Lehigh Valley Phantoms (15-6-4) vs. Hershey Bears (20-6-2)
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 7:05 p.m. – PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Today’s Game – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to PPL Center with just six games left in the regular season to host the Hershey Bears on Cinco de Mayo. Lehigh Valley is 5-4-0 against the Bears this season but Hershey has taken the last two meetings. Hershey has won 10 of its last 11 to take hold of first place in the North Division and also the lead in the Provident Bank Pennsylvania Cup. The Phantoms have lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season and their three-game winless streak is their longest of the season.
Last Time Out – Felix Sandstrom was fantastic but it wasn’t enough for the Phantoms who were shut out for the first time this year in a 2-0 loss at Hershey on Sunday. Sandstrom’s 40 saves is a season-high for a Phantoms goalie. Hershey only scored once against Sandstrom who kept the game tied 0-0 through the first 30 minutes of the game before the Bears finally broke through. Hershey tacked on an empty-netter at the end in their 42nd shot of the night. Hershey’s Hunter Shepard recorded a 28-save shutout in his AHL debut.
Sensational Sandström – On Sunday, May 2, Felix Sandström was terrific in a 40-save gem allowing just one goal at the Hershey Bears. His 40 saves equaled a career-high initially set in his North American pro debut on April 12, 2019 at the Providence Bruins. It was the third consecutive very strong performance for the 24-year-old from Gavle, Sweden.
Dating back to the previous Saturday, April 24, Sandström has a .956 save percentage (109/114) in his last three starts racking up 37 saves, 32 saves and 40 saves in those games.
Mueller Moves Up – 35-year-old veteran Chris Mueller had a slick assist from the corner to set up Isaac Ratcliffe’s goal on Saturday night as he continues to move up among the AHL’s all-time leaders. Mueller is now 60th all-time in AHL history with 574 points. That is also second among active AHL players trailing only teammate Cal O’Reilly (629 points). The two-time Calder Cup Champion (Texas and Toronto) with 797 career games in the AHL is on his way to becoming just the 40th in league history to play 800 games.
Get Started Early – The Phantoms are 11-0-2 when they score the first goal of the game. Lehigh Valley and the Chicago Wolves are the only teams in the league that remain undefeated in regulation when striking first.
Comeback Kids – The Phantoms remain the only team that does not have a losing record in games in which they have trailed after two periods. Lehigh Valley is 5-5-1 when facing a deficit at the second intermission which also is the most late comeback wins in the league.
Overtime Fun – The Phantoms still lead the league in overtime games and overtime wins. The Phantoms are tied with the Binghamton Devils with 10 regulation ties that have extended to the 3-on-3 session. The Phantoms are 5-3 in overtime decisions which still remains tops for most wins even though Lehigh Valley has not won an overtime game since March 21. Only two other teams are close with four overtime wins: San Diego and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Phantoms are also 1-1 in shootouts. Ryan Fitzgerald has two overtime goals this season while David Kase, Max Willman and Tanner Laczynski have also scored in the 3-on-3 bonus period.
Winding Down – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are in the stretch-run of the 2021 season with just six games remaining including four at PPL Center. Tickets are available for all upcoming Phantoms home games at phantomshockey.com
Working out the Numbers – The league is using points percentage for the standings this season because teams are playing a varying number of games. Hershey has taken the top spot in the North Division having won 10 of its last 11 but this week provides an opportunity for Lehigh Valley to make up that ground. If the Phantoms win the next two games in regulation they will nudge ahead of the Bears atop the division with Lehigh vAlley’s record at 17-6-4 good for a .704 percentage while Hershey would fall to 20-8-2 for a .700 mark. The winner of the North Division will receive the prestigious Teddy Oke Trophy which has been awarded since 1926 to division champions in the AHL and previously to different league champs.
The Series – The Phantoms are 5-4-0 against Hershey this season.
Sat Feb 6 @ HER W 2-1 (OT) Wyatte Wylie tying goal 47 seconds left 1-1. Ryan Fitzgerald OT goal
Sun Feb 14 @ HER W 5-4 Zayde Wisdom 2-1-3. David Kase OT Goal
Wed Mar 3 @ LV W 4-3 O’Reilly tying goal 7:30 left. Pouliot winning goal 5:59 left.
Sat Mar 6 @ HER L 1-4 Mueller lone goal breaks shutout with 1:00 left
Sun Mar 14 @ HER W 4-1 Allison and Foerster both First Pro Goal. McIntyre 32 saves
Wed Mar 24 @ LV L 2-6 LV Goals: Fitzgerald and Wisdom. HER Philippe Maillet 5 assists
Wed Mar 31 @ HER W 4-1 Foerster 2 goals
Wed Apr 21 @ LV L 1-6 First Game Back from Protocol Layoff
Sun May 2 @ HER L 0-2 Sandstrom 40 saves on 41 shots faced. HER – Hunter Shepard 28-save shutout
Wednesday, May 5, 7:05 – Bears at Phantoms (PPL Center)
Saturday, May 8, 4:00 – Phantoms at Hershey
Sunday, May 9, 3:05 – Penguins at Phantoms (PPL Center)
Provident Bank Pennsylvania Cup:
Bears 11-5-2 = .667
Phantoms 8-5-2 = .600
Penguins 5-6-4 = .467
Penn Cup Results and Upcoming:
May 2: Bears 2 – Phantoms 0
May 5: Bears at Phantoms
May 8: Phantoms at Bears
May 9: Penguins at Phantoms