PREVIEW: Phantoms at Checkers, Game #27

Friday, December 21, 7:00 p.m.
Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
Lehigh Valley (11-11-4) vs. Charlotte (13-10-2)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to the scene of the crime for a rematch of last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs series. This is Lehigh Valley’s first visit to North Carolina since last April when the Checkers overcame a 1-0 series deficit to win the Best-of-3 series including a double-overtime decision in Game 2 when the Phantoms were on the verge of finishing the sweep.
Lehigh Valley and Charlotte will also meet on Friday at 6:00 p.m. in the last game before the Holiday Break.
The Phantoms defeated the Checkers in a pair of games at PPL Center in the past two weeks including a 4-1 win on December 9, when Zayde Wisdom brought 10,869 raining teddy bears onto the ice, and an overtime win on December 13 when Ronnie Attard sent the Phantoms fans home happy on a fantastic assist by Cooper Marody.

Cooper Marody (6th) staked “Los Fantasmas” to an early lead on Hockey Fiesta Night but Springfield goaltender Vadim Zherenko would shut down the Phantoms almost the entire rest of the way as the Thunderbirds posted a 4-2 victory at PPL Center last Saturday to finish Lehigh Valley’s five-game homestand. Former Washington Capital and Detroit Red Wing Jakub Vrana had a pair of assists for the T-Birds while Adam Gaudette scored his league-leading 15th goal of the season. J.R. Avon scored with just 20.1 seconds remaining when the result was already decided.

Dec 19 – Olle Lycksell (F) – Returned to Phantoms from Philadelphia
Dec 19 – Parker Gahagen (G) – Recalled to Phantoms from Reading Royals
Dec 19 – Rhett Gardner (F) – Recalled to Philadelphia
Dec 19 – Cal Petersen (G) – Recalled to Philadelphia
Dec 17 – Mason Millman (D) – Recalled to Phantoms from Reading Royals
Dec 15 – Louie Belpedio (D) – Return to Phantoms from Philadelphia


Lehigh Valley’s power play continues to thrive and is third in the AHL at 24.3%.  The Phantoms entered the week at first in the AHL but the Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars both had big games to jump ahead.
The Phantoms have scored a power-play goal in 13 of the last 14 games going 17-for-52 (32.7%) since November 12. Cooper Marody is one behind the AHL lead for most power-play points (3-10-13) while Olle Lycksell (6-6-12) and Samu Tuomaala (5-7-12) also have double-digit points.
Tanner Laczynski (3-5-8), Emil Andrae (2-6-8),  J.R. Avon (2-1-3) and Wade Allison (2-1-3) also have multiple power-play goals.

Philadelphia’s Round 2 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft is having a massive season in his first full pro campaign in North America. 20-year-old Samu Tuomaala appears to be gaining more and more confidence by the minute and has moved into a tie for the team in scoring along with Cooper Marody at 23 points apiece.  With power-play goals in consecutive games last week, Tuomaala now has five power-play tallies this season to move into a tie for the league lead among rookies and his 11 points on the power play is one off the league lead for rookies.
Overall, Tuomaala has scored 7-16-23 to rate third among AHL rookies in points and second in assists.


  • Samu Tuomaala has moved into a tie for the team scoring lead with Cooper Marody at 23 points apiece. Among AHL rookies, Tuomaala is 1st in power-play goals (5), third in points (23) and second in assists (16)
  • Marody scored 1-5-6 in three games last week. Mardoy leads the AHL with 13 points on the power play. Lycksell and Tuomaala are just one behind with 12 points each
  • The Phantoms are:
    7-3-3 when scoring first
    10-2-2 when scoring three or more goals
    9-1-0 when leading after two periods
    9-2-2 when allowing three goals or fewer

The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers is led by hard-shooting defenseman Lucas Carlsson (8-12-20) who scored the double-overtime goal in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Phantoms last year. Carlsson was also second-team All-AHL scoring 20-34-54 in 61 games finishing tied for first among blueliners in goals and second in points.
Rookie first-rounder Mackie Samoskevich (6-11-17) has been heating up recently including a two-goal game at Hershey on December 10 and a goal at Lehigh Valley on December 13. He scored a gigantic goal at PPL Center with his overtime winner for the University of Michigan against Penn State in the NCAA Regional Final in Allentown last March.
Former Phantom Gerry Mayhew (4-9-13) is in his second season with the Checkers after splitting time between the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2021-22. He scored nine goals in 24 games in his time with Lehigh Valley.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Samu Tuomaala 7-16-23
Cooper Marody 6-17-23
Olle Lycksell 12-7-19
Tanner Laczynski 6-12-18
Ronnie Attard 5-9-14

Checkers Scoring Leaders
Lucas Carlsson 8-12-20
Mackie Samoskevich 6-11-17
Patrick Khodorenko 5-9-14
Gerry Mayhew 4-9-13
Justin Sourdif 5-7-12

Lehigh Valley PP, 24.3% (3rd)
Lehigh Valley PK 80.3% (18th)
Springfield PP 14.4% (28th)
Springfield PK 87.4% (2nd)

The Phantoms rematch with the Checkers on Friday at 6:00 p.m. in the final game before the AHL Holiday Break. There are no practices or games during the break
The Phantoms return to PPL Center for a three-game homestand beginning Wednesday, December 27 against the Utica Comets.

Thursday, December 21 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers
Friday, December 22 (6:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers

Wednesday, December 27 (7:05) – Utica Comets at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Pregame $2 Beers
Saturday, December 30 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Phantoms Knit Caps
Sunday, December 31 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – World’s Largest Puck Drop!