The Force was with The Monsters

Phantoms Blanked by Cleveland 3-0 on Star Wars Night

April 6, 2024

Allentown, PA – Pavel Cajan and the Cleveland Monsters prevailed in an intergalactic battle in downtown Allentown with a 3-0 triumph against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday at PPL Center. A veritable forcefield between the pipes, Cajan turned aside 31 Lehigh Valley shots to secure his second career shutout.

Phantoms fans came prepared with light sabres and enjoyed the annual Star Wars theme in one of the most popular promotions of the year that included a poster giveaway as well as dozens of costumed characters on the concourse. But the arrival of Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Princess Leia and R2D2 were not enough to propel the Phantoms to victory against the evil forces from a galaxy very far far away in northeast Ohio.

Trailing 2-0 after a slow beginning, the Phantoms found their game and generated several strong chances on the second-year goaltender including shots off the posts by Tanner Lacznyski in the second period and Cooper Marody in the third period on a set-up from Laczynski. Elliot Desnoyers had a great try from close range in the second period on a pass from behind the goal by Garrett Wilson but Cajan reacted quickly with a stunning right-pad save to preserve the blank sheet.

Cleveland (36-23-8) used a fast start to end a seven-game winless slide. The Monsters raced out to a 10-0 shots advantage but Cal Petersen was on top of his game right from the beginning making several terrific denials to keep the game scoreless. The Monsters broke through and eventually found the back of the net with a pair of goals just 19 seconds apart by Stefan Matteau (2) and Cole Clayton (4) from the point at 8:35 and 8:54. Cleveland ended up outshooting the Phantoms in the first period 17-7.

Those two goals were all the Monsters would need while Cajan used his supernatural abilities to preserve the lead and secure the win. He almost had a goal of his own on a clear all the way down that just missed going into the empty net.

Alex Whelan crashed out into the boards at the Cleveland bench while clearing the puck and connected for a long empty-net conversion with just 46 seconds remaining to finish the 3-0 triumph.

The Phantoms actually moved closer to a playoff spot despite their result as the Springfield Thunderbirds dropped a 7-4 decision at Laval earlier in the day. Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number has been trimmed to just seven points to clinch the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and the Phantoms hold a four-point advantage over Springfield with just six games remaining.

Lehigh Valley was shut out for a second time in the last three games also including a 2-0 result at the Hershey Bears on Tuesday. The Phantoms finished the season series against Cleveland with a record of 1-3-0.

The Phantoms are back in action Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Saturday, April 12 against the Bridgeport Islanders. Family Value Packs are available for each of the three remaining regular season home games.

1st 8:35 – CLE, S. Matteau (2) (J. Christensen, L. Del Bel Belluz) (0-1)
1st 8:54 – CLE, C. Clayton (O. Sillinger, R. Ahcan) (0-2)

3rd 19:14 – CLE, A. Whelan (Unassisted) (EN) (0-3)

LV 31 – CLE 38

LV 0/1, CLE 0/2

LV – C. Petersen (L) (9-14-3) (35/37)
CLE – P. Cajan (W) (7-7-4) (31/31)

Lehigh Valley (29-28-9)
Cleveland (36-23-8)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Sunday, April 7 (3:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Friday, April 12 (7:00) at Hershey Bears
Saturday, April 13 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders