The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will host the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday afternoon, March 10, at 1:05 p.m. for the second time this weekend. Sunday’s match up will be the fourth between the two teams in Allentown and sixth overall this season, with the most recent meeting going in favor of Lehigh Valley, 3-2, on Friday night at PPL Center.
Lehigh Valley (30-24-3-3), who has won two consecutive games against Atlantic Division foes, enters Sunday four points behind the Hershey Bears in a tight divisional playoff race. A weekend sweep of the Checkers would give the team more momentum heading into another busy week that sees them welcome Atlantic Division playoff hopefuls Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, on Wednesday, and Providence, on Friday, into PPL Center.
The first-place Checkers (38-15-6-1), entering the match up after dropping their first contest since February 17, will look to bounce back as they attempt to put a stranglehold on the Atlantic Division title. Charlotte forward Aleksi Saarela netted two goals in Friday night’s contest against the Phantoms and the third-round pick has scored four goals in his last four games.
The Orange and Black received a big performance from forward Mike Vecchione, who scored two goals on Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic on Friday night. The team also greatly benefited from forward Cole Bardreau’s return to the lineup on Friday night. In his first game in exactly three months due to injury, the 25-year-old brought some physicality to the Phantoms’ fourth line while also firing three shots on net.
Phantoms vs. Charlotte Checkers
Phantoms Leading Scorers
- Greg Carey (58 GP, 25G-29A, 54 PTS)
- Chris Conner (56 GP, 12G-27A, 39 PTS)
- T.J. Brennan (51 GP, 8G-30A, 38 PTS)
- Mike Vecchione (60 GP, 15G-21A, 36 PTS)
- Byron Froese (55 GP, 15G-17A, 32 PTS)
Checkers Leading Scorers
- Andrew Poturalski (60 GP, 21G-35A, 56 PTS)
- Aleksi Saarela (55 GP, 20G-20A, 40 PTS)
- Janne Kuokkanen (48 GP, 12G-26A, 38 PTS)
- Jake Bean (58 GP, 11G-24A, 35 PTS)
- Morgan Geekie (57 GP, 15G-19A, 34 PTS)
Prior Meetings This Season
Mar. 8 — LV 3, CHA 2
Feb. 23 — CHA 5, LV 2
Feb. 22 — CHA 2, LV 1
Nov. 14 — LV 3, CHA 2 (OT)
Nov. 10 — CHA 7, LV 4
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Mike Vecchione has six points (3G-3A) in five contests against the Checkers this season, he currently leads the team in scoring against the Checkers.
- Former Phantoms goaltender Dustin Tokarski could potentially make his first start inside of PPL Center since signing with the New York Rangers organization in the offseason. The 29-year-old netminder began the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, but was recently loaned to the Charlotte Checkers on February 28. This season, Tokarski has a record of 11-6-2-1 with a .902 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average. To date, Tokarski has only a single start with the Checkers on March 2.
- Phantoms forward Tyrell Goulbourne has accumulated 39 penalty minutes in just three games against Charlotte this season which includes just a single fight.
- Just like Lehigh Valley did Friday night, they will need to get off to a good start and hold on to a lead in order to take out the Checkers this weekend. Charlotte is 27-0-0-0 when leading after two periods of play.
- Phantoms forward Greg Carey is currently riding a four-game point streak in which he has two goals and three assists for five points. Over those same four games, Carey has also recorded 16 shots on net, more than any other player on the team.
Players to Watch
T.J. Brennan has produced three points in three home games against the Checkers this season. On November 14, the alternate captain scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 Phantoms overtime victory against Charlotte. Brennan ranks first among Phantoms defenders in points against the Checkers this season.
Tyrell Goulbourne tallied an assist on the first goal of Friday night’s game against the Checkers. In addition to his point, the 25-year-old wing notched 12 penalty minutes in the contest. Goulbourne now has garnered 39 PIMs in just five games against Charlotte this season.
March 5, 2019: The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled forward Justin Bailey from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms
March 8, 2019: The Philadelphia Flyers returned on loan forward Justin Bailey to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms
The Road Ahead
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their current five-game home stand on Wednesday night against the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday’s game is also First Responders Night featuring a salute to all of the brave men and women who help to keep the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities safe. Get your tickets to see the Phantoms continue their push towards the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs HERE.