PREVIEW: Phantoms at Penguins, Game #32

Saturday, January 6, 6:05 p.m.
Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre Twp., PA
Lehigh Valley (13-13-5) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (17-12-3)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms trek to snowy northeast Pennsylvania for a rivalry matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the team’s first game of 2024. Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are meeting for the first time this season although the Keystone State foes did play once in the preseason.
The Phantoms were 7-4-1 against the Penguins in the 2022-23 season and that included a 6-2-0 record since January in the 2023 portion.

Lehigh Valley battled back after a slow start against the Charlotte Checkers but the early deficit was too much to overcome as Charlotte took a 5-2 decision on New Year’s Eve at PPL Center.
The Phantoms were down 4-0 early in the second period with Charlotte captain Zac Dalpe leading the way with a pair of goals. Lehigh Valley battled back with goals by Louie Belpedio (2nd) and Jacob Gaucher (2nd) and then thought it was a one-goal game with just over two minutes left when a goal was waived off. Mackie Samoskevich finished the night for the Checkers with an empty-netter as Charlotte picked up his first regulation win against Lehigh Valley in five tries.

The Philadelphia Flyers have reassigned forward Alexis Gendron to the QMJHL where he will play with Drummondville following a trade with Gatineau for his rights. The 20-year-old Gendron has five goals and two assists in 17 games with the Phantoms this season.

Lehigh Valley’s power play has gone into a bit of a mini-slump at 0-for-10 since returning from the Holiday Break. That is the team’s first three-game drought without a power-play goal and comes immediately after a stretch of scoring a power-play goal in 15 of the previous 16 games going 18-for-56 (32.1%) from November 12 through December 22. The Phantoms rate fifth in the AHL at 22.7% and the team’s road power play is second in the AHL at 27.5%.
Cooper Marody (3-11-14) was briefly leading the AHL in power-play points and still leads the Phantoms. Samu Tuomaala (5-8-13) is tied for the second-most power-play goals for AHL rookies.
Other power-play leaders for Lehigh Valley include Olle Lycksell (6-6-12), Tanner Laczynski (4-6-10),
Emil Andrae (2-7-9),  J.R. Avon (3-1-4) and Wade Allison (2-1-3).

Emil Andrae scored 2-9-11 in the month of December in 11 games. That rates him second in scoring for the month among AHL rookie defensemen trailing only Brandt Clarke of Ontario. Andrae placed sixth overall among AHL defensemen for December scoring and was fourth in assists.

Wade Allison has been shooting the puck more and the results are paying off. Allison led the Phantoms in shots on goal in December with 43 attempts leading to five goals. He was eighth in the AHL for most shots in December and was tied for second among forwards in the Eastern Conference trailing only Alex Nylander of WBS while he was even with Pierrick Dube of Hershey.
Allison is second on the Phantoms this season with 75 shots on goal trailing Olle Lycksell who has 95 shots.

Cooper Marody 3-9-12
Emil Andrae 2-9-11
Ronnie Attard 2-7-9
Samu Tuomaala 4-4-8
Wade Allison 5-1-6

Most points for the Phantoms since January 1, 2023
Cooper Marody 19-41-60 (64 games)
Olle Lycksell 23-29-52 (63 games)
Garrett Wilson 19-27-46 (65 games)
Elliot Desnoyers 16-23-49 (65 games)
Ronnie Attard 13-24-37 (69 games)

The Phantoms trek to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (17-12-3) to meet the Penguins for the first time this season. Lehigh Valley was 7-4-1 against the Penguins last season including 6-2-0 since January.
WBS stands in fourth place in the division after a 2-1 win at Springfield last night on goals by Vinnie Hinostroza and Peter Abbadonato with goaltender Joel Blomqvist racking up 35 saves.
Last week, the Penguins finished 2023 by splitting a pair of games with the Checkers last weekend taking a 4-1 win before dropping a 6-2 decision in the finale.
Rem Pitlick (8-16-24) leads the Baby Pens after coming over from Montreal. The University of Minnesota product has played in 123 NHL games with Nashville, Minnesota and Montreal. Defenseman Ty Smith (4-18-22), was a New Jersey Devils first-rounder in 2018 and was NHL All-Rookie Team in 2020-21. Alex Nylander (11-8-19) is a former Buffalo first-rounder who has played in five games with Pittsburgh this season. Second-rounder Joel Blomqvist (10-4-2, 2.23, .919) has a streak of four straight games allowing just one goal. The Round 2 pick in 2020 arrived from Finland has thrived in his rookie season.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 8-19-27
Samu Tuomaala 8-17-25
Tanner Laczynski 8-15-23
Olle Lycksell 12-9-21
Garrett Wilson 6-10-16
Ronnie Attard 5-11-16

Penguins Scoring Leaders
Rem Pitlick 8-16-24
Ty Smith 4-18-22
Alex Nylander 11-8-19
Xavier Ouellet 1-12-13
Sam Houde 4-8-12

Lehigh Valley PP, 22.7% (5th)
Lehigh Valley PK 80.6% (17th)
WBS Penguins PP 19.2% (14th)
WBS Penguins PK 84.1% (9th)

The Pennsylvania road-swing continues as the Phantoms have a Sunday afternoon game at the first-place Hershey Bears at 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 6 (6:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Sunday, January 7 (3:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hershey Bears

Friday, January 12 (7:05) – Hartford Wolf Pack at Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, January 13 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Valley Youth House Night presented by Air Products