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Phil Varone recently scored the 100th goal of his AHL career.PRESS PHOTO BY JUSTSPORTSPHOTOGRAPHY Copyright - © JustSports Photography Phil Varone recently scored the 100th goal of his AHL career.PRESS PHOTO BY JUSTSPORTSPHOTOGRAPHY Copyright - © JustSports Photography

Loss dampens Varone’s milestone

Friday, January 19, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

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.

“A lot of self-inflicted mistakes,” said Varone. “To be honest with you, I’m embarrassed we left Al [goalie Alex Lyon] out to dry, giving up point-blank shots, making mental mistakes. We’re not doing the right things. We’re not winning enough battles. I’m embarrassed. I’ve got to be better and as a team, we’ve got to be a lot better.”

Varone said that he hasn’t really noticed little problems with the team that could have led to this type of performance, but did allow that perhaps the team was relying too much on its high-powered offense to win games.

“We’re not going to score five goals every game, but I don’t think it was building,” said Varone. “I just think we took this team lightly, because we’ve pretty much handled them before this. You can’t take a night off in this division.

“There’s probably going to be a 45-25 team this season that doesn’t make the playoffs out of our division and it’s games like this that you’re going to look back on and say ‘that was it, right there.’”

Maybe it was coming off of the embarrassing loss, or maybe Varone just didn’t want to play up his milestone of reaching the 100-goal plateau in the AHL, but he talked like a guy who wasn’t impressed with himself.

“It’s 100 goals in 400 games,” said Varone. “That’s not anything special.”

For the second time this month, Tyrell Goulbourne was recalled by the Flyers. In his first stint with the team from January 3-7, Goulbourne played in two games. He was recalled again on Friday and saw time on the ice Saturday night in the Flyers 5-3 win against New Jersey.

Coach Scott Gordon confirmed that Danick Martel underwent surgery after taking a vicious hit to the head from Hershey’s Colby Williams in the second period of Saturday night’s game. Reportedly, the blow broke Martel’s jaw and required surgery to repair the damage.

Williams was given a match penalty for the game and missed Sunday’s game because of the ensuing automatic suspension. There is no time frame for Martel, who is tied with Greg Carey for the team lead in goals with 17.

The Phantoms must have taken Varone’s advice to take a look in the mirror after Friday night’s embarrassment. They responded with a 2-1 win over Hershey at home on Saturday and then won a 2-1 game in overtime in Hershey on Sunday.

Hershey and Lehigh Valley meet again Saturday in Hershey, but this time they’ll play outdoors at Hersheypark Stadium.

Hershey last played outdoors in 2013 when it hosted Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the Phantoms last game outdoors came in 2012 when they were the Adirondack Phantoms and hosted Hershey in a game played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in front of a crowd of 45,653. The Phantoms won that game 4-3 in overtime.