Resilient Phantoms Battle Back for Standings Point Against Hartford

Lindblom, Willcox Each Record Goal, Assist

December 20, 2017

Lehigh Valley, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms employed a never-say-die attitude Wednesday evening in earning a critical standings point in a 5-4 overtime decision to the Hartford Wolf Pack in front of 7,026 fans inside PPL Center. The Phantoms faced a 2-0 deficit in the first period, a 3-1 deficit in the second period and a 4-3 deficit in the third period but battled back each and every time in eventually forcing the game to overtime.

With Wednesday’s outcome, Lehigh Valley moved to 18-9-2-2 overall this season as the Phantoms become the first team in the Atlantic Division to reach 40 standings points. Lehigh Valley has now claimed at least one point in six of the team’s last eight outings (5-2-1) as the Phantoms moved to 9-3-2-1 in games played at PPL Center this season.

Greg Carey (16th), Oskar Lindblom (8th), Reece Willcox (2nd) and Steven Swavely (2nd) all found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley on Wednesday in front of goaltender Dustin Tokarski who moved to 8-2-3 overall this season after a solid 30-save performance.

With his conversion, Carey moved into sole possession of third place among all AHL skaters in goals scored this season. The 27-year-old winger has now found the back of the net in nine of his last 14 outings as he’s compiled an impressive 11 goals and 13 points during his recent surge. Carey is now just one goal behind Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel for both the team and league lead in goals scored.

Meanwhile, Lindblom remained red hot as his goal was part of a multi-point effort (goal, assist) giving the first-year forward four goals and seven total points over his last eight games.

Forward Phil Varone also contributed a pair of points (2 assists) Wednesday evening as he moved into a tie with Hershey’s Chris Bourque for the AHL lead in total scoring with 33 points. With Wednesday’s production, Varone has now compiled 33 total points (9 goals, 24 assists) while appearing in all 31 of Lehigh Valley’s games to date.

Hartford opened the scoring with just over four minutes remaining in the first period when Caleb Herbert found some open real estate on the left wing before sending home his first goal of the season. Anthony DeAngelo and Ryan Graves assisted on the even-strength strike tallied 16:06 into the opening frame.

The Wolf Pack then doubled their advantage just over two minutes later when Herbert fed a cross-ice pass to the right side that was promptly blasted home by Gabriel Fontaine for his fifth goal of the year. Herbert and Dawson Leedahl garnered assists on the five-on-five tally produced 18:07 into the first period.

The Phantoms sliced Hartford’s lead in half exactly five minutes into the second period when a brilliant and relentless shift by Matt Read produced an opportunity for Willcox alone atop the Wolf Pack goal crease who deftly used the back hand in converting his second goal of the season. Read collected the primary assist as he notched his 10th point (3 goals, 7 assists) over the last nine games. Meanwhile, Lindblom grabbed the secondary helper.

Hartford re-established its two-goal lead a little over five minutes later when, while on the power play, John Gilmour’s drive from the high slot deflected off the left post producing a rebound at the side of the goal that was promptly punched in by Ryan Gropp for his seventh goal of the year. Steven Fogarty assisted on the man-advantage marker tallied 10:13 into the middle stanza.

The resilient Phantoms bounced right back though and trimmed the deficit back to a single goal just over a minute later when Willcox’s shot from the wing was altered en route by Swavely for his second goal of the season and second tally in as many games. Alex Krushelnyski grabbed the second assist on the five-on-five conversion netted 11:56 into the second period.

Lehigh Valley then leveled the rivalry showdown with just over a minute remaining in the middle frame when, after relentless offensive pressure in the Wolf Pack zone, Carey unleashed a screaming slap shot from the high slot that sizzled into the back of Hartford’s net for Carey’s 16th goal of the year. James de Haas and Varone assisted on the equalizing marker tallied 18:51 into the second period.

The Wolf Pack kept pressing though and established a 4-3 edge exactly six minutes into the final frame of regulation when John Gilmour’s left point shot slipped through traffic for his fifth conversion of the season. Neal Pionk and Adam Tambellini assisted on the go-ahead tally.

Once again, the Phantoms bounced right back though as Lehigh Valley evened the game less than a minute and a half later when, while on the power play, Lindblom punched in his eighth goal of the year. Chris Conner and Varone assisted on the man-advantage marker poured in 7:26 into the final frame of regulation.

Hartford would land the final conversion though as DeAngelo netted his second goal of the season 1:40 into overtime sealing the decision.

The Phantoms are back in action this Saturday, December 23 when they play their final game before the AHL’s holiday break as the team invades the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a 5:05 p.m. clash with the Penguins.

Lehigh Valley then returns home on Friday, December 29 and Saturday, December 30 when the Phantoms host the Charlotte Checkers, AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, for a two-game series at PPL Center. Tickets for are available now and can be purchased online by clicking HERE.