Lehigh Valley (12-4-1-0) has a great team, we all know that. They also have a hot goaltender in rookie Alex Lyon (6-2-1-1 2.55 GAA, 0.919 SV%). Combine the two, and that spells trouble for any opposition. However, these Binghamton Senators (5-10-1-1) proved tonight they are no longer push overs like they once were, as they played hard and nearly pulled off an upset against the Phantoms at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA on Black Friday.
But still, this was a tough one to swallow as they lost another close game by a single goal to LV, this one by a score of 4-3. On Wednesday, Lyon recorded his first pro shutout but the Senators were determined to not let that happen once again in a hard fought battle with the Phantoms.
Sens’ starter Matt O’Connor (2-6-1-0 2.91 GAA, 0.899 SV%) added yet another to his loss column, as Binghamton never had the lead but fought their way back three times, only to give up the game winner with 4:05 left in the third for their third straight loss.
LV’s forward Jordan Weal scored his first of two goals on the night after he took a short pass from behind the net by Chris Connor as his shot sailed over O’Connor’s shoulder for a 1-0 lead with 1:01 left in the opening twenty minutes.
Binghamton would tie it in the second period when forward Ryan Rupert crossed in front of Lyon for a partial screen and deflected a shot from the blueline by defenseman Andreas Englund for his third of the season. That would break Lyon’s shutout streak of 89 minutes over the Senators in the last two games.
The tie was short-lived though as the Phantoms restored their one goal lead 2:34 later when forward Mark Zengerle’s poke from the goal line glanced off of O’Connor’s backside and into the net. But the Senators fought their way back once again when rookie Jack Rodewald scored his third goal in eight games on a nice back-handed dish from Phil Varone on a two-on-one break in the first five minutes of the third period.
Then just over two minutes later here came Lehigh Valley as Taylor Leier broke the 2-2 tie when he pounced on the rebound and danced around O’Connor for his fifth goal after O’C made the initial stop by defenseman’s T.J. Brennan blast from inside the blueline.
A 1:34 after, Varone fed off the energy his teammates were displaying and scored his third of the season as he batted the puck past Lyon with 11:47 left in the third. Senators would play hard and took control for the entire period but unfortunately that would be it, as Weal scored from behind the net as the puck went off of O’Connor to regain their one goal lead, 4-3.
Binghamton would have their chances in the final two minutes with a penalty accessed to LV and O’Connor pulled for the extra man, but the Phantoms put up a wall on the blueline and played well defensively to deny another comeback goal from the Senators.
POST GAME NOTES
- Not sure what to think of O’C starting over Chris Driedger. Perhaps O’Connor was put to the test that might lead to a demotion to Wichita with Andrew Hammond now here. Speaking of which, Hammond wasn’t going to start for this game anyways after his infamous 3 goals in 36 seconds affair at the PPL Center a few seasons ago. But he is slated to start on Saturday against the Crunch in Binghamton.
- Varone was all over the ice as he was involved and hustled throughout the night. He ended up with a goal and an assist which earned him 3rd Star of the Game honors.
- Binghamton was stride-for-stride with Lehigh Valley for the most part, but really turned it on in the final period as they outshot the Phantoms 14-6. O’Connor’s two goals on 6 shots was part of the difference. Shots overall in favor of Bingo 35-25.
- Lyon, in his six straight start, stopped several breakaways as he got his head into it, literally, on Buddy Robinson’s shot that went off his helmet 4 minutes into the first, and with a great toe save on Varone in the second. Senators also had a 3 on 1 break, but was broken up with a nice play by Phantoms’ defenseman Max Lamarche’s stick that forced a pass harmlessly to the boards.
- Forward Chad Nehring returned to the line-up after missing the last 12 games with a concussion. Defenseman Fredrik Claesson is on recall and Max McCormick played well after being sent down on Thursday. D-man Chris Rumble was a healthy scratch.
Saturday night in Binghamton as Andrew Hammond gets another start, this time against the rival Syracuse Crunch.