Fans Get First Glimpse of 2016-17 Phantoms as AHL Hockey Returns to PPL Center

Greg Carey Scores in Phantoms Debut

October 7, 2016

Lehigh Valley, PA – Fans got their very first glimpse Friday evening of the 2016-2017 Lehigh Valley Phantoms as the heart-pounding excitement of American Hockey League action returned to downtown Allentown.

jsp13571Friday marked the start of the Phantoms 2016 preseason as they welcomed the Charlotte Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, to PPL Center for the first time ever. And even though visiting Charlotte skated away with a 6-1 win, there was plenty of optimism gained by the Phantoms and the 5,542 raucous fans who were thrilled to see their team back in action.

Lehigh Valley’s conversion Friday evening beautifully showcased exactly why there is such optimism heading into the 2016-17 regular season as it featured some of the team’s exciting new talent both in the form of proven offensive contributors as well as the organization’s up-and-coming stars.

jsp13570Greg Carey, a free agent signing this summer who netted 26 goals with the Springfield Falcons a season ago, scored in his Phantoms debut while fellow free agent signee T.J. Brennan and budding prospect Travis Sanheim earned assists on the tally. The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner as the AHL’s top defenseman, Brennan paced all AHL blueliners with 25 goals and 68 points last season and displayed an abundance of offense creativity Friday evening. Meanwhile, the 17th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Sanheim notched 15 goals and 68 points in just 52 games with the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) a season ago.

Carey, Brennan and Sanheim join the likes of fellow newcomers Andy Miele, Mark Zengerle and Will O’Neill who will be inserted into Lehigh Valley’s lineup this season to join prized returners like Chris Conner, Taylor Leier, Colin McDonald, Danick Martel, Samuel Morin and Anthony Stolarz.

It was Stolarz who earned the start between the pipes Friday evening and recorded 20 saves on 26 Checkers shots.

jsp13577Mike Kirkpatrick (2 goals, assist), Brody Sutter (goal, 2 assists) and Jake Chelios (goal, assist) paced the offensive effort for visiting Charlotte who will be back at PPL Center on Saturday for a rematch with the Phantoms.

Charlotte opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period when Kirkpatrick snapped in his first conversion of the night. Sutter grabbed the only assist on the even-strength strike netted 10:49 into the opening frame.

The Checkers doubled their advantage less than three minutes later when Andrew Poturalski cruised in down the wing before sending home his first goal of the preseason. Valentin Zykov and Dennis Robertson assisted on the five-on-five tally scored 13:32 into the first period of play.

The Phantoms, however, sliced Charlotte’s lead in half early in the second period when, while on the power play, Sanheim slashed down the right wing before feeding a centering pass to Carey at the top of the goal crease who made no mistake in tapping in his first goal of the preseason. T.J. Brennan collected the secondary assist on the man-advantage marker netted just 18 seconds into the middle stanza.

The Checkers re-established their two-goal advantage less than six minutes later though when Kirkpatrick sailed in down the right wing before driving in his second goal of the evening. Brendan Woods garnered the only assist on the five-on-five tally scored 6:14 into the middle period.

Charlotte then flexed its offensive muscles with a three-goal barrage in a span of less than four minutes. First, the Checkers countered with a power play goal of their own when Matt Tennyson blasted home his first goal of the preseason. Kirkpatrick and Sutter assisted on the man-advantage marker tallied 13:47 into the second frame.

Then, Sutter landed his first conversion of the preseason with a five-on-five marker notched 15:42 into the middle stanza with an assist from Chelios. Finally, Chelios capped the offensive outburst when he launched a slap shot from the point that found daylight past Stolarz. Clark Bishop and Brant Harris assisted on the even-strength strike notched 17:19 into the period.

Charlotte’s Alex Nedeljkovic earned the win in goal after 28 saves on 29 Lehigh Valley shots.

The Phantoms conclude preseason action in advance of the 2016-2017 regular season tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. when they welcome Charlotte back to PPL Center. Tickets for Saturday’s preseason finale are available now by clicking HERE.

RISE UP! Another thrilling season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center is right around the corner with Opening Night to the 2016-17 regular season set for Saturday, October 15 presented by The Morning Call. Reserve your season tickets and group outings for the 2016-2017 season of Phantoms hockey today. For more information on how to reserve your seat at PPL Center to the hottest ticket in town, call the Phantoms front office today at 610-224-GOAL [4625]!

And for the latest Phantoms news, visit or follow the team on Facebook (, Twitter (@lvphantoms), Instagram (@lehighvalleyphantoms) and Snapchat (lvphantoms).

The Phantoms are thrilled to host the 2017 Capital BlueCross AHL All-Star Classic at PPL Center January 28-30. The Capital BlueCross AHL All-Star Classic weekend includes a Phan Fest during the day on Saturday, January 28 and a Tailgate Party that evening, followed by the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 29 and the 2017 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 30. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. Packages starting at just $67 for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic weekend are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s All-Star Game. To purchase tickets, please visit or

The Phantoms are coming off their 20th Anniversary Season and second campaign in the Lehigh Valley playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 19 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).