ALLENTOWN— The Phantoms raised their sticks in the air for the final time Sunday as the standing-room only crowd of 8,689 presented a standing ovation to the team after its 5-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to conclude its inaugural season in Lehigh Valley.
It was a frustrating end to an equally frustrating season for the Phantoms, who dropped their last three games while being outscored 14-4 by opponents. With a final 33-35-7-1 record, the Phantoms finish in fourth place in the East Division.
According to head coach Terry Murray it only took three minutes for Sunday’s matchup to get out of hand for the Phantoms, when they allowed the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play. A delay of game violation by Kevin Goumas led to rookie Jean-Sebastien Dea scoring the go-ahead for the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Tom Kuhnhackl scored just a minute later as the second Phantoms penalty expired, making it 2-0 early.
Three more Penguins would score on Rob Zepp, including Sean Escobedo, who earned his first three points of his pro career Sunday with a goal and two assists in the 5-1 win.
- After a long 12-game series the Phantoms and Penguins’ were not there to play nice. Six total players were ejected early from Sunday’s contest. The Phantoms lost Zack Stortini, Oliver Lauirdsen and Brett Hextall due to misconducts, and the Penguins’ Alex Boak, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Bobby Farnham also left the ice early. Between the two teams 108 penalty minutes were served through 60 minutes of hockey.
- Before his ejection Oliver Lauridsen scored the lone Phantoms goal off a bad angle to Jeff Zatkoff's right midway through the second period.
- Rob Zepp ended his first North American pro season 21-20-4-5, and stopped 30 of 35 in his last start under his current contract. With Zepp's performance in the AHL and his memorable stint in the NHL, Zepp's future may be as an NHL goaltender. Whether it's in Philadelphia, who knows. Rumors are swirling that Zepp may return to Europe next season, depending on what offers he receives.
- Alternate captain Andrew Gordon played two full periods but did not return to the game after the second intermission Sunday after tweaking his knee in the middle frame. Gordon and Zack Stortini are the only two players on the Phantoms roster to play in 76 games this season. Oliver Lauridsen played 75 games for Lehigh Valley. The only game he missed was due to an NHL call-up earlier that day.
- Head coach Terry Murray has 15 years of NHL coaching experience under his belt, most recently in LA where he molded the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Champions before being removed from his head coaching position midway through the season. While he's back in the AHL (for now) the Phantoms head coach avoided answering directly if he'd be interested in the Philadelphia head coaching position, but said he wants to get back to the NHL for "one more try." Hmmmmm.