PREVIEW: Phantoms at Comets, Game #50

Friday, March 1, 7:05 p.m.
Adirondack Bank Center, Utica, NY
Lehigh Valley (22-20-7) at Utica (21-22-7)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (22-19-7) conclude a four-game road swing with a Friday night clash at the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. Lehigh Valley has won four of its last six games with all four of  the wins coming in overtime or shootout.
Tonight is the 50th game of the season. There are 23 games remaining in the 2023-24 campaign.

The Phantoms couldn’t repeat the comeback performances of the previous two games as they dropped a Sunday matinee contest at the Charlotte Checkers 6-3. Ethan Samson cored his first career pro goal while Adam Brooks and Brendan Furry also tallied for the Phantoms. But former Phantom Gerry Mayhew struck for a pair of power-play conversions and Cam Morrisson also scored twice. Lehigh Valley split its two-game series in North Carolina. The Phantoms only had 13 shots on goal for the game representing a team record for fewest shots since the team arrived in Allentown in 2014. The franchise record remains 12 shots held by the Philadelphia Phantoms in a March 2001 game at the St. John’s Maple Leafs.

Four Phantoms have received recalls to the Philadelphia Flyers in the last week.
Olle Lycksell joined the Phantoms after one game back with the team on Saturday in which he scored two goals with two assists at Charlotte. Lycksel leads the Phantoms with 18 goals.
Bobby Brink returns to the Flyers after scoring 5-6-11 in 11 games with the Phantoms since arriving on January 26. Brink scored the overtime winner on Saturday at Charlotte.
Ronnie Attard received his first call-up to the Flyers this season. The righty-shooting defenseman has scored 10-15-25 with Lehigh Valley and has played in 16 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers previously including one game last year and 15 games at the end of the 2022-23 season.
Goaltender Felix Sandstrom has a big opportunity with the Flyers were he has yet to play this season. Sandstrom has gone 11-6-2, 3.23, .882 with Lehigh Valley this season. On his career with the Flyers he is 3-16-4, 3.62, .887.

Cal Petersen has been returned to the Phantoms where he is 5-8-2, 3.26, .890. He had been up with Philadelphia since January 20 and has played in five games with the Flyers this season.
Alex Kile rejoins the Phantoms from the Maine Mariners of the ECHL where he is second in the league in points and third in goals scoring 28-31-49 in just 38 games played. The 29-year-old winger has played in 49 career games with the Phantoms over the past three seasons scoring 6-5-11.

Never count out the Phantoms!
Lehigh Valley has won six times when trailing at the second intermission which is tied for most comeback wins in the AHL with Grand Rapids. Additionally, the Phantoms have points in 10 games when trailing after two periods including four losses in overtime or shootout. That is second-highest in the AHL.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 14-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 15-4-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 12-1-1
– One-Goal Games: 15-4-7
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 3-2

Inconsistent Utica (21-22-7) is hard to figure. In a recent stretch, the Comets racked up the goals with a 7-3 win at Rochester and a 5-2 triumph at Syracuse. But they laid an egg in Belleville their last time out on Wednesday in a 3-0 setback. Utica is trying to climb out of the cellar of the North but is seven points back of fifth-place Rochester for the final postseason spot in the division.
Graeme Clarke (19-18-37) paces Kevin Dineen’s crew. Former Phantoms Kyle Criscuolo (11-19-30) and Max Willman (11-8-19) are also among the team scoring leaders. Willman has played 13 games with the New Jersey Devils in his first year outside the Flyers organization. Willman played in parts of four seasons for the Phantoms and Flyers encompassing 142 games with Lehigh Valley where he scored 32-35-71 plus 50 games for Philadelphia scoring 4-2-6.
In fact, there are five former Phantoms on the Utica Comets including Max Willman, Kyle Criscuolo, Ryan Fitzgerald, Tyler Wotherspoon and Colin Felix. Additionally, recent acquired Nolan Stevens is the son of former Philadelphia Phantoms captain and head coach John Stevens (who is also a former Flyers head coach and won a Stanley Cup last year as an assistant coach with the Vegas Golden Knights).

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 13-30-43
Samu Tuomaala 13-24-37
x – Olle Lycksell 18-14-32
Emil Andrae 4-23-27
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Comets Scoring Leaders
Graeme Clarke 19-18-37
Ryan Schmelzer 11-23-34
Xavier Parent 10-23-33
Kyle Criscuolo 11-19-30
Justin Dowling 9-17-26

Lehigh Valley PP, 21.2% (5th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 79.7% (25th)
Utica PP 15.6% (29th) – Utica PK 84.1% (8th)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Saturday, March 2 against the Bridgeport Islanders on Hockey is for Everyone Night and then host the Hershey Bears on Sunday, March 3 at 3:05 p.m. on meLVin’s Birthday!

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, March 1 (7:05) – Phantoms at Utica Comets
Saturday, March 2 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders—Hockey is for Everyone, SNHL ft. DJ Brad Scott
Sunday, March 3 (3:05) vs. Hershey Bears—meLVin’s Birthday, Post-game skate with players presented by NJM Insurance, Faith Night

Friday, March 8 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Berks Dollar Dog Night. Can we break the hot dog record?!