Allentown, PA - Connor Bunnaman and Colin McDonald scored two goals apiece for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Sunday at the PPL Center, as the Phantoms earned a split of a two-game set against the Hartford Wolf Pack with a 5-2 win.
The Wolf Pack had defeated the Phantoms 2-1 Saturday night in Allentown in the first of the two contests.
Peter Holland and John Gilmour scored goals to bring the Wolf Pack back from an early 2-0 deficit, but Lehigh Valley got the last three scores of the game, helped by two assists each from Corban Knight and Greg Carey.
“I thought there was blocks of that game where we managed the puck, played more in straight lines,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “And for chunks of time, there were self-inflicted mistakes. And they cost us.”
The Phantoms dominated much of the first period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals 59 seconds apart by Reece Willcox and McDonald.
Willcox opened the scoring at 5:08, backhanding the rebound of a hard shot by Carey through the legs of Wolf Pack goaltender Brandon Halverson (29 saves).
McDonald made it 2-0 at 6:07, finishing a 3-on-1 break. McDonald carried down his off-wing, the left side, and snapped a shot into the top corner on Halverson’s glove side.
Shots were 13-3 in favor of Lehigh Valley at one point, but the Wolf Pack were able to cut the lead in half on a late power play, after Carey was called for cross-checking at 17:37.
Gilmour sent a feed across the middle from the right point to Bobby Butler on left wing, and his shot deflected off of Connor Brickley to the right of Phantom netminder Mike McKenna (33 saves). The carom came to Holland at the right side of the goalmouth, and he fired it high into the net over a scrambling McKenna.
The Wolf Pack then tied the game 2:46 into the second period, on an excellent individual effort by Gilmour. He picked up the puck below his own goal line and rushed all the way into the Phantom end, before letting go a snap shot that found the top corner on McKenna’s stick side.
Lehigh Valley grabbed the lead back just 1:23 later, however, on the first of consecutive goals by Bunnaman. Knight, playing his first AHL game of the season after being assigned to the Phantoms by the parent Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the day, passed the puck from the right-wing side to Bunnaman in the slot, and he knocked it into the net to make it 3-2 Phantoms.
“Tie the game up on the road, come from behind, and then two shifts later, a simple defensive-zone coverage, and it’s in the back of our net,” McCambridge said.
The Lehigh Valley power play got the final two goals of the contest, against a Wolf Pack penalty-killing unit that had gone 20-for-20 in the previous six games.
At 8:49, with Steven Fogarty off for tripping, Bunnaman scored his 14th of the season, on a play very similar to his first goal. Carey deflected the puck to Knight on the right side in the Wolf Pack zone, and he passed to Bunnaman in the middle for the finish.
On the next Phantom man advantage, with Chris Bigras in the box for holding, McDonald scored his second of the contest at 12:32, to increase the Lehigh Valley lead to 5-2. After the Wolf Pack pressed the attack shorthanded, the Phantoms broke back 2-on-1, and Mike Vecchione set up McDonald on the right side for a snap shot that beat Halverson’s catching glove.
The Wolf Pack outshot Lehigh Valley 17-6 in the third period, but McKenna prevented the visitors from closing the gap.
The next action for the Wolf Pack is a home game this Wednesday, February 13 vs. the Toronto Marlies. Faceoff is 7:00 PM, and that is another chance to take advantage of the Wolf Pack’s “Click It or Ticket Family Value Pack”, which includes two tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas, all for just $40.
Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Hartford Wolf Pack 2 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5
Sunday, February 10, 2019 - PPL Center