PREVIEW: Phantoms at Penguins, Game #38

Friday, January 20, 2023 at 7:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (18-14-5) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (18-12-5)
Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms wrap up a three-game road swing as they renew their rivalry with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 5 of 12 in the season series. Lehigh Valley (18-14-5) has points in six of the last seven games (4-1-2) to open calendar year 2023 and is coming off a two-game sweep at the Cleveland Monsters.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (18-12-5) lost at home to Syracuse on Wednesday 3-2.
The Phantoms and Penguins are tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division at 41 points although the Penguins have two games in hand. The winