Rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz (left) earned his first NHL recall after Sunday’s overtime win in Hershey.
With ten weeks left in the American Hockey League’s (AHL) 2014-15 regular season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are on the outside looking in in terms of the postseason picture – currently six points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
Picking up points in the standings heading down the stretch is easier said than done, though the Phantoms do have at least one game in hand on most teams ahead of them in the conference. However, there’s no time to waste. If the Phantoms want to make a serious run at the postseason, the time is now.
Lehigh Valley played well this past weekend despite splitting a pair of games – a loss Saturday in Binghamton and a win Sunday in Hershey. After a 4-1 loss to Binghamton Saturday night, a game which the Phantoms held an early lead and surrendered two empty net goals in the final 1:48 of the third, forward Andrew Gordon said the team was eager to get back on the ice Sunday for the game against their East Division rivals.
“This is one of those games where you’re excited to play tomorrow already,” Gordon said after the loss to Binghamton. “Shake this one off, get back at it and prove to yourself and your teammates that you can work harder than you did tonight.”
“We just need some finish,” Gordon added, sounding pleased with the desparation his team showed down one goal in the third period. “We can’t win a whole lot of games scoring one goal. We have to play with that desperation, create more chances and more offense.”
More offense is exactly what the Phantoms created Sunday in Hershey against the East Division-leading Bears. In a back-and-forth game they never trailed, Lehigh Valley got goals from unexpected sources including two goals from third line winger Jay Rosehill and a game-winning overtime goal by fourth line center Kevin Goumas in a 5-4 victory over Hershey.
With 29 games left on the regular season schedule, starting Friday night at home against Binghamton, the Phantoms’ enter a crucial part of their season. String together some wins – most of their upcoming ten games are against teams just ahead of them in the standings – and the postseason becomes more of a possibility. At the same time, too many losses to teams just ahead of them in the standings down the stretch could push the gap to get into the postseason out of reach.
Up Next For Lehigh Valley
Friday (2/13) vs. Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. EST
Saturday (2/14) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. EST
Sunday (2/15) at Springfield, 5:00 p.m. EST