ALLENTOWN, PA – It’s been a week of firsts for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. On Wednesday, they erased their first four-goal deficit of the season to win. On Friday night against the Hershey Bears, they participated in their first shootout of the 2016-17 campaign.
T.J. Brennan tied the game late in the second, Alex Lyon made 21 saves, including all three shootout attempts, and Andy Miele converted the shootout winner as the Phantoms picked up a crucial 3-2 Atlantic Division victory Friday night at PPL Center.
It was a back and forth affair for the first 15 minutes of the first as Lyon and Hershey netminder Vitek Vanecek traded solid saves. The Phantoms best chance in that time was Colin McDonald four on two midway through, but he missed the net.
It was the Bears that got on the first, and in turn, set off a wild final few minutes of the period.
Travis Boyd, who has four of his now eight goals on the season versus Lehigh Valley, finished off a Liam O’Brien cross-ice power play feed on an odd-man rush. Paul Carey got the secondary assist, extending his point streak to 16 games. The streak is interesting in that, in all the games, he has only one point in each.
It didn’t take long for the Phantoms to tie the game, as Greg Carey got his 13th tally of the season, becoming the fourth Lehigh Valley player this season with 10 or more goals. Chris Conner had the puck behind the net and found Carey coming down the boards. Carey went to the near side dot and whipped it inside the far post.
Said Carey of the goal, “(I) didn’t even look, just shot it.”
The lead was short-lived, as Stanislav Galiev got his third of the season just 32 seconds later. After taking a feed down the boards from O’Brien, he split two Phantoms and beat Lyon high over the right shoulder. Hershey took the lead to the locker room, with the Bears holding a 10-9 shot advantage.
The second period was all Lehigh Valley controlling the puck for long periods. They had a beautiful chance to tie the game, as McDonald came in one on one with Defenseman Colby Williams and he had him so twisted he fell down, but Vanecek was equal to the task. Eight minutes later, McDonald found Scott Laughton on a breakaway, but again, Vanecek played the role of Foil.
Late in the period, Brennan beat the Hershey goaltender from the bottom of the left circle putting the puck just under the crossbar at 17:21.
the third period started strangely, as a Madison Bowey shot deflected off the back of Sam Morin’s leg. Lyon deflected the puck with his glove. It went off the crossbar before Morin cleared it out of the crease. Officials checked it minutes later to confirm that it had not crossed the line.
Hershey had a chance in the waning seconds of the third, with Lyon making three saves in quick succession. Madison Bowey had a shot from the point that Lyon stopped, Boyd found the puck in the slot, but the puck went directly into Lyon’s glove as he was on his back. Bowey got a third shot, but it sailed over the net.
Lehigh Valley had the best chance in the overtime, as Laughton hit the post on a three on one with 30 seconds left.
In the shootout, Christian Djoos, Galiev and Christian Thomas all shot wide for Hershey, while Vanecek stopped Brennan and Jordan Weal. It came down to Miele, who beat the Hershey goaltender top shelf over the left leg, securing the two points.
Head Coach Scott Gordon on the Shootout:
“Usually by this point in the year, you know who your shooters are, but because we haven’t had any, and we’ve got some new guys, we were kinda scratching our heads as to who was gonna go. Nobody has been that dominant in practice with it, but it worked out tonight.”
Notes: Reece Willcox and Steven Swavely were healthy scratches, while Maxim LaMarche took Willcox’ spot in the lineup.
3) HER-Vitek Vanecek (31 saves)
2) LV-Colin McDonald (Assist)
1) HER-Travis Boyd (Goal, Assist)
Up Next: It’s a short turnaround, as Lehigh Valley plays the final game before the holiday break when they host the Providence Bruins Saturday at 7:05.