PREVIEW: Phantoms at Crunch, Game #62

Friday, March 29, 7:00 p.m.
Oncenter War Memorial
Lehigh Valley (27-26-8) at Syracuse Crunch (36-21-6)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-26-8) return to action and continue their Push for the Playoffs as they open a three-game road trip with a Friday night battle at the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate of the Tampa ay Lightning.
The Phantoms occupy the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and hold a one-point lead over the Springfield Thunderbirds with just 11 games remaining while Lehigh Valley also has one game-in-hand.
The Crunch have taken over first place in the North Division rushing past slumping Cleveland in the process.
Syracuse won at PPL Center 2-1 on February 17 in a well-played contest.
Tonight is the 62nd game of the season. There are just 11 games remaining in the regular season
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 20 points which is determined by the pints acquired by the Phantoms as well as points missed or not acquired by Springfield.

Adam Brooks struck yet again but the Penguins broke a 1-1 deadlock in the third period with a pair of goals including the winner in the opening minute of the frame by veteran defenseman Xavier Ouellet as the Baby Pens emerged with a 3-1 triumph in Allentown. Joel Blomqvist outdueled Parker Gahagen in the goaltending matchup on Kids Takeover Day with the Phantoms.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have pushed ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with just 11 games remaining.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 20 points.
The top six teams in the Atlantic qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first round is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the Charlotte Checkers in a 6 vs. 3 matchup in late April but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are only one point behind Charlotte  for the 3 spot. Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.
Scoreboard watching fans can also root for the Hartford Wolf Pack this evening who are hosting the Springfield Thunderbirds. A Lehigh Valley win combined with a Springfield loss in regulation would trim Lehigh Valley’s MAgic Number to 16 points.

Adam Brooks is on a four-game goal streak and five-game point streak. Both streaks are the longest of his career and his goal streak is the longest for any Phantoms player this season. The 27-year-old from Winnipeg has averaged two points per game over the course of his point streak scoring 5-5-10 in his last five games. From March 15 through March 20 he had a hand in eight consecutive Phantoms goals with either a point or an assist which included a Lehigh Valley record-tying five-point game on March 16 at the Providence Bruins.

Cal Petersen has been tremendous since his return to the Phantoms on February 29 from the Philadelphia Flyers. The 29-year-old veteran goaltender has a 1.99 GAA since March 1 in eight starts. Petersen has gone 3-4-1 with a .911 save percentage in that stretch.

Newly signed forwards Jacques Bouquot and Tyler Gratton have re-joined the Phantoms after making their pro debuts with the Reading Royals in the ECHL last week.
Bouquot, 24, began his pro career with a two-assist performance and had three assists in three games. The lefty-shooting center from South Windsor, CT completed his NCAA career at Penn State following four seasons with the University of Vermont.
Gratton, 24, is a Pottstown native out of Owen J. Roberts High School who scored a goal in his pro debut and recorded one goal and one assist in his three games with the Royals. Gratton played his graduate-year season at Arizona State following four years with Penn State.

AHL Scoring Leaders from March 15 through March 26
Adam Brooks, LV, 5-5-10
Aatu Raty, Abbotsford, 5-5-10
Tanner Laczynski, LV, 5-4-9
Aatu Raty, Abbotsford, 3-6-9

AHL Power Play Assists
2nd (Tied) – Cooper Marody, 19

AHL Power Play Points
3rd (Tied) – Cooper Marody, 24

AHL Rookie Scoring
10th (Tied) Samu Tuomaala, 14-27-41

AHL Rookie Power-Play Points
2nd (Tied) Samu Tuomaala, 7-13-20

AHL Rookie Power-Play Assists
2nd Emil Andrae, 15 (also 1st among defensemen)

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 18-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 18-6-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 13-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 18-7-8
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-3

Syracuse (36-20-6) has moved into sole possession of first place in the North Division past slumping Cleveland. The AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning won at PPL Center 2-1 on February 17 on Cole Koepke’s tie-breaking strike in the third period while goaltender Hugo Alnefelt racked up 25 saves in holding off Lehigh Valley’s comeback efforts.
Lehigh Valley is 1-8 all-time at Syracuse and has also dropped seven straight in the overall series. The last time the Phantoms won at Syracuse was March 2, 2016 when Anthony Stolarz set a team record with 51 saves on 53 shots in a 3-2 shootout win. Taylor Leier scored the shootout winner while Danick Martel and Cole Bardreau scored in regulation. Tye McGinn tied the game for Syracuse with 30 seconds left but Stolarz made five incredible saves in overtime.
The last time Lehigh Valley defeated Syracuse in the series was January 15, 2020 in a wild 5-4 victory at PPL Center led by Morgan Frost’s two-goal performance while Greg Carey added a pivotal power-play goal in the third period.
Gage Goncalves (10-40-50) is 4th in the AHL in assists and also leads the AHL with 20 power-play assists (ahead of Cooper Marody who has 19). Felix Robert (13-19-32) is in his second season with the Crunch following two years with W-B/Scranton. Hugo Alnefelt (14-7-4, 2.39, .906) has found his form and is seventh in the AHL and fourth in the conference in goals-against average.
The well-traveled Jordy Bellerive is now with his third team this season after he was acquired in a trade by Syracuse two weeks ago where he has played in four games. Bellerive played in 28 games with the Phantoms this season scoring 3-1-4 before he was traded to San Jose in January. With the Barracuda, Bellerive played in 18 games scoring 2-5-7.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 15-32-47
Samu Tuomaala 14-27-41
x – Olle Lycksell 19-19-38
Tanner Laczynski 13-22-35
Emil Andrae 4-26-30
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Crunch Scoring Leaders
Gage Goncalves 10-40-50
Cole Koepke 17-19-36
Felix Robert 13-19-32
x – Jack Thompson 5-27-32
Maxim Groshev 10-19-29

Lehigh Valley PP, 19.9% (9th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 80.7% (22nd)
Syracuse PP 18.7% (16th) – Syracuse PK 83.8% (6th)

The Phantoms continue the road swing with a Saturday evening rivalry clash at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 6:05 p.m. Lehigh Valley heads over to Chocolatetown on Tuesday to take on the first-place Hershey Bears.

Lehigh Valley’s next home games are Friday, April 5 against the Providence Bruins on Berks $1 Hot Dog Night and Saturday, April 6 against the Cleveland Monsters on Star Wars Night.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE


Friday, March 29 (7:00) at Syracuse Crunch
Saturday, March 30 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Tuesday, April 2 (7:00) at Hershey Bears

Friday, April 5 (7:05) vs. Providence Bruins – Berks $1 Hot Dog Night
Saturday, April 6 (7:05) vs. Cleveland Monsters – Star Wars Night