Phantoms Season Ends in Charlotte

Checkers Take Playoff Series 2-1

April 21, 2023

Charlotte, NC – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms postseason came to an end in the deciding Game 3 of the first-round Calder Cup Playoffs series with the Charlotte Checkers pulling away for a 6-0 win. Charlotte rallied from a 1 game to nothing to deficit to take the series 2-1. Former Phantom J-F Berube stymied Lehigh Valley with a 31-save performance as the Phantoms were shutout for the first time all season.

Lehigh Valley had been an inch away from sweeping the series when Thursday night’s Game 2 went to double overtime but the Checkers barely survived to force Game 3 and carried over momentum from the exciting win the night before.

The Phantoms actually had the better of the play for the first half of the game even when Lehigh Valley was trailing 2-0 and 3-0. They were getting more chances and of better quality by J-F Berube stopped them all. Even down 3-0, it felt like the Phantoms were largely in control. Emil Andrae’s backdoor blast was somehow repelled off the shoulder of Berube for the veteran’s 21st denial of the evening.

In a scoreless first period, Elliot Desnoyers had two top-notch scoring tries but Berube was equal to the task. in the opening minutes, Desnoyers and Bobby Brink connected on a give-and-go with Desnoyers still having enough room at the net front to try a quick little move but Berube’s right pad just did get a piece of the Phantoms’ leading goal scorer in 2022-23. Later in the first, Desnoyers cut across the high slot from right to left and had a strong drive on goal but Berube just barely made it there in time, again with the right pad.

The Phantoms came out buzzing and with great energy to begin the second period as well. Berube and the Checkers scrambled and blocked as best they could and eventually it paid off as Charlotte earned an opportunity of its own with Patrick Giles striking from the left wing past the right shoulder of Ersson at 3:04 for the game’s first tally.

Mackie Samosevich zipped across and into the zone to find Riley Nash at the net front to make it 2-0 at 6:54.

When a scramble and some rebounding pucks were eventually buried by Dominic Franco at 10:52 the Phantoms suddenly found themselves trailing 3-0.

But Lehigh Valley kept coming and only needed one to regain momentum. Andrae’s backdoor blast from the left circle was the best chance for that but Berube made the big stop and shortly after that it was Henry Bowlby striking on the move to make it 4-0 as part of a 3-on-3.

Sam Ersson made way for Nolan Maier at that point and a couple minutes later it was Cam Morrison with a drive on the power play to conclude the five-goal explosion in the second period. Former Phantoms center Connor Bunnaman capped the scoring with a shorthanded breakaway snipe on the rush in the third.

The Charlotte Checkers advance to the division semifinals where they will take on the Hershey Bears in a Best of 5 series beginning next Friday night in Charlotte.

The Phantoms concluded an exciting season that saw the team win 37 games including nine come-from-behind rallies in the third and also six enthralling overtime triumphs.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ organization also welcomed back the return of large crowds and player-interaction promotions in the 2022-23 season. With the return of sellouts and large crowds at PPL Center, the team’s House on Hamilton was rocking again and the energy was palpable.

Thanks for joining us on this incredible ride all season long and we can’t wait to see you back at PPL Center cheering for the Phantoms again in October!


2nd 3:04 – CLT, P. Giles (H. Bowlby) 0-1
2nd 6:54 – CLT, R. Nash (M. Samoskevich, S. Kinnunen) 0-2
2nd 10:52 – CLT, D. Franco (S. Kinnunen, A. Heponiemi) 0-3
2nd 15:12 – CLT, H. Bowlby (C. Bunnaman, A. Heponiemi) 0-4
2nd 18:08 – CLT, C. Morrison (A. Heponiemi, S. Kinnunen) (PP) 0-5

3rd 8:47 – CLT, C. Bunnaman (Unassisted) (SH) 0-6

LV 31 – CLT 26

LV 0/4, CLT 1/4

LV – S. Ersson (L) (1-2) (11/15)
LV – N. Maier (ND) (9/11)
CLT – J. Berube (W) (1-0) (31/31)

Charlotte wins series 2-1