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Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Phantoms Erupt, Down Penguins in Shootout

#AHL | @LVPhantoms held on through the shootout to take a win over @WBSPenguins. @FPHBears takes a look:

Phantoms Erupt, Down Penguins in Shootout

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – It was a Pennsylvania rivalry battle at PPL Center in Allentown as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played host to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a match-up that will heat up as the season winds down. The Phantoms erased two leads in the third period for the Penguins with Alex Kile’s first two goals of the season. Troy Grosenick made 25 saves, including a penalty shot in overtime and all three stops in the shootout to lift the Phantoms to a 4-3 win on Saturday night. Taylor Gauthier took the loss in goal with 34 saves.

It was a bit of a slow start to the game for both teams, with the teams getting a feel for each other through the first period and only opened up after the Penguins turned on the red light first with Drake Caggiula’s 11th goal of the season. Caggiula carried the puck over the blue line, fired a shot toward the net, followed his shot in, and potted the rebound to give the Penguins the first goal. The Penguins later doubled their lead in the frame with a power-play goal as Alex Nylander put a rebound of a Valtteri Puustinen one-timer from the left circle past Grosenick to put the Pens up by a pair.

The Phantoms, perhaps boosted by their whiteout jerseys in front of a strong crowd, got some scoring from unusual places in this game. Just after a power play expired, Lehigh Valley got on the board with Egor Zamula’s first goal of the season as the highly regarded Philadelphia Flyers defensive prospect fired a shot from the point through some traffic to cut the lead to one. 

With the Phantoms looking to even the game, enter journeyman forward Kile, one of a select few to have skated in 3ICE and the American Hockey League this season. After impressing in the three-on-three league, Kile has had to wait his turn with the Phantoms, only skating in his 16th game on Saturday. Still, he made an impact as he popped a rebound off of Gauthier that stunned Ty Smith on its way to the goal only 16 seconds after the Zamula goal to send the home crowd into a frenzy.

It wouldn’t be a Phantoms/Penguins game without some drama. The Penguins silenced the home crowd just over three minutes later with another power-play goal off the stick of Puustinen on a similar setup to the Nylander strike. Wilkes-Barre’s power play has been exceptional of late, striking two times on four opportunities on Saturday.

The Phantoms were down and in need of a hero once again. Kile stepped up to the challenge again in the third as he buried a rebound off a shot from Ronnie Attard at the point to get the game square at three. The teams went to extra time, where Grosenick turned away the best opportunity of the game. Tyler Sikura was awarded a penalty shot after being brought down on a breakaway, and Grosenick made the glove save. Grosenick played in just his fifth game of the season after missing most of the campaign due to injury, and his presence has been tremendous while Samuel Ersson is up with the Flyers. Grosenick turned away all three shooters in the shootout, and Bobby Brink’s tally was the decisive one to give Lehigh Valley the extra point.

The win helps lift the Phantoms back into fourth place in the Atlantic Division courtesy of the two points and sit one point ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds after the Bridgeport Islanders dealt them a loss in overtime. The race tightens in the division’s middle part of the pack as the Phantoms are now only five points back of the Charlotte Checkers for third place, who suffered a regulation loss to the Hershey Bears. Wilkes-Barre earned a point but wins for Bridgeport and Hartford on Saturday saw the Penguins drop down to the bottom of the division. Wilkes-Barre returns home to host Bridgeport on Sunday in an important game, while Lehigh Valley plays host to Hartford later on the same day.

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