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Lehigh Valley Phantoms

AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Phantoms Beat Down Penguins

#AHL | They are in-state rivals, but it’s been a bit since the @WBSPenguins and @LVPhantoms matched up. On Friday, it was like old times as an old-school tilt broke out at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. @FPHBears details the action here:

Phantoms Beat Down Penguins

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Although it’s been a little while since the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last met, spectators at Friday’s game between the two teams might have thought otherwise. The two teams battled both in game action and with fists in an old-school tilt that saw Samuel Ersson make 28 saves in his return to the Phantoms’ crease. This was his first American Hockey League action in a month after making headlines in the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers. Filip Lindberg took the in a 5-2 loss for the Penguins with 28 saves as four goals in the second period turned the tide in favor of the Orange and Black.

The Penguins had the better start in this game, tallying the only goal of the opening stanza with Lukas Svejkovsky’s second goal of the season at the midway point of the frame as he drove to the net and potted his own rebound to put his team ahead. Wilkes-Barre doubled up their visitors from Allentown by a 16-8 margin in the period and seemed to be in the driver’s seat. However, like any good game of Uno, the Phantoms pulled out a reverse card, and the Penguins didn’t seem to have a card with the same color in the second period, with a 19-5 shot advantage for Lehigh Valley. That opened the floodgates, starting with Wyatt Wylie’s second goal of the season on a blast from the center point.

Tyson Foerster got in the act both early in the second and later on as he tallied goals 12 and 13 on this night, the latter of which turned out to be the game-winner in a first-star effort. His first was an impressive dangle to pull the puck across the crease on Lindberg from about the top of the crease, and he’d find the puck at the side of the net to finish the play to put his team out front. His second goal managed to top the first as he lifted the stick of a defender and made a nice curl-and-drag shot through a little traffic to extend the lead and make the highlight reel.

The Phantoms capped their remarkable period less than a minute later when Bobby Brink drove the net and deflected a shot on goal off a pass from Olle Lycksell. In his AHL debut, Brink has put up four goals in his first seven games, putting an exclamation point on the period right on cue. Brink made his first AHL appearance on January 6 after missing most of the first half of the season due to hip surgery. Since then, he’s been a major contributor for the Phantoms, with five points in that span.

Wilkes/Barre-Scranton cut into the lead to open the final frame with Nathan Legare’s fifth, but the Phantoms once again had an answer, with former Wilkes-Barre forward Jordy Bellerive tallying his fourth against his old club to take the wind out of the sails of the home team. The depleted Penguins didn’t go out quietly as a big-time fight broke out just over halfway through the third, with six players receiving fighting majors and four misconducts dealt out between the two teams as fights broke out at the faceoff.

The Penguins were without several key players, including the recently hot Jonathan Gruden, in this game.

The Phantoms are trying to get out of a pileup of teams in the Atlantic Division standings with a three-game winning streak. This hot streak has lifted them from the basement to third place with their latest win, a mark that was guaranteed to the winner of this latest installment of the AHL’s version of the Flyers/Penguins rivalry. Up to the midway point of the campaign, the Atlantic race has been a difficult one to call. No team has been able to take a lead from third place to last as one of the most wide-open races in recent memory. Although Lehigh Valley has the lead, the last-place Hartford Wolf Pack only trail them by six points, with three other teams only a maximum of two points behind the Phantoms, making it the slimmest of leads.

Lehigh Valley is idle until they play host to the Hershey Bears for a pair of games starting on Wednesday night at PPL Center. Wilkes-Barre will look to get even with Lehigh Valley when they visit the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday night when they get one of their games in hand played as a valuable commodity to them in this close race. Bridgeport is even with them in the standings at 41 points and brings a two-game win streak into action, making Saturday’s game an intriguing one to watch among many interesting AHL games on Saturday.

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