PREVIEW: Phantoms at Bears, Game #33

Sunday, January 6, 3:00 p.m.
GIANT Center, Hershey, PA
Lehigh Valley (14-13-5) at Hershey (28-7-0)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms conclude their brief two-game in-state roadie with a Sunday matinee at the first-place Hershey Bears, AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The Phantoms and Bears are meeting for the sixth time out of 12 this season.
The Phantoms had a thrilling 4-3 overtime win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the third to stun the fans in NEPA.
The defending Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears had a nine-game win streak ended last night with a 5-3 loss to Hartford but their 28-7-0 mark for a .800 points percentage is still tops in pro hockey.
Today is also Hershey’s annual Teddy Bear Toss. There will be a significant delay in the game after the Bears score their first goal.

Samu Tuomaala (9th, 10th) registered his first career multi-goal game including his second overtime goal of the season as the Phantoms prevailed in overtime at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-3. The Phantoms trailed 3-1 in the third period during the team’s first game of 2024 before back-to-back goals by Tuomaala and Ronnie Attard evened the score. Cooper Marody (9th) also scored in the first period. Louie Belpedio had strong assists on both goals by Tuomaala.

The Philadelphia Flyers have loaned forward Rhett Gardner to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms ahead of Sunday’s game in Chocolate Town. Gardner, 27, was recalled to Philadelphia on December 19 and played one game with the Flyers on his stint with the big club. He has scored 3-1-4 in 21 games with the Phantoms this season.
Gardner has played in 40 career NHL games, all with Dallas, scoring 1-1-2. He has also played in 223 career games in the AHL, mostly with Texas, scoring 33-56-89.

Samu Tuomaala etched his name in the Lehigh Valley record books with his second overtime goal of the season. The 20-year-old right wing becomes the first-ever Lehigh Valley forward to register two overtime goals in the same season. Four other Lehigh Valley Phantoms players have accomplished the feat but all were defensemen (Louie Belpedio, Andy Welinski, T.J. Brennan, Brandon Manning).
The second-round pick of the Flyers in 2021 who had his first-career multi-goal game (in North America) is second on the Phantoms in points having scored 10-17-27 this season. Tuomaala is fourth among AHL rookies in points and is tied for first among Eastern Conference rookies with Joshua Roy of Laval. Speedy Samu is also for third in AHL Rookie assists and sixth in rookie goals and is also tied with Roy for most rookie assists and rookie goals among Eastern Conference players.

Emil Andrae scored 2-9-11 in the month of December in 11 games. That rates him second in scoring for the month among AHL rookie defensemen trailing only Brandt Clarke of Ontario. Andrae placed sixth overall among AHL defensemen for December scoring and was fourth in assists.

Wade Allison has been shooting the puck more and the results are paying off. Allison led the Phantoms in shots on goal in December with 43 attempts leading to five goals. He was eighth in the AHL for most shots in December and was tied for second among forwards in the Eastern Conference trailing only Alex Nylander of WBS while he was even with Pierrick Dube of Hershey.
Allison is second on the Phantoms this season with 75 shots on goal trailing Olle Lycksell who has 95 shots.

Cooper Marody 3-9-12
Emil Andrae 2-9-11
Ronnie Attard 2-7-9
Samu Tuomaala 4-4-8
Wade Allison 5-1-6

Most points for the Phantoms since January 1, 2023
Cooper Marody 19-41-60 (64 games)
Olle Lycksell 23-29-52 (63 games)
Garrett Wilson 19-27-46 (65 games)
Elliot Desnoyers 16-23-49 (65 games)
Ronnie Attard 13-24-37 (69 games)

First-place Hershey (28-7-0) had a nine-game with streak ended last night with a 5-3 loss to second-place Hartford. The Bears have an .800 points percentage which is tops in pro hockey. Clay Stevenson (13-5-0, 1.79, .934) has been stellar and rates as the top goaltender in the league. in GAA and save percentage. Three of hisAHL-leading five shutouts this season have come against Lehigh Valley. 31-year-old veteran Mike Sgarbossa (6-26-32) is second in the AHL in assists while free-agent pickup from France, Pierrick Dube, is tied for the goal-scoring lead with 19 lamplighters including four against the Phantoms. Ethen Frank (14-13-27) is picking up where he left off in his AHL All-Rookie team season when he scored 30 goals. Hershey’s defense is tough to crack as the Bears lead the AHL with just 2.11 goals allowed per game and 26.1 shots allowed per contest.
Lehigh Valley is 1-3-1 against Hershey but won 4-1 the last time the Phantoms visited Chocolate Town on November 12.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 9-20-29
Samu Tuomaala 10-17-27
Tanner Laczynski 8-15-23
Olle Lycksell 12-10-22
Ronnie Attard 6-11-17

Bears Scoring Leaders
Mike Sgarbossa 6-26-32
Ethen Frank 14-13-27
Alex Limoges 9-18-27
Pierrick Dube 19-6-25
Joe Snively 8-17-25

Lehigh Valley PP, 22.3% (5th)
Lehigh Valley PK 80.6% (17th)
Hershey PP 23.3% (4th)
Hershey PK 86.4% (4th)

LV vs. HER PP, 2/18, 11.1%
HER vs. LV PP, 1/18, 5.6%

Series Leaders:
Lehigh Valley
Garrett Wilson 1-3-4
Cooper Marody 1-2-3
J-R Avon 2-0-2
Cal Petersen 0-2-0, 3.52, .844

Pierrick Dube 4-0-4
Logan Day 1-3-4
Bogdan Trineyev 1-2-3
Matt Strome 2-0-2
Mike Vecchione 2-0-2
Clay Stevenson 3-1, 1.00, .964, 3 SHO

Oct 28 – Hershey 4 – Lehigh Valley 0
Nov 1 – Hershey 4 – Lehigh Valley 3 (OT)
Nov 11 – Hershey 2 – Lehigh Valley 0
Nov 12 – Lehigh Valley 4 – Hershey 1
Dec 30 – Hershey 4 – Lehigh Valley 0
Jan 7 – at Hershey
Jan 13 – at Lehigh Valley
Jan 31 – at Lehigh Valley
Feb 2 – at Lehigh Valleya
Mar 3 – at Lehigh Valley
Apr 2 – at Hershey
Apr 12 – at Hershey

The Phantoms Ring in 2024 with a pair of home games at PPL Center on Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 13 against the Hartford Wolf Pack and Hershey Bears.
2-for-$24 ticket specials are available for the first home games of 2024.

Sunday, January 7 (3:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hershey Bears

Friday, January 12 (7:05) – Hartford Wolf Pack at Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, January 13 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Valley Youth House Night presented by Air Products

Wednesday, January 17 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Rochester Americans
Friday, January 19 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Cleveland Monsters
Saturday, January 20 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Cleveland Monsters