The Lehigh Valley Phantoms traveled to Newark, NJ to take on the Binghamton Devils for their second game of the season on Wednesday night. Lehigh Valley was without forwards Tanner Laczynski and Tyson Foerster after their injuries on Saturday against the Bears.
Ralph Cuddemi slid into the lineup, playing in his first AHL game since December 14th against the Rochester Americans when he was on loan with the Laval Rocket. Meanwhile Matt Strome played his first game since February 19th 2020 with the Reading Royals against the Wheeling Nailers.
Other housekeeping notes were that goaltender Felix Sandstrom had joined the Taxi Squad along with Derrick Pouliot after Sam Morin was recalled to the Taxi Squad after Saturday’s game vs. Hershey. Logan Day played in in first game of the season taking Pouliot’s spot in the lineup.
Pascal Laberge came off the IR tonight to play in his first game of the season after dealing with back issues. Laberge missed last Thursday and the season opener last Saturday. Laberge was paired with Garrett Wilson and David Kase tonight vs. the Devils.
In the second game of the regular season, the team responded after a sluggish start on Saturday with much heavy pressure and exciting chances for the road team early on. It all started with a fantastic tilt between Ben Thompson and Garrett Wilson 55 seconds into this hockey game. Matt Strome had the first real chance in Wednesday’s game less than two minutes in after putting a shot on the pillows of Devils goaltender Evan Comier.
Strome just got the party started whime rookie Zayde Wisdom had another chance four minutes later as he looked for his first professional goal after Day was able to keep the biscuit in. Lehigh Valley looked better with their puck movement and had such more structure early on.
Lehigh Valley held Binghamton without a shot until 6:22 was left on the clock after Day was called for interference. This was the second game that the Devils were held without a shot for more than twelve minutes. Their first came in the season opener against Wilkes Barre after the Penguins held the Devils without a shot for the first 12 minutes of the second period. However, after allowing the shot, it was a good thing because the impressive play of Willman continues.
While on the PK, all Phantoms players had great work. It all started in the Phantoms zone after the puck was picked up by Tyler Wotherspoon. He flipped the puck to Willman who turned on the turbo boost and sped outside the zone. Kase, carrying the trailer, and then Egor Zamula joined the party for a three on one chance in a can’t miss opportunity.
Willman fed the puck to Kase who buried his first goal of the season. It was a shorthanded goal, their first of the season to make a 1-0 score. The PK continued to shine. The Phantoms led 1-0 after the first frame and led in the shot category 7-3. A much better 1st period compared to Saturday.
In the 2nd frame, Binghamton came out guns blazing and were all over the ice. It all started with former Phantom Danick Martel. He had a grade a chance after just missing a re-direct in front of Zane McIntyre. Lehigh Valley answered nicely though with anything you can do, I can do better motto. Willman had an impressive chance with Strome but just missed over the right shoulder of Comier with 16:20 left in the 2nd.
The chances continued to come in bunches of the away team after Kase, who didn’t make an impact and really went unnoticed on Saturday, almost scored his 2nd of the game.
Lehigh Valley grabbed their first man advantage of the night after Day was hooked behind the net. The Phantoms had a chance to rebound on their power-play after going 0 for 5 against Hershey on their season opener. It was no dice and their percentage was still zero. Nolan Foote almost grabbed his second professional goal but McIntyre was saved by the post after Foote rung one off the post.
Marian Studenic gave Lehigh Valley a critical power-play opportunity to go up by two goals with just under five minutes to go in the period. Shorthanded goals seemed to be the theme in this weekday hockey game after Binghamton was hungry for their own. McIntyre made a banana split with his pads to keep his hockey team in the lead to close the period.
The Phantoms went to 0/7 on the power-play for the season but escaped with the one goal lead headed into the final period Wednesday night, setting up for another great finale. Shots were 14-12 Lehigh Valley in the 2nd and McIntyre saw more shots than the three in the 1st.
Wyatt Wylie, after scoring the overtime winner on Saturday, began the final period on a bad note. He tried to force the puck off the wall and up the end boards but instead he coughed the puck up to another OHL product in Foote. Foote was on the doorstep in the crease but McIntyre saved the rookie and made another fantastic save which was one of the key storylines of the game.
Mcintyre’s luck would run out after Ben Thomson would be able to make a move at the top of the crease and beat an out-stretched McIntyre to net his 1st of the season. Michael Vukojevic was able to convert his third assist of the season.
Things could’ve gone bad to worse after Binghamton was truly threatening in the first five minutes. Due to this, Lehigh Valley was forced to take a penalty. Strome took a tripping call but, nevertheless, the team same up with a big kill for the with just ten minutes to go in the game.
Lehigh Valley was given their 3rd power-play of the night after Riley Walsh took a tripping penalty. Lehigh Valley needed that urgency to retake the lead. Phantoms registered their first shot of the period on that power-play with 9:37 in the frame. The Devils completely flipped the script. The Phantoms were chasing the puck on the power-play and were unsuccessful.
Lehigh Valley was gifted their 4th power-play of the night 20 seconds after their unsuccessful chance, which seemed to be par for the course to begin the season. With 3:15 to go in the final frame, Lehigh Valley had their fifth power-play of the night after Ryan Fitzgerald’s stick was slashed out of his hands by Marian Studenic.
Another wrapped gift under the Christmas Tree for the baby Flyers, but once again they were unsuccessful. Binghamton’s PK was phenomenal tonight. Another scary injury situation after Linus Sandin was banged up and checked on by head trainer Brian Grogesky. Another body down for Lehigh Valley three games in is not how Head Coach Scott Gordon drew these early season plans. Boy oh boy, does Issac Ratcliffe need to get back to be on the power-play. All day long did they have chances to take the lead.
We would head to overtime for the second straight game. Oddly enough Binghamton would too. 17 seconds into the 4th period, McIntyre’s 26th save would the biggest of the game after robbing Ryan Schmelzer.
The Phantoms, though seconds later, would give the game away off Brett Seney lighting the lamp for his 1st of the season assisted by Ben Street.
Three power-play’s for the Phantoms back to back to back and they still couldn’t cash on any of them. giving the come from behind win to the Devils. The Phantoms currently stand at 1-0-1-0 on the season.
Lehigh Valley continues their road swing on Valentine’s Day with an afternoon matchup against the Hershey Bears at the Giant Center at 1:00PM.