Returning From the Break
February 7, 2024
Allentown, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (18-18-7) return from the AHL All-Star Break as they host a rivalry rematch against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night before traveling to Connecticut for their first division showdown at the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday.
Friday’s game also is the finale of a six-game homestand at PPL Center which is the longest of the season for the Phantoms.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Bears 4 – Phantoms 2
Former Phantom Mike Vecchione struck for a pair of goals against his ex-team, including the game-winner with 6:19 left, as visiting Hershey rallied from behind for a 4-2 win at PPL Center. Cooper Marody (10th) and Ronnie Attard (9th) scored back-to-back in the second period against Clay Stevenson for a 2-1 lead but the Hershey Bears struck thrice in the third beginning with Jimmy Huntington’s goal that tied it 2-2 at 1:16.
Friday, February 2, 2024
Phantoms 4 – Bears 1
Jacob Gaucher (5th) and Brendan Furry (2nd) connected for back-to-back goals just 31 seconds apart in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and then Samu Tuomaala buried his 13th of the year barely more than two minutes later as Lehigh Valley pulled away for a 4-1 rematch win against Hershey on Friday night. Felix Sandstrom was outstanding in net with 29 saves. The Phantoms gained momentum into the second intermission with a 5-on-3 penalty kill that lasted 1:34 and had the PPL Center crowd roaring.
Saturday, February 3, 2024
Penguins 3 – Phantoms 1
J.R. Avon (8th) finally broke through against goaltender Joel Blomqvist with just 1:54 left to get the Phantoms on the board but a late empty-netter by Jonathan Gruden sealed the win for visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night. Ty Smith (7th) opened the scoring for the Penguins in the first period and the Phantoms stayed within a goal until the third when a huge power-play opportunity backfired in the form of a shorthanded goal by Joona Koppanen at 4:41 into the final frame that made it 2-0.
The Phantoms recognized their 10-Years in the Valley celebration with an alumni reunion that featured Colin McDonald and Sam Morin as well as Greg Carey, Chris McCarthy, Will O’Neill and Steven Swavely.
SAMU AT ALL-STAR CLASSIC!
Rookie forward Samu Tuomaala showcased his skills and abilities at the AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose, California during the two-day event. During the AHL Skills Competition on Sunday, Tuomaala cranked up a 97.3 mph blast in the hardest shot contest and also hit two of four targets in the accuracy contest. During Monday’s AHL All-Star Classic series of round-robin 3-on-3 games between the divisions, Tuomaala scored one goal with three assists for four points in helping the Atlantic Division advance to the Championship Game before eventually bowing to the Pacific Division.
Injuries to veteran captains like Garrett Wilson, Tanner Laczynski and Louie Belpedio have opened the door for some young talent to receive larger roles and greater opportunities in the lineup. Ian Laperriere moved rookie center Jacob Gaucher to the second line while Brendan Furry stepped in to play wing on the third line. The decision paid off. The two AHL rookies upon receiving the nod of confidence blasted home a pair of goals in the third period on Friday night just 31 seconds apart. Both Gaucher and Furry are on AHL deals.
Gaucher had 22 goals in the ECHL with Reading last season but is a rookie at the AHL level. The 22-year-old from Longueui, Quebec even spent time back in the ECHL with Reading when there wasn’t room for him in the Phantoms lineup. Gaucher didn’t score his first AHL goal until December 27 but has certainly found the scoring touch since then with five goals in barely over a month. He also had a key block during the team’s 5-on-3 penalty klll on Friday.
Furry scored his first-ever goal at PPL Center and just his third of his pro career showing some terrific hands in his strong move to the net. The 25-year-old from Toledo, Ohio had 27 goals in three seasons at Minnesota State-Mankato prior to signing an AHL contract with the Phantoms.
- Samu Tuomaala (13-22-35) rates second among AHL rookies in points and third in assists. He also is tops among active Phantoms players in goals. Olle Lycksell has 16 goals but is currently on the Philadelphia Flyers roster.
- Cooper Marody (10-27-37) became the third Phantom to reach double digits in goals with his marker last Wednesday. Lehigh Valley’s leading point producer is fourth in the conference in assists. On the power play, Marody has scored 3-16-19 and rates tied for second in the AHL in PP assists.
- Emil Andrae (4-19-23) is second among AHL rookie defensemen in assists and is fourth in points. Andrae made the Flyers’ Opening Night roster and was with Philadelphia for about the first month of the season prior to joining the Phantoms where he has played in 34 games.
- The Phantoms are tied for second in the league with 12 overtime games trailing only Rochester who has played in 13 overtime contests.
- The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 12-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 13-3-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 11-1-1
– One-Goal Games: 11-3-7
– Overtime: 4-5 / Shootout: 1-2
Friday, February 9, 2024 (7:05 p.m.)
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Phantoms vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (24-16-6) arrive for a rivalry rematch to open play upon the return from the All-Star Break. The Penguins are in third place in the Atlantic Division and have topped the Phantoms twice on Lehigh Valley’s current six-game homestand. The visiting team has won every game in the season series including a January 6 overtime triumph in Wilkes-Barre for the Phantoms on Samu Tuomaala’s winner as part of a two-goal game.
2019 first-rounder Sam Poulin (11-7-18) had a Gordie-Plus-One against the Phantoms on January 26 that included two goals, an assist and a fight in the same game. Former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith (7-22-29) leads the Pens in scoring and had a goal last Friday. Former Buffalo first-rounder Alex Nylander (13-13-26) tops the Baby Pens in goals. Rookie goaltender Joel Blomqvist (14-7-3, 2.08, .922) joined fellow Finland rookie talent Samu Tuomaala at the AHL All-Star Classic and is second in AHL GAA only to Hershey’s Clay Stevenson.
Saturday, February 10, 2024 (7:00)
Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT
Phantoms at Bridgeport Islanders
Last-place Bridgeport (13-25-5) is showing improved play including a 2-1-0 mark last week. This is the first of six meetings this season between the Phantoms and B-Isles. Popular Phantoms alum Cole Bardreau scored 3-2-5 in three games last week to earn Howie’s Hockey Tape AHL Player of the Week Honors. That included a two-goal and one-assist performance last Friday in a 5-1 win vs. Springfield. The 30-year-old Bardreau is in his fifth season with Bridgeport after playing in parts of five seasons for the Phantoms where he scored 41-57-98 in 226 games. Bardreau rates 7th in games played and 10th in assists in Lehigh Valley history.
2018 second-rounder Ruslan Ishakov (13-21-34) paces the team’s scoring in his second season in the AHL. Otto Koivula (8-16-24) is in his sixth season with Bridgeport under new head coach Rick Kowalsky. Another former Phantom, Carsen Twarynski (2-0-2), recently returned from Europe to sign an AHL contract with Bridgeport three weeks ago. Twarynski played in parts of four full seasons with the Phantoms from 2018-21 totalling 107 games while scoring 18-20-38.
Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 10-27-37
Samu Tuomaala 13-22-35
x – Olle Lycksell 16-12-28
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
Ronnie Attard 9-14-23
Emil Andrae 4-19-23
Phantoms Tickets are available HERE
Friday, February 9 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley
Saturday, February 10 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport
Saturday, February 17 (7:05) – Syracuse at Lehigh Valley – Youth Jersey Night from Velaspan and Service Electric