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Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Phantoms Spoil Penguins’ Opener

Phantoms Spoil Penguins’ Opener

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms opened their 2022-23 seasons with a Pennsylvania rivalry clash at Mohegan Sun Arena for the first of 12 matchups between the two state rivals. The two teams’ top scorers clashed on this night, and the game went to overtime when Louie Belpedio’s first goal with the Phantoms with two seconds on the clock gave the visitors the extra point. Troy Grosenick earned his first win of the season with an impressive 38 save effort while Dustin Tokarski suffered the loss with 19 saves.

Grosenick’s big first night as a Phantom was a large factor in the team’s win, as the Penguins nearly doubled up the visitors in shots on goal in each of the three periods of play. Despite the disadvantage, the Phantoms would strike first with Elliot Desnoyers’ first AHL goal on a feed from Garrett Wilson out of a battle behind Tokarski’s cage. Wilkes-Barre would keep battling and even the score on the power play in the second period with their top scorers connecting as Valtteri Puustinen made an excellent pass to Alex Nylander at the top of the right faceoff circle, and he’d wire a shot past Grosenick to even the score at one.

However, much as the Penguins’ young up-and-comers worked their magic, so too would some of the top prospects of the Philadelphia Flyers on a power play goal of their own. Zack MacEwan would deflect a point shot from Cam York right in front of Tokarski to get the Phantoms back on top by a 2-1 score. Both players were late cuts from the Flyers and sent to Lehigh Valley looking to make a statement and get the attention of their NHL affiliate on Broad Street with the goal. The Penguins would have their backs to the wall down to the final minute of game action when top forward prospect Sam Poulin would net his first of the season, swatting a shot from Ty Smith from the top of the left circle out of the air and past Grosenick to even the score.

In overtime, Belpedio would emerge as the hero by stealing the puck from the Penguins at his own blue line, and after being denied on the breakaway, getting in front of the net and receiving a pass from Max Willman and bury the winner past the goaltender to earn a huge win for the Phantoms and an excellent start to the season series between the two fierce rivals. Lehigh Valley will turn around and meet the Hershey Bears for the first of 14 matchups between the two close rivals in a 3:00 start time at Giant Center, while Wilkes-Barre is off until a Monday night matchup with the Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center.

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