Cleveland Tops Lehigh Valley 5-2
October 14, 2023
Lehigh Valley, PA – A season-opening sellout crowd brought the noise and the energy as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms commenced on their 10th season of “Phantoms in the Valley” presented by Service Electric. Cooper Marody scored the first goal of the season for the Phantoms but it came after the Cleveland Monsters had struck three times in the opening period en route to a 5-2 victory in Allentown on Saturday night.
Samu Tuomaala’s late power-play goal was another highlight for the Phantoms as the 20-year-old speedy winger lit the lamp with 1:34 remaining for his first career pro goal in North America in just his third game with the team and his first regular-season appearance in two seasons.
Trey Fix-Wolansky led the Cleveland attack with a four-point night that included two goals and two assists.
Lehigh Valley goes to 6-4-0 in season openers and also 5-4-1 in home debuts. The Phantoms franchise now stands at 19-9-0 in 28 all-time season-opening contests.
All of the Phantoms players were introduced before the game to an absolutely rocking and electric crowd as fans waved their rally towels in the exciting pregame show. But Cleveland captured that energy in the building and took advantage with a pair of early goals to enjoy a 2-0 lead in the opening 3:17 of the contest.
Fix-Wolansky scored the fastest goal in Lehigh Valley Opening Night history when he struck just 31 seconds into the game on the first of three helpers from Cleveland captain Brendan Gaunce.
Jake Christensen’s shot from the left boards appeared to deflect off a stick and go through a screen to elude Cal Petersen for a 2-0 margin.
Cleveland created their own luck at the end of the first period when Tyler Angle picked off a puck behind the goal and was able to beat the goalie back out in front of the net. Angle’s conversion with 1:03 remaining in the period gave the Monsters a 3-0 cushion.
Lehigh Valley came out in the second period with renewed energy and eventually scored its first goal of the season when Cooper Marody snagged a steal in the Cleveland zone and quickly shot to the glove side of Jet Greaves while moving left to right across the high slot. Marody joins a select list of first-goal scorers for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who pulled to within 3-1.
Rhett Gardner and Garrett Wilson thought they had made it a one-goal game just moments later as they drove the net and pushed a free puck past Greaves and into the cage. However, the officials waived off the goal due to contact with the goaltender. Garnder was contacted by a Cleveland player when he landed on Greaves but the decision to disallow the goal stood.
That proved to be a huge turning point in the game and a two-goal swing. Moments after the disallowed goal it was Carson Meyer sniping on the rush from the right circle to put Cleveland ahead 4-1 almost immediately after it was almost 3-2.
The Phantoms were still pushing and their attack induced Cleveland to take consecutive penalties. The 67 seconds of 5-on-3 was an opportunity for Lehigh Valley to cut into the margin and climb back into the game but the Monsters pushed through on a strong penalty kill. And shortly after the consecutive power plays, Cleveland zipped in for another goal when Fix-Wolansky beat Petersen with 4:47 remaining in the second period.
Lehigh Valley showed its toughness in the third period as Elliot Desnoyers dropped the gloves for the first time in his career and newcomer Helge Grans squared off with fellow big man Dmitri Voronkov for matching roughing minors.
Matt Brown had several strong scoring chances for the Phantoms throughout the night and began a sequence that led to the final goal of the evening when he connected with Garrett Wilson behind the goal line who found Tuomaala inside the right dot who unleashed a big one-timer for his first North American pro goal to conclude the scoring.
The Phantoms return to action Sunday at 1:05 p.m. against the Belleville Senators.
Family Fun Packs are available for $88 featuring 4 tickets, 4 sodas and 4 hot dogs.
1st 0:31 – CLE, T. Fix-Wolansky (1) (B. Gaunce, S. Svozil) (0-1)
1st 3:17 – CLE, J. Christensen (1) (B. Gaunce, T. Fix-Wolansky) (0-2)
1st 18:57 – CLE, T. Angle (1) (Unassisted) (0-3)
2nd 7:49 – LV, C. Marody (1) (Unassisted) (1-3)
2nd 11:18 – CLE, C. Meyer (1) (B. Gaunce, T. Fix-Wolansky) (1-4)
2nd 15:13 – CLE, T. Fix-Wolansky (2) (Unassisted) (1-5)
3rd 18:26 – LV, S. Tuomaala (1) (G. Wilson, M. Brown) (PP) (2-5)
LV 31 – CLE 32
LV – C. Petersen (27/32) (L) (0-1-0)
CLE – J. Greaves (29/31) (W (1-0-0)
Lehigh Valley (0-1-0)
Sunday, October 15 (1:05) – Belleville Senators at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (OPENING WEEKEND!!)
Friday, October 20 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, October 21 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hartford Wolf Pack
Sunday, October 22 (5:05) – Springfield Thunderbirds at Lehigh Valley Phantoms