as a “dream come true.”

Jeff Malcolm rebounded from perhaps a rocky start to hold the Phantoms at bay the rest of the way and claim the victory for the affiliates of the New York Rangers.

Two weeks ago, the Phantoms overcame a third-period deficit to post a thrilling 2-1 win at XL Center. This time around, it would be the host Wolf Pack returning the favor with a third-period rally of their own against the Phantoms.

Lehigh Valley raced out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame beginning with Chris Conner’s breakaway strike on a long connection from Tim Brent in the defensive zone scooping up a rebound. Brent was playing in his first game in almost two months following an upper-body injury and launched a home-run pass perfectly on the tape of Conner who wouldn’t miss on the backhand at 9:48 into the first period. Taylor Leier also received an assist on the play.

The Phantoms pushed that lead to 2-0 on a fine feed from the wing finding Colin McDonald in the slot whose big blast went off the glove of the waving arm of Malcolm and dribbled into the net. The native of nearby Wethersfield grew up attending many games at XL Center where his Dad had played for the Hartford Whalers and had also served as a broadcast commentator for the Whalers and Wolf Pack.

The Phantoms enjoyed their 2-0 margin all the way to the halfway mark of the second period but Hartford turned up the pressure from there. Brady Skjei connected with ex-Phantom Tyler Brown who scored on the blocker-side of LaBarbera at 10:05 into the second period to spark the Wolf Pack rally. Brown played in 181 games for the Adirondack Phantoms over three seasons from 2011-14.

Jayson Megna converted on a rebound of a Mat Bodie shot to even the count with 2:05 remaining in the middle frame. LaBarbera was in position for the follow-up power-play drive and even got a glove on the liner from Megna but the shot had enough to make it through for the equalizer.

Marek Hrivik scored on a debated goal at 6:00 into the third period. Holding his stick up high in the slot, Hrivik chopped down to deflect a Chris Summers blast from the point for the go-ahead tally. The Phantoms contended the goal should have been waived off due to a high stick but the officials deemed that the stick was underneath the crossbar by the time it made contact with the puck. High-stick goals are not subject to video-review in the American Hockey League.

Hartford capped the scoring with 9:46 remaining when Mat Bodie rushed up the right-wing and blasted through a short-handed strike on the glove-side of LaBarbera. It was just the third shorthanded goal surrendered by the Phantoms this year and only the second one against a goalie (one other shorthanded goal allowed was 4-on-6 with an empty-net but still technically qualifies as a shortie).

Lehigh Valley finished 0-for-5 on the power play while the Wolf Pack were 1-for-5. Hartford out shot the Phantoms 47-30 in the game. The two Atlantic Division rivals will rematch at PPL Center on Saturday, March 26 in the conclusion of the season series.

The Phantoms continue their five-game road swing on Wednesday night against the Rochester Americans and on Friday night at the Toronto Marlies. Be sure to catch all the action on FOX 1470-AM, online at or via the iHeartRadio app with “Countdown to Faceoff” beginning both evenings at 6:20 p.m.

The Phantoms return home on Sunday, March 20 at 5:05 p.m. against the Portland Pirates in the opener of a four-game homestand at PPL Center. That game will also feature a fun-filled post-game autograph session with all the Phantoms players!

RISE UP! Reserve your season tickets for the 2016-2017 season of Lehigh Valley 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)!

Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack 4 – Status: Final
Saturday, March 12, 2016 – XL Center

Lehigh Valley 2 0 0 – 2
Hartford 0 2 2 – 4

1st Period-1, Lehigh Valley, Conner 13 (Brent, Leier), 9:48. 2, Lehigh Valley, McDonald 12 (Bardreau), 16:50. Penalties-Smith Lv (fighting), 1:28; Tarnasky Hfd (fighting), 1:28; Summers Hfd (slashing), 6:07; Skjei Hfd (checking to the head), 10:40; Palushaj Lv (interference), 11:31.

2nd Period-3, Hartford, T. Brown 2 (Skjei, Summers), 10:05. 4, Hartford, Megna 12 (Bodie, Nehring), 17:55 (PP). Penalties-Megna Hfd (high-sticking), 4:16; Smith Lv (tripping), 7:03; Oleksuk Hfd (hooking), 10:35; Smith Lv (slashing), 16:44.

3rd Period-5, Hartford, Hrivik 8 (Summers, Diaz), 6:00. 6, Hartford, Bodie 6 (Megna), 10:14 (SH). Penalties-Martel Lv (diving/embellishment), 2:21; Summers Hfd (high-sticking), 2:21; Graves Hfd (tripping), 8:34; Bardreau Lv (tripping), 12:15; Alt Lv (slashing), 15:32.

Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 10-8-12-30. Hartford 14-19-14-47.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 0 / 5; Hartford 1 / 5.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, LaBarbera 7-13-0 (47 shots-43 saves). Hartford, Malcolm 6-5-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Ryan Hersey (8), Mark Lemelin (41).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Brian Pincus (25).

Upcoming Home Games:

Sunday, March 20, 2016, Portland Pirates vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 5:05 p.m.
(Post-Game Autographs with Phantoms Players.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, Hershey Bears vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
(Health Care Workers Appreciation Night. Non-Profit Awareness Night.)

Friday, March 25, 2016, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 26, 2016, Hartford Wolf Pack vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
(Fan Appreciation Night.)

In the midst of their 20th season of operation, the Phantoms are coming off their Inaugural Season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms playing at the brand-new PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 19 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).