Team effort leads Lehigh Valley
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were determined to stay undefeated in the new calendar year as they traveled nearly 2,000 miles to face off against the St. John’s Ice Caps over the weekend. The Phantoms started out the new year by sweeping a two-game set in Norfolk against the Admirals. Each of those games were tight games requiring extra time with the Phantoms coming out on top 3-2. This trip, however, was a bit different.
Lehigh Valley elected to start Rob Zepp in the first game of this two-game set against the Ice Caps. The Phantoms welcomed Robert Hagg back into the lineup as well, as he returned from his time with Team Sweden for the World Junior Championships. Hagg was happy to be back and opened the scoring for the Phantoms on the power play. This was Hagg’s only shot of the game, and just his third goal of the season. Lehigh Valley went up by two on a Brett Hextall goal, which was quickly cut to one just under 30 seconds later.
St. John’s tied the game up with eight minutes remaining in the third period, causing some alarm for the well-travelled Phantoms. Fortunately, that was all they would give up as Zepp stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced and Andrew Gordon scored with three minutes remaining for the Phantoms to regain the lead. Ryan White iced the game for the Phantoms with the empty net goal. All-in-all the Phantoms saw 10 different players record points in the 4-2 victory.
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Just 16 hours after the conclusion of their first game, these two teams went back at it on Sunday afternoon. But this one was all Phantoms. With Steve Mason suffering an injury for the Flyers on Saturday, Rob Zepp was recalled to the NHL squad. This resulted with Anthony Stolarz making the start, with a native of St. John’s, Doug Pippy, backing him up as the emergency backup goaltender.
This one seemed to be over as quickly as it began, with the Phantoms scoring three goals on their first nine shots, including one less than a minute into the game. Former-NHLer Peter Budaj made the start for the Ice Caps but only stopped six of the nine shots he faced in 10 minutes of ice time. Lehigh Valley jumped out to a 3-0, 4-1 and finally a 6-2 lead with goals from six different players. Stolarz stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced on the afternoon
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Seven different Phantoms recorded multi-point weekends, led by Nick Cousins with one goal and three assists. Andrew Gordon and Jason Akeson each recorded three points, with Blair Jones, Adam Comrie, Austin Fyten and Taylor Leier all double-dipping in the points department.
The Phantoms are now undefeated in four games in 2015 and will host the Albany Devils and Binghamton Senators this weekend.
Bumpy ride for Reading
The Reading Royals started out 2015 on a high note, a three-game winning streak with wins at Evansville (3-1), at Indy (3-1), and at home against Wheeling (5-2). That brought them up to this past weekend where they were set to finish out their home-and-home with Wheeling, then play two home games against Brampton.
The Royals once again scored five goals against Wheeling, but they were outdone by the Nailers who scored six of their own to get the two points. The Royals had leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in the game but couldn’t hang on as Wheeling scored three goals in less than three minutes to take a 5-3 lead and never look back. The Royals definitely had their chances, firing 48 pucks at the Wheeling goalie, but couldn’t find the back of the net to force overtime.
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The Royals didn’t fare any better on Saturday, as they lost 4-2 to the Brampton Beast. Once again the Royals heavily outshot their opponent, 41-24, but couldn’t get the job done to get the two points.
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After a disappointing start to the homestand, the Royals wanted to finish on a high note on Sunday in their finale against Brampton. They registered 50 shots on goal, this time having 6 of them finding the back of the net in a 6-2 victory. Reading scored three times in the first period and three times in the third period to put two solid bookends on a great game.
Prospects providing points for juniors teams
- Samuel Morin returned to Rimouski Oceanic and received 2nd star honors in his first game back, scoring a power play goal and adding an assist. He picked up an assist the following night as well and now has three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 14 games.
- Travis Sanheim had one assist in two games this weekend for the Calgary Hitmen. He now has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 36 games.
- Shayne Gostisbehere is still rehabbing his torn ACL that he suffered in November. He is back skating and has been spotted in the press box at the Wells Fargo Center. Hopefully he can take in the action and learn some to help his game while doing so.
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel had a goal and an assist for Val-d’Or Foreurs this weekend. That gives him 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points in 35 games on the season.