Lehigh Valley Opens Preseason Slate Against New Division Foe Charlotte
September 29, 2017
Lehigh Valley, PA – Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center is officially back!
After a nearly five-month hiatus, Phantoms hockey returned to downtown Allentown Friday evening as the Phantoms opened their 2017 preseason schedule against the newest member of the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division, the Charlotte Checkers – the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Adirondack Phantoms forward Derek Whitmore converted for Lehigh Valley and budding forward prospect Mikhail Vorobyev chipped in an assist as visiting Charlotte skated away with an 8-1 win inside PPL Center on Friday.
A 32-year-old winger from Rochester, New York, Whitmore is entering his 10th professional season and last skated professionally in North America as a member of the Adirondack Phantoms during the 2013-14 campaign where he tallied five goals and 11 points in 18 games. Meanwhile, Vorobyev, a fourth round selection of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, is on the verge of his first professional season after spending the last two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Phantoms and Checkers will face off again on Saturday in a 7:05 p.m. tilt back in downtown Allentown before the new Atlantic Division foes square off eight total times during the course of the upcoming 2017-2018 regular season, which officially gets underway for Lehigh Valley on Saturday, October 7 against the rival Hershey Bears. A limited number of tickets remain for Opening Night and can be purchased online by clicking HERE.
Charlotte’s Nick Schilkey paced the offensive attack for the Checkers on Friday with three goals and an assist while Spencer Smallman, Warren Foegele, Andrew Miller and Patrick Brown each chipped in a goal and an assist.
Alex Nedeljkovic earned the victory between the pipes for visiting Charlotte with 24 saves on 25 Phantoms’ shots while Lehigh Valley’s Leland Irving turned in a 35-save performance of his own.
The Checkers’ power play was an impressive 4-for-6 on the evening while the Phantoms were unable to convert in four man-advantage opportunities.
Charlotte opened the scoring less than six minutes into the contest when Smallman tallied his first goal of the preseason with assists from Schilkey and Mike Ferrantino. The five-on-five conversion came 5:44 into the first period.
The Checkers doubled their advantage just past the midway point of the opening frame when, while enjoying a five-on-three power play, Schilkey unleashed a rocket of a one-timer from the left wing that sizzled past the blocker of Irving and into the back of the Lehigh Valley net. Philip Samuelsson and Sergey Tolchinsky garnered assists on the man-advantage marker netted 10:30 into the first period.
Charlotte then stretched its lead to a 4-0 edge thanks to a pair of goals just 14 seconds apart. First, Brown converted on the power play from Tolchinsky and Clark Bishop at 11:11 before Steven Lorentz found the back of the Phantoms’ net at even strength from Bishop and Roland McKeown 11:25 into the opening frame.
The Checkers capped their impressive first period with just under three minutes remaining in the opening stanza when Schilkey landed his second conversion of the period. Brown and Smallman assisted on the power play marker tallied 17:15 into the first period as Charlotte orchestrated a perfect 3-for-3 performance on the man-advantage in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
The Phantoms sliced into Charlotte’s advantage less than six minutes into the second period when a tremendous forechecking effort by Vorobyev forced a takeaway in the Checkers’ end leading to a centering pass for Whitmore who promptly chipped in his first goal of the season. The even-strength strike came 5:52 into the middle stanza.
The Checkers struck back less than 10 minutes later though when Miller converted from Foegele at the 15:20 mark of the second period.
Charlotte landed the final two conversions of the evening with goals from Foegele and Schilkey in the game’s final six minutes.
The Phantoms are back in action on Saturday when they welcome the Checkers back to PPL Center for a 7:05 p.m. rematch. A limited number of tickets remain for Saturday’s preseason finale and they can be purchased now by clicking HERE.
Another thrilling season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center will be here before you know it with the Home Opener for the 2017-2018 regular season set for Saturday, October 7. Reserve your season tickets and group outings for the 2017-2018 season of Phantoms hockey. 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 !