Years ago, the great John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films, used his legendary voice to refer to “the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field,” as he talked about the Green Bay Packers and their historic field. It wasn’t quite that dramatic, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hershey Bears took to the ‘frozen tundra of Hersheypark Stadium’ recently, with Lehigh Valley skating to a 5-2 win over Hershey.
The Phantoms reached the halfway point of their season with what Phil Varone called an “embarrassing” performance in a 6-2 loss to Springfield Saturday night. Lehigh Valley came out with a good first period, but that was about all it was able to put together as the Thunderbirds scored four unanswered goals to waltz out of the PPL Center with a win.
Varone scored his 100th career AHL goal in the game, but was more focused on the weak effort that the team put on the ice.
When you talk about the best players on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season, there isn’t much debate. Defenseman T.J. Brennan and winger Danick Martel would be the consensus best of the best for Lehigh Valley. Both were recognized by the AHL when they were named to the Atlantic Division All-Star Team. This year’s AHL All-Star Classic will be played in Utica on Jan. 29, with the skills competition taking place the day before the game.
Goaltender Alex Lyon earned the win in goal as he returned to the Lehigh Valley crease for the first time since Dec. 1 after spending most of the month with the Philadelphia Flyers. The key to Lyon’s success may have been the overall sharp play of the Phantoms defense, which held the AHL’s second-highest scoring offense to just 29 shots, 28 of which were turned away by Lyon in Lehigh Valley’s 3-1 win against the Charlotte Checkers.
Corban Knight is in one of those streaks where everything he does looks almost effortless, but turns out to be good. Take for example, the play he made Sunday in Bridgeport when he was literally on his stomach behind the goal, but still was able to flip the puck to Danick Martel, who was stationed in front of the net for a go-ahead goal.
Killing off penalties is one of the best things a team can do to help themselves. It’s tough enough to play at even strength, but when short, especially in tight games, that’s where you need the penalty killing unit to step up and make big plays.
On Saturday night in Hershey, the Bears were able to break through with a power-play goal against the Phantoms, capitalizing on a penalty by Danick Martel. That goal snapped a streak of 24 straight penalty kills for Lehigh Valley.
Just as the Phantoms finished up a six-game road trip, they looked forward to a nice set of games on home ice and all seemed right with the world. Then came word that leading scorer Danick Martel and defenseman Sam Morin were heading to Philadelphia. On the same day, forward Alex Krushelnyski was also summoned to the Flyers.
In a game highlighted by physical play and officiating that seemed to hurt both teams, Whitehall wound up dropping a 1-0 double-overtime game to Emmaus that ended the Zephyrs season with a loss in the district quarterfinals.
When she was just 3 years old, Carly Lennett broke away from her parents and jumped into a pool. That plunge scared her parents much more than it scared Carly. In fact, it started a love affair with swimming that has followed her for nine years.
Right now, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are in one of those grooves that most times a team can only dream about. At 5-1-0-1 on the season, Lehigh Valley is just percentage points behind Providence for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but they do hold a one-point advantage over the Bruins, albeit with one extra game played than Providence.