ALBANY, NY – For at least 20 minutes on Friday, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms couldn’t find their way. Passes were missing, and shots were either going wide or missing the net completely. Lucky for them, the Albany Devils had a guy between the pipes in J.P. Anderson who hadn’t played in the American Hockey League in just about two years to the day. Anderson, who signed a PTO to backup Ken Appleby on Thursday found himself thrust into action on Friday.
Anderson’s 24 saves weren’t enough, as Andy Miele’s (pictured with Chris Conner) game winner with just over three minutes remaining lead the Phantoms to a much needed two points in a 4-3 win in New York’s capital.
Albany came out with some jump to start the game, and it seemed to catch Lehigh Valley off guard. Only able to muster four shots in the period, the Phantoms found themselves down 2-0 just past midway through the period on two goals less than a minute apart.
First, Blake Coleman took a pass from Brian Gibbons and pulled the puck between his legs and stuffed it through Phantoms netminder, Alex Lyon at 13:51. 39 seconds later, Nick Lappin deflected a Carter Camper centering pass between Lyon and the left post for his fourth of the season. Albany took that lead to the dressing room, along with a 9-4 edge in shots for the period.
It did not take the Phantoms long to cut the deficit in half in the middle frame, as Scott Laughton’s tenth of the season got Lehigh Valley on the scoreboard 45 seconds in. Laughton banged home the rebound off a Colin McDonald shot from the right circle. The Albany bench thought the puck was kicked in, but Anderson didn’t protest, and after a short review, the goal stood.
The Phantoms had a power play about two and a half minutes later and although they had good chances, they couldn’t capitalize. Albany had a golden chance to tie the game late in the period when Luke Gazdic found a puck in the slot, but Lyon made a spectacular windmill glove save to keep the defict at one.
The Phantoms nearly tied it as time was expiring in the period, as a Robert Hagg shot from the left point hit the right post and came to Corban Knight in the slot. Knight’s wrister went off the crossbar, off Anderson’s back and in. The goal was immediately waived off, and ruled no goal after a review presumably because the clock had run out, although no reason was given.
Lehigh Valley took the lead on two goals 26 seconds apart early in the third. First, a Knight shot through traffic beat Anderson glove side, and then a Travis Sanheim shot knuckled it’s way to the front of the net, and deflected off of the stick of Albany’s Jacob MacDonald. It came right to the Conner, and he backhanded it into the net.
Albany wasn’t done yet though. Coleman’s second of the game and 16th of the season on the powerplay at 14:12 pulled the game even once more. Then things took an ugly turn.
A behind the play, flying elbow from T.J. Brennan on Albany’s John Quenneville earned Brennan three things: An elbowing major, a game misconduct, and a beatdown from the Devils’ Jan Mandat at 15:02. What should have been an Albany power play for the rest of regulation was cut by more than half thanks to an instigator on Mandat, and a ticky tack hooking call on Coleman hook at the resumption of play.
The Phantoms used the instigator power play to win the game. A Greg Carey shot went wide off the end boards, and popped to Mielle at the left of the net and he put it home for the game winner.
Notes: Taylor Leier was a late scratcf for unknown reasons. With the win, Lehigh Valley improves to 6-6-2 in games which they trail after one period of play.
3) ALB-Blake Coleman (2 Goals)
2) LV-Chris Conner (Goal)
1) LV-Andy Miele (Game-Winning Goal)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley makes it’s first visit to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza this season on Saturday, as they face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:05.