The Lehigh Valley Phantoms failed to win a single game this weekend, but still clinched a playoff spot.
They picked up a point on Friday after losing in overtime, secured them a place in the Calder Cup Playoffs with Bridgeport’s regulation loss.
In a disappointing weekend for the Phantoms, Philippe Myers was one of the few bright spots, assisting on Greg Carey’s goal on Friday and scoring on Saturday.
Friday, Mar. 23rd at Providence Bruins (5-4 OT loss)
The Phantoms started their weekend off with a point in an overtime loss to the Providence Bruins.
The Bruins got on the board first midway through the first period. Ryan Fitzgerald found himself all alone in front of Dustin Tokarski and out-waited him before shoving the puck over the goal line to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Danick Martel scored his 23rd goal of the season after his second-chance effort in the slot went past Zane McIntyre to make it 1-1.
In the second period, the Bruins got back into the lead after a beautiful and patient passing play found the puck on Colby Cave’s stick. Cave had an open net to shoot at, and he made no mistake of it.
Corban Knight would re-tie the game two minutes later. After Chris Conner was stopped by McIntyre on a breakaway, a horde of players crashed the slot, and Knight was able to force the puck in the net to make it 2-2.
Midway through the period, Trent Frederic scored his first goal of the season to make it 3-2 for the Bruins. After the Phantoms lost the puck, Frederic took it away and led a two-on-one. He tried to pass, but the puck hit a sliding Maxim Lamarche before bouncing right back to Frederic’s stick, and Frederic sent the puck by Tokarski.
Greg Carey scored the third goal of the game for the Phantoms with just over four minutes left in the third period. On the power play, T.J. Brennan controlled the puck in right circle and whipped it into the slot with the intention of a deflection. Carey was there, and the Phantoms tied the game at three.
The Bruins scored before the period was over to re-take the lead again. Peter Cehlarik took the puck behind the night from the right wing and backhanded it to Josh Hennessy in the hashmark. Hennessy shot it, and the puck squeezed through Tokarski and into the net to make it 4-3.
But once again, the Phantoms would answer.
The Phantoms scored with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to tie it. Phil Varone scored his 21st of the season after Philippe Myers and other Phantoms worked hard to keep the puck in the offensive zone. It made its way to the left side before being swatted by Colin McDonald and Cole Bardreau all the way to Varone. Varone swung his body around to slide the puck in the net, and the Phantoms forced overtime.
Overtime was short. Fitzgerald, who scored the opening goal in the first period, scored just 1:06 minutes into the extra session to win the game. Fitzgerald cut into the middle of the slot and shot the puck past Tokarski to win it for the Bruins, 5-4. McIntyre got the assist on the goal.
Tokarski made 29 saves on 34 shots while Martel, Knight, Carey, and Varone scored in the loss.
Saturday, Mar. 24th at Providence Bruins (6-1 loss)
The Phantoms lost the previous night to the Bruins in overtime. This time, they lost 6-1 in Anthony Stolarz’s first AHL game since last April.
Colby Cave opened the scoring on the Bruins’ second shot of the game while on the power play. Kenny Agostino threw the puck in on Stolarz and he wasn’t able to control the rebound. Cave put the rebound home. In Stolarz’s defense, there was no one to clear Cave out of the crease.
The Bruins scored again two minutes later on their fourth shot of the game. Tommy Cross’ shot was saved by Stolarz, and the rebound dropped to Agostino’s stick. Agostino syly passed the puck to an open Peter Cehlarik, and he beat Stolarz right in front of the net.
Stolarz was forced to face 17 shots from the Bruins in the opening frame, while the Phantoms only recorded five shots.
In the second period, Zach Senyshyn scored to make it 3-0. Anton Blidh swung the puck into the slot for Senyshyn, and it made its way through Stolarz’s five-hole.
Joona Koppanen scored with 59 seconds left in the period. Colton Hargrove spun the puck into the high-slot for Koppanen who sent the puck high over Stolarz’s glove.
Koppanen scored again in the third period for his second goal of the night. He received the puck on a rush and wristed it by Stolarz.
Finally, seven minutes into the third period, the Phantoms scored. Philippe Myers scored on the power play after a long stretch-pass from T.J. Brennan landed on his stick with speed down the right wing. Myers used his strength and speed to find some space to send the puck by Jordan Binnington to make it 5-1.
The Bruins weren’t done. Cehlarik scored his second of the game midway through the third period. After receiving the puck from across the ice, Agostino quickly sent the puck to Cehlarik between the hashmarks and exposed Stolarz’s slow lateral movement. That goal made it 6-1, and that’s how the game ended.
Stolarz let up six goals, but he was not at fault for a lot of them. He hadn’t played in an AHL game since last April, and he was forced to face 35 shots – 17 in the first period alone – while the Phantoms played poorly in front of the net. He made some nice saves, too. Check out this glove save.
The Phantoms also recorded only 19 shots, so they weren’t providing much offensively in this game. Stolarz ended up with 29 saves as Myers scored the lone goal.
Star of the Week
Philippe Myers assisted on Greg Carey’s goal to make it 3-3 near the end of the second period on Friday and scored the Phantoms’ only goal on Saturday. He now has 21 points this season with five goals and 16 assists. He has recorded four points in the last six games and is a plus-12 this season.
This is Myers’ first professional season. He played four seasons with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL from 2013-2017, recording 92 points in 203 games. He signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Flyers in 2015 that kicked into effect this season.
With Brandon Manning most likely not going to be re-signed after his contract runs out at the end of the season, Myers has a chance to play into the Flyers’ lineup, but that will be dependent on Samuel Morin and his playing situation coming out of training camp.
Anthony Stolarz was reassigned to the Phantoms on Thursday after his conditioning stint with the Reading Royals ended. In turn, the Phantoms sent goaltender Mark Dekanich back to Reading the next day.
It’ll be very interesting to see what’ll happen when all the goalies in the Philadelphia Flyers’ system get healthy in a few weeks. The Flyers currently have Alex Lyon and Petr Marzek, and Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott will be returning soon. The Phantoms have Stolarz, John Muse, and Dustin Tokarski, and the Royals have Mark Dekanich and Branden Komm. With the Phantoms having clinched playoffs and the Flyers and Royals closing in on securing their spots, who knows what’ll happen.
- Friday, 3/30 vs. Providence Bruins
- Saturday, 3/31 vs. Belleville Senators
Photo by Heather Barry/Sons of Penn