A night that started with so much promise for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms ended in stunning fashion on Saturday. In Game Two of their best of five first round Calder Cup playoff series with the Hershey Bears, Hershey used three goals in the final thirteen minutes to stun a capacity crowd at PPL Center on Saturday night.
The Phantoms lost more than the game, however. They lost goaltender Alex Lyon, (pictured) who was thrust into the starters role when Anthony Stolarz went down with a knee injury in the late days of the season.
In the first period, Lehigh Valley couldn’t have asked for a better start. Captain Colin McDonald laid out out Hershey’s Aaron Ness with a thunderous check in the corner seconds into the game. After the Bears’ Tyler Lewington initiated a scrum after the hit and gave Lehigh Valley a power play.
T.J. Brennan’s shot from just inside the left point beat Pheonix Copley through traffic at 1:10 to score the Phantoms first goal of the playoffs with assists from Greg Carey and Chris Conner, who had three assists on the night.
It didn’t take long for the Bears to tie the game. Riley Barber’s big hit on Lehigh Valley’s Mark Alt allowed Madison Bowey to find Stanslav Galiev breaking to the net and the game was knotted at one.
Things continued to be chippy for the rest of the frame, with the officials handing penalties for anything and everything in a first period that featured 24 minutes in penalties. The tight officiating didn’t stop Andy Miele from putting the Phantoms back on top with just 12 seconds left. On the power play, Hershey left Miele wide open in the bottom of the left circle and he beat Copley with a one-timer off a feed from Conner. Shots ion the period were 16-4 in favor of Lehigh Valley.
For all of the shots and chances in the first, the second period looked more like game one in that it was a calculated, measured affair. Hershey tied the game once again on Christian Djoos‘ first of the playoffs at 3:47. A tap pass from Galiev to the left faceoff dot enabled Djoos to put the puck just inside the far post.
10 minutes later, Greg Carey took the game over, using two goals in less than three minutes to give the Phantoms a seemingly comfortable lead. First, a Hubert Labrie neutral zone turnover saw Carey steal the puck, beat two Hershey defenders, and then put the puck past Copley from the slot at 14:12
At 17:24, Bat the edge of the crease, he knocked a Mark Zengerle shot out of midair and into the net.
The domination for the Phantoms continued into the third, and suddenly, it all fell apart.
A Bowey shot from center point went through a screen and beat Lyon at 7:27. A minute after that, while tracking a puck, Lyon crumpled to the ice. suffering some form of lower body injury. Unable to continue, he was replaced by Martin Ouellette. Hershey then did what good teams do, and capitalized on the Lehigh Valley’s chaos.
A Bowey shot was deflected by Chris Bourque beat Ouellette through a screen from the right point at 9:55, and the building fell silent.
Lehigh Valley at this point was just trying to get to overtime so they could hit reset, and on the other side, Hershey smelled blood in the water. With 33 seconds left in regulation, it was the three-time Calder up Champion Bourque who completed the epic comeback. His shot from center point through a Travis Boyd screen beat Ouellette glove hand, and it left the Phantoms with a seemingly insurmountable deficit to get back into the series, as Game Three is Wednesday at GIANT Center.
Notes: Hershey’s lineup was unchanged from Game One. For Lehigh Valley, Nicolas Aube-Kubel replaced Tyrell Goulbourne.
3) HER-Stanislav Galiev (Goal, Assist)
2) LV-Greg Carey (Two Goals, Assist)
1) HER-Chris Bourque (Two Goals)