PREVIEW: Phantoms at Islanders, Game #70

Friday, April 19, 7:05 p.m.
Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT
Lehigh Valley (30-30-9) vs. Bridgeport (24-38-8)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (30-30-9) are one point away from officially culminating their Push for the Playoffs presented by Provident Bank. Tonight, the Phantoms play their last away game of the regular season as they begin this final weekend in Bridgeport for a rematch against the Islanders.
Any standings point for the Phantoms in tonight’s game will clinch the final spot in the Atlantic Division in the Calder Cup Playoffs. If Lehigh Valley wins or even if the Phantoms take an overtime loss or shootout loss, then the Phantoms are IN. Lehigh Valley can also clinch if Springfield loses tonight at Providence.

Lehigh Valley is 3-2-0 against Bridgeport in a series that has seen all five matchups decided by one goal. The Phantoms are 2-0-0 in Bridgeport.
Tonight is Game 70 of the regular season. There are just three games left in the 2023-24 campaign before the Calder Cup Playoffs begin next week.


Louie Belpedio struck for the overtime winner after a great setup by Brendan Furry and “Los Fantasmas” trimmed their Magic Number to just one point in a 5-4 overtime win against the Bridgeport Islanders at PPL Center last Saturday. Tanner Laczynski had a pair of go-ahead goals including a conversion from the slot with just 5:28 left. But the resilient Islanders wouldn’t go away and tied the game with a 6-on-5 strike with just 35 seconds remaining by Brian Pinho.
Goaltender Alexei Kolosov shook off some rust and settled in nicely as the athletic and quick prospect made his North American debut in a 24-save performance. Kolosov did not allow any 5-on-5 goals in his first-career AHL game as Bridgeport scored twice on the power play, once on the penalty shot, and then at 6-on-5 at the end.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a beefed-up roster entering the final games of the season after the Philadelphia Flyers loaned forwards Bobby Brink and Olle Lycksell and defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, according to General Manager Daniel Briere.
Brink, 22, has played in 57 games with Philadelphia this season scoring 11-12-23 and also 11 games with Lehigh Valley in January and February scoring 6-5-11.
Lycksell, 24, is tops on the Phantoms in goals having scored 19-19-38 in 36 games with Lehigh Valley this season. He has also played 18 games with the Flyers scoring 1-4-5 including his first career NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.
Attard, 25, has scored 10-15-25 in 46 games with the Phantoms and also 0-2-2 in 12 games with Philadelphia.
Ginning, 24, has played in 56 games with the Phantoms this season scoring 2-11-13 and nine games with the Flyers in a stint that included his first NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have received six players from the Reading Royals of the ECHL who concluded their season on Saturday. Returning to the Phantoms are defensemen Mason Millman and Will Zmolek, forwards Matt Brown, Jacques Bouquot and Tyler Gratton, and goaltender Parker Gahagen.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a Magic Number of one point to clinch a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Phantoms can make it official this Friday with a win or standings point at Bridgeport OR via a loss by the Springfield Thunderbirds.
The first round is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 6 vs. 3 matchup in late April. But the Charlotte Checkers are in fourth-place and are still within range.
Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.

Goaltender Alexei Kolosov, 22, made his North American pro debut in Saturday’s game against Bridgeport and picked up the win with 24 saves in a 5-4 overtime triumph. Kolosov has joined the Phantoms from the Minsk Dinamo of the KHL where Philadelphia’s Round 3 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft was 22-21-3, 2.39, .907 with four shutouts for his hometown team in Minsk, Belarus. His resume also includes representing Belarus in international play, starting with his being named the top goaltender at the IIHF World Junior Championship Division I-A tournament in 2021.

Garrett Wilson has accumulated 210 penalty minutes this year and is in position to lead the AHL for a second consecutive season.
J-R Avon is tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland also has five. Avon has gone 5-for-7 in the shootout this season.
Emil Andrae has 15 power-play assists which is first among AHL rookie defensemen and is second among AHL rookies overall trailing only Brennan Othmann of Hartford who has 17.

Some players have comfortable leads to take top honors for the Phantoms this season while some races are still too close to call.
Olle Lycksell continues to lead the team with 19 goals but Cooper Marody is right on his tail with 18 goals and Tanner Laczynski is still within range at 16 goals.
Marody has practically locked up the title for most assists with his 36 helpers on the year giving him an eight-point cushion over Samu Tuomaala who has 28.
Marody also has a comfortable lead in overall scoring with 54 points putting him 11 ahead of Tuomaala who has 43.

It’s the final away game of the season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms travel to Connecticut to tangle with the Bridgeport Islanders (24-37-8). The B-Isles are in the cellar of the Atlantic Division and also dead last in the AHL having dropped four straight (0-2-2) including a 5-4 overtime decision in Allentown last Saturday.
The Phantoms are 2-0-0 in Bridgeport. Rick Kowalsky’s crew is led by second-rounder Ruslan Ishakov (18-32-50) who made his NHL with the New York Islanders this week. Matt Maggio (16-11-27) is a talented rookie fifth-rounder who racked up an OHL-leading 54 goals and 11 points last year with the Windsor Spitfires. Ever-feisty Cole Bardreau (10-12-22) is in his fifth season with the Islanders after spending five years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms where he was one of the team’s most popular players. Carsen Twarynski (4-4-8) joined Bridgeport in January after beginning the season in Austria. The former Philadelphia third-rounder in 2016 played parts of four seasons with the Phantoms and Flyers including 107 games with Lehigh Valley and 22 games for Philadelphia.
Bridgeport is last in the AHL at just 2.26 goals per game and the Isles are also at the bottom on the power play at just 13.8%.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 18-36-54
Samu Tuomaala 15-28-43
Tanner Laczynski 16-25-41
Olle Lycksell 19-19-38
Emil Andrae 5-27-32

Islanders Scoring Leaders
Ruslan Ishakov 18-32-50
Brian Pinho 9-24-33
Otto Koivula 9-21-30
Dennis Cholowski 7-22-29
Matthew Maggio 16-11-27

Lehigh Valley PP, 18.1% (19th)
Lehigh Valley Valley PK 79.4% (25th)
LV vs. BRI PP 3/13

Bridgeport PP 13.8% (32nd)
Bridgeport PK 83.6% (8th)
BRI vs. LV PP 2/9, 22.2%

Feb 10 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 2 at Bridgeport 1 (SO)
Mar 2 – LOSS – Bridgeport 2 at Lehigh Valley 1
Mar 10 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 at Bridgeport 3
Mar 23 – LOSS – Bridgeport 2 at Lehigh Valley 1
Apr 13 – OTW – Bridgeport 4 at Lehigh Valley 5 (OT)
Apr 19 – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport

Lehigh Valley
Rhett Gardner 2-2-4
Tanner Laczynski 2-2-4
Brendan Furry 0-4-4
Parker Gahagen 1-1-0, 1.41, .961
Cal Petersen 1-1-0, 2.55, .898

Karson Kuhlman 3-1-4
Ruslan Ishakov 1-2-3
Matt Maggio 1-3-4
Brian Pinoh 2-1-3
Jakub Skarek 1-0-1, 3.00, .913

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to PPL Center for a rivalry matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins next Saturday, April 20 and then play the season final on Sunday, April 21 at 3:05 p.m. against the Charlotte Checkers.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Saturday, April 13 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders

Friday, April 19 (7:00) at Bridgeport Islanders
Saturday, April 20 (7:05) vs. W-B/Scranton Penguins
Sunday, April 21 (3:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Our Valley, Our Home Day – End of Regular Season!