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Lehigh Valley Phantoms


Marody’s Pair Help Phantoms Past Penguins

#AHL | In the latest battle of Pennsylvanian rivals, the @LVPhantoms put a dent in the @WBSPenguins playoff hopes with a big win on Friday night. @FPHBears has the recap of the action

Marody’s Pair Help Phantoms Past Penguins

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Friday marked the ninth installment of twelve between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms with a heightened sense of urgency for both clubs. The two teams duked it out, but a big night for Phantoms forward Cooper Marody and 25 saves from top netminder Samuel Ersson proved to be enough in a 4-1 decision at Mohegan Sun Arena, sending the home fans away disappointed and dealing another blow to Wilkes-Barre’s playoff hopes. Dustin Tokarski took the loss in goal with 22 saves.

With nearly every team in the Atlantic Division in action on Friday and plenty of potential for movement in the standings, the Phantoms asserted themselves early in the game. Rookie defenseman Ronnie Attard took a pass from Marody on a drive to the net and beat Tokarski for the game’s first goal. It was a welcome relief in terms of scoring for the visitors, who were without two of their top players in Elliot Desnoyers and Tyson Foerster, who were both recalled to parent club Philadelphia.

Wilkes-Barre has struggled mightily in recent times, dropping eight of their last ten games and sitting in eighth place in the division but not completely buried thanks to the AHL’s playoff format. The Penguins battled back to even the score in the second period as a pair of penalties that slightly overlapped gave them an extended chance on the power play: one of their strengths despite their struggles. They’d counter with a goal from rookie Sam Houde, who picked the corner from the left faceoff circle over Ersson’s shoulder as the only power play marker in the game in a comparatively tame game on the penalty sheet between two bitter rivals.

In a game of this magnitude for both teams, there was a sense that the next goal would be a combination of hard work with a little fortune mixed in, and for Marody and the Phantoms, it would land in their favor with just 25 seconds left in the middle stanza. Off of a faceoff, a point shot from Kevin Connauton went wide but took a favorable bounce off of a stanchion to the side of Tokarski, and Marody happened to be in the right place on his strong side to deposit the puck for the lead.

The Penguins pushed in the third period, doubling up the Phantoms in shots and getting some solid work from Tokarski, who stopped Olle Lycksell on a penalty shot to keep his team in it, but a pair of empty-net goals iced the game in favor of the visitors. Marody tallied one of the empty-net goals, earning first star honors with two goals and an assist.

It was an important two points for both teams with both the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Bridgeport Islanders losing in regulation on Friday. The win gives the Phantoms a four-point lead over the Islanders to retain fifth place and keep pace with the Springfield Thunderbirds for fourth after a win over the Providence Bruins on Friday. Although the Penguins don’t lose any ground with other teams losing, the window is rapidly closing for them to make it into the sixth and final playoff position. Losing out on a chance to cut down a five-point deficit with 15 games left in the season will certainly hurt their bottom line, although there’s still time to try and make amends.

There are three more matchups between the Penguins and the Phantoms yet this season, with the next game just over a week away on March 19. In the meantime, the Phantoms will kick off a five-game homestand on Saturday as part of a set of three games in as many days against the Belleville Senators. Wilkes-Barre will look to cap their weekend off with a win on Saturday when they welcome the Utica Comets to town for technically the second matchup of the season, with the first one in Utica split up over the course of months due to a power outage back in October.

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