SWEEP! Gaucher’s OT Heroics Lifts Phantoms to Round 2

Incredible Comeback Sparks Welcome Playoff Return to Lehigh Valley

April 26, 2024

Allentown, PA – The Valley was Rallied to the fullest on Friday night with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms storming back to eliminate the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in overtime 5-4. Jacob Gaucher provided the heroic touch only 2:17 into sudden-death overtime to claim the series. Tanner Laczynski scored two clutch tying goals in the third period to erase multiple deficits and ultimately force overtime. Emil Andrae started the third-period charge with a huge 5-on-3 power-play goal to pull the Phantoms to within one.

The wait finally ended! Playoff hockey returned to PPL Center for the first time in six years and in poetic fashion. Fans came armed with rally towels on an Orange Out Night. The atmosphere was electric. And so was the game in which the Phantoms rallied from behind with tying goals three different times before pushing through with the incredible overtime win. All credit to the Phantoms power play as well which racked up three man-advantage markers in the comeback effort.

Lehigh Valley advanced to the Atlantic Division Semifinals courtesy of a 2-0 series sweep. Next up are the defending Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears in a Best-of-5 series in Round 2 beginning on Wednesday, May 1 in Chocolatetown.

Rally the Valley returns to PPL Center for Games 3 and 4 of the rivalry showdown series on Wednesday, May 8 and Sunday, May 11.

But before the celebration party on Seventh and Hamilton started, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton provided a rude welcoming for the fans dressed in orange and it wasn’t looking great for the home team. Valtteri Puustinen opened the scoring only 2:17 into the game to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in front 1-0. Puustinen won a board battle and raced to the net to redirected a shot from Jack Rathbone that found daylight past Cal Petersen.

Down 1-0 into the middle frame, Ronnie Attard put the Phantoms on the board with the tean’s first of three strikes on the man-advantage. Attard and Mete traded sauce at the point before Attard wired home his first career AHL playoff goal at 9:19. But the pesky Pens answered twice before the second intermission to claim a 3-1 lead. Radim Zohorna scored on the power play under Petersen’s sprawled out left pad at 14:06, and Rathbone blasted home a try from the high slot at 17:58.

But the tremendous character and will the Phantoms have shown in games all season long would soon re-emerge in a pivotal moment. Back-to-back Penguins penalties gave the Phantoms a glorious chance via a 5-on-3 power play and a golden opportunity to rally.

Emil Andrae took full advantage of the 5-on-3 and sniped home his first goal of the postseason from the left circle to the upper-right corner at 12:15 into the third period from Cooper Marody and Olle Lycksell. Only 22 seconds later, the PPL Center crowd was filled with electricity and a tied hockey game. Still on the power play, Laczynski redirected a Bobby Brink shot with a stick well below the crossbar that found its way into the net. Suddenly and stunningly, the game was even again at 3-3.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would not go away quietly. Radim Zohorna tallied from the right circle with 3:48 left for his second goal of the night as the Penguins would suddenly regain the advantage.

Additional open ice favored the Phantoms in a 4-on-4 situation allowing Lehigh Valley to find yet another equalizer. Just 34 seconds after the Pens took the 4-3 lead, Laczynski answered the bell AGAIN with a picture-perfect shot cutting in from inside the left dot. Louie Belpedio and Olle Lycksell both earned the helpers at 16:46. The PPL Center contingent would be treated to playoff overtime.

The game could have been played well into the night. We could have been entertained to another five-overtime classic, such was the case in a 2018 playoff series against the Charlotte Checkers. But only 2:11 into sudden-death, down went the Penguins. With numbers and speed, Brendan Furry stormed into the offensive zone on a connection from Jacob Gaucher. At 10:01 p.m., Gaucher buried the second-chance opportunity low to the ice to finish an absolute classic at PPL Center. Incredible.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will continue to Rally the Valley in a Best-of-Five series against the defending Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears beginning on Wednesday, May 1. Following Game 1 and Game 2 in Hershey on May 1 and May 4, the series will shift to Lehigh Valley for Game 3 on May 8 and, if necessary Game 4 on May 11. Ticket information is available online at PhantomsHockey.com.


1st 2:17 – WBS, V. Puustinen (J. Rathbone) (0-1)

2nd 9:19 – LV, R. Attard (V. Mete, R, Gardner) (PP) (1-1)
2nd 14:06 – WBS, R. Zahorna (V. Hinostroza, V. Puustinen) (PP) (1-2)
2nd 17:58 – WBS, J. Rathbone (V. Koivunen, V. Hinostroza) (1-3)

3rd 12:15 – LV, E. Andrae (C. Marody, O. Lycksell) (5×3) (2-3)
3rd 12:37 – LV, T. Laczynski (B. Brink, E. Andrae) (PP) (3-3)
3rd 16:12 – WBS, R. Zohorna (V. Puustinen, V. Hinostroza) (3-4)
3rd 16:46 – LV, T. Laczynski (L. Belpedio, O. Lycksell) (4×4) (4-4)

OT 2:11 – LV, J. Gaucher (B. Furry, L. Belpedio) (5-4)

LV 34 – WBS 28

LV 3/6, WBS 1/5

LV – C. Petersen (W) (24/28)
WBS – J. Blomqvist (L) (29/34)

Lehigh Valley wins Best-of-Three Series 2-0

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Atlantic Division Semifinals (Best-of-Five)
Game 1: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 at Hershey
Game 2: Saturday, May 4, 2024 at Hershey
Game 3: Wednesday, May 8, 2024 vs Hershey
*Game 4: Saturday, May 11, 2024 vs Hershey
*Game 5: Sunday, May 12, 2024 at Hershey