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.
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.
For much of their game against Parkland (9-5-1 EPC, 9-7-1 overall), the Northampton field hockey team looked to have a pretty good grasp on how to control the game. Parkland’s stingy defense was playing to their usual high level, but Northampton was able to get some looks, just unable to finish and put the ball in the goal cage.
Northampton boys soccer coach Adam Bastidas looks nothing like actor Bill Murray.
He may feel a bit like him though, especially considering Murray’s role in the movie Groundhog Day, where Murray keeps waking up and repeating the same day over and over. For Bastidas, the day goes wrong when his team gives up a goal and then inevitably gives up another and sometimes, another in quick succession.
The recent heat wave that hit the Lehigh Valley made it tough for some of the fall athletes who are used to crisper temperatures at this time of the season. The Northampton field hockey team found that out as Emmaus was able to grind them down and pick up a 5-0 win recently.
“We gave it our all for the 60-minutes. I feel that the second half, their depth beat our depth,” explained coach Carrie Saul. “We were starting to let the heat get to us and were spreading our lines more and we didn’t attack the ball like we did in the first half and they took advantage of that.”