PREVIEW: Phantoms at Islanders, Game #45

Saturday, February 10, 7:05 p.m.
Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT
Lehigh Valley (19-18-7) at Bridgeport (13-26-5)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (19-18-7) play their first away game in 21 days as they travel to Bridgeport, CT to take on the Islanders. It is the team’s first road contest since January 20 at Cleveland. Tonight is also the first meeting of the season between the Atlantic Division foes and is Game 1 out of 6 in the season series.
There are 28 games remaining in the regular season over the next two-and-a-half months.

You can’t hold down Matt Brown! The Phantoms returned from the All-Star Break in style with an exciting 5-4 shootout win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night. Matt Brown scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout in his first game back with the Phantoms in two months and just his fifth game with Lehigh Valley this season. Wade Allison (10), Rhett Gardner (5), Brendan Furry (3), and J-R Avon (9) all scored for the Phantoms who built a 4-2 lead early in the second period when they struck for a trifecta of goals in under two minutes. Avon also tallied in the first round of the shootout to improve his season mark to 3-for-4 in the skills competition.

Rookie forward Samu Tuomaala showcased his skills and abilities at the AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose, California during the two-day event. During the AHL Skills Competition on Sunday, Tuomaala cranked up a 97.3 mph blast in the hardest shot contest and also hit two of four targets in the accuracy contest. During Monday’s AHL All-Star Classic series of round-robin 3-on-3 games between the divisions, Tuomaala scored one goal with three assists for four points in helping the Atlantic Division advance to the Championship Game before eventually bowing to the Pacific Division.

February 6 – Alex Kile (F) returned on loan to Maine Mariners (ECHL)
February 8 – Matt Brown (F) recalled to Phantoms from Reading Royals (ECHL)
February 9 – Zayde Wisdom (F) reassigned by Flyers to Lehigh Valley from Reading

Rookie forward Matt Brown has spent most of the season with the Reading Royals of the ECHL where he represented the team at the ECHL All-Star Game and has averaged over a point-per-game this season scoring 13-26-39 in just 36 games. Brown was recalled to Lehigh Valley for his first game with the Phantoms in exactly two months and just his fifth game of the season. Ian Laperriere instilled the crafty 24-year-old winger on his team’s second line looking to spark his offense and his decision paid off as Brown didn’t attempt a traditional dangle on his fourth-round shootout attempt and instead rifled the winning blast from the slot. The Wood Bridge, NJ native who played collegiately at Boston University was First-Team Hockey East and a Second-Team All-American in 2022-23 while helping the Boston Terriers to their first Frozen Four appearance since 2015.


  • Samu Tuomaala (13-22-35) rates second among AHL rookies in points and third in assists. He also is tops among active Phantoms players in goals. Olle Lycksell has 16 goals but is currently on the Philadelphia Flyers roster.
  • Cooper Marody (10-27-37) is Lehigh Valley’s leading point producer and is fifth in the conference in assists. On the power play, Marody has scored 3-16-19 and rates tied for second in the AHL in PP assists.
  • Emil Andrae (4-20-24) is tied for second among AHL rookie defensemen in assists and is fourth in points.  On the power play, Andrae also leads all rookie defensemen in power-play points and assists as he has scored 3-10-13 on the man-advantage.
  • The Phantoms second in the league with 13 overtime games trailing only Rochester who has played in 14 overtime contests.
  • The Phantoms record when:
    – Score 4 or more goals: 13-0-2
    – Allow 3 or fewer goals: 13-3-3
    – Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
    – Lead After 2nd period: 12-1-1
    – One-Goal Games: 12-3-7
    – Overtime: 4-5 / Shootout: 2-2

Last-place Bridgeport (13-26-5) is showing improved play including a 2-1-0 mark last week but dropped a 4-1 decision at Hartford on Friday in the team’s return from the All-Star Break. This is the first of six meetings this season between the Phantoms and B-Isles. Popular Phantoms alum Cole Bardreau scored 3-2-5 in three games last week to earn Howie’s Hockey Tape AHL Player of the Week Honors. That included a two-goal and one-assist performance last Friday in a 5-1 win vs. Springfield. The 30-year-old Bardreau is in his fifth season with Bridgeport after playing in parts of five seasons for the Phantoms where he scored 41-57-98 in 226 games. Bardreau rates 7th in games played and 10th in assists in Lehigh Valley history.
2018 second-rounder Ruslan Ishakov (13-21-34) paces the team’s scoring in his second season in the AHL. Otto Koivula (8-17-25) is in his sixth season with Bridgeport under new head coach Rick Kowalsky. Another former Phantom, Carsen Twarynski (2-0-2), recently returned from Europe to sign an AHL contract with Bridgeport three weeks ago. Twarynski played in parts of four full seasons with the Phantoms from 2018-21 totalling 107 games while scoring 18-20-38. Goaltender Jakub Skarek (4-17-4, 3.37, .884) has had a rough season.
The Islanders have the worst record in the league and their offense scores a league-worst 2.27 goals per game. Their 14.7% power play is last in the conference and 31st out of 32 in the AHL.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 10-27-37
Samu Tuomaala 13-22-35
x – Olle Lycksell 16-12-28
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
Emil Andrae 4-20-24
Ronnie Attard 9-15-24

Islanders Scoring Leaders
Ruslan Ishakov 13-21-34
Otto Koivula 8-17-25
Robin Salo 5-16-21
Dennis Cholowski 5-15-20
Kyle MacLean 6-13-19

Lehigh Valley PP, 21.2% (7th) / Lehigh Valley PK 80.4% (22nd)
Bridgeport PP 14.7% (31st) / Bridgeport PK 82.6% (13th) 

Feb 10 at BRI
Mar 2 at LV
Mar 10 at BRI
Mar 23 at LV
Apr 13 at LV
Apr 19 at BRI

The Phantoms have a week between games and then return to PPL Center next Saturday on meLVin Youth Jersey Night presented by Velaspan and Service Electric.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Saturday, February 10 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport

Saturday, February 17 (7:05) – Syracuse at Lehigh Valley

Wednesday, February 21 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Saturday, February 24 (4:00) – Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Sunday, February 25 (1:00) – Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Friday, March 1 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley at Utica