NEWARK – Max Willman scored two goals, including the overtime winner as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms defeated the Binghamton Devils on Wednesday night, 5-4, inside RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House.
Lehigh Valley took an early 1-0 lead as Pascal Laberge jammed in a loose puck at the side of the net. After Evan Cormier made the first save, Laberge stayed with the loose puck and beat Cormier by the left leg pad 2:21 into the game. The lone assist was credited to Brennan Saulnier.
Fabian Zetterlund tied the game as he tipped a Josh Jacobs shot from the right point for his first of the year at 6:16 of the first period. Jacobs received a pass from Ben Street and sent a shot towards the net that Zetterlund deflected by goaltender Zane McIntyre to tie the game, 1-1.
Willman and Ran Fitzgerald scored back-to-back goals to give the Phantoms a two-goal lead just before mid-way through the first. Willman beat Cormier over the left shoulder from inside the right-wing circle and Fitzgerald deflected a Linus Sandin pass over Cormier’s left shoulder for the 3-1 lead. The goals came just 58 seconds apart and the Phantoms took the 3-1 lead into the second period.
Nick Merkley cashed in on the power play early in the second to get the Devils within one. Reilly Walsh’s shot from the left point that was stopped by McIntyre. Merkley got two chances at the rebound and pushed the puck by the left leg pad for his first of the year. Merkley’s power-play goal came just 1:08 into period with Walsh collecting the lone assist.
Binghamton tied the game at 4:44 of the second period while shorthanded. Marian Studenic took a long pass and let Danick Martel catch up to make it a two-on-none rush. Studenic fed Martel and his shot hit the left leg pad of McIntyre and hopped into the net. The goal was Martel’s second of the year with assists from Studenic and Street and tied the game 3-3 heading into the third period.
In the third period, Nate Schnarr gave the Devils a 4-3 lead after a great move by Cam Darcy. Early in the third frame, Darcy walked around the defense and his opportunity was stuffed by the leg pad of McIntyre. Schnarr trailed Darcy and lifted the puck into the net for his first of the year at the 4:51. Kevin Bahl collected the other assist for his first professional point.
Lehigh Valley tied the game later in the third as Sandin cleaned up a rebound for his first of the season. After a Derek Pouliot shot, Sandin gathered the loose puck inside the left-wing circle and beat Cormier to tie the game at five at the 9:56 mark with assists from Pouliot and Logan Day.
After several great saves in overtime, Willman scored his second of the night to give the Phantoms the extra point and a 5-4 victory.
The Devils return to the ice on Friday to host the Hershey Bears at 7:00 p.m. at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House.
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