Sellout Streak Reaches 10 Straight for Phantoms at PPL Center
March 25, 2016
Lehigh Valley, PA – Chris Conner, Tim Brent and Davis Drewiske, who have combined for 1,021 career AHL games and 1,543 professional outings, combined for four goals Friday evening as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms outlasted the Providence Bruins in a thrilling 4-3 victory in front of 8,609 fans at PPL Center. While that veteran trio triggered the offense for Lehigh Valley, it was second-year goaltender Martin Ouellette who backstopped the defensive effort by earning his first AHL win of the season with 33 saves.
Conner scored twice on the evening (15th, 16th), including the eventual game winner, and notched three points overall while Brent collected his seventh goal of the season and Drewiske tallied his fourth marker of the year in the winning effort. Conner continues to lead all Phantoms in both assists (32) and points (48) and is now just two points shy of his fourth career 50-point AHL season.
Meanwhile, Brent has now recorded two goals and four points in six games since returning to the lineup after missing 19 games due to injury while Drewiske matched a season-high with his fourth goal of the season.
Special teams played a big part in the victory as the Phantoms went 1-for-2 on the power play while Lehigh Valley’s penalty kill thwarted both of Providence’s man-advantage opportunities on the night.
Friday’s contest featured yet another standing room-only sellout as Lehigh Valley fans produced their 10th consecutive capacity crowd and 21st sellout overall this year. Phan Nation has now registered 43 regular season standing room-only sellouts since PPL Center opened its doors in the Fall of 2014.
Friday’s game also featured an opportunity for fans to meet a hockey legend up close and personal as Philadelphia Flyers alumni and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, who holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season with 472 during the 1974-75 season, was on hand to meet fans and sign autographs before Friday’s tilt.
The Phantoms came out like a team on a mission as Lehigh Valley was able to convert a pair of goals in the game’s first seven minutes. First, Conner intercepted a turnover by Providence goaltender Jeremy Smith on the wing before sliding in his 15th goal of the season. The unassisted even-strength strike came just 3:58 into the opening period of play as Lehigh Valley improved to 20-6-5 when scoring first this season.
The Phantoms then doubled their advantage less than three minutes later when, while on the power play, Colin McDonald’s shot from the slot redirected to Brent on the wing who made no mistake in snapping home his seventh goal of the year. McDonald and Conner assisted on the man-advantage marker netted 6:44 into the first frame.
Providence sliced Lehigh Valley’s lead in half with just under nine minutes remaining in the period when Anton Blidh’s shot produced a rebound in the goal crease that was pounced on by Colton Hargrove and quickly stuffed into the Phantoms net for Hargrove’s 14th goal this season. Colby Cave grabbed the secondary assist on the five-on-five conversion scored 11:05 into the opening stanza.
The Phantoms were quick to respond though as Lehigh Valley regained its two-goal lead less than a minute later when, while shorthanded, Taylor Leier found a streaking Drewiske in the slot who deftly unleashed a perfect wrist shot that slipped inside the post for his fourth goal of the season. Leier collected the only assisted on Lehigh Valley’s sixth shorthanded marker this season, which came 11:55 into the first period. The goal marked the end of the evening for Smith who was pulled from goal after just five saves on eight shots and replaced by Zane McIntyre.
The Bruins got the deficit back to just a single goal before the first intermission though thanks to Justin Hickman’s fifth goal of the season. After a lead pass from Frankie Simonelli, Hickman cruised in on the right wing before snapping a shot past Ouellette at the 16:37 mark of the opening frame.
Providence then leveled the contest a little over three minutes into the second period when Brian Ferlin unleashed a sharp backhand shot from the slot that sailed just over Ouellette’s outstretched glove. Max Talbot and Matt Irwin assisted on the even-strength goal scored 3:35 into the middle stanza.
The Phantoms didn’t back down though and after a series of relentless offensive opportunities, Lehigh Valley was able to re-establish the lead when a fortunate bounce finally went their way. From behind the Providence net, Conner threw a puck off the back post that deflected up into the air and bounced off McIntyre’s back before bounding back onto the ice and rolling over the goal line. Aaron Palushaj and Mark Alt assisted on the five-on-five tally netted 16:15 into the second period, which held up as Friday’s winner.
The Phantoms conclude their four-game home stand at PPL Center on Saturday, March 26 when they welcome the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, to downtown Allentown for the final time this season. Saturday’s game is Fan Appreciation Night where loads of prizes will be given away throughout the game in celebration of the best fans in hockey. A limited number of tickets remain for Saturday’s game and can be secured online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX  or in-person at the Mealey’s Furniture Box Office at PPL Center [701 Hamilton Street].
RISE UP! Reserve your season tickets for the 2016-2017 season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey. For more information on how to reserve your seat at PPL Center to the hottest ticket in town, call the Phantoms front office today at 610-224-GOAL (4625)!
Upcoming Home Games:
Saturday, March 26, 2016, Hartford Wolf Pack vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
(Fan Appreciation Night.)
Saturday, April 9, 2016, Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
(Faith Night. Canned Food Drive presented by Giant Foods.)
Friday, April 15, 2016, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 17, 2016, Syracuse Crunch vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 5:05 p.m.
In the midst of their 20th season of operation, the Phantoms are coming off their Inaugural Season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms playing at the brand-new PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 19 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).