Phantoms Lose 5-3 to Providence Bruins, Fail to Complete Rally
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms fell 5-3 to the Providence Bruins in a crucial playoff push. On the Ides of March, a win looked like a distant dream from the start. The first shot of the game got past goaltender Alex Lyon… and so did the second.
Within the first minute and a half, the Bruins had both goals of the game and the Phantoms were struggling. Head coach Kerry Huffman called a timeout following that, refocusing his team. The Phantoms were able to make it out of the first period without any further scoring.
The lone goal of the second period came from Phantoms forward David Kase – his first since returning to action on March 1. Kase had been sidelined since Dec. 8, missing 33 games with an upper-body injury. Lyon proved he had settled into his game after a rocky start, turning aside all 15 shots on goal during the period.
Providence fought back in the third, bringing the score to 4-1. The Phantoms needed to make a drastic move. Over seven minutes remained in the third period when the Phantoms pulled Lyon for the extra attacker. The message was clear – this win was critical. Winning would get the team within three points of a playoff spot. The regulation loss, on the other hand, would see the Phantoms eight points out.
The Bruins scored an empty-net goal, setting the Phantoms back, 5-1. Goals from Connor Bunnaman and Greg Carey in the remaining two minutes of the game gave the team a little life, but it wasn’t enough.
When asked about the team’s play against the Bruins, Lyon said, “I think we just have to focus on putting a good product on the ice. The other stuff usually takes care of itself when you just focus on good habits.”
Heart and Soul
Huffman said to the press following the game, “One of the lessons that we’re going to learn from this regardless is that this is pro hockey. It’s about doing your job and it’s about playing for pride, regardless of whether you’re in first place or whether you’re not in a playoff spot or fighting for a playoff spot. It’s about being a pro and playing the right way.”
The Phantoms are fighting to achieve the increasingly difficult task of making playoffs. “Obviously, the playoff situation is a little bit iffy right now, but there’s never a game that doesn’t mean anything,” said Lyon. Thirteen games remain in the season, 11 of which are against division opponents. In two of those, the Phantoms will face off against the league-leading Charlotte Checkers. It’s not an easy road ahead.
Giving up isn’t an option and Huffman has faith in his team stepping up to the challenge. But when games like this happen, it’s difficult. “I think they’re really discouraged when we’ve got a group that are pouring their heart and soul into things and then, all of a sudden, we have mental breakdowns and have stupid mistakes that the puck ends up in the back of our net. That’s disheartening for everybody.”
Photo Courtesy of: Jess Starr via Flickr
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