April 17, 2018
Friday, April 20 (7:05 p.m.) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Providence Bruins
(Atlantic Division Semifinals Game #1)
Saturday, April 21 (7:05 p.m.) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Providence Bruins
(Atlantic Division Semifinals Game #2)
Atlantic Division Champions for the 2017-18 season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (47-19-5-5, 104 pts., 0.684 pts., pct.) begin their quest for the 2018 Calder Cup this week as they prepare for their opening round series with the Providence Bruins. Lehigh Valley finished the regular season with the second-most wins (47) and second-most standings points (104) in the entire 30-team American Hockey League. What’s more, the Phantoms finished with their highest standings point total as a team since the Philadelphia Phantoms generated 105 points during the 1998-99 campaign.
Lehigh Valley’s postseason journey begins this Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 with Games 1 and 2 of their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinals series against the Bruins. Providence (45-26-3-2, 95 pts., 0.625 pts. pct.) went 5-5 across its final 10 games of the regular season in finishing just one point behind the third-place Charlotte Checkers in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. this weekend before the series shifts to PPL Center for Game 3 on Friday, April 27. If needed, Game 4 will take place in downtown on Saturday, April 28 followed by Game 5 on Monday, April 30, if necessary.
The Phantoms posted a 4-1-1 mark against the Bruins during the regular season, including a perfect 3-0 mark against their Atlantic Division rivals at PPL Center. Lehigh Valley outscored Providence 19-16 overall in the season series, including an 8-2 edge in games played in downtown Allentown. Phantoms’ captain Colin McDonald paced all scorers in the season series with seven total points (goal, 6 assists) while Providence’s Kenny Agostino was second with six points (goal, 5 assists). Meanwhile, goaltender Dustin Tokarski appeared between the pipes in three of the six meetings for Lehigh Valley recording an impressive 2-0-1 mark along with two shutouts, a 1.66 goals-against average and 0.944 save percentage.
- Phantoms By The Numbers
- Forward Phil Varone (right) finished the 2017-18 regular season first among all Phantoms and second among all AHL skaters in total scoring with 70 points. He established new career highs in goals (23), assists (47) and points and produced an impressive 15 multi-point games this year. For his efforts, Varone was named the Les Cunningham Award winner as AHL MVP and was also named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team.
- Forward Greg Carey finished the season first among all Lehigh Valley skaters and tied for fourth among all AHLers with 31 goals. His 31 conversions established a new career high for the 28-year-old winger who became the first Phantoms player to net more than 30 goals since Jonathan Sim tallied 35 goals during the 2004-05 campaign.
- Forward Danick Martel finished the season second among all Phantoms with a career-high 25 goals. It was the third-year winger’s third straight 20-goal campaign as he’s now tied for ninth in Phantoms franchise history with 68 total goals.
- Forward Nic Aube-Kubel finished third among all Lehigh Valley skaters in total scoring with 46 points. He established new career highs in goals (18), assists (28) and points (46) and paced all Phantoms with 86 penalty minutes this season.
- Forward Mike Vecchione led all Lehigh Valley rookies and finished tied for 15th among all first-year AHLers with 40 total points (17 goals, 23 assists). Vecchione tallied the most points by a Phantoms rookie since Erik Gustafsson recorded 49 points during the 2010-11 campaign.
- Defenseman T.J. Brennan (right) paced all Lehigh Valley blueliners and finished fifth among all AHL defenders in total scoring with 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists). After another tremendous season, the ninth-year defenseman was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team and has now compiled 148 goals, 276 assists and 424 points across 582 career AHL games.
- Lehigh Valley went 42-1-5 when scoring three or more goals this season and 41-6-5 when allowing three goals against or fewer.
- The Phantoms were 30-4-6 when scoring first this season and 19-4-10 in one-goal contests this year.
- The Phantoms finished the 2017-18 regular season as the second-highest scoring team in the AHL averaging an impressive 3.42 goals per game. With 260 total goals this season, Lehigh Valley scored exactly as many goals as the team did a season ago when it paced the 30-team AHL in scoring.
- The Phantoms paced all AHL teams with a league-best 27 home wins in going an impressive 27-6-5 at PPL Center. Lehigh Valley closed the regular season on a seven-game home winning streak and produced a sensational 17-1-2 mark in downtown Allentown over its final 20 home outings. All told, the Phantoms outscored their opposition 140-98 at home. Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley was 20-13-5 on the road this year.
Friday, April 13: Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5
Danick Martel (24th, 25th) scored twice and Reece Willcox added a goal and an assist as the Phantoms earned a 5-2 victory over the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of 8,425 fans inside PPL Center. Making his professional debut, Isaac Ratcliffe also found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley along with Mike Vecchione (17th) in support of goaltender Dustin Tokarski who earned his 20th win of the season in turning aside 29 of Bridgeport’s 31 total shots.
Friday’s game extended Lehigh Valley’s home winning streak to six straight games as the Phantoms enjoyed their 15th standing room-only sellout this season.
Saturday, April 14: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 1 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 (SO)
Chris Conner (17th) scored in the final minute of regulation before Nic Aube-Kubel netted the game winner in the shootout as the Phantoms earned a dramatic, come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in front of 8,643 fans inside PPL Center. Goaltender Alex Lyon backstopped the triumph with an impressive 26-save performance as he won his seventh straight game in net for Lehigh Valley in improving to 16-8-2 overall.
Saturday’s win pushed the Phantoms home winning streak to seven straight games as Lehigh Valley ended the 2017-18 regular season with an AHL-best 27 home victories. Saturday’s game also produced the team’s third straight standing room-only sellout and 16th capacity crowd this year.
Service Electric’s TV2 Sports will be broadcasting live each of the Phantoms’ home games throughout the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. If you can’t make it out to the rink, be sure to catch all the exciting action live in HD quality with Steve Degler, Todd Fedoruk, Doug Heater and Kristi Fulkerson! Pre-game coverage begins with “Phantoms Front and Center” 30 minutes before puck drop.
Be sure to also catch each and every Phantoms game this season live on 1470-AM WSAN, 790-AM WAEB or via the iHeartRadio app and Phantoms365 app! Join Voice of the Phantoms, Bob Rotruck, for all of the heart-pumping action of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey whether the team is at home or on the road. “Countdown to Faceoff” begins 45 minutes prior to puck drop.
Tickets for each and every Phantoms home game throughout the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs are available online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX  or in-person at the QNB Box Office [7th & Hamilton].