ALLENTOWN, Pa. — By now, you’ve likely seen the video of Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa who surfed the largest wave ever recorded just off the shores of Portugal. (If not, you can find it here.)
Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon is riding a similar surge of energy after his pinnacle performance exactly one week ago of a five-overtime 94-save effort that may have been one of the all-time best at any level of hockey.
“It just seemed like it was easy for him,” Phantoms coach Scott Gordon said Monday. “He knew where they were going before they did whether it was moving laterally or making a glove save or a screen that he seemed to be looking the right way. That was, to me, how the game had just slowed down for him.”
“When you’re going through it, it’s like, ‘Man, I just want to stop the next one so we don’t lose,’” Lyon said. “That’s how anybody would approach it when you’re in overtime like that.”
Like a marathoner, Lyon hit that proverbial wall after the first overtime period to only regain some energy and momentum before feeling sluggish again following the fourth overtime. For goaltenders who have been known to lose 10-12 pounds a game in water weight alone, Lyon resorted to burning carbonated water, which he was oddly consuming throughout the 147-minute test of endurance.
“It was just bizarre and just a funny way to learn about your body,” Lyon said. “We’re drinking Coke and pop and whatever we can. I’m not drinking a Coca-Cola every game for sure. That’s like a mortal sin. Really, it was like what could you put down for your appetite. That was just some of the weird things we were going through. It was a bizarre experience, but extremely memorable.”
Lyon is learning a lot about himself in his second year of professional hockey. Regardless of how his career unfolds, this season has provided a lifetime of memories — his first NHL game was followed up with his first NHL victory at Madison Square Garden coupled with his epic five-overtime thriller with the Phantoms.
“I guess I just like to look at the season as a whole,” Lyon said. “It was a huge advantage to be able to see those guys (Flyers) and being able to play with them on a day-to-day basis. It did nothing but help my game. At the same time, I feel like I’ve been grinding and working hard all year and I just try and get better every day.”
At some point, Lyon will put 2017-18 into perspective. Then again, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will likely help sort it all out for him.
Next season, Carter Hart will join the organization — either with the Phantoms or with the Flyers, leaving Hextall to make some tough choices. Lyon or 2012 second-round pick Anthony Stolarz, who was protected in last summer’s NHL expansion draft, could be the odd man out or Hextall could swing a deal that involves Michal Neuvirth.
Lyon and Stolarz are restricted free agents looking for that next contract. Right now, Lyon is making a strong case as Lehigh Valley’s go-to guy, having won six of seven playoff games with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.
Maybe the wave comes crashing down or perhaps Lyon rides it out on his way to a Calder Cup championship.
Either way, it’s making an organization stop and take notice.