ALLENTOWN, PA – Just 24 hours after beating the best team in the American Hockey League, it would have been easy to assume that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms would have come into Saturday’s tilt against the Providence Bruins with ample jump, ready to attack the team that team that sits directly behind them in the Atlantic Division standings.
Instead, the final score looked like they didn’t even bother to show up.
Peter Cehlarik (pictured) grabbed two goals and an assist, Jordan Szwarz collected a goal and three assists, and Wayne Simpson added a goal and two assists to lead a 9-1 rout of the Phantoms Saturday at PPL Center.
News came early this morning that goaltender Anthony Stolarz would miss the game with an undisclosed injury, so Mark Dekanich was recalled from ECHL Reading to fill in as Alex Lyon’s backup. What he probably didn’t know was that he would wind up making hios Phantoms debut and surrendering five goals in the process. With a game a gainst the Hershey Bears looming Sunday evening, one has to wonder how Stolarz’ injury and/or tonight’s awful performance might affect them Sunday in the land of chocolate.
Colby Cave started the festivities just 2:59 into the game, as a pass from Jake DeBrusk found Cave wide open in the slot, and he made no mistake putting it home. The Phantoms would get two early power play chances, but were unable to generate anything in the way of offense.
The P-Bruins would double their pleasure with just over four minutes remaining i n the first, although the goal did not come without controversy. Television replays showed that a Ben Marshall keep in at the point actually cleared the blueline, and should have been whistled for offsides.
Instead, the play continued, and Marshall’s shot deflected off the skate of Tyler Randell,to Danton Heinen in the bottom of the left circle, who found Sean Kuraly at the far post for an easy goal.
If anybody thought the Phantoms were going to come out firing in the second, they were wrong. Cehlarik scored goals off assists from Simpson and Szwarz at 2:05 and &:02, his 16th and 17th tallies of the season. That was enough to chase Alex Lyon, and bring in Dekanich. The 30-year old ex-Hershey Bear hadn’t played in a month with the Royals due to injury and it really showed.
Chris Porter scored just over a minute after Dekanich entered, and Jake DeBrusk scored on a mini breakaway moments later to make it six-nil. All told, Providence would score five times in the middle frame, and the Phantoms were booed off the ice as the P-Bruins took a seven to nothing lead to the locker room.
It was more of the same in the third as Providence would add two more on goals by Szwarz and Simpson at 4:09 and 7:30, respectively.
The lone bad moment for Providence, if there is such a thing when you’re up by nine goals, is that Malcolm Subban’s shutout bid was erased when Colin McDonald got his fifteenth of the season, burying the rebound of a Taylor Leier shot off a feed from Scott Laughton with 1:19 left in regulation.
I’m sure this is a game that the Phantoms won’t take much from, as they head to Hershey on Sunday.
Notes: The nine goals are the most they have surrendered since March 9th, 2014. On that day, they lossed 9-3 to, you guessed it, the Providence Bruins, in a game at Dunkin Donuts Center. In addition to Dekanich, Defenseman Reece Willcox and Forward Radel Fazleev returned from Reading, although neither player made it into the lineup.
3) PRO-Wayne Simpson (Goal, 2 Assists)
2) PRO-Jordan Szwarz (Goal, 3 Assists)
1) PRO-Peter Cehlarik (2 Goals, Assist)