Catasauqua Press

Monday, December 17, 2018

Phantoms have success on road trip

Thursday, December 6, 2018 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms spent this past weekend in Canada, and boy, did they have fun.

The Phantoms swept their three-game road trip through Canada with an overtime win in Laval and two regulation wins in Belleville and Toronto. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had an especially good time on the trip, picking up two, game-winning goals.

Chris Conner came up big in a 4-2 win in Belleville on Saturday night. With 13.5 seconds left in regulation and the score tied 2-2, Conner had a breakaway and was hooked from behind and awarded a penalty shot. Conner didn’t waste the opportunity and put Lehigh Valley ahead when he converted the shot for his second goal of the night. Eight seconds later, Taylor Leier took advantage of the empty net and deposited a goal of his own to make it 4-2.

The Phantoms had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit after Belleville picked up lone goals in each of the first two periods. Conner’s first goal made it 2-1 and Mike Vecchione added a goal to tie the game 2-2 and set up Conner’s heroics.

The trip opened with Aube-Kubel returning to Quebec province where he grew up and picking up an overtime goal to beat the Laval Rocket 3-2. The game had all of the markings of one that would slip away from Lehigh Valley until Phil Varone picked up a power play goal with just :55 left in regulation for his second goal of the night, which tied the game 2-2. The goal came on what was actually a six-on-four advantage as the Phantoms pulled their goalie to add an extra attacker on the power play opportunity.

Carter Hart stopped 26 of 28 shots on the night to record his sixth win of the season with the Phantoms. If his performance in Laval was good, Hart’s outing against the Toronto Marlies on Sunday was even better. The AHL rookie stopped 33 of 35 shots in the Phantoms 5-2 win over the Marlies. For the second time in three games on the trip, Aube-Kubel picked up the game winning goal when he beat goalie Eamon McAdam, who hails from Perkasie.

The three-game Canadian sweep leaves the Phantoms at 13-6-1-1 on the season and in third place in the Atlantic Division. They stand seven points behind division leading Charlotte and two points behind Bridgeport.

After their jaunt north of the border, Lehigh Valley is home for four-straight games and six out of their next seven, with just a quick trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scheduled for Dec. 15. Cleveland is in town Wednesday and Saturday, with Hershey coming in Friday for a meeting of the two rivals. Belleville visits on Dec. 14 and then Hershey and Syracuse come in after their meeting with the Penguins.

PENALTY KILLERS... After having a recent penalty killing streak snapped, the Phantoms went right back to work on a new streak. The Phantoms have currently killed off 27-straight penalties and 55 of their last 56 penalties dating back to late October.

SCHEDULE QUIRK... With Lehigh Valley chasing Charlotte and Bridgeport, a look at the schedule shows that the Phantoms don’t play either team until late January when they have back-to-back games six days apart in Bridgeport. They travel to Charlotte for two games in late February. Between those two series, Bridgeport will be at the PPL Center Feb. 15 and again on March 3. Charlotte will play at Lehigh Valley on March 8 and 10.

THROW THOSE BEARS... It would have been perfect if the annual Teddy Bear Toss promotion came this Friday night when the Hershey Bears are in town. The Bears recently set a World Record – yes, they track these things – when fans threw 34,798 teddy bears onto the ice. Phantoms fans will try to top that on Saturday night when the Cleveland Monsters are in town. The teddy bears are given to children’s charities for Christmas presents.