PREVIEW: Game 4, Phantoms vs. Bears

Saturday, May 11, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs. Hershey Bears

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms look to thrive and stay alive once again as they host the first-place Hershey Bears in Game 4 of the Best-of-5 Atlantic Division semifinals.

The Phantoms climbed their way back into the series with a 2-0 win in Game on Wednesday as they lived to see another day.

Get ready for another ORANGE OUT as Phantoms Phans will wacing their rally towels to “Rally the Valley” once again!

If the Phantoms win tonight to even the series at 2-2 then Lehigh Valley will carry momentum back to Chocolatetown in a quick turnaround for the rematch just one day later on Sunday night for Game 5.

The winner of this series will play the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division Finals. Hartford eliminated the Providence Bruins 3 games to 1 with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 4 last night.

How They Got Here:

Lehigh Valley finished a thrilling sweep of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their Best-of-3 series in the first round via Jacob Gaucher’s overtime goal at PPL Center on Friday, April 26. The Phantoms are the 6-seed in the Atlantic Division with a 32-31-9 regular-season record for 73 points.

The Kilpatrick Trophy Winning Hershey Bears received a first-round bye. The Bears are also the defending Calder Cup Champions. The top team in the AHL finished the regular season with a franchise record 53 wins and 111 points and fell just short of breaking the 31-year-old record for best full-season points percentage in league history.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 – Hershey Bears 0
The Phantoms brought the energy and intensity while Cal Petersen brought the saves…all 22 of them. Lehigh Valley survived and stayed alive alive via a 2-0 win at PPL Center before a raucous and loud and appreciative Phan Nation contingent on Wednesday night.

Emil Andrae and Olle Lycksell scored consecutive power-play goals in the first period to stake the Phantoms to the early lead. And then both teams’ goaltenders were in shut-down mode the rest of the way. Lehigh Valley’s penalty kill was stellar in holding Hershey to 0-for-5 including four power plays in the second period. But it was the 5-on-5 play that was critical as the Phantoms were solid in the neutral zone and in its own zone in limiting Hershey’s chances.

Cal Petersen picked up the first-ever playoff shutout for Lehigh Valley and also the first playoff shutout in his career. It was the 11th postseason shutout in Phantoms franchise history and was the first in over 16 years since Scott Munroe of the Philadelphia Phantoms against the Albany River Rats on April 29, 2008.
Goaltending great Neil Little had five playoff shutouts in his career including three in 1998 in leading the Phantoms to their first Calder Cup title. Antero Niitymaki had three shutouts in the Philadelphia Phantoms’ 2005 run to the Calder Cup.
Incredibly, Alex Lyon has the Phantoms playoff record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal but never got a shutout. He had over 175 shutout minutes (almost 9 periods!) beginning in the second period of the 5 OT game on May 9, 2018 and continuing to the third period of the next game May 12, 2018.

Phantoms Playoff Shutouts
Neil Little – May 10, 1997 vs. Hershey Bears – 18 saves, 3-0
Neil Little – May 3, 1998 vs. Hershey Bears – 24 saves, 3-0 (finish 4-0 sweep)
Neil Little – May 20, 1998 vs. Albany River Rats – 39 saves, 2-0
Neil Little – May 25, 1998 vs. Albany River Rats – 29 saves, 3-0
Neil Little – April 14, 2001 vs. Rochester Americans – 24 saves, 2-0
Antero Niittymaki – April 23, 2005 vs. Norfolk Admirals – 32 saves, 3-0
Antero Niittymaki – May 21, 2005 vs. Providence Bruins – 33 saves, 3-0
Antero Niittymaki – June 2, 2005 vs. Chicago Wolves – 27 saves, 1-0 (Game 1 of Finals)
Scott Munroe – April 18, 2008 vs. Albany River Rats – 18 saves, 3-0
Scott Munroe – April 29, 2008 vs. Albany River Rats – 21 saves, 2-0 (Game 7)
Cal Petersen – May 8, 2024 vs. Hershey Bears – 22 saves, 2-0

Veteran Cal Petersen has established himself as the team’s top goaltender down the stretch of the regular season and into Lehigh Valley’s playoff run.
The lefty netminder from Waterloo, Iowa has started all five playoff games for Lehigh Valley going  3-2-0, 2.21, .904. Since his return from the Philadelphia Flyers on February 29 he has played in 18 total games (regular season and playoffs) going 8-9-1, 2.12, .912. Petersen has three shutouts in that stretch as well including a 1-0 shootout win against Hershey on March 3 as well as the playoff-clinching shutout victory at Bridgeport on April 19. On May 8 against Hershey, he recorded Lehigh Valley’s first-ever postseason shutout with 22 saves in a 2-0 victory.

