Phantoms Storm Back in Third for Comeback Win
Valley, PA - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms scored consecutive goals by Cal O'Reilly (1st) and Derrick Pouliot (1st) just 1:39 apart late in the third period to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 victory over the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night at PPL Center. Pouliot's booming slapper from the left point to put the Phantoms ahead came with 5:59 remaining. The Phantoms remained undefeated against Hershey this season at 3-0-0.
The game also marked the return to the lineup of Isaac Ratcliffe and Tyson Foerster. Ratcliffe was playing his first game of the season after sustaining a fractured rib injury immediately before Flyers training camp. Foerster was playing his second pro game and his first in about a month since his fractured shin on February 6 at Hershey in the season opener.
Lehigh Valley (5-1-2) also benefitted from strong performances by Linus Sandin (goal and assist) and Garrett Wilson (two assists).
The Phantoms struck for the opening tally in a first period that was generally bereft of quality chances. Linus Sandin (2nd) put home his close-range try after Tanner Laczynski sped along the right-wing boards and carried in deep behind the Hershey goal. Garrett Wilson had lost his footing at center but successfully nudged the puck over to Laczynski to keep the play going for the 1-0 lead at 9:52 into the game. Lehigh Valley outshot the Bears just 5-3 in the first period as goalies Felix Sandstrom and Pheonix Copley received little action.
The pace picked up considerably in the second period but the Phantoms fell behind 3-2 by the end of the middle frame having surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals along the way. Martin Fehervary (1st) buried a 2-on-1 from Riley Sutter just over a minute into the second period to forge a 1-1 tie on the Bears' first shortie of the season.
Isaac Ratcliffe fired a snappy wrister from the top of the right circle that was deflected almost crossbar high for Tanner MacMaster (1st) on the right of the cage to put the Phantoms back ahead at 2-1. Linus Hogberg had spotted Ratcliffe on the sequence to receive a secondary assist on the play at 2:21 into the second period.
Hershey evened the count again on a rapid shot off a faceoff win with Shane Gersich connecting top-shelf following Riley Sutter's quick stick on the draw. The son of former Philadelphia Flyer Ron Sutter recorded his second helper of the night.
The Bears struck again on the Phantoms' man-advantage attack with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby converting on a breakaway with a backhander past Felix Sandstrom's left skate. Jonsson-Fjallby and Sandstrom had been teammates just a few months ago in Sweden.
The Phantoms developed several quality chances despite a low shots-on-goal total with several close-range tries missing wide or hitting posts. Chris Mueller had consecutive opportunities in tight that missed to each side of the net. Another shot found the post. A scramble at the net led to a wide-open chance for Egor Zamula in the high slot with the Hershey goalie, Copley, out of the play. But Zamula's big blast was blocked in the crease by a Bears defender thus denying the 21-year-old Russian his first pro tally.
Lehigh Valley pressed forward and ultimately broke through in the third on a drive from the point by Samuel Morin, now playing defense again, that was deflected by a long reach of Cal O'Reilly who scored his first goal of the season to forge a 3-3 tie with just 6:38 left.
Linus Sandin just missed on his chance for a two-goal game but Garrett Wilson chased down the free puck behind the goal and connected with Pouliot at the left-point whose blast to the upper-far corner beat Copley past the glove hand for a 4-3 lead with just 5:59 left. The goals 1:39 apart had the Phantoms back out in front.
The Phantoms hounded the puck and maintained possession for much of the closing minutes of the third period preventing the Hershy goalie from making a break for the bench. Eventually, the Phantoms killed off Hershey's 6-on-5 to secure another come-from-behind win. All three Lehigh Valley victories against the Bears have had the Phantoms scoring tying or winning goals with 6:00 remaining or less.
Felix Sandstrom earned his second career win in the American Hockey League and his first at PPL Center and also his first since his Phantoms' debut on April 12, 2019 at Providence.
Hershey is 5-1-0 against the rest of its opponents but has zero wins in three tries against the Phantoms.
The Phantoms and Bears will rematch on Saturday afternoon in Chocolate Town for a 1:00 p.m. clash which also opens a three-game swing of away games which will take the team to Wilkes-Barre on Monday and to Newark for a game against the Binghamton Devils on Wednesday.
1st 9:52 - LV, L. Sandin (2) (T. Laczynski, G. Wilson)
2nd 0:52 - HER, M. Fehervary (1) (R. Sutter) - SH
2nd 2:47 - LV, T. MacMaster (1) (I. Ratcliffe, L. Hogberg)
2nd 9:21 - HER, S. Gersich (1) (R. Sutter)
2nd 12:16 - HER, A. Jonsson-Fjallby (2) (B. Leason) - SH
3rd 12:22 - LV, C. O'Reilly (1) (S. Morin, Z. Wisdom)
3rd 14:01 - LV, D. Pouliot (1) (G. Wilson, L. Sandin)
LV - Felix Sandstrom (23/26) (1-1-1)
HER - Pheonix Copley (15/19) (1-0-2)
Hershey 26 - Lehigh Valley 19
Records: LV (5-1-2), HER (5-2-2)
Images from this story
Lehigh Valley Phantoms forwards Max Willman and Tanner MacMaster line up against the Hershey Bears
Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Tyson Foerster against the Hershey Bears
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