ALLENTOWN, NY – When Anthony Stolarz was reassigned to Lehigh Valley from Philadelphia earlier this week, some wondered how it might affect the Flyers’ other young goaltending phenom, Alex Lyon. Would it shatter his confidence? Would he get enough playing time?
After Stolarz played (and lost) Friday, Scott Gordon played Lyon on Saturday against Albany and he recorded the second shutout of his young career. So who would he turn to when the Utica Comets rolled into Allentown? It was again his rookie, and this time, the kid did not disappoint.
He made 22 saves to earn his American Hockey League-leading 16th win with help from four different goal scorers to win 4-1 on Sunday evening.
The action came fast and furious in the opening period. If not for Lyon and his Utica counterpart Richard Bachman, each team would have had multiple goals on the scoreboard.
Just after a Phantoms penalty ended, Travis Sanheim fell down behind his own net, and the puck squirted out front of the net. It found the stick of Alexandre Grenier at the bottom of the left circle, but Lyon was able to come across his crease to make the save.
The Phantoms T.J. Brennan (pictured) and Utica’s Jake Virtanen were sent off for matching minors at 7:26, and 30 seconds into four on four, the Phantoms had a two on one. rather than pass to Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier kept the puck and just missed the far post from the right circle.
The teams would go to the locker room deadlocked at zero Shots favored Lehigh Valley 16-11.
The Comets came out with all the pressure in the second, containing the Phantoms in their own end for long stretches, but they couldn’t solve Lyon. The Phantoms finally broke through late in the period. A busted Utica rush saw Sam Morin tap the puck to Chris Conner in the neutral zone, and ha eventually found Travis Sanheim in the slot. Sanheim used a wrister from the hashmarks to beat Bachman five-hole for his fifth of the season.
Just over three minutes later, with the Comets’ Colby Robak off for a slash, Andy Miele sent a pass all the way from the goal line to Will O’Neill at the point, and O’Neill used a slapper and a perfect screen from Robert Hagg to beat Bachman glove side for his second of the season with 11 seconds remaining in the period.
A wacky play almost 4 minutes into third gave the Phantoms some insurance. Bachman tried to pass the puck out of the zone from the edge of the circles. Laughton intercepted the pass, and, in the process of trying to score into an empty net, shot the puck high. The puck bounced off the end boards right to Leier at the right edge of the crease, and he roofed it over the goaltender for his seventh of the season.
Utica would break Lyon’s shutout bid 4 minutes later when Grenier beat him from the circles when he found a loose puck for his 11th of the season.
Brennan would add a length of the ice empty netter with 54.6 left to send the fans home happy.
Notes: Mark Zengerle and Reece Willcox were again the healthy scratches. Tonight’s game marked Mark Alt’s 200th professional game. Brennan’s empty netter tied him for third all-time in goals by an AHL defenseman with 124.
3) LV-Will O’Neill (Goal)
2) LV-Alex Lyon (W, 22 Saves)
1) Chris Conner (2 Assists)
Up Next: The Phantoms are off until Friday when they host the rival Hershey Bears at 7:05