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 29th: Binghamton – 3 at Lehigh Valley – 0 (RECAP)
ALLENTOWN – It was quickly evident that the Phantoms were playing the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate last Wednesday night. While the NHL Devils have opened their game up, Binghamton was playing old-school Devils hockey – clogging up the neutral zone and frustrating the Phantoms’ high-powered offense.
Through 40 minutes, they had managed just 14 total shots on net even with three power play chances. Phil Varone described the Phantoms as ‘stubborn’, while head coach Scott Gordon said Lehigh Valley played ‘a slow game’ while also giving credit to the Devils for the way they were able to control the neutral zone for most of the night.
In the end, this game in late November can be used as a teaching tool for what can happen in a tight-checking, hard-fought game – something the Phantoms certainly have not been accustomed too. Lehigh Valley has scored four or more goals in 12 of their first 21 games.
Friday, December 1st: Hershey – 2 at Lehigh Valley – 7 (RECAP)
ALLENTOWN – The Phantoms responded about as well as you can following a shutout loss the prior game, playing a strong game in all facets in a rout of rival Hershey.
the Phantoms did everything they weren’t doing just 48 hours prior – out-working their opponent down low and not only chipping pucks deep but applying pressure on the forecheck and attacking the net.
Lehigh Valley still had plenty of flashy goals too. Phil Varone (one goal, two assists) went forehand to backhand on a silky smooth maneuver on a breakaway in a flurry of goals in the second period – three in a span of 2:13 of game action. Corban Knight (one goal, one assist) sniped one top shelf from the right-wing circle. Greg Carey (two goals, one assist) batted one out of mid-air past Bears’ goaltender Pheonix Copley in the third.
The rest were more about being rewarded for hard work around the net.
Tyrell Goulbourne stuffed home a rebound. Nicolas Aube-Kubel finished off a rebound with backhander. Greg Carey’s shot in the 1st period pin-balled around in traffic in the slot.
Saturday, December 2nd: Laval – 4 at Lehigh Valley -3 OT (RECAP)
ALLENTOWN – With five injured defensemen and a sixth out of the lineup after being called up to Philadelphia, the Phantoms rolled into Saturday night’s game looking to piece together a performance on the back-end of a back-to-back set of games against a slumping Laval team that entered the game on a seven-game win-less streak.
They appeared in control, especially after Corban Knight’s rebound goal with 4:39 left in regulation extended Lehigh Valley’s lead to 3-1.
Credit to Laval for not packing it in, however.
Adam Cracknell scored on a tap-in at the side of Dustin Tokarski’s net 51 seconds later, and Jeremy Gregoire tied the game with 9.4 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, a turnover in the offensive zone during the three-on-three overtime resulted in a two-on-one chance that the Rocket would finish off to complete the comeback in a 4-3 overtime win over the Phantoms to close out the weekend on a sour note for Lehigh Valley.
Atlantic Division Standings (as of Tuesday, November 28th 2017)
W-B/Scranton: 20 GP, 13-5-1-1, 28 points, .700 pct
Providence: 21 GP, 13-6-2-0, 28 points, .667 pct
Charlotte: 23 GP, 14-8-0-1, 29 points, .630 pct
Lehigh Valley: 23 GP, 13-7-1-2, 29 points, .630 pct
Bridgeport: 22 GP, 12-8-1-1, 26 points, .591 pct
Hershey: 24 GP, 11-10-0-3, 25 points, .521 pct
Hartford: 24 GP, 8-12-3-1, 20 points, .417 pct
Springfield: 25 GP, 9-15-1-0, 19 points, .380 pct
The Week Ahead
Wednesday, December 6th: W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley -> 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday, December 8th Hershey at Lehigh Valley -> 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, December 9th: Lehigh Valley at Hershey -> 7:00 p.m. ET
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Team Report
When Nick Luukko made his 2017-18 Phantoms’ season debut, he became the 12th different defenseman to suit up for Lehigh Valley already this season. Only Rochester (14!) has seen more players dress on the blue line in the entire American Hockey League (AHL).
The biggest news coming out of the weekend was that head coach Scott Gordon provided a partial update on the team’s plethora of injured defensemen, mentioning that two defensemen are nearing a return to the lineup and that two others would likely remain out until after Christmas. But which is which?
Max Lamarche, out since leaving a November 11th game in Hershey, had practiced last week in a no-contact jersey and appears the closest to returning as he was a full participant in practice this week.
Defensemen Reece Willcox (out since Nov. 22nd) and Frank Hora (out since Dec. 1st) are back skating with the team and could be back as soon as this weekend.
Which leaves Sam Morin and Phil Myers, who have gone back and forth from the injured list to the active roster in recent weeks, as the two defensemen who will likely be out of the lineup until after Christmas.
Some milestones to talk about…
Forward Danick Martel eclipsed 100 points (57 goals, 43 assists) as a pro over the weekend.
Forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel appeared in his 100th pro game Saturday night against Laval.
Injured List (as of December 5th)
Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (out indefinitely – offseason knee surgery)
Defenseman Sam Morin (out since Nov. 29th)
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 Frank Hora (out since Dec. 1st)
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 – Mikhail Vorobyev – Radel Fazleev
Danick Martel – Mike Vecchione – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
T.J. Brennan – James de Haas
Will O’Neill – Mark Friedman
Adam Comrie – Max Lamarche
Alex Lyon – Dustin Tokarski