PROVIDENCE, R.I.- The 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs finally got underway in the Eastern Conference with the number one seed in the Atlantic Division, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, taking on the fourth seed, the Providence Bruins in the Atlantic Division Semifinals. The Phantoms come into the playoffs looking to capture the franchise’s third Calder Cup and first since 2005 when they were the Philadelphia Phantoms. As for the Bruins, they are looking for their second Calder Cup and first since 1999. Former Flyers head coach and current head coach of the Nashville Predators Peter Laviolette was the man behind the bench for Providence that season.
Alex Lyon got the start in net for Scott Gordon’s squad in Game 1. Lyon split time between the Phantoms and the Philadelphia Flyers this season. With the Phantoms, Lyon went 16-8-2 with a goals against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .913. During the regular season, Lyon faced the Bruins once and got the victory back on January 24th inside PPL Center.
As for Bruins head coach Jay Leach, it was Zane McIntyre with the start between the pipes. McIntyre led the league with seven shutouts this season. Along with the seven shutouts, McIntyre went 26-15-4 with a 2.52 GAA and a .914 SV%.
In the first nine minutes of the game, the Phantoms were given a crushing blown as defencemen Reece Wilcox left the game after blocking a shot with his leg leaving Lehigh Valley with five healthy defensemen for the rest of the period. Thankfully, he would return in time for the second.
Throughout the opening period, the Bruins had the momentum and with 2:22 to go they struck first as Ryan Fitzgerald on a give-and-go with teammate Austin Czarnik gave Providence the early lead on the team’s second power play of the night. The lead wouldn’t last long as 16 seconds later from the blue line Danick Martel would score on a weak goal which McIntyre would’ve saved 100 times out of 100 given the opportunity.
The Bruins would retake the lead less than four minutes into the second as Austin Czarnik would find Ryan Fitzgerald off a Phantoms turnover at center ice to give Providence the lead back. On the team’s second power play of the game Phantoms captain, Colin McDonald, thought he tied the game at two. However, the referee gave the washout no goal sign meaning the Bruins kept their one-goal lead for the time being.
Throughout the middle period, the Bruins would bring the physicality trying to take out multiple Phantoms. This would come back and bite the Bruins in the butt as Greg Carey with a rocket from the blue line would hit the right post and the puck bounced in to tie the game at two. Just like earlier, the tie wouldn’t last long as 45 seconds later the Phantoms would pick up their second power-play goal of the night. This time, it was Danick Martel from the right post who gave the Phantoms their first lead of the night on his second goal of the night.
Midway through the final period, the Bruins were playing hot potato with the puck but Alex Lyon came up huge making a key glove save keeping the Phantoms up a goal. The Phantoms were in penalty trouble throughout the game and on their final penalty kill with less than four minutes to go Maxim Lamarche would come up big with two huge clears keeping Providence from tying the game at three.
When the final horn sounded, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms would hold on and take Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals by the score of 3-2. Alex Lyon came up huge making 39 saves, including 15 in the final period, as the Phantoms were out shot 24-41.
Game 2 of this series is Saturday night with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Be sure to follow @SinBinPhantoms as for live tweets throughout the Phantoms playoff run.