Stolarz stops 51 shots in win over Syracuse
Anthony Stolarz continues to impress in goal for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. With his team fighting for their postseason lives, Stolarz made a franchise record 51 saves and then turned in a perfect performance in a shootout as Lehigh Valley downed Syracuse 3-2.
Stolarz’ night bested a performance by Carsen Chubak, who recorded 50 saves on April 6, 2014 against Albany when the team played in Adirondack, New York.
Danick Martel and Cole Bardreau each scored for the Phantoms in regulation. For Martel, it was his 20th goal of the season.
It looked like Lehigh Valley would escape with a regulation win, but with just over 29 seconds remaining, Tye McGinn, a former Phantom, slipped a shot past Stolarz after Syracuse had pulled their goalie and added an extra attacker.
The contest was the seventh straight one-goal decision for the Phantoms, boosting their record in those games to 4-1-2. It also helped their fight for the playoffs when Bridgeport lost to Hartford pulling Lehigh Valley to within five points of the final playoff spot.
Unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, just two nights later, it would be Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Tristan Jarry who stole the spotlight, stopping 36 shots as the Phantoms weren’t able to generate any offense against the Penguins, falling 3-0.
As the Phantoms’ roller coaster season would have it, Bridgeport came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Providence and again stretch their grip on the playoffs to seven points over Lehigh Valley.
Another trend of a key goal given up late in a period also continued against the Penguins, who got their first goal with just five minutes to play in the first period and then recorded their second goal with just 15.9 seconds left in the second period, to go up 2-0.
Lehigh Valley had dominated the first period, and in the second, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goal came after Lehigh Valley put Jarry to the test with a flurry of strong shots.
“The worst of it is that they only scored the goal on a lack of effort on a back check,” said LV head coach Scott Gordon. “It wasn’t that they made a play that couldn’t have been prevented. A little effort on the back check and that’s negated.
“At this time of year, with what’s at stake, it shouldn’t happen; it shouldn’t happen anytime. If you can’t get yourself motivated to skate hard for the last 15 seconds of the period, then that’s wrong.”
Things would get worse the following night when Lehigh Valley lost on the road to Binghamton, dropping a 3-1 decision. The loss came in the first game of a five-game road swing and broke a streak of three straight road wins by Lehigh Valley. Bridgeport was off, keeping them seven points ahead of Lehigh Valley with 16 games left to play and the Sound Tigers having two games in-hand over the Phantoms. On Sunday, Bridgeport won while the Phantoms were off, stretching their lead to nine points.
PHANTOM FACTS:Friday night’s crowd of 8,715 was the seventh straight capacity sellout for Lehigh Valley. Overall, the team has notched 18 standing room only crowds this season ... Stolarz has started 10 straight games in net for Lehigh Valley. Backup Jason LaBarbera is nearing a return from injury and is close enough that Martin Ouellette has been reassigned to Reading. Defenseman Jesper Pettersson was also reassigned to Reading ... Kevin Sunder, Tim Brent and Mark Alt, who have all lost time to injuries, all practiced with the team on Monday. Sunder (lower body injury) hasn’t played since late November, Brent (hand/wrist injury) has been out since mid-January and Alt left Friday night’s game with an undisclosed injury. No word on whether any or all will play Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.