Nolan Maier Backstops 4-1 Win at Hershey
November 12, 2023
Hershey, PA – Nolan Maier was on top of his game. And the Phantoms needed the second-year pro to come through with a big performance for a Sunday matinee rematch against the Hershey Bears. Maier did exactly that with 29 big stops in a 4-1 victory to help the Phantoms avenge a loss from the night before as the two teams traded road victories in the intense home-and-home weekend set.
Garrett Wilson provided the extra juice with his second Gordie Howe Hat Trick as a member of the Phantoms. With a goal, an assist and then a fight, the Phantoms captain sparked Lehigh Valley to the win and also broke Hershey goaltender Clay Stevenson’s grip on the Phantoms. After a pair of shutouts against Lehigh Valley, Wilson was the appropriate candidate to break the shutout streak when he scored the first goal of the game on a wraparound.
Rhett Gardner (3rd) and Cooper Marody (4th) both had a goal and an assist as well while J.R. Avon (3rd) lit the lamp at GIANT Center for a second time this season. But it was Nolan Maier who garnered the most attention. And deservedly so. The second-year pro was making his season debut with Lehigh Valley after four games for the Reading Royals in the ECHL. And it was probably his best game in the AHL as well. Maier came through with a number of magnificent saves including a point-blank denial of an onrushing Joe Snively early in the third period when the Bears were gaining momentum and the Phantoms were still clinging to a one-goal margin.
Maier was also huge at the beginning of the contest when Hershey built a 10-1 shots on goal advantage. But it mattered very little to Nolan Maier who steered away everything the Bears had to offer.
Lehigh Valley (5-6-2) scored against Stevenson at 13:46 into the game when Wilson (3rd) carried around to the right of the cage and pushed a wraparound try past the right skate of Stevenson to the far post. The goal, assisted by Rhett Gardner and Helge Grans, provided the Phantoms with a 1-0 advantage into the locker room despite Hershey’s 14-7 shots advantage.
Hershey (9-4-0) fought back with a goal for teenager Ivan Miroschnichenko who zoomed up the left wing on the rush and then cut for the slot to snipe past the stick side of Maier early in the second frame for the only goal he would allow on the day.
But the 1-1 deadlock barely lasted four minutes before the Phantoms would retake the lead with Wilson up the right wing connecting with Garder in the high left slot for a perfect snipe past Stevenson to make it 2-1 just before the midway mark.
Wilson was later up to the challenge when Riley Sutter blasted into Gardner in the Lehigh Valley zone. The Phantoms captain peeled the Hershey combatant off his teammate and took charge in the bout. But Wilson was also assessed an instigating penalty on the play and, in combination with a 10-minute misconduct, was banished to the box for the next 17 minutes as a result of the culminating play of his Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
But the Phantoms were able to get it done even with their captain watching from the box as a spectator.
That instigating penalty was also good for yet another power play for the Hershey Bears but Maier and the rest of Lehigh Valley’s penalty kill had a huge period as part of a strong performance on the entire day in holding Hershey to 0-for-7 on the power play.
Maier’s best stop of the day perhaps came in the opening moments of the third period when Jimmy Huntington on the right boards found an onrushing Joe Snively down the middle. But Snively’s efforts to chip home the tying goal instead found the right pad of Maier for another big save against the Hershey forward. A stunned Snively held his stick up high in disbelief that his glorious chance somehow didn’t find the back of the net. It was the second time in the game that Snively was denied on a point-blank chance.
Just seconds later it was Marody swinging out in front to the low left slot and then quickly finding an open seam to connect with J.R. Avon on the backdoor for the 20-year-old rookie to slam home his third of the season on the strong helper at just 2:06 into the third.
While Hershey was trying to regain its momentum, the Phantoms went on just its second power play and were able to counter in the big moment. Olle Lycksell accepted a lead pass up the left boards from Emil Andrae and found a streaking Marody up the middle to chip a huge breathing-room goal just two minutes later for a 4-1 lead at 4:06 into the third period.
The rest of the game was gravy for Maier, as well as the rest of the Phantoms, as Hershey had mostly run out of gas. Maier made a few more nice stops along the way in preserving his first win of the season.
Lehigh Valley got it done despite a season-low 19 shots on goal.
Wilson’s Gordie Howe Hat Trick was his second with Lehigh Valley having also put one together on November 12, 2021 at the Providence Bruins.
After facing each other four times within 15 days, the Phantoms and Bears get a little time away from each other before their next meeting on Saturday, December 30 at PPL Center.
The win came in the opener of a four-game road-swing for Lehigh Valley which continues on Friday night at the Laval Rocket. The Phantoms are back at home on Thanksgiving Weekend with games on Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November. Featured promos on the weekend including Phantoms Ballcaps from SECTV and Flyers Night featuring the return of GRITTY plus postgame photographs with the Phantoms players.
1st 13:46 – LV, G. Wilson (3) (R. Garnder, A. Ginning) (1-0)
2nd 5:53 – HER, I. Miroschnichenko (3) (L. Day, J. Massie) (1-1)
2nd 9:17 – LV, R. Garnder (3) (G. Wilson, H. Grans) (2-1)
3rd 2:06 – LV, J. Avon (3) (C. Marody) (3-1)
3rd 4:06 – LV, C. Marody (4) (O. Lycksell, E. Andrae) (PP) (4-1)
LV 19 – HER 30
LV 1/2, HER 0/7
LV – N. Maier (W) (29/30) (1-0-0)
HER – C. Stevenson (L) (15/19) (4-3-0)
Lehigh Valley (5-6-2)
Friday, November 17 (7:00 p.m.) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Laval Rocket
Saturday, November 18 (7:00 p.m.) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Belleville Senators
Tuesday, November 21 (7:00 p.m.) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Toronto Marlies
Friday, November 24 (7:05 p.m.) – Providence Bruins at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – SECTV Phantoms Ballcaps
Saturday, November 25 (7:05 p.m.) – Rochester Americans at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Flyers Night with GRITTY! Plus postgame photos with Phantoms players