ALLENTOWN, PA – Coming into Sunday’s home contest against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were playing their fourth game in six days and had suffered a shutout loss to division leader Wilkes-Barre/Scranton less than 24 hours prior.
Add in the fact that they had a two-goal deficit entering the final frame, and it looked like the Phantoms would finish the weekend trailing the Penguins by seven points, as they had edged the Utica comets earlier in the afternoon.
Enter Andy Miele.
Miele scored the tying goal with 2:42 left, and then collected the game winner to send the capacity crowd home happy at PPL Center.
This game was the complete opposite of Saturday’s contest, as the play was wide open with plenty of scoring changes. Bridgeport’s Carter Verhaeghe and Ross Johnston had glorious chances early, only to see them go for naught. Verhaeghe was all alone in the slot just 22 seconds in, but he wound up missing the net to the right.
Moments later, Anthony Stolarz made a great save when a Lehigh Valley turnover came to Johnston at the edge of the crease. The Phantoms first scoring chance came at 7:10, when Corban Knight beat Sound Tigers’ Stephon Williams between his body and his right arm.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel passed out of the corner, and Knight got enough of it to get it over the goal line. The lead was short-lived, however. AHL Veteran Tim Wallace, playing only his second game with Bridgeport after coming over from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, deflected a Ryan Pulock point shot into the net 30 seconds later. Shots in the period were 13 apiece, and the teams went to the locker room knotted at one.
1:03 into the second, Danick Martel was stopped on a breakaway that was enabled by a bad Bridgeport line change, but Williams was a cool customer and came up with a big pad save.
Moments later, the Sound Tigers would taker the lead in the span of 60 seconds. With 9 seconds left in a Sam Morin hooking penalty, Andrew Rowe got his 13th of the season, finishing off a centering feed from the right circle by Verhaeghe.
Exactly one minute later, the Phantoms inability to clear the zone led to a turnover, and Johnston scored from the left circle off of a feed from former Phantom Ben Holmstrom. After the goal, Martel took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but Bridgeport was unable to take advantage of the power play.
Coming out of the penalty box, Radel Fazleev found Martel with a drop pass, but Williams made a save that had Martel banging the glass in frustration.
In the third, it looked like Bridgeport would head home with two points, but as Lehigh Valley had done six times this season when trailing entering the third, they would come storming back. Mark Zengerle’s 13th of the season cut the lead to one at 9:27. He took a stretch pass from Max LaMarche, and beat Williams top shelf from the left faceoff dot.
Miele then tied the game with 2:42 left, scoring far post on a wrister from the other side, enabling Lehigh Valley to get a crucial standings point.
In the overtime, there were plenty of rushes, but no shots until Miele ended the game. Taylor Leier’s shot went under Williams and stopped on the goal line. If he had just laid down, there’s a decent chancer the game goes to a shootout.
Instead, he threw the puck out between his legs, and the net crashing Miele put it up and over him to win the game.
Notes: Robert Hagg, who played his first game since March 3rd on Saturday, was a scratch as he continued his rehab from an upper-body injury.
3) BST-Jon Landry (Two Assists)
2) LV-Anthony Stolarz (29 Saves)
1) LV-Andy Miele (Two Goals, Assist)
Up Next: These two teams will open a three-in-three for the Phantoms on Friday at PPL Center. Puck Drop is at 7:05.