Hershey has dropped its last three visits to PPL Center and the Phantoms have outscored Hershey 7-1 in those last three contests encompassing 185 minutes. The Phantoms are 4-1 against the Bears at their home arena in calendar year 2024.
The Bears have not scored in their last 175:13 of play at PPL Center with their most recent Allentown goal coming at 9:43 of the first period on February 2 when Ethen Frank scored against Felix Sandstrom.
Petersen now has a home-ice shutout streak against Hershey of 171:06. The last time the Bears scored against Petersen at PPL Center was January 13, 2024 on an Ethen Frank goal at 13:54 of the first period. The Phantoms rallied from behind for a 4-3 shootout win in that game.

The Phantoms have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons and also made it for the fourth time in the last six years in which the playoffs have been held since 2017.
The Phantoms are also participating in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 14th time in franchise history which includes two Calder Cup Championships for the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998 and 2005 prior to the team’s arrival in Allentown in 2014.

Phantoms with the most AHL and NHL postseason games (entering the series vs. Hershey):
Adam Brooks – AHL 40 games (10-8-18) + NHL 2 games / Won 2018 Calder Cup with Toronto Marlies
Louie Belpedio – AHL 30 games (3-18-18) (Iowa, Laval, Lehigh Valley)
Garrett Wilson – AHL 18 games (0-5-5) + NHL 10 games (Florida, Pittsburgh) (1-1-2)
Cooper Marody – AHL 20 games (3-7-10) (Bakersfield, Lehigh Valley)
Evan Polei – AHL 20 games (3-1-4) (Bakersfield, Manitoba, Lehigh Valley)
Rhett Gardner – AHL 12 games (5-5-10) (Texas, Lehigh Valley)
Victor Mete – NHL 10 games (0-2-2) (Montreal 2020) + AHL 2 games (0-1-1)
Cal Petersen – AHL 8 games + NHL 1 game (Los Angeles)
Helge Grans – AHL 7 games (Ontario)

Previous Hershey vs. Phantoms Playoff Series
2017 – Hershey Bears 3 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 (Round 1)
2009 – Hershey Bears 4 – Philadelphia Phantoms 0 (Round 1)
2000 – Hershey Bears 3 – Philadelphia Phantoms 2 (Round 1)
1998 – Philadelphia Phantoms 4 – Hershey Bears 0 (Round 2)
1997 – Hershey Bears 4 – Philadelphia Phantoms 3 (Round 2)

The Hartford Wolf Pack have advanced to the Atlantic Division Finals and will take on the winner of the Lehigh Valley vs. Hershey series. Hartford eliminated the Providence Bruins 3 games to 1 and capped it off a with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 4 at XL Center on a series-clinching goal for Jake Leschyshyn.
Hartford is the 5-seed in the division. The New York Rangers’ affiliate finished the regular season at 34-28-10. They rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win back-to-back games at the Charlotte Checkers in the first round before dispatching the 2-seed Providence Bruins in the division semis.

Game 4 – Saturday, May 11 (7:05) at Lehigh Valley
Game 5 – Sunday, May 12 (7:00) at Hershey

