SYRACUSE, NY — Now in their third season in Allentown, it seems once or twice a year, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms run into a goaltender that absolutely steals a win for the opponent. Two years ago, it was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Matt Murray, last year, the nod went to Portland’s Mike McKenna and on Wednesday night, Syracuse’s Adam Wilcox gave his best impression of a brick wall.
Wilcox (pictured) stopped 48 shots, including 20 in the third period, and Matt Taormina scored with 2:35 left in regulation to lead the Crunch to a 4-2 victory over the Phantoms Wednesday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial Coliseum
Syracuse had a brilliant chance to score just 90 seconds in, when Sam Morin turned the puck over just inside his own blue line, Yanni Gourde drove the net, but couldn’t get his backhand attempt past Alex Lyon.
After the teams traded unsuccessful power plays in the front half of the period, things got wacky just past the midway point. Three goals in under a minute between the two teams seemed to stun everyone in attendance.
First, Cole Bardreau got his thirds of the season and first of the night when he finished off a slot feed from Corban Knight at 11:57. 32 seconds after that, Matthew Peca danced into the slot and fired the puck home. The goal was assisted by Erik Condra and Adam Erne. Twenty-one seconds after that, a Jake Dotchin wrist shot from just inside the line eluded Lyon and gave the Crunch the lead.
The second period was a penalty fest, with seven penalties between the two teams between 3:54 and 16:14. Because of that, there was zero flow to the frame, and every time you turned around, there was a whistle for something. Lehigh Valley’s red hot power play has suddenly gone cold, with a lack of shots seemingly the problem.
Because of all the power plays, the Phantoms built up a nice shot advantage that they would not relinquish, but because of Wilcox, the Crunch took the lead to the dressing room.
The Phantoms, as they are known to do, turned up the pressure in the third, and it allowed them to tie the game midway through the third on Cole Bardreau’s second of the game. Syracuse defender Daniel Walcott lost an edge as Bardreau drove the wing. He got an initial shot off that Wilcox made an arm save on, but the puck came back to him, and parallel to the goal line, it found the back of the net.
Just 1:10 after the goal, Danick Martel took a penalty. As the power play ended, he broke out of the box for a breakaway, but again, Wilcox was equal to the task.
But, when it looked like the game would be headed to overtime, Taormina sent the home crowd happy. After Lyon denied Condra and Erne, the puck rocketed out to the Syracuse defenseman, whose rifle blast sneaked just beyond the Lehigh Valley netminder’s glove and inside the post. Gourde would seal the victory with a shorthanded empty-netter with 20 seconds remaining.
Notes: Forward Steven Swavely and Defenseman Maxim LaMarche were healthy scratches, while Center Andy Miele returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s contest in Bridgeport.
Impressions: Sometimes, you just have to tip your hat to the guy at the other end. It’s a shame someone had to lose because both guys manning the crease were fantastic. Cole Bardreau had his best game of the season, while Alex Lyon continues to look mature beyond his years.
3) LV-Cole Bardreau (2 Goals)
2) SYR-Matt Taormina (Game-Winning Goal)
1)-SYR-Adam Wilcox (48 saves on 50 shots)
Up Next: The Phantoms head home for a pair of weekend games with the Rochester Americans. Game 1 is Friday at 7:05.