PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Penguins, Game #71

Saturday, April 20, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (31-30-9) vs. W-B/Scranton (38-24-9)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-30-9) are IN. This weekend, the Phantoms play two more home games in preparation for the Calder Cup Playoffs next week. Lehigh Valley’s win on Friday at Bridgeport officials clinched the team’s berth into the postseason.
Tonight, the Phantoms take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a possible 6 vs. 3 preview of a Best of 3 Rivalry Playoff Series next week.

Cal Petersen recorded his second shutout of the season and carried the Phantoms straight into the Playoffs with his 23-save performance in a 3-0 win at the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday night. Elliot Desnoyers (5th), Adam Brooks (13th) and Bobby Brink (7th) provided Lehigh Valley with more than enough offense in the team’s last away game of the season and to officially spark the celebration in the team’s Connecticut Clincher.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a beefed-up roster entering the final games of the season after the Philadelphia Flyers loaned forwards Bobby Brink and Olle Lycksell and defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, according to General Manager Daniel Briere.
Brink, 22, has played in 57 games with Philadelphia this season scoring 11-12-23 and also 12 games with Lehigh Valley scoring 7-5-12.
Lycksell, 24, is tops on the Phantoms in goals having scored 19-20-39 in 37 games with Lehigh Valley this season. He has also played 18 games with the Flyers scoring 1-4-5 including his first career NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.
Attard, 25, has scored 10-15-25 in 47 games with the Phantoms and also 0-2-2 in 12 games with Philadelphia.
Ginning, 24, has played in 57 games with the Phantoms this season scoring 2-11-13 and nine games with the Flyers in a stint that included his first NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have received six players from the Reading Royals of the ECHL who concluded their season on Saturday. Returning to the Phantoms are defensemen Mason Millman and Will Zmolek, forwards Matt Brown, Jacques Bouquot and Tyler Gratton, and goaltender Parker Gahagen.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are IN. Friday’s win at Bridgeport secured the second consecutive appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms wh0 will enter the postseason as the 6-seed.
The Phantoms have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in the last two seasons and also four of the last six years in which the Playoffs have been held dating back to 2017. In total, the Phantoms are making their 14th overall appearance in the postseason including a pair of Calder Cup Championships for the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998 and 2005 prior to the team’s arrival in the Lehigh Valley.

The first round will be played next week and official dates and times and locations will be announced soon. Round 1 is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 6 vs. 3 matchup. But the Charlotte Checkers are in fourth-place and are still within range.
Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.

Goaltender Alexei Kolosov, 22, made his North American pro debut in Saturday’s game against Bridgeport and picked up the win with 24 saves in a 5-4 overtime triumph. Kolosov has joined the Phantoms from the Minsk Dinamo of the KHL where Philadelphia’s Round 3 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft was 22-21-3, 2.39, .907 with four shutouts for his hometown team in Minsk, Belarus. His resume also includes representing Belarus in international play, starting with his being named the top goaltender at the IIHF World Junior Championship Division I-A tournament in 2021.

Garrett Wilson has accumulated 210 penalty minutes this year and is in position to lead the AHL for a second consecutive season.
J-R Avon is tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland also has five. Avon has gone 5-for-7 in the shootout this season.
Emil Andrae has 15 power-play assists which is first among AHL rookie defensemen and is second among AHL rookies overall trailing only Brennan Othmann of Hartford who has 17.

Some players have comfortable leads to take top honors for the Phantoms this season while some races are still too close to call.
Olle Lycksell continues to lead the team with 19 goals but Cooper Marody is right on his tail with 18 goals and Tanner Laczynski is still within range at 16 goals.
Marody has practically locked up the title for most assists with his 36 helpers on the year giving him an eight-point cushion over Samu Tuomaala who has 28.
Marody also has a comfortable lead in overall scoring with 54 points putting him 11 ahead of Tuomaala who has 43.

W-B/Scranton (38-24-9) was playing some of its best hockey of the season and had a seven-game winning streak on its way to clinching its position in the Calder Cup Playoffs. But the Penguins have now dropped two straight including a 4-2 decision at Hartford on Friday. The Phantoms are 4-6-1 against the Baby Pens but have dropped the last four contests against their northeast Pennsylvania rivals.
The Baby Pens currently lineup as the first-round opponent for Lehigh Valley in a Best of 3 series to open the Calder Cup Playoffs the following week. But that isn’t locked in.
Like the Phantoms, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s roster has been bolstered by some arrivals from the big club. The Pittsburgh Penguins have loaned forwards Sam Poulin, Valtteri Puustinen and Radim Zohorna as well as defenseman Jack St. Ivany back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Defenseman Ty Smith (9-34-43) is unavailable due to a long-term injury. NHL veteran of 374 games Vinnie Hinostroza (16-18-34) is the team’s active-leading scorer and has scored 3-7-10 against Lehigh Valley. Corey Andonovski has 2-6-8 vs. the Phantoms including an overtime winner on March 30. Second-rounder Joel Blomqvist (25-12-6, 2.16, .921) was named to the AHL All-Rookie team. Against the Phantoms, Blomqvist has gone 6-1-2, 2.10, .929 including his first career shutout on March 13.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 18-36-54
Samu Tuomaala 15-28-43
Tanner Laczynski 16-26-42
Olle Lycksell 19-20-39
Emil Andrae 5-27-32

Penguins Scoring Leaders
Ty Smith 9-34-43
Vinnie Hinostroza 16-18-34
Sam Poulin 15-15-30
Corey Andonovski 7-23-30
Austin Rueschhoff 15-13-28

Lehigh Valley PP, 18.1% (19th)
Lehigh Valley Valley PK 79.5% (24th)
LV PP vs. WBS 5/34, 14.7%

W-B/Scranton PP 17.4% (25th)
W-B/Scranton PK 85.3% (3rd)
WBS vs. LV PP 8/37, 21.6%

Jan. 6 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 (OT)
Jan. 26 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 at Lehigh Valley 3
Feb. 3 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 at Lehigh Valley 1
Feb. 9 – WIN – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 at Lehigh Valley 5 (SO)
Feb. 21 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 3 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2 (OT)
Mar. 8 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 at Lehigh Valley 2
Mar 9 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2
Mar. 13 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 0 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3
Mar. 24 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 at Lehigh Valley 1
Mar. 30 – OTL – Lehigh Valley 3 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 (OT)
Apr. 7 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 1 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5
Apr. 20 (7:05) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley
Rhett Gardner 3-6-9
Samu Tuomaala 4-3-7
Cooper Marody 3-4-7
Adam Brooks 3-3-6
Parker Gahagen 1-2-0, 2.40, .918
Cal Petersen 0-2-0, 2.58, .904

Vinnie Hinostroza 3-7-10
Corey Andonovski 2-6-8
Randi Zohorna 1-7-8
Sam Poulin 3-4-7
Joel Blomqvist 6-1-2, 2.10, .929

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to PPL Center for a rivalry matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins next Saturday, April 20 and then play the season final on Sunday, April 21 at 3:05 p.m. against the Charlotte Checkers.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Saturday, April 20 (7:05) vs. W-B/Scranton Penguins
Sunday, April 21 (3:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Our Valley, Our Home Day – End of Regular Season!

TBD – Calder Cup Playoffs! Best of 3 Series in Round 1 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Charlotte