Phantoms Earn Standings Point in Dominating Effort at Providence

They’re Back! Laczynski and Lycksell Lead Offense

March 15, 2024

Providence, RI – Olle Lycksell (19th) and Tanner Laczynski (9th) struck for the Phantoms in the third period with go-ahead goals but the Providence Bruins somehow survived to post a 4-3 shootout win on Friday night in the opening game of a two-game series in Rhode Island.

Lycksell was playing in his first game back with the Phantoms since February and just his second game with Lehigh Valley in two months as he cranked home his team-leading 19th of the year as part of a two-point night. Laczynski returned to the lineup on Wednesday after almost a two-month absence due to injury and also found the net in his second game with the Phantoms.

But Brandon Bussi was too much. The big Bruins goaltender made 39 saves including several miraculous denials in giving his Providence crew a chance. The Bruins rallied ack for tying goals three different times and never took the lead in the entire game before pushing ahead in the skills competition.

Lehigh Valley (25-24-8) doubled up the P-Bruins in shots at 42-21. And that included a dominating 17-4 margin in the third period. But the Phantoms only earned the single standings point when they probably deserved the two. But it is still an important point as the Phantoms pushed ahead of a tie in the standings with Springfield to now control sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 15 games remaining in the 2023-24 season.

Lehigh Valley also had a streak of wins in its last five consecutive post-regulation contests via the shootout loss as part of its 18th overtime contest of the season, just one shy of most in the AHL.

The Phantoms were roaring out o the gates to start to the tune of a 7-0 shots advantage. It appeared Zayde Wisdom had given the Phantoms a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes with a put-back of a rebound of his own shot but the officials determined that contact with the goaltender Bussi was enough to remove the goal from the board.

Later in the period, the disallowed goal count was evened when John Farinacci’s power-play conversion in the crease was taken away on a high stick call.

The Phantoms took the lead at 10:50 into the second period on a Cooper Marody (15th) deflection in the high slot off a shot/pass from Adam Karashik at left point. That goal would hold up despite the Bruins’ contention that it also was touched with a high stick.

Providence (36-17-5) evened the score on a drive from right point by defenseman Reilly Walsh that went off the post and in on the short side. The score was tied 1-1 at the second intermission.

The Phantoms didn’t take long to trigger the back-and-forth goal sequence of the third period. Lycksell cranked it home just 12 seconds into the final frame on the first of two strong set-ups by Adam Brooks to put the Phantoms ahead again at 2-1. It was the second-fastest goal into a period this season for Lehigh Valley. Samu Tuomaala took just 10 seconds to score a goal in the second period on November 18, 2023 at the Belleville Senators.

The Bruins pounced on a bouncing puck and first-rounder Fabian Lysell waved into the zoe with Geoorgii Merkulov (24th) to tie the game again, this time at 2-2, at 6:23 into the third.

Lehigh Valley struck again less than two minutes later. This time it was Brooks setting up Laczynski who got the rebound of his own shot and deposited a quick put back past Bussi at 8:10 into the third. The Phantoms again were ahead and now it was 3-2.

But just 32 seconds later the Bruins answered one more time. Lysell picked off a pass at the Providence line and was off to the races with Merkulov. The dynamic combo was denied down low by Petersen but the rebounding puck was perfect for Walsh in the high slot to rifle home his second goal of the game.

The remainder of the period was mostly a goaltending showcase by Brandon Bussi who repeatedly stoned the Phantoms with some incredible and unbelievable saves. Andrae from the high slot off the stick and Avon from the right wing wich induced a spectacular diving denial with the glove were a couple of the highlights. With one minute left, it appeared Brooks and Gaucher had teamed up for a dramatic game-winner but the shot went off the post, off the back of Bussi, appeared destined for the cage, and then somehow was pulled out before the Phantoms could finish off the game-winner.

The Phantoms had four more shots on goal in the overtime including another drive from Andrae that Busi fought off. Petersen had a tremendous breakaway save on Anthony Richard to keep it going. Eventually, the deadlock would go to a shootout where J-R Avon was unable to convert for only the second time this season. Avon leads the league with five shootout goals but Bussi got a piece to deny the shot. Merkulov converted in the first round and that was enough for the P-Bruins to somehow escape and emerge with an unlikely victory.

The Phantoms and Bruins rematch Saturday night in the final game of Lehigh Valley’s five-game road trip.


2nd 10:50 – LV, C. Marody (15) (A. Karashik, J. Gaucher) (1-0)
2nd 16:06 – PRO, R. Walsh (7) (A. Richard, P. Brown) (1-1)

3rd 0:12 – LV, O. Lycksell (19) (A. Brooks, H. Grans) (2-1)
3rd 6:23 – PRO, G. Merkulov (24) (J. Megna, F. Lysell) (2-2)
3rd 8:10 – LV, T. LAczynski (9) (A. Brooks, O. Lycksell) (3-2)
3rd 8:42 – PRO, R. Walsh (8) (F. Lysell, G. Merkulov) (3-3)

OT – No Goals

LV – J. Avon X, T. Laczynsk X, O. Lycksell X
PRO – G. Merkulov GOAL, J. Farinacii X

LV 42 – PRO 21

LV 0/1, PRO 0/4

LV – C. Petersen (SOL) (7-10-3) (17/20)
PRO – B. Bussi (W) (19-9-3) (39/42)

Lehigh Valley (25-24-8)
Providence (36-17-5)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, March 15 (7:05) at Providence Bruins
Saturday, March 16 (7:05) at Providence Bruins

Wednesday, March 20 (7:05) vs. Springfield Thunderbirds – Joe Watson Book Signing / $1 Pretzels
Saturday, March 23 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Margaritaville Night
Sunday, March 24 (3:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Kids Takeover Day / Postgame Autographs Presented by NJM Insurance