Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Don’t leave a Phantoms game early

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

Imagine if you will this scenario.

Before the AHL season begins, you scour the Phantoms schedule and pick out a game to see against their rival, the Hershey Bears. It’s an early March game, so you figure the weather isn’t likely to be too bad and it could be a big game for both teams. As the season goes on, you notice that the Bears aren’t very good and the Phantoms are kicking their butts in head-to-head meetings. No problem, because you figure at least you’ll see a Phantoms win.

Then, the day of the game gets here and that ‘not too bad’ weather you hoped for turns into a day with an approaching Nor’easter and you’re going to have to deal with snow and high winds that have brought down power lines and trees.

No problem. Should still see a Phantoms win.

Then, you get to the game and with the score tied 1-1 in the first period, Hershey erupts for four goals in just under three-minutes and you’re suddenly wondering what you’re doing here and thinking it might be time to cut your losses and head home early.

Big mistake.

“That was probably the worst period we played all year. I mean the turnovers, we were not attacking, we were not backchecking. We were looking at everybody else to do the work and we wanted it to be easy,” said coach Scott Gordon.

Lehigh Valley had their own eruption of goals over the game’s final two periods and came back for a 7-6 win in one of the best games of the season; except for the Hershey Bears. Nic Aube-Kubel and Phil Myers scored early second period goals to make it interesting at 5-3, but Hershey seemed to kill the momentum with a goal from Riley Barber just under half-way through the second period. Still not daunted, Cole Bardreau and Danick Martel scored second period goals to make it 6-5.

Four minutes into the final period, Mike Vecchione fired a shot on-goal that goalie Phoenix Copley inadvertently tipped into his own net to tie the game. With just under seven-minutes remaining in the game, Aube-Kubel was in the perfect position to take a rebound and swipe it past Copley for the go-ahead goal. From there, the defense took over and the Phantoms escaped with a 7-6 win.

“It shows that we have a lot of character in this locker room,” said Aube-Kubel. “It’s very good for the playoffs. It doesn’t matter, we know we can come back.”

NOT IN OUR HOUSE... With their comeback on Friday and a 4-0 win over Binghamton on Saturday, the Phantoms had a streak of eight unanswered goals. They also took a 1-0 lead at Hershey on Sunday before the Bears tied the game, giving them nine straight goals without allowing one in their net. Saturday’s win pushed their home point streak to 12 straight games and they have added standings points in 22 of their last 24 games at PPL Center. Their home record this season is 20-5-3-2, the best home record in the AHL.

NOT IN YOUR HOUSE EITHER... Lehigh Valley has won four straight and recorded points in 16 of their last 18 games overall, going 14-2-2 during that stretch. The Phantoms are the highest scoring team in the AHL with 212 goals. The Manitoba Moose are second with 200. Their 176 goals allowed ranks just 18th in the league. The Phantoms hold an 11-point lead in the Atlantic Division and the highest team point total in the league. They also hold the highest winning percentage in the division, second only to Toronto in the AHL.