Phantoms’ Lead Overcome by Comets

German Rubtsov with Goal and Assist

October 29, 2021

Utica, NY – German Rubtsov broke a 0-0 tie late in the second period with a goal and assist to give the Phantoms a 2-0 lead at Utica on Friday night but the Comets streaked back on a two-goal performance from Alexander Holtz to post a 5-2 come-from-behind decision.

The Phantoms out shot Utica 33-22 but the host Comets were more opportunisitc on their chances while the Phantoms were repeatedly denied on glorious tries against goalie Nico Daws. Tyson Foerster had multiple good looks throughout the game and Connor Bunnaman had one try from just a couple feet away that somehow Daws rotated over to stop.

The encounter was a matchup of familiar faces as the Phantoms went 8-1-4 against the former Binghamton Devils last year.

The Phantoms looked to be in good shape to continue their recent dominance of the New Jersey Devils’ affiliation when German Rubtsov deflected a Linus Hogberg slapshot for a 1-0 lead and then just 90 second later connected with Hayden Hodgson from the right boards for a chip-in goal and a 2-0 advantage.

But a long stretch-pass found Nate Schnarr for a breakaway goal in the final seconds of the second period as Utica (4-0-0) gained momentum by finally breaking through and getting on the board after 39 scoreless minutes.

Holtz scored just barely over a minute into the third to tie the game at 2-2 on a shot from the right wing by Chase DeLeo that was kicked out by the right leg of Sam Ersson but right to the New Jersey first-rounder who potted the rebound.

Two minutes later it was defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk with a snipe from the left boards that eluded Ersson for a 3-2 advantage.

The Phantoms were tantalizingly close to equalizing with under eight minutes left when they had rookie goaltender Nico Daws scrambling in various directions but the snake-bitten Phantoms couldn’t find the handle at the right time and the push from Tyson Foerster, Cal O’Reilly and Max Willman went for naught. Moments later, the Comets raced away with a 2-on-1 with Holtz burying the insurance goal for a 4-2 lead.

Lehigh Valley (0-5-1) pulled goalie Sam Ersson with 4:00 left and kept looking to work the puck to the slot. But eventually Fabian Zetterlund launched a drive from behind the blue-line that hit the empty net with 2:14 left to seal the win.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms open a two-game homestand on Saturday night when they host the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game also marks the debut of Saturday Night Hockey Live featuring a live concert performance by Kendal Conrad between periods.

The Phantoms will then host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, November 3.

Tickets for both upcoming home games are available at

Scoring Summary:

1st – None

2nd 14:13 – LV, G. Rubtsov (1) (L. Hogberg, W. Wylie) 1-0
2nd 14:43 – LV, H. Hodgson (1) (G. Rubtsov, E. Zamula) 2-0
2nd 19:35 – UTI, N. Schnarr (2) (A. Greer, T. Wotherspoon) 2-1

3rd 1:06 – UTI, A. Holtz (4) (C. DeLeo, J. Boqvist) 2-2
3rd 3:43 – UTI, N. Okhotiuk (2) (C. DeLeo) 2-3
3rd 12:56 – UTI, A. Holtz (5) (C. DeLeo, T. Thompson) 2-4
3rd 17:$4 – UTI, F. Zetterlund (1) (N. Okhotiuk, A. Talvitie) ENG, 2-5

Shots: LV 33 – UTI 22

PP: LV 0/3, UTI 0/1

LV Sam Ersson (0-2-1) (L) (17/21)
UTI Nico Daws (2-0-0) (W) (31/33)

LV (0-5-1)
UTI (4-0-0)