Quick Hits: February 2, 2023
1) The Lehigh Valley Phantoms earned their first victory of the season against the Atlantic Division leading Hershey Bears in a 5-2 win at the PPL Center in Allentown on Wednesday evening. A four-goal explosion in the second period led the way for Lehigh Valley.
The Phantoms played well overall in the first period but went to intermission trailing, 1-0, on a Connor McMichael deflection goal (10th goal of the season) of a Lucas Johansen shot at 8:22 of the opening frame.
The Bears held the Phantoms at bay for the first six minutes of the middle stanza. However, on a second chance opportunity immediately after the Phantoms failed to convert a 3-on-1, defenseman Louie Belpedio (5th goal of the season) scored at 6:23 to tie the game at 1-1. The assists went to Elliot Desnoyers and Cooper Marody.
With Riley Sutter in the box boarding, the Phantoms took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal at 7:57. Bobby Brink (5th) scored a back-door goal on a feed from Desnoyers. Marody also assisted on the tally. The lead grew to 3-1 at 10:44 and rugged winger Garrett Wilson threaded a pass through to Kevin Connauton (2nd), who finished it off. Marody collected his third assist of the period.
At 12:16, AHL All-Star selection Tyson Foerster (16th) was nicely set up by veteran Artem Anisimov and buried a shot for a 4-1 cushion. Olle Lycksell earned his 24th assist of the season for the secondary helper. Second period shots on goal were a lopsided 12-3 in the Phantoms' favor.
Phantoms goalie Samuel Ersson saw only a combined 11 shots on goal through the opening 40 minutes. Predictably, entering the period with a three-goal lead, Ersson was kept busy in the final stanza. He stopped 10 of 11 shots (finishing the game with 20 saves on 22 shots).
Hershey's Aliaksei Protas (1st) cut the gap to 4-2 at the 15:52 mark but Lycksell (8th) scored into an empty net at 17:17 to seal a three-goal margin of victory for the Phantoms.
Lehigh Valley (21-16-5) is back in action on Friday, hosting Providence. On Saturday, the Phantoms are in Hershey.
2) On PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, I wrote an article looking at Kevin Hayes' 2022-23 season. He's already close to establishing new single-season career highs for assists and points. He was also the Flyers' leading scorer in January (15 points in 14 games). However, it's been a topsy-turvy season in other regards. To read the article, click here
3) Also on the Flyers' official website is a look at prospect Bobby Brink since his recovery from offseason hip surgery: click here
4) Coming tomorrow: An historical look at "Flyers Firsts" in the NHL All-Star Game: First representative, first goal, first assist, first MVP, etc.