Remarkable Comeback to Close 2021

Phantoms Rally From 5-1 Deficit in Overtime Win

December 31, 2021 

Utica, NY – What a way to end the year! The Lehigh Valley Phantoms trailed by scores of 4-0 and 5-1 before turning it on to the tune of a 6-5 overtime win at the Utica Comets in the last game of 2021. Cal O’Reilly scored the overtime winner a few minutes after Hayden Hodgson’s second goal of the game had tied the score at 5-5 with just 35.1 seconds left in regulation.

The former Utica Comets captain, Cal O’Reilly burned his ex-team with the overtime winner on the backdoor after a Hayden Hodgson steal. He added two big assists on Hodgson’s goals in the third period comeback. Logan Day, Isaac Ratcliffe and Garrett Wilson also scored in the remarkable victory and Pat Nagle made several incredible stops in the second and the third periods to keep the Comets within striking distance.

Lehigh Valley (8-11-6) extended its season-best point streak to six games at 5-0-1 and knocked off the top team in the league in the process. The Comets record moves to 18-1-3.

It certainly wasn’t looking like a great night for the Phantoms when the game started. Chase De Leo scored twice and Colton White added the first of his two goals as the Comets brought their New Year’s Eve sellout crowd to a deafening roar with a 3-0 advantage in the first period.

White scored again early in the second for a 4-0 lead but Logan Day responded with his first of the year to get the Phantoms on the board.

Frederik Gauthier beat Nagle for a 5-1 lead in the second period and from that point the Phantoms put forth their determined effort in the amazing rally.

Isaac Ratcliffe (4th) tipped a center-point shot from Egor Zamula late in the second to close the gap to 5-2.

O’Reilly stole the puck from a Comets defenseman right in front of the Utica goal and then quickly dropped to a hustling Hayden Hodgson who blasted home his first of the night in the opening seconds of the third period and suddenly the Phantoms were within a pair at 5-3.

A few minutes later it was Zamula from the left boards finding Garrett Wilson (7th) on a shot-pass into the slot for the redirect to make it a 5-4 game.

That score remained for most of the rest of the final frame. Pat Nagle stood on his head with multiple incredible saves to keep the Phantoms within a goal. He denied Samuel Laberge on a breakaway and also stuffed the ensuing rebound try right on top of him keeping his right pad down on the ice while sliding over to his left. Earlier he had denied Fabian Zetterlund at the doorstep with an amazing denial to his left.

The Phantoms kept pushing. Logan Day was open from the left circle with two minutes left but his bid for the equalizer rang off the near post and bounced out.

But Hayden Hodgson from roughly the same area didn’t miss. His 6-on-5 goal was set up by O’Reilly way over in the right corner threading the needle through all the traffic to connect for the tying tally with 35.1 seconds remaining.

Hayden Hodgson pressured in overtime and picked off the puck. Walking to the right dot on a bit of a 2-on-1, Hodgson spotted O’Reilly open on the backdor who buried the winner with 1:01 left in the extra period. It was the Phantoms’ first overtime victory of the season and capped their biggest comeback in several years.

The Phantoms carry their six-game point streak back to PPL Center for the first game of 2022 on Saturday, January 1 at 6:05 p.m. when they host the Bridgeport Islanders to ring in the New Year.

Tickets for upcoming Phantoms games are available HERE


1st 2:55 – UTI, C. De Leo (4) (B, Flynn) 0-1
1st 6:25 – UTI, C. White (1) (M. Vukojevic, T. Irvine) 0-2
1st 13:17 – UTI, C. De Leo (5) (R. Russo, J. Groleau) 0-3

2nd 4:58 – UTI, C. White (2) (F. Zetterlund) 0-4
2nd 6:19 – LV, L. Day (1) (M. Sushko) 1-4
2nd 8:50 – UTI, F. Gauthier (1) (G. Clarke, A. Greer) 1-5
2nd 16:34 – LV, I. Ratcliffe (4) (E. Zamula, L. Day) 2-5

3rd 0:39 – LV, H. Hodgson (5) (C. O’Reilly) 3-5
3rd 4:17 – LV, G. Wilson (7) (E. Zamula, W. Wylie) 4-5
3rd 19:24 – LV, H. Hodgson (6) (C. O’Reilly, A. Clendening) (6-on-5) 5-5

OT 3:59 – LV, C. O’Reilly (4) (H. Hodgson) 6-5

LV 30 – UTI 34

LV 0/3, UTI 0/2

LV – Pat Nagle (W) (5-0-2) (29/34)
UTI – Mareks Mitens (OTL) (2-0-1) (24/30)

Lehigh Valley (8-11-6)
Utica (18-1-3)