Lehigh Valley, PA - An incredibly memorable season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms came to an end Sunday evening as the Phantoms skated to a 3-2 decision against the Hershey Bears in decisive Game 5 of their division semifinals series.
Colin McDonald (2nd) and Taylor Leier (1st) provided the offense for the Phantoms on Sunday in support of goaltender Martin Ouellette who authored a strong 23-save performance.
Meanwhile, Stanislav Galiev (3rd), Christian Thomas (1st) and Colby Williams (1st) converted for visiting Hershey while Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley earned the win between the pipes with 28 saves on 30 Lehigh Valley shots.
With Sunday's outcome, Hershey claimed the best-of-five series three games to two as, for just the second time in AHL Calder Cup Playoffs history, the road team won each and every game of the five-game series.
"The first goal this year was getting into the playoffs," said Phantoms Head Coach Scott Gordon. "The organization hadn't been in the playoffs in seven years and from day one that was our focus. Along the way, you put up 48 wins and 101 points and play in a division that really there weren't a whole lot of easy nights and that really says a lot about how the guys played all year."
Sunday's game capped an incredibly successful third campaign for the Phantoms in Lehigh Valley, which saw the team capture 48 wins and 101 standings points. Lehigh Valley's 48 wins was good for second among all 30 AHL clubs during the regular season and marked the franchise's highest win total since the 2004-05 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Phantoms were one of just four AHL teams during the regular year to reach the 100-point mark as they posted their highest points total since the Calder Cup championship season of 2004-05 and the franchise's sixth 100-point campaign in team history.
Lehigh Valley's 48 wins and 101 standings points helped earn the team second place in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division as the Phantoms qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in franchise history.
Four of the five games in the division semifinals were decided by just a single goal with two of the contests having to be settled in overtime. Both the Phantoms and Bears each claimed an overtime tilt in the rivalry series while Lehigh Valley captured the only multi-goal triumph with a 4-1 victory in Game 4, which forced decisive Game 5 back at PPL Center on Sunday.
"I don't think we can ask our players to play any better," Gordon added. "We certainly gave ourselves a chance to win every single game and we didn't get the bounces when we needed them. I can't take anything away from our players. Our players played great. When it's all said and done, I don't know there's that much we could possibly change. We generated chances, we defended well, we didn't give up a lot."
The 2016-17 campaign brought another season in which the Phantoms enjoyed tremendous support from their incredible fans as the team enjoyed 16 standing room-only sellouts inside PPL Center. For the third straight year, more than 300,000 fans poured into downtown Allentown to support the Phantoms while another 14,000 raucous fans filed into PPL Center during the postseason in creating some of the most energetic and intense excitement downtown Allentown has experienced since the team's arrival.