Photo: Nina Weiss/Flyerdelphia
Special teams has been boom or bust lately for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. While the penalty kill was a perfect six for six, the power play was bust. The Phantoms were scoreless in four tries, including 55 seconds of five on three in the middle period.
Carter Camper had a goal and an assist, and Sean Collins had two assists as the Hershey Bears defeated Lehigh Valley 4-2 Friday night at PPL Center.
Both teams were very even in the first few minutes, just feeling each other out. It was the Phantoms' who struck first at 7:58 on what may go down as the most bizarre goal of the season.
A Shayne Gostisbehere shot from the point deflected off Camper, then hit Lehigh Valley's Aaron Palushaj in the slot, popped up into the air, and over the shoulder of Bears' goalie Dan Ellis. Tim Brent collected a secondary assist on the play.
The lead lasted less than four minutes, however.
Stan Galiev, on a conditioning stint from the Washington Capitals tied the game at 11:17. A failed clearing attempt left Carter Camper with the puck. Camper made a nifty tap pass to Galiev in the slot, and he wristed it low to the stick side past Phantoms' goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
The game was nearly tied through the second, but Hershey's Nathan Walker had other ideas. A busted Phantoms' line change left Hershey's Connor Carrick with the puck. He found Walker with a perfect stretch pass, and Walker skated in all alone and beat LaBarbera five-hole.
A lucky bounce off Carter Camper made it 3-1 Hershey just 93 seconds into the third. John Stanton took a shot from the half wall that bounced off of both Sean Collins and Camper and into the net.
Three and a half minutes later, Tyrell Goulbourne (Pictured) pulled Lehigh Valley to within one, thanks to a slick play from Mark Alt. Alt was pinned up against the boards, and Goulbourne had pinched down to the hashmarks in the far circle. The puck somehow found him and he one-timed it top shelf past Ellis.
The Phantoms had several chances in the third, but could not capitalize. Chris Bourque sealed the win for the bears with an empty-netter at 19:08. The goal, which was unassisted, was Bourque's 4th of the season.
Notes: There was a scare for Danick Martel late in the third. While entering the offensive zone, he collided knee on knee with a Hershey defender. He limped to the bench and briefly went to the locker room, but returned to finish the game. Christian Marti made his season debut for the Phantoms, after missing the first 9 games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Forward Evan Rankin, a former member of the Syracuse Crunch, did not travel tonight as they face his former team on Saturday. Head Coach Scott Gordon, in the rush to get on the bus, did not speak postgame.
Quotes: Aaron Palushaj, on being done in by lapses late in the second, and early in the third: "I don't think it was our A-game tonight. Effort was there at times, but I don't think we played to our potential. At home, it's a little frustrating with a good week of practice but we have to regroup and get ready for tomorrow night's game."
On his odd first period goal: "I just tried to get in front of the net and I got a stick on it. I didn't know where it went until the light went on and the fans started cheering. It's nice to get a goal, I would give it back if we could take the win but it was nice to get one early in the game."
Mark Alt, on the penalty kill going six for six: "I think we are starting to click a lot more and understanding the system that has been put in place. A lot of it comes from being aggressive when we are supposed to, especially down the half-wall. Our D are getting a better idea of when to jump and put pressure on their team. It's causing some turnovers."
3 Stars: 3) LV-Tyrell Goulbourne (Goal) 2) HER- Sean Collins (2 Assists) 1) HER-Carter Camper (Goal, Assist