T-Birds Top Los Fantasmas on Hockey Fiesta Night

Marody and Avon Strike for Lehigh Valley

December 16, 2023

Allentown, PA – The Springfield Thunderbirds spoiled the party on Hockey Fiesta Night and topped Los Fantasmas by a 4-2 count on Saturday at PPL Center. Cooper Marody put Lehigh Valley in the early driver’s seat before Springfield found an answer. J.R. Avon tallied in the final minute for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Lehigh Valley (11-11-4) sustained its first-ever defeat as “Los Fantasmas” having gone 4-0-0 during Hockey Fiesta Nights in the previous two seasons.

Marody’s goal came just 3:23 into the tilt on the game’s first power play. With Emil Andrae and Samu Tuomaala working the perimeter, Marody took his space and unleashed a wicked shot past T-Birds netminder Vadim Zherenko.

Marody capped a solid six-point week that included five assists in the Wednesday and Friday games of the homestand against Charlotte and Laval. Marody’s goal combined with Tuomaala’s assist keeps the exciting pair tied for the team-lead with 23 points apiece.

The Phantoms maintain the best power play in the AHL at 24.3% and have also scored a power-play goal in 13 of the last 14 games going 17-for-52 (32.7%) since November 12. Marody also moved into the AHL lead for most power-play points (3-10-13).

Tuomaala’s 16th assist of the campaign moves the exciting 20-year-old into a tie for second among AHL rookies and his 23 points rates third for AHL rookies.

But despite the Orange and Black commanding a 1-0 lead and 8-0 shots advantage, Springfield answered on its first shot of the night. Jakub Vrana sprung Adam Gaudette on a headman pass for a breakaway into the Phantoms’ zone. Gaudette tallied his league-best 15th goal of the season at the 7:19 mark to knot the score.

Gaudette’s mark began a string of four unanswered strikes by the Thunderbirds to claim an eventual 4-1 lead. Mikhail Abramov converted a rebound try at 6:01 of the second period moments after the initial shot from Zachary Bolduc.

Lehigh Valley entered the third period trailing 2-1 and poised for a third-period comeback, but Springfield took full advantage on an early 5-on-3 chance. Dylan Coughlan blasted home a critical insurance goal at 3:01 and Drew Callin launched an empty net strike from his own zone at 17:53

J.R. Avon did bring Los Fantasmas to within 4-2 with 21.1 seconds left with his top-shelf blast off a Jacob Gaucher faceoff win, but the hole was too big for Lehigh Valley to overcome.

Before entering holiday break, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will hit the road for back-to-back matchups against the Charlotte Checkers on December 21-22 at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The Phantoms will return to action at PPL Center on Wednesday, December 27 against the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate for the New Jersey Devils. Join us for pregame $2 beers!


1st 3:23 – LV, C. Marody (6), (E. Andrae, S. Tuomaala) (PP) (1-0)
1st 7:19 – SPR, A. Gaudette (15) J. Vrana, M. Abramov (1-1)

2nd 6:01 – SPR, M. Abramov (4) (Z. Bolduc, D. Callin) (1-2)

3rd 3:01 – SPR, D. Coughlan (9) (J. Vrana, M. Peca) (PP) (1-3)
3rd 17:51 – SPR, D. Callin (4) (EN) (1-4)

3rd 19:38 – LV, J. Avon (6) (J. Gaucher) (2-4)

LV 36 – SPR 30

LV 1/5, SPR 1/5

LV, F. Sandstrom (L) (2-2-2) (26/29)
SPR, V. Zherenko (W) (9-3-0) (34/36)

Lehigh Valley (11-11-4)
Springfield (14-8-2)

Thursday, December 21 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers
Friday, December 22 (6:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers

Wednesday, December 27 (7:05) – Utica Comets at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Pregame $2 Beers
Saturday, December 30 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Phantoms Knit Caps
Sunday, December 31 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – World’s Largest Puck Drop!