The Lehigh Valley Phantoms dropped their last game of the week against Charlotte for their first regulation loss since playing at Charlotte on December 13, but their success prior to that helped them to second place in the Atlantic Division.
T.J. Brennan had two highlight-reel plays during the week, and his goal against Charlotte was his 400th career point.
Wednesday, Dec. 27th at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (5-4 win)
After beating the Penguins by one goal the previous Saturday, the Phantoms won another close contest with a 5-4 victory over their turnpike rivals.
T.J. Brennan opened up the scoring for the Phantoms less than three minutes into the game, and Mike Vecchione added another goal later in the opening stanza. Vecchione tried to send a pass through the crease to Will O’Neill, but it hit Frank Corrado’s skate and went into the net.
Then it was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s turn to score two unanswered, as Colin Smith and Gage Quinney scored within the first 11 minutes of the second period to tie the game. Quinney’s goal was just unlucky for the Phantoms. After a tap shot from Jarred Tinordi went wide of the net, the puck came right back into the slot on the other side and Quinney was there to send it home.
On the replay, however, the net was momentarily in the air, and Goulbourne slid the puck underneath the net. It should not have been a goal, but it stood.
Two minutes after that, Chris Conner made the most out of a rebound on a two-on-one with Radel Fazleev and scored to make it 4-2, and then Garrett Wilson scored to cut the deficit to just one goal a short 17 seconds later.
Time to breathe.
After the onslaught of goals midway through the second period, there was a break in scoring until the Penguins pulled Casey DeSmith with around 1:20 left in the game. Right as that happened, Phil Varone scored to make it 5-3. The Penguins would score with 12 seconds remaining, but it wasn’t enough, and the Phantoms won, 5-4.
Dustin Tokarski saved 32 of 36 shots he faced. Goulbourne, Corban Knight, and Brennan scored two points each. Goulbourne also had a fight along with a goal and assist for the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Friday, Dec. 29th, 2017 vs. Charlotte Checkers (3-1 win)
The Phantoms scored first and never looked back in their third game of the year against Charlotte en route to a 3-1 victory
Greg Carey and Oskar Lindblom scored the first two goals for the Phantoms in the first period, and T.J. Brennan picked up his 400th point with a goal in the second. The Checkers’ lone goal came off the stick of Warren Foegele in the third period.
On Carey’s goal, Phil Varone skated into the slot and sent the puck into the crease, and the Checkers couldn’t clear the puck. Greg Carey, skating from the right faceoff circle, crept into the slot and swatted at the puck with one hand on his stick for the goal.
Brennan scored the best goal of the week for the Phantoms. After receiving a pass from Greg Carey, Brennan took a peak over to the other point and saw that Patrick Brown was moving up to take away the cross-point pass. In doing that, Brown left a huge gap on the sideboards. Phil Varone moved over to let Brennan fly by him, and Brown struggled to keep up with Brennan. The eventual shot was not handled properly by Charlotte goaltender Jeremy Smith, who slid too far out to his left to stop the puck from sliding into the net to his right.
Alex Lyon ended the game with 28 saves on 29 shots while Greg Carey led the way with three points.
Saturday, Dec. 30th, 2017 vs. Charlotte Checkers (5-2 loss)
The score makes the game look a lot worse than it was, as the Phantoms allowed two empty net goals in a 5-2 defeat to Charlotte on Saturday.
Will O’Neill scored the opening goal of the game in the first period on the power play, winding a slap shot that went through the five-hole of Alex Nedeljkovic. The goal came in a period where the Checkers heavily outshot the Phantoms, 16-7, and that was indicative of what was to come.
Charlotte scored three unanswered goals, including two within a two-minute span in the second period. Maxim Lamarche was given a game misconduct for boarding, and the Checkers’ second goal came on that power play.
The Phantoms wouldn’t score again until there were under two minutes to go in the game, when Oskar Lindblom showed his extreme patience in controlling the puck.
After receiving a pass in the slot from Tyrell Goulbourne, Lindblom noticed Trevor Carrick going down to block his shot. Instead of trying to rush a shot, something many players would do when down two with two minutes left, Lindblom held onto the puck, skated below the goal line with the puck on his backhand, and then banked it in off of Nedeljkovic, who was pulled out of the crease by Lindblom.
But that was as close as the Phantoms would get, as two empty-netters made it a lopsided 5-2 final score.
Alex Lyon played solidly in the loss, saving 39 of 42 shots, as Lindblom led the team in shots with 5.
Star of the week
T.J. Brennan scored three points and became the 10th defenseman in AHL history to ever record 400 points.
Against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Brennan recorded a goal and an assist. His assist was Pronger-esque, throwing the puck all the way from the defensive end to Tyrell Goulbourne’s moving stick almost 150 feet away.
Against Charlotte on Friday, his goal was a fantastic way to score his 400th point. A lot of young defensemen would force a pass to the other point and give it away, but Brennan used his wisdom to force Patrick Brown to make the first move. After that, it came down to skill, and Brennan’s skating and puck control beat Jeremy Smith.
It’s a shame Brennan never quite had the all-around game to make it in the NHL, but his playing in the AHL can help the development of the younger defensemen.
Michael Neuvirth came back to the Flyers’ lineup on Wednesday, meaning a shuffling of goalies happened throughout the farm system. Alex Lyon was sent down to Lehigh Valley, and John Muse was sent down to Reading.
Mark Alt was re-assigned to the Phantoms on Saturday after Brandon Manning returned from an injury. In response, the Phantoms returned James de Haas to Reading.
- Friday, 1/5 at Toronto Marlies
- Saturday, 1/6 at Rochester Americans