Hershey (53-14-5) is coming off an incredible season that rates as the very best in franchise history and the second-best ever in the AHL for a full season. Hershey’s .771 points percentage just barely fell short of the AHL record established 31 years ago by the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers who had a .775 mark. Still the 53-win campaign including 111 points was easily enough to take the AHL’s Kilpatrick Trophy for the regular season title.The Bears are striving to become the first team to win back-to-back Calder Cups since Hershey did it in 2009 and 2010. Last year, it was former Phantom Mike Vecchione who scored the first-ever Calder Cup Championship Game 7 overtime goal with his dramatic championship winner in Palm Springs, California against Coachella Valley.
Hershey gave up a paltry 2.1 goals per game on just 26 shots allowed to rate as the top defensive team in the AHL. Hunter Shepard (27-4-3, 1.76, .929) was incredible to win the Baz Bastien Award as the circuit’s top goaltender. He also won the 2023 Butterfield Trophy as Calder Cup Playoffs MVP and has started 22 consecutive playoff games.
Joe Snively (14-45-59) and Penn State product Alex Limoges (24-27-51) paced the offense along with Pierrick Dube and Ethen Frank who had 28 and 29 goals respectively. Washington sent several reinforcements to boost the Bears’ roster including captain Dylan McIlrath and fellow defenseman Hardy Haman Aktell, Lucas Johansen and Vincent Iorio as well as first-rounder forwards Hendrix Lapierre and Ivan Miroshnichenko.

Phantoms 2023-24 Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 19-37-56
Tanner Laczynski 17-27-44
Samu Tuomaala 15-28-43
Olle Lycksell 19-20-39
Emil Andrae 5-27-32

Bears 2023-24 Scoring Leaders
Joe Snively 14-45-59
Alex Limoges 24-27-51
Pierrick Dube 28-20-48
Ethen Frank 29-18-47
Mike Vecchione 17-21-38

Lehigh Valley Playoffs 5/15, 33.3% (vs. Hershey 2/6)
Regular Season
Lehigh Valley PP, 18.4% (15th)
Lehigh Valley Valley PK 79.8% (24th)
LV PP vs. HER 4/47, 8.5%

Hershey Playoffs 1/12, 8.3%
Hershey PP 20.1% (6th)
Hershey PK 87.7% (1st)
HER vs. LV PP 5/50, 10.0%

PHANTOMS vs. HERSHEY (Regular Season)
Lehigh Valley vs. Hershey = 4-6-2
Hershey vs. Lehigh Valley = 8-2-2

Oct. 28 – Loss – Lehigh Valley 0 at Hershey 4
Nov. 1 – OTL – Lehigh Valley 3 at Hershey 4 (OT)
Nov. 11 – Loss – Hershey 2 at Lehigh Valley 0
Nov. 12 – Win – Lehigh Valley 4 at Hershey 1
Dec. 30 – Loss – Hershey 4 at Lehigh Valley 0
Jan. 7 – OTL – Lehigh Valley 2 at Hershey 3 (OT)
Jan. 13 – Win – Hershey 3 at Lehigh Valley 4 (SO)
Jan. 31 – Loss – Hershey 4 at Lehigh Valley 2
Feb. 2 – Win – Hershey 1 at Lehigh Valley 4
Mar. 3 – Win – Hershey 0 at Lehigh Valley 1 (SO)
Apr. 2 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 0 at Hershey 1
Apr. 12 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 1 at Hershey 4

May 1 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 1 at Hershey 2
May 5 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 1 at Hershey 5
May 8 – WIN – Hershey 0 at Lehigh Valley 2

Lehigh Valley
Cooper Marody 2-4-6
Garrett Wilson 2-3-5
Olle Lycksell 2-2-4
Adam Ginning 1-3-4
Cal Petersen 2-4-1, 2.51, .903

Pierrick Dube 6-2-8
Joe Snively 1-6-7
Ivan Miroshnichenko 1-5-6
Chase Priskie 1-5-6
Clay Stevenson 4-2-1, 1.42, .948
Hunter Shepard 3-0-1, 1.71, .930

Lehigh Valley
Olle Lycksell 1-3-4
Louie Belpedio 0-4-4
Cooper Marody 0-4-4
Tanner Lacznyski 3-0-3
Emil Andrae 2-1-3
Bobby Brink 0-3-3
Cal Petersen 3-2-0, 2.21, .904

Ethen Frank 2-2-4
Hendrix Lapierre 2-1-3
Bogdan Trineyev 0-3-3
Henrik Rybinski 2-0-2
Chase Priskie 0-2-2
Joe Snively 0-2-2
Hunter Shepard 2-0, 1.36, .952

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Game 4 – Saturday, May 11 (7:05) at Lehigh Valley
Game 5 – Sunday, May 12 (7:00) at Hershey