It’s a GAMEDAY presented by MassMutual as the Phantoms open their 25th Anniversary Celebration Weekend. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms host the Charlotte Checkers in the first of a two-game series.
Lehigh Valley (18-21-10) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division and is chasing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a playoff spot. Charlotte (27-21-3) has moved up to fourth place in the division. The Checkers are the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and Seattle Kraken. This is game 50 of the season for the Phantoms. There are 26 games remaining including tonight.
Lehigh Valley surged back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead but ultimately fell to the Providence Bruins 5-3 in a wild mid-week clash at PPL Center. Cam York (2nd), Hayden Hodgson (16th) and Matt Strome (3rd) all scored for the Phantoms in the see-saw affair. Morgan Frost returned to the Phantoms and impressed with his playmaking and creativity.
Felix Sandstrom has not played since an injury on February 19 against Utica. Sandstrom has gone 3-0-0 in his last four starts with a 2.14 goals-against average and .928 save percentage having allowed just seven goals on 97 shots in his starts since February 4.
Forward Isaac Ratcliffe has been loaned to the Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers where he has played 10 games since making his NHL debut on January 29. The Flyers second-rounder in 2017 has scored 5-8-13 in 33 games with the Phantoms this season and has suited up in 110 career games with Lehigh Valley scoring 14-22-36.
Forward Alexis D’Aoust was released from his PTO after playing in six games with Lehigh Valley.
Forward Hayden Hodgson has been suspended for three games as a result of an elbowing incident in Wednesday’s game against Providence. Hodgson will miss Lehigh Valley’s games tonight (Mar. 4) and Saturday (Mar. 5) vs. Charlotte, and Tuesday (Mar. 8) at Hershey.
Charlotte (27-21-3) has leapfrogged Hershey for fourth place in the Atlantic following a 44-save shutout for Spencer Knight in a 3-0 win at Hershey on Wednesday. The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers AND Seattle Kraken is one of the highest scoring teams in the AHL at 3.35 goals-per-game placing them 7th in the league and 3rd in the conference. The Phantoms are 2-4-0 against Charlotte.
Charlotte’s leading scorer, Kole Lind, has 16-17-33 and has returned to the Checkers from Seattle. The Vancouver second-rounder in 2017 and former Utica Comet was snagged by the Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft.
Florida third-rounder Logan Hutsko, out of Boston College, is having a great rookie season scoring 10-23-33.
20-year-old goalie and highly touted Boston College product Spencer Knight is down from Florida and has gone 6-3-0, 2.62, .917 with Charlotte. The Panthers’ 2019 first-rounder was taken #13 overall but this season had some meidocre numbers in the NHL going 9-6-2, 3.22, .898.
WORLD JUNIORS REUNION
Cam York of the Phantoms captained the USA World Juniors team to a 2-0 victory over Canada for the Gold Medal on January 6, 2021 in Edmonton. Charlotte goaltender Spencer Knight posted a 34-save shutout in the stunning upset.
News and Notes
– Tonight is Cal O’Reilly’s 800th game in the American Hockey League. He will become the 41st player to play in 800 career games in the AHL. The 35-year-old captain is 9th in AHL history with 524 career assists.
– The Phantoms have played 49 games and have 26 remaining with less than two months to go in the 2021-22 regular season.
– Hayden Hodgson leads the Phantoms with 16 goals and has four goals in the last seven games as well as 10 goals in the last 18 games.
– The Phantoms are tied for the second-most overtime games in the AHL with 14. The Phantoms have gone to overtime in three of their last five games.
Friday, March 4 vs. Charlotte Checkers (7:05) – 25th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, March 5 vs. Charlotte Checkers (7:05) – 25th Anniversary Celebration
Tuesday, March 8 at Hershey Bears (7:00)
Friday, March 11 vs. Laval Rocket (7:05)
Saturday, March 12 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (7:05)
Sunday, March 13 at Hershey Bears (5:00)
Broadcast coverage of all Phantoms games, home and away, is available on the Phantoms 365 app and on 1470-WSAN. Fans can watch on AHLTV.com and can listen on their Smart Speakers at: “Play Phantoms Radio 24/7.” Join Voice of the Phantoms, Bob Rotruck, for all the action!