ALLENTOWN—Phantoms fans can thank the Reading Royals for tonight's exciting 3-2 shootout victory over a tough East Division opponent, after two Reading stand-outs led to another Phantoms home win.
Phantoms (14-11-4-1) call-up Martin Ouellette celebrated his birthday early on Saturday, locking in his first AHL win stopping every shot in an eight-round shootout against the Norfolk Admirals (12-17-0-1).
The rookie goaltender turns 23 on Tuesday.
But the rookie goaltender can also thank his Reading teammate Adam Comrie for the win. After being called up to the Phantoms this morning, and meeting head coach Terry Murray for the first time, Comrie was sent into the shootout in the eighth round after seven Phantoms failed to send a shot past Admiral's goaltender John Gibson. Comrie sent a backhand five-hole shot past Gibson for the win in front of a LV Phantoms record-setting crowd of 8,918 fans.
Ouellette had 33 saves in his first AHL start, and eight shootout stops. Six of the eight shots were to the net, with just two sent wide. The rookie's glove hand was his most powerful weapon in the shootout, stopping three Norfolk shots with his wicked-fast glove.
- In his rookie season with the Royals, Ouellette quickly emerged as their standout goaltender, posting a 9-4-1-1 record and a 0.914 save percentage in 15 games played.
- Ouellette has played for the Phantoms twice this season in relief for Stolarz, allowing a combined two goals on 25 shots faced.
- Comrie is the highest scoring d-man on the Royals with seven goals and seven assists, including three power play goals.
- Nick Cousins netted his seventh goal of the season, kicking off the Phantoms 3-2 victory. Jason Akeson added to the Phantoms’ lead two minutes into the second period.
- Former Admiral Zack Stortini assisted Cousins’ and Akeson’s goal for his first multi-point game this season.
- Austin Fyten got the PPL Center record-breaking crowd going in the third period. The left winger received a roughing penalty after being boarded and shoved face-first into the ice. After his penalty concluded, Fyten emerged onto the ice and received the puck for a partial breakaway, sending a backhanded attempt at the net which Gibson barely stopped the shot at the goal line. Following the shot Jared Nightengale put Fyten in a chokehold and ripped him to the ground, leading to some retaliation from Phantoms players on the ice. Fyten was sent back to the penalty box, as the fans made it known that they were unhappy with the officiating.
- With a successful two point game against an East Division opponent the Phantoms are now just two points behind Hershey, hunting for second place in the East. Norfolk still sits in last place in the division, despite earning seven points in its last six games.
- Mark Alt and Anthony Stolarz were additional scratches Saturday against Norfolk after both sustained injuries against Hershey on Dec. 26. Mark Alt’s injury was thought to be more severe after the defenseman slammed into the boards, possibly re-injuring his shoulder, which kept him out for 11 games in October and November, but head coach Terry Murray said both Alt and Stolarz saw team doctors this morning, and neither injury seems to be long term, and will be re-evaluated in the middle of next week
- With Shayne Gostisbehere out with an ACL injury since Nov. 7, Robert Hagg traveling with team Sweden this week and Mark Alt’s recent injury, the Phantoms young defense has faced the difficult challenge of rotating new players onto established defensive lines. Comrie's performance Saturday, however set good light on Reading prospects and their ability to mesh in the AHL.
"You have to have faith in the system and believe in the guys who are going to come up and fill roles," Andrew Gordon said. "We were all sort of those guys."