Lehigh Valley Phantoms (18-7-5) vs. Binghamton Devils (6-20-7)
Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 3:05 p.m. – PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Today’s Game – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms conclude the 2021 season with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Binghamton Devils. This is the 31st game of the season and also the 12th between the Phantoms and Devils. Lehigh Valley is 8-1-2 against Binghamton this year. This is also the last game EVER for the Binghamton Devils. The New Jersey Devils are moving their affiliation to the Utica Comets next season and Binghamton will not have an AHL team next season after being part of the league for most of the last four decades.
Last Time Out – The Phantoms and Penguins played a hard-hitting, intense, rivalry affair in front of a raucous crowd at PPL Center on Saturday night with the Penguins ultimately prevailing in overtime 2-1 on the first North American pro goal for Kasper Bjorkqvist. Ryan Fitzgerald (11th) scored the lone marker for the Phantoms on a third-period breakaway off a nice lead pass by Zayde Wisdom who recorded his sixth assist in the last three games. Wade Allison and Max Willman both found willing combatants to drop the gloves for their first AHL fights.
Sensational Sandström – Felix Sandstrom has put together five very strong starts after inconsistent opportunities due to schedule interruptions earlier in the season. Dating back to April 24, Sandström is 3-1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .950 save percentage including save totals in order of 37, 32, 40, 34 and 27. He has allowed just nine goals in the last five games on 179 total shots faced. This is quite a turnaround compared to his first five starts of the season from February 27 through April 21 in which he had a 4.76 goals-against average and .838 save percentage.
Team Leaders – Cal O’Reilly is the favorite to take the team’s scoring crown for a second season in a row. His 21 points through 30 games pace the Phantoms but Ryan Fitzgerald is still within striking distance at 19 points.
Fitzgerald looks to be in good shape to take the team’s goal-scoring title after scoring his 11th of the season yesterday. That broke a tie for the top spot with Tyson Foerster who has 10. But Foerster sustained a season-ending injury on Wednesday in Newark. Max Willman is the next closest with 8 goals. O’Reilly has the assist lead pretty much locked up with 17 helpers this year putting him ahead of Logan Day who has 13. Zayde Wisdom is the top rookie scorer on the team this year with 18 points on 7 goals and 11 assists. He raced to the top spot with six assists in the last three games. Brennan Saulnier’s 39 penalty minutes put him ahead of Zayde Wisdom who has 33 PIM’s. Max Willman with 64 shots is two ahead of Ryan Fitzgerald who has 62 shots on goal.
800 Club! – 35-year-old veteran Chris Mueller celebrated his 800th career game with his first multi-goal performance of the season. The father-of-four is on his tenth AHL team and has won two Calder Cups in his career (Texas 2014 and Toronto 2018). He becomes just the 40th in AHL history to reach 800 career games and is the AHL’s active goal-scoring leader now with 246 conversions. With his 802nd AHL game ton Saturday, Chris Mueller moved into a tie for 38th all-time with former Hershey Bears great Mitch Lamoureaux whose tenure in different stretches with Hershey in the 1980s and 1990s was primarily as a member of the Flyers organization.
Welcome Back! – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have received three players from the Philadelphia Flyers ahead of the team’s last three games of the season. Forward Wade Allison and defenseman Cam York return after successful NHL debut stints and goalie Felix Sandstrom arrives from the Taxi Squad looking to continue is hot streak.
Allison had played in eight games with the Phantoms scoring 4-5-9. He played 14 games with the Flyers scoring 4-3-7 including a two-goal game on May 7 against Washington.
York had played in six games with the Phantoms scoring 2-3-5 including the game-winning goal in his most recent Phantoms’ contest on May 5. He played in three games with the Flyers averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time.
Phantoms to Make NHL Debuts in 2021 Season:
Maksim Sushko Feb 18, 2021 (PHI vs. NYR)
Tanner Laczynski Apr 3, 2021 (PHI at NYI)
Wade Allison Apr 15, 2021 (PHI at PIT)
Egor Zamula Apr 27, 2021 (PHI at NJ)
Cam York May 7, 2021 (PHI at WSH)
Looking Ahead – The American Hockey League has announced its intention for a full schedule in the 2021-22 campaign for its 86th season which will begin on October 15 and run through April 24.
Right to the Finish – The Phantoms remained in contention for the North Division title until the last weekend of the season but the Hershey Bears clinched the Teddy Oke Trophy on Saturday afternoon with their 3-2 win over the Devils. Some of the postponements and the awkward return from the protocol shutdown made a difference for the Phantoms as that night’s loss to Hershey on April 21 proved to be the turning point allowing Hershey to overtake the Phantoms for the lead in the division standings.
Hershey also clinched the Provident Bank Pennsylvania Cup in a tight race. The Phantoms’ overtime loss on Saturday night put them more than two points behind the Bears going into the last game of the season.
The Series – The Phantoms are 8-1-2 against the Devils this season.
Wed Feb 10 @ BNG L 1-2 (OT) Brett Seney for Devils scores in OT
Sat Feb 20 @ LV W 3-0 Zane McIntyre 25-save shutout. 2 goals for Zayde Wisdom
Wed Feb 24 @ BNG W 5-4 (OT) Max Willman 2 goals including OT winner
Wed Mar 10 @ BNG 1-1 Game suspended after one period. Cal O’Reilly goal
Fri Mar 26 @ BNG W 3-2 Tanner Laczynski Hat Trick. Game-winning goal shorthanded breakaway in 3rd
Sat Mar 27 @ LV W 6-3 Ryan Fitzgerald 2 goals, Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski each 1-2-3. Alex Lyon 22 saves
Mon Apr 5 @ BNG L 1-2 (SO) Linus Hogberg first pro goal. Zane McIntyre 27 saves on 28 shots
Fri Apr 23 @ BNG W 4-2 Tyson Foerster 2 goals, Andy Andreoff 2 goals. Phantoms season-high 40 shots
Sat Apr 24 @ LV W 3-2 Felix Sandstrom 37 saves. Foerster 9th goal. Ratcliffe and Cuddemi both 1st goals
Mon Apr 26 @ BNG W 6-5 5 goals in 1st. Laberge goal 10 seconds in. Cal O’Reilly 3 assists to reach 500. Cam York 1st pro goal
Sat May 1 @ LV L 2-4 Mason Jobst, BNG, 2 goals, 2 assists. LV Goals: Racliffe, Willman
Wed May 12 @ BNG W 2-1 Kase and Mueller Goals. Sandstrom 27/28. Game at Prudential Center
15 Philadelphia Flyers players on the end-of-season roster who have played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms –
Most NHL Experience of current Lehigh Valley Phantoms players –
Derrick Pouliot – 202 Games (PIT / VAN)
Cal O’Reilly – 145 Games (NSH / BUF)
Garrett Wilson – 84 Games (FLA / PIT)
Chris Mueller – 53 Games (NSH / DAL / NYR)
Chris Bigras – 46 Games (COL)
Connor Bunnaman – 39 Games (PHI)
Tyler Wotherspoon – 30 Games (CGY)
Zane McIntyre – 8 Games (BOS)
David Kase – 7 Games (PHI)
Egor Zamula – 2 Games (PHI)
Maksim Sushko – 2 Games (PHI)
Sunday, May 16, 3:05 – Devils at Phantoms (PPL Center)
Provident Bank Pennsylvania Cup:
Bears 12-6-2 = .650
Phantoms 10-6-3 = .605
Penguins 6-7-4 = .471
May 15: Penguins 2 – Phantoms 1 (OT)
May 16: Penguins at Bears