ALLENTOWN— “We fumbled the ball big-time here tonight,” head coach Terry Murray said after the Phantoms were embarrassingly blown-out on home ice by their biggest rivals.
It was Wednesday Night Rivalry in Allentown as the Phantoms (19-15-4-1) allowed Hershey (21-13-4-1) to blemish their perfect home-record over the Bears with a 7-2 blowout, the largest losing margin of the season.
The Phantoms began to unravel early in the first period after allowing the Bears third goal in four minutes-- a shorthanded breakaway by Jim O'Brien. The team seemed to implode, as the power play and penalty kill suffered, and tempers and frustration began to affect the men in orange.
Prior to tonight’s game, Martin Ouellette was perfect in the AHL, but the rookie was unable to get his third AHL win after allowing three goals on six shots in the first period of tonight’s matchup.
Anthony Stolarz replaced Ouellette 15 minutes into the first frame and finished the game saving 19-of-23. Stolarz is now 0-4 against Hershey.
But the good news is the Phantoms are in the middle of a busy six-in-nine schedule, and will be back on the ice Friday in Syracuse. Not much time to dwell on the loss.
- Phantoms were 2-for-11 on the power play tonight, and killed off four of seven penalty kills. Murray could not pinpoint why the team's power play is so inconsistent, but with key players out of the lineup with injuries (cc. Gostisbehere, Alt, Jones) the team misses the individual talent with a man-advantage.
- Two of the three Hershey goals in the first period had the Phantoms power play units on the ice. Hershey’s first goal was netted just seconds after the power play expired as Connor Carrick emerged from the box to assist Chris Wellman in the goal. And the second-- a beautiful shorthanded breakaway by Jim O’Brien for his first goal of the season.
- Three 10-minute misconducts were handed out to Phantoms players as Lehigh Valley tried to survive a tightly-called game, and a struggling PK.
"The officials were taking any flame that they could out of this game," Andrew Gordon said referencing the Phantoms three misconducts. "Nothing good comes from a fight after every whistle."
- The Bear's fifth goal of the night (but let's face it, they all kind of blend together) resulted after the Phantoms took an unnecessary bench minor for arguing a slashing call on Ryan White, giving Hershey a 5-on-3 power play.
"We cant let the referees be a factor," Gordon said. "If they make a bad call or a wrong call, we can't have the bench losing their mind at the referees because it doesn't do any good. We're making the referees a factor and that's got to stop."
- The Phantoms walked off the ice tonight with 59 penalty minutes.
- The win propelled Hershey even further ahead in the East, as the Phantoms New Year momentum seems to be slowing down. Saturday, the Phantoms were tied with Hershey for second place in the division, one point behind then-leader Wilkes-Barre Scranton, but with a loss to the Bears on Sunday, and again tonight, Hershey now has a comfortable four-point lead over WBS, and seven point lead over LV.
- The Phantoms were without center Blair Jones again tonight with a lower-body injury he sustained on Friday against Albany.