UTICA, NY – For the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. it had seemed as if Anthony Stolarz had claimed control of the crease. Alex Lyon (pictured) had not played since a 5-4 loss in Bridgeport to the Sound Tigers on October 29th.
He was ready to go on this night.
Lyon’s first professional win and four different goal scorers combined to give the Phantoms a 4-1 win on Friday night in Utica.
It took Lehigh Valley all of 2:19 to strike in the first. Utica tried to feed the puck out from behind its’ own net. Unfortunately, the only one there to receive the pass was wearing black instead of white. Corban Knight found the puck laying in the slot, and roofed it over Comets’ goaltender Richard Bachman. Radel Fazleev and Mark Zengerle assisted on the tally.
Both teams had golden chances midway through the period. Bachman stopped Zengerle on a one-time from the slot with 12:45 left. Just over a minute later, Colby Robak was sprung on a breakaway thanks to a perfectly placed stretch pass. Robak beat Lyon glove side, but unfortunately, he didn’t beat the post. The two teams would go to the locker room tied and shots in the period favored the visitors 11-8.
The Phantoms used some Utica turnovers to blow the game open in the second. Utica almost tied the game 1:25 into the frame. Lyon stopped Joseph Labate at the edge of the crease and Michael Carcone was snubbed when he tried to flip the puck over Lyon’s blocker on the rebound.
Lehigh Valley made it 2-1 while shorthanded at 6:16. Knight and Reece Willcox protected the puck on the backhand and found Willcox for a backdoor tap-in. It was Willcox’s first goal of the season.
Just over three minutes later, the lead was made two when Colin McDonald intercepted a Utica breakout pass in the slot and wristed a puck that eluded Bachman.
With just over five minutes remaining, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was interfered with on a breakaway. For his trouble, he was awarded a penalty shot that he converted with a nifty move to Bachman’s blocker side.
Utica finally got on the board with just over two minutes left in the frame when Carter Bancks collected the rebound of a John Negrin point shot and wristed it past a slow to react Lyon.
The Comets’ had their chances in the third, but an ineffective power play would prevent them making a game of it. They had two power plays in the first four minutes of the period but were unable to register a shot. Other than a two-on-one with Curtis Valk and Robak in the back half of the period, there just weren’t enough chances to tie it, enabling Lehigh Valley to pick up their fourth straight victory.
Impressions: Even though he stopped 26 shots, Lyon wasn’t overly tested. T.J. Brennan and Jordan Weal had dominated during the winning streak but were mostly invisible Friday night. Petr Straka has to be frustrated. He hasn’t appeared in a game yet there’s season, and barring an injury to a forward up front, doesn’t appear to be closer to cracking the lineup, especially with Scott Laughton assigned to Lehigh Valley full-time.
Notes: Robert Hagg and Andy Miele were injury scratches. Hagg was scratched after taking a puck to the head last Saturday against Springfield. Miele’s injury status is unknown. Tyrell Goulbourne and Straka were healthy scratches. Coming into the game, Danick Martel was leading the American Hockey League in shooting percentage at 44.9 percent.
★ – LV-Corban Knight (Goal, Assist)
★★ – LV-Alex Lyon (26 Saves)
★★★ – LV-Reece Willcox (Goal)
Up Next: The Phantoms return to Allentown Saturday to face the powerful Toronto Marlies at 7:05.