ALLENTOWN— The Phantoms established early this season that they were not a "catch up team," and if they were going to be successful, they had to score first and fast.
That was Nick Cousins’ objective tonight in the Phantoms 5-1 win over Binghamton, setting the tone by scoring just 14 seconds into the game.
But then he scored again, and again, scoring Lehigh Valley's first hat trick.
Jay Rosehill and Zack Stortini also scored.
With the Senators down by four with seven minutes remaining, the game evolved from a well-played hockey game, to wrestle-mania. A line-brawl of three different fights broke out at the same time after pushing and shoving in the neutral zone, with two more fights emerging from players leaving the penalty box.
After tonight's affair, there's no question that the Phantoms and the Senators have cultivated an intense rivalry -- which is always fun.
- Despite allowing five goals on 37 shots, Binghamton goaltender Andrew Hammond made it through a whole 60 minutes this time. On Dec. 17, the last time the Phantoms faced Hammond, he was pulled 36 seconds into the game after the Phantoms scored three goals in 21 seconds, tying the AHL record for fastest consecutive goals by the same team. Hammond is now 7-12-2 this season.
- With just five games played and five remaining, the series between the Phantoms and Binghamton is already a high scoring affair, with Lehigh Valley and the Senators each averaging more than 3.6 goals per game. The two teams having scored 18 and 16 goals scored throughout the series, respectively.
- Martin Ouellette earned his second AHL win, saving 28 of 29, including a penalty shot in the third period.
- East Division leader Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lost tonight to Worcester, 4-0, putting the Phantoms in great position to move up two (!) spots in the division if they can pull off a win in Hershey tomorrow. With 43 points, the Phantoms can pass the Penguins (44 points) and take a seat next to the Bears (45 points) in the premier spot in the league with a game in-hand over Hershey. The really crazy part is, if the playoffs started tomorrow, Lehigh Valley wouldn't make the cut. Currently sitting in ninth place in the conference, the Phantoms would miss the eighth-seed cutoff, but two points could propel all the way to third (!) in the Eastern Conference.
- After blocking a shot on Friday, Blair Jones left the game early and did not return. Scratched tonight with a lower body injury, Terry Murray said he does not expect Jones to be in the lineup tomorrow as the Phantoms travel to Hershey.