Written by: Tony Androckitis – Twitter
Editor’s Note: Each week, Tony aims to touch base and keep readers in the loop with everything going on with the Philadelphia Flyers’ top minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Links to extra reading of game recaps, player features and video interviews are just the beginning of the wealth of knowledge about some of the organization’s top prospects you’ll find here each week.
Wednesday, November 22nd: Lehigh Valley – 2 at W-B/Scranton – 4 (RECAP)
WILKES-BARRE – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins continued to roll through their early-season schedule Wednesday night against the Phantoms, extending their unbeaten in regulation streak to 12 games in a 4-2 win over their Atlantic Division rival on Thanksgiving Eve.
It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Phantoms, as the Penguins scored on the opening shift of the hockey games just 31 seconds into the 1st period. Instead, the Phantoms responded with a pair of goals 1:26 apart later in the first frame.
Newcomer Alex Krushelnyski, making his Phantoms’ debut, flew down the left wing and went cross-ice to Corban Knight who lifted one over the outstretched Casey DeSmith for his 2nd of the year. Then, Mark Friedman’s shot from the right point bounced out into the slot where Nicolas Aube-Kubel was first to the rebound. Aube-Kubel nearly scored, but in a net-mouth scramble Greg Carey was able to finish it off to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead.
Ultimately, penalty trouble in the middle period returned the momentum to the Penguins and the Phantoms never truly recovered.
Friday, November 24th: Lehigh Valley – 6 at Springfield – 3 (RECAP)
SPRINGFIELD – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished their season-high six game road trip Friday with a win, finishing the trip with a 3-3 record following a 6-3 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds in southern Massachusetts.
Greg Carey led the way with two goals, while several Phantoms had multi-point games including Phil Varone with a game-high three points (one goal, two assists). Oskar Lindblom (one goal, one assist), James de Haas (one goal, one assist) and Corban Knight (two assists) also added two points each in the win for Lehigh Valley.
In a back-and-forth game through 40 minutes, the Phantoms took control in the third period and oddly enough it began with a shorthanded tally with the game tied at 3-3.
Knight stole a puck and led a shorthanded rush up ice, chipping an area pass perfectly to the middle where de Haas had joined the rush. With one hand on his stick, de Haas was able to lift one past Samuel Montembeault for his first career AHL goal to give Lehigh Valley the lead back at 4-3.
From there, Mark Alt blasted a shot in from the right point for the insurance marker and in the waning moments Lindblom completed the final score with an empty net tally from his own defensive zone face-off circle.
Saturday, November 25th: Bridgeport – 4 at Lehigh Valley – 5 OT (RECAP)
ALLENTOWN – On Saturday night, the Phantoms kicked off their six-game homestand in exciting fashion for their home fans at the PPL Center.
Despite trailing for much of the game, the Phantoms stormed back late in the third period – tallying back-to-back goals in the second half of the period and taking their first lead of the game with 4:50 left in regulation on Will O’Neill’s second goal of the season.
Bridgeport tied the game with 10 seconds left in regulation, but O’Neill finished off a 2-on-1 rush in overtime to give the Phantoms a much-needed win to kick off the homestand.
Atlantic Division Standings (as of Tuesday, November 28th 2017)
W-B/Scranton: 17 GP, 12-4-0-1, 25 points, .735 pct
Lehigh Valley: 20 GP, 12-6-0-2, 26 points, .650 pct
Providence: 18 GP, 10-6-2-0, 22 points, .611 pct
Bridgeport: 19 GP, 11-7-1-0, 23 points, .605 pct
Charlotte: 21 GP, 12-8-0-1, 25 points, .595 pct
Hershey: 21 GP, 9-9-0-3, 21 points, .500 pct
Hartford: 21 GP, 7-11-2-1, 17 points, .405 pct
Springfield: 22 GP, 8-13-1-0, 17 points, .386 pct
The Week Ahead
Wednesday, November 29th: Binghamton at Lehigh Valley -> 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday, December 1st: Hershey at Lehigh Valley -> 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, December 2nd: Laval at Lehigh Valley -> 7:05 p.m. ET
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Team Report
Goaltenders Alex Lyon and Dustin Tokarski are currently a 1A and 1B tandem for Lehigh Valley this season.
Lyon (7-5-1, 3.44 GAA, .894 SV%) has struggled at times in the early season, but it’s more of a combination of defensive breakdowns in front of him and poor play than an either/or kind of situation.
Tokarski (5-1-1, 3.22 GAA, .892 SV%) has endured most of the same defensive breakdowns and lapses that Lyon does, but has come up with some crucial saves along the way as indicated by his record as a starter.
Defensive depth has been tested lately due to injuries and call ups.
Sam Morin and Mark Alt have since returned from NHL stints with the Flyers. Alt was up and down between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley twice in the month of November.
Injuries are also beginning to become a concern for Lehigh Valley. Max Lamarche, Reece Willcox and Phil Myers are all on the team’s injured list on defense.
Phil Myers is the latest victim of the injury bug hitting the team’s blue line. Myers missed five games in the end of October into November, and while head coach Scott Gordon is as tight-lipped as they come in regards to providing media with any kind of injury updates it is believed that Myers has been dealing with a lower body injury that he can’t seem to shake.
Late in the second period of Saturday night’s home win against Bridgeport, Myers was chasing down a forward entering the Phantoms’ defensive zone and grabbed his right leg/knee and was in obvious discomfort for the remainder of his shift. He did not return to the game, and Gordon had no update on his status moving forward following Saturday night’s game. He’s unlikely to play Wednesday night, and is very much in doubt of playing in either of the team’s games this weekend.
Injured List (as of November 28th)
Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (out indefinitely – offseason knee surgery)
Defenseman Phil Myers (lower body since Nov. 25th)
Forward Cole Bardreau (out several weeks since Nov. 5th)
Defenseman Max Lamarche (day-to-day, undisclosed since Nov. 11th)
Defenseman Reece Willcox (undisclosed injury since Nov. 22nd
Projected Phantoms Lineup
Greg Carey – Phil Varone – Chris Conner/Matt Read
Tyrell Goulbourne – Corban Knight – Colin McDonald (C)
Oskar Lindblom – Mike Vecchione – Alex Krushelnyski
Radel Fazleev – Mikhail Vorobyev – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
T.J. Brennan – Mark Alt
Sam Morin – James de Haas
Will O’Neill – Mark Friedman
Alex Lyon – Dustin Tokarski