Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs. Cleveland Monsters
TONIGHT – It’s Opening Night at PPL Center as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms open the 2023-24 season against the Cleveland Monsters, AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s officially the 10th season of Phantoms in the Valley, presented by Service Electric.
ROSTER – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have 25 players on the roster to open the season. This includes 16 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.
Last week, it was announced that high-energy winger Wade Allison was returned to the Phantoms. Other additions from Philadelphia Training Camp last week included defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning who are both entering their second season with Lehigh Valley. Also back is center Tanner Laczysnki. Defenseman Victor Mete has almost 250 games of NHL experience with Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto and goaltender Cal Petersen is a two-time AHL All-Star with the Ontario (Cal.) Reign of the AHL and has played in 101 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings.
YOUNG PROSPECTS – Some newcomers and young prospects on the team:
Defenseman #2 Helge Grans joins the team for his first look in a Phantoms uniform. The former Los Angeles Kings second-rounder was acquired in the three-team trade that also brought Cal Petersen and Sean Walker to the Flyers organization.
#5 Ethan Samson is ready to make a splash in his rookie season. The 20-year-old from the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League was a Round 6 selection of the Flyers in 2021 and cranked up 18 goals and 42 assists for 60 points from the blueline last year.
#29 Alexis Gendron is only 19 years old and also excited for his first professional season. The seventh-rounder out of the Quebec Major Junior League cranked up 55 goals between two teams last season and can blow you away with his speed. His father is Flyers scout Martin Genrdron and had a long career mostly in the AHL and old IHL.
BACK IN ORANGE AND BLACK – Some of the solid mainstays and leaders of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who are returning this season include Garrett Wilson, Louie Belpedio, Adam Brooks and Cooper Marody. Two of the guys will be a smidge more difficult to identify at first as Belpedio has changed his jersey number to 7 (from 47) and Marody has changed his number to 20 (from 25).
#17 Garrett Wilson is the most experienced of the group and was named Captain of the Phantoms earlier this week.
The rugged 32-year-old winger is back for his fourth season with Lehigh Valley after racking up 18 goals and 195 penalty minutes last year.
#7 Louie Belpedio re-signed for a two-year deal with the Flyers. The Miami (Ohio) product was an alternate captain last season and scored 8-19-27 in 70 games last year.
#24 Adam Brooks began the season with an injury but upon his return and getting his game back to top speed the former Calder Cup winner with Toronto racked up 35 points in 54 games including 10 goals.
#20 Cooper Marody followed a similar timeline with injury issues holding back at the beginning of the season before he took off in the second half. Marody had a hat trick among his 15 goals and 40 points in 47 games.
OPENING NIGHT HISTORY – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are 6-3-0 all-time in season openers and 5-3-1 all-time in home openers at PPL Center. Last year, the Phantoms won their first game with a thrilling road win at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with Louie Belpedio striking for the overtime winner with just 1.5 seconds remaining in the extra frame.
The Phantoms franchise is 19-8-0 all-time in season openers dating back to the 1996 Philadelphia Phantoms defeating the Springfield Falcons in the first game in franchise history.
Lehigh Valley won its first-ever game at PPL Center on October 17, 2024 with a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Adirondack Flames on a goal by Brandon Manning. Scott Laughton scored two goals for the Phantoms including the team’s first at PPL Center.
Chris VandeVelde actually scored the first-ever goal for Lehigh Valley which came on the road a week earlier in a 5-2 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Danick Martel registered the first Opening Night hat trick in Lehigh Valley history in the team’s 7-2 victory against Hershey to start the 2017-18 season.
Mark Zengerle has the fastest goal to start a Phantoms season when he scored just 50 seconds into the contest on October 15, 2016 against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Zane McIntyre registered the first PPL Center opening shutout win for the Phantoms with a 25-save performance against the Binghamton Devils to begin the 2020-21 season while newcomer Zayde Wisdom scored a pair of goals for Lehigh Valley.
FIRST GOALS –
Who will add their name to the list of first Phantoms goal scorers at PPL Center?
2014 – Scott Laughton
2015 – Aaron Palushaj
2016 – Mark Zengerle
2017 – Danick Martel
2018 – Greg Carey
2019 – Kurtis Gabriel
2020-21 – Zayde Wisdom
2021 – Max Willman
2022 – Hayden Hodgson
UP NEXT – Opening Weekend continues with a big 1:05 p.m. matinee on Sunday, October 15 taking on the Belleville Senators.
Saturday, October 14 (7:05) – Cleveland Monsters at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (OPENING WEEKEND!!)
Sunday, October 15 (1:05) – Belleville Senators at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (OPENING WEEKEND!!)
Friday, October 20 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, October 21 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hartford Wolf Pack
Sunday, October 22 (5:05) – Springfield Thunderbirds at Lehigh Valley Phantoms