Photo: Nina Weiss
Coming into tonight's matchup with Utica, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Simply wanted to build off Friday Night's loss to the Portland Pirates. Even though they lost 2-1, the prevailing theory was that they ran into a hot goalie and, if they could produce that type of grinding effort, crucial wins would come.
The Utica Comets had other ideas.
Three different players recorded a goal and an assist, and Richard Bachman stopped 21 of 23 shots as the Comets downed the Phantoms 5-2 at PPL Center.
In the first, the Phantoms controlled the first 6 minutes. Even though they didn't score, they had plenty of chances, with Bachman making several solid saves to keep the game scoreless. David Shields got the Comets on the board first when he blasted a point shot past Anthony Stolarz off of a faceoff at 8:15. Four and a half minutes later, Ronalds Kenins took a pass in the slot from Mike Zalewski and wired a wrister past Stolarz. David Shields got the secondary assist.
Phil DeSimone got his first tally since joining the team from Austria late last month at 15:35. Chris Conner had the puck behind the net and he found DeSimone at the side of the net, and he jammed the puck between the post and Bachman's skate. Taylor Leier got an assist on the goal.
In the second, Utica poured it on, and in the process, chased Stolarz from the game. Darren Archibald skated into the Phantoms zone and beat Stolarz to the glove side at 3:57. Assists went to Zalewski and Shields. At that point, Scott Gordon pulled the hook and put in Jason LaBarbera. Nine minutes later, Cole Cassels put Utica up 4-1. On a knee at the hashmarks, Cassels took a pass from Ashton Sautner and flipped a puck wide of LaBarbera's glove. Taylor Fedun got the other assist.
With Lehigh Valley on a power play with seven and a half minutes left in the third, Scott Gordon took the unusual step of pulling his gsaltender to gain a six on four advantage. While they garnered some nice chances, ultimately, it backfired. After a turnover in the Phantoms' offensive zone, AHL All-Star Hunter Shinkaruk potted the empty netter at 13:43. Danick Martel got one late in the game when he beat Bachman on a rush five-hole. to make it 5-2.
Notes: Andrew MacDonald was recalled by the Flyers just before the game to replace the injured Michael Del Zotto on the Flyers roster. Attendance was 8,675, Marking Lehigh Valley's 8th sellout in the last 10 home games. Mark Alt wore the alternate Captain's 'A' as a replace for MacDonald.
Quotes: Danick Martel on the loss: "We tried so hard (Friday). We should have came into this game the same way and we carme in the exact opposite. The effort was not there."
Mark Alt on the frustration of the loss: "Tonight it's worse. I thought we played well last night and the bounces didn't go our way. Tonight we didn't work hard enough, didn't play the systems the way they needed to be played to get the outcome we wanted, so it's a lot more frustrating tonight."
Scott Gordon on where the team goes from here: "We just gotta start back on Tuesday, ready to work. We have 3 games next weekend, two against Springfield, one against Bridgeport. It's six points that are on the table. Like I said, we've played this team three time and beat them once. It's been a struggle every time. They're not really a good matchup for us. We haven't handled their size and their compete level to the standard that we need to, and that's something we need to figure out the next time we play them."
3 Stars: 3) UTI-Darren Archibald (Goal, Assist) 2) UTI-David Shields (Goal, Assist) 1) UTI-Ronalds Kenins (Goal, Assist)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley begins a three in three when they host the Springfield Falcons on Friday at 7:05