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 Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Phantoms Rally for Standings Point at Penguins

March 30, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms News Release

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Samu Tuomaala (15th) and Emil Andrae (5th) scored back-to-back in the third period to propel the Phantoms into the lead but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton delighted the home crowd with a comeback of its own and emerged with a 4-3 overtime triumph over their bitter rivals on a backhander winning conversion for Corey Andonovski (6th).

Lehigh Valley (28-26-9) capped a successful road weekend with three out of four standings points in games at Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and pulled closer to a coveted spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs in the process. Combined with Springfield's 4-3 loss at Utica tonight, the Phantoms trimmed three points off of their Magic Number which now stands at 15 points with nine games remaining in the regular season. Lehigh Valley leads the Springfield Thunderbirds by two points for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Adam Brooks had several strong chances throughout the night and also recorded an assist and provided a valuable screen on Andrae's go-ahead goal but he was unable to extend his goal streak and thus fell just one short of Danick Martel's record six-game goal streak in the 2017-18 season.

The bitter rivals had a feisty battle throughout in a game befitting the importance of the late-season playoff push for both clubs. The hard-hitting, intense contest also showcased the familiarity and contempt the Phantoms and Penguins have built over the course of nine previous meetings in less than three months. Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have two more engagements on the docket. And after that it wouldn't be surprising to see even more encounters against each other via a postseason matchup.

Ethan Samson (2nd) opened the scoring for the Phantoms with a blast from the right circle on a set-up from behind the cage by J-R Avon with Elliot Desnoyers also assisting on the play. Samson identified the open ice ahead of him and took advantage to offer the game's initial goal on his blast at 11:26 into the contest.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (33-22-9) put its game together in the second period. After the Phantoms largely had the better of the play in the first, it was the Baby Pens who dominated the middle frame with a 17-4 shots advantage. Felix Sandstrom returned to Lehigh Valley for his first game with the Phantoms in over a month and did everything he could to hold off the Black and Gold with a number of strong and sensational saves.

Eventually, the Penguins broke through late in the second period with Radim Zohorna (8th) scoring on the rebound of an Austin Rueschoff drive to the net immediately after Zohorna had nudged a faceoff towards the crease. His tying goal with 2:55 left in the second period made it 1-1 and it was less than two minutes later for the Penguins to take the lead when Rueschoff (10th) buried the rebound of a Vinnie Hinostroza power-play shot with exactly 1:00 left in the period.

Lehigh Valley was aiming for a fourth comeback win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season and appeared in line to make it happen when Tuomaala and Andrae fired consecutive goals in the third.

Rhett Gardner's faceoff win came right into Tuomaala's wheelhouse in the left slot where he scored to the upper-left corner past the right shoulder of Joel Blomqvist with 10:55 left to forge a 2-2 tie.

Less than two minutes later, it was Andrae's drive from the left point that beat Blomqvist while Adam Brooks was getting to the net-front to provide a screen. Brooks immediately signaled that he had not deflected the puck and that the goal was Andrae's all the way. The Phantoms were back in front at 3-2 with 8:59 remaining.

But the Penguins equalized with 3:32 left when Avery Hayes capitalized on the backdoor from the right of the cage after newcomer Evan Vierling rifled a bank from the left circle off the end-boards that perfectly connected with his teammate.

Corey Andonovski took a Dmitri Samoroukov pass and took it to the slot with Louie Belpedio leaning on him. From his backhand, Andonovski protected the puck and went right-to-left across the ice before pushing a backhander to the far post that just missed the left skate of Sandstrom for the winning goal.

The Phantoms are 4-5-1 against the Penguins including 3-1-1 in Wilkes-Barre.

Lehigh Valley now has points in seven of its last 10 games (5-3-2).

The overtime loss was Lehigh Valley's first since January 7 at Hershey. The Phantoms had also gone 3-0 in overtimes and shootouts combined against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Lehigh Valley is now 6-6 in overtimes this season and also 4-3 shootouts for a combined record of 10-9 in 19 games decided past regulation.

The Phantoms conclude their three-game road trip on Tuesday night at the first-place Hershey Bears.

Lehigh Valley's next home games are Friday, April 5 against the Providence Bruins on Berks $1 Hot Dog Night and Saturday, April 6 against the Cleveland Monsters on Star Wars Night.


1st 11:26 - LV, E. Samson (2) (J. Avon, E. Desnoyers) (1-0)

2nd 17:05 - WBS, R. Zohorna (8) (A. Rueschhoff) (1-1)

2nd 19:00 - WBS, A. Rueschoff (10) (R. Zohorna, V. Hinostroza) (PP) (1-2)

3rd 9:05 - LV, S. Tuomaala (15) (R. Gardner) (2-2)

3rd 11:01 - LV, E. Andrae (5) (R. Gardner, A. Brooks) (3-2)

3rd 16:28 - WBS, A. Hayes (1) (E. Vierling, T. Smith) (3-3)

OT 1:17 - WBS, C. Andonovski (6) (D. Samoruokov) (3-4)


LV 26 - WBS 35


LV 0/2, WBS 1/4


LV - F. Sandstrom (OTL) (31/35) (11-6-3)

WBS - J. Blomqvist (W) (23/26) (22-10-6)


Lehigh Valley (28-26-9)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (33-22-9)


Saturday, March 30 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Tuesday, April 2 (7:00) at Hershey Bears

Friday, April 5 (7:05) vs. Providence Bruins - Berks $1 Hot Dog Night

Saturday, April 6 (7:05) vs. Cleveland Monsters - Star Wars Night Sunday, April 7 (3:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

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