Wilkes Defends Home Ice in Rivalry Series

Blanked by Blomqvist

March 13, 2024

Wilkes-Barre, PA – This time there would be no comeback. After three straight wins at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, each including a third-period rally from behind, the Phantoms simply didn’t have enough to make the magic happen on a fourth occasion in northeast Pennsylvania as the Penguins prevailed on their home ice 3-0 on Wednesday evening. It was the first time in four tries for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to successfully defend its home ice against Lehigh Valley.

Joel Blomqvist turned aside 23 Phantoms’ offerings for his first career AHL shutout. Jagger Joshua (7th, 8th) provided the Baby Pens with all the offense they would need. The Phantoms have their two-game win streak come to a close as the Penguins pulled even in the season-series at four games apiece while wining the rubber match of the quick early-March three-game mini-series between the Keystone rivals.

After seemingly shaking out of an offensive slump with an eight-goal outburst across two games last weekend, the Phantoms found themselves struggling to solve the All-Star rookie netminder on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton side. Adam Karashik had a breakaway in the first period but was denied on one of Blomqvist’s better denials early in the contest.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (30-20-8) moved back ahead of Hartford for third place in the division and opened the scoring on a third effort against a scrambling Cal Petersen. Joshua’s first of the game came at 8:52 into the contest on assists by Owen Headrick and Corey Andonovski with close-range chances.

Lehigh Valley (25-24-7) had three power plays in the first period but couldn’t get the league’s fourth-best man-advantage unit on track. While trailing 1-0, the Phantoms even had 45 seconds of 5-on-3 but were unable to cash in.

The Penguins largely controlled the second period but Petersen was stellar in holding off the Penguins and keeping it a one-goal game. Finally, the Penguins broke through late in the frame with Joshua rushing past the Phantoms defense in transition to convert on a partial break at 15:18 of the middle frame for a 2-0 margin.

The Phantoms found their game in the third period and even had shorthanded breaks from Brendan Furry and Tanner Laczynski who was in the lineup for the first time in almost two months. But Blomqvist didn’t flinch and held off the Phantoms until the end. Dmitri Semoroukov’s length-of-the-ice empty netter finished the triumph for the hosts.

The Phantoms remain tied for sixth place, and the last playoff spot, in the division with Springfield but the Phantoms still possess one game-in-hand on the Thunderbirds.

Phantoms captain Garrett Wilson was out of the lineup while serving the second game of a three-game suspension.

Olle Lycksell did not dress after missing games last weekend due to illness.

Victor Mete left the game in the second period with an injury. Adam Karashik began the game at forward and then rotated back to play defense the rest of the night upon Mete’s absence.

The Phantoms and Penguins still meet four more times in the last 16 games of the regular season including on Sunday, March 24 at PPL Center in the next matchup between the arch-rivals.

Lehigh Valley is 2-1-0 on its five-game road-trip which continues this weekend with a pair of games at the Providence Bruins on Friday and Saturday.

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Wednesday, March 20 to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds. Original Broad Street Bully Joe Watson will be on the concourse pregame signing copies of his new book “Thundermouth” and ticket packages to join Joe Watson in the suite during the game are also available. Next Wednesday’s home game also includes $1 pretzels as well as pregame Happy Hour with $2 beers.

1st 8:52 – WBS, J. Joshua (7) (O. Headrick, C. Andonovski) (0-1)

2nd 15:18 – WBS, J. Joshua (8) (J. Koppanen, C. Andonovski) (0-2)

3rd 19:08 – WBS, D. Samoroukov (5) (S. Poulin (EN) (0-3)

LV 23 – WBS 32

LV 0/4, WBS 0/4

LV – C. Petersen (L) (29/31) (7-11-2)
WBS – J. Blomqvist (W) (23/23) (19-9-5)

Lehigh Valley (25-24-7)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (30-20-8)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, March 15 (7:05) at Providence Bruins
Saturday, March 16 (7:05) at Providence Bruins

Wednesday, March 20 (7:05) vs. Springfield Thunderbirds – Joe Watson Book Signing / $1 Pretzels
Saturday, March 23 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Margaritaville Night
Sunday, March 24 (3:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Kids Takeover Day / Postgame Autographs Presented by NJM Insurance