HARTFORD, CT – Coming into Friday night’s game against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms had struggled mightily on the power play. For one night at least, the problems were solved. After going 2-18 in their first three games, the Phantoms’ busted out, going 3-6 in a 5-1 victory Friday at XL Center.
It was another fast start for Lehigh Valley, as Danick Martel potted his team-leading third of the season at 4:41. Wolf Pack Defenseman Calle Andersson has lost his stick deep in his own end. The puck found Lehigh Valley’s Chris Conner, and he found a wide open Martel at the side of the net for the easy tap-in. Hartford controlled play for the next five minutes or so, resulting in a pair of solid scoring chances that Anthony Stolarz turned aside.
In the back half of the period, Lehigh Valley gained control, and it enabled them to extend their lead at 14:17 on Jordan Weal’s (pictured) first in a Phantom uniform at 14:17. Will O’Neill put a shot from the side boards on Wolf Pack netminder Magnus Hellberg, who made the initial pad save, but Weal, who was crashing the net, stuffed home the juicy rebound. T.J. Brennan collected the secondary assist. Hartford’s best chance to get on the board came three minutes later when Marek Hrivik was all alone in front of Stolarz, but he airmailed the puck over the crossbar.
The second period began much the way the first one ended, with Lehigh Valley putting on a clinic in puck possession. Jordan Weal almost collected his second of the night 99 seconds into the frame but was robbed by Hellberg from the near circle. Greg Carey’s second of the season on the power play at 7:50 accomplished two things: It expanded the Phantoms’ lead, and it chased Hellberg from the game. Carey one-timed a shot pass from Andy Miele at the edge of the crease, and Hartford coach Ken Gernander promptly put highly-touted New York Rangers’ prospect Mackenzie Skapski between the pipes.
Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, things didn’t improve. Brennan scored on a power play point shot at 10:14. Mark Zengerle won a faceoff to Weal, who found Brennan at the far point. Weal ripped a slapshot through traffic that beat Skapski glove side.
Marek Hrivik had a late period breakaway, that finally got Hartford on the board at 14:30. The lone assist went to Niclas Jensen.
Lehigh Valley could have sat back and protected the lead, but instead, the poured it on. Carey’s third of the season and second of the game at 12:38 of the final frame was the final nail in the Hartford coffin. Carey ripped a shot from the top of the far circle. assists went to Miele and Brennan. Hartford found their legs after that, but with the game all but decided, The Phantoms were content to ride out the clock.
Notes: Cole Bardreau made his season debut, logging two shots, and he was a +1. Petr Straka remained a healthy scratch.
3) LV-Greg Carey (2 goals)
2) LV-T.J. Brennan (Goal, 2 Assists)
1) LV-Jordan Weal (Goal, 2 Assists)
Up Next: The Phantoms take the short trip to southern Connecticut to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. Faceoff is tonight 7 pm.