ALLENTOWN, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have proved this season that one thing they are really good at doing is overcoming a large deficit. One thing they aren’t used to, however, is blowing large leads.
They can cross that off their list.
The Phantoms blew a four-goal lead in the second, then settled down in the third to prevail 8-6 over the Sound Tigers Wednesday night at PPL Center.
It had the look of an easy night, as the Phantoms scored three times in the first 15 minutes, and it was Chris Conner who got the train rolling less than 90 seconds into the game. A turnover at the Lehigh Valley blueline by Bridgeport’s Devon Toews allowed Conner to grab the puck, Toews got all turned around on the backcheck, and it allowed Conner to cut to the slot and beat Eamon McAdam.
After back-to-back goals by Travis Sanheim gave the Phantoms a comfortable cushion, Travis St. Denis the Sound Tigers on the board when he collected the rebound of a Josh Ho-Sang shot and beat Alex Lyon from a sharp angle at 15:21. Mark Zengerle (pictured) would restore the three-goal lead with his sixth of the season less than three minutes later. Shots in the period were 21-8 in favor of Lehigh Valley.
Bridgeport powered back in the second. After Greg Carey’s power play tally at 1:53 pushed the Lehigh Valley lead to four, the Sound Tigers reeled off four goals in a span of 7:40 to stun the near capacity crowd of 8,144. Connor Jones scored on a breakaway at 8:35, Tanner Fritz finished off a two on none with Scott Mayfield at 11:53, and Bridgeport wasn’t done.
Toews scored a floater from the point at 14:55 and finally, Steve Bernier would roof a backhander from the slot off of a turnover less than two minutes later to complete the comeback.
After the game, Head Coach Scott Gordon was very detailed in what went wrong in the middle frame:
“It’s one thing to go wrong when it’s self inflicted. We make two horrible, soft, backhand plays that there’s no need for. We have other options. We had control of the game up until they scored the short-handed goal. There wasn’t anything happening in the second period we had to worry about. We’re half way through the game, we’re up 5-1, and then we all of a sudden decided we were gonna play a little recklessly.”
The Phantoms gathered themselves in the third. T.J. Brennan scored from the hashmarks at 7:59, beating Stephon Williams for his 9th of the season at 7:53 to break the time. Radel Fazleev would get the eventual game-winner when he finished off a cross-ice pass from Zengerle at 1h:08. After all that, the Sound Tigers still wouldn’t go away.
Andrew Rowe scored a six-on-four goal to make it 7-6 with 1:05 left, and Cole Bardreau iced the game away with an empty-netter with just three seconds left.
Notes: Steven Swavely and Maxim LaMarche were scratches for the Phantoms, with Scott Gordon maintaining his tradition of not changing the lineup while the team is winning. The eight goals for Lehigh Valley were the most since the team moved to Allentown.
3) BRI-Connor Jones (Goal, Assist)
2) LV-Travis Sanheim (2 Goals)
1) LV-Mark Zengerle (Goal, 2 Assists)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley hosts the Hershey Bears Friday at 7:05.