BRIDGEPORT, CT – Having squeaked by the Binghamton Senators on Friday, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms rolled into Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport looking to go into the All-Star break on a high note. Unfortunately for them, they ran into the smoking hot Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who were looking to win their eighth straight game.
Thanks to Travis St. Denis and Jaroslav Halak, the Sound Tigers kept their streak going with a 3-2 win in front of 4,100 fans Saturday night.
Lehigh Valley nearly jumped to a lead less than five minutes in, Andy Miele forced a turnover and failed to convert a breakaway, shooting wide. Ironically enough, minutes later, it would be a Sound Tiger turnover on a man advantage of their own that would get Lehigh Valley on the board.
Jon Landry flubbed a pass at his offensive blueline that Travis Sanheim picked off, and whipped a pass to Scott Laughton that led to a two on one. Laughton kept the puck and lasered a slapshot over Halak’s left shoulder into the top of the net.
A scary moment occurred for the Phantoms just before the goal, when a Josh Ho-Sang shot hit Anthony Stolarz in the mask, Stolarz tossed this mask away and skated to the near corner, and trainer Brian Grogesky tended to him in the crease. After a bandage job, he stayed in the game.
The Phantoms had a couple great chances in the back half of the period, With Sanheim shooting into Halak’s chest on a power play, and then Danick Martel failing to convert on a two on one of his own with under four minutes left.
With 97 seconds left in the period, Josh Winquist’s eighth of the year tied the game. A pass at the left of the crease from Michael Dal Colle found Winquist at the far post and he slammed it home on the power play.
In a largely uneventful second, a late elbowing penalty on Robert Hagg cost the Phantoms early in the third. A feed from Andrew Rowe along the left half wall found Steve Bernier for his 16th of the season. The goal was very reminiscent of the goal that Winquist scored to tie the game late in the first.
Bridgeport’s Kellen Jones took a holding penalty 4:09 into the period and Chris Conner nearly converted a feed from Greg Carey at the edge of the crease. When the play continued, Will O’Neill’s third of the season on a bomb from the center point tied the game.
Less than a minute later, a pass from Connor Jones in the corner found St. Denis in the slot, and his wrist shot beat Anthony Stolarz inside the right post glove side.
The Phantoms had a great chance to tie the game in the final seconds, as a point shot by T.J. Brennan was blocked by Bernier and the puck dribbled out of the zone as time ran out.
Notes: Scratches for Lehigh Valley were Mark Zengerle, Kevin Sundher and Radel Fazleev, who suffered a undisclosed injury in Friday night’s game in Binghamton.
3) BST-Steve Bernier (Goal)
2) BST-Josh Winquist (Goal)
1) BST-Travis St. Denis (Game-Winning Goal)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley returns from the All-Star break when they travel to the face the Albany Devils on Friday, February 3rd at 7:05 pm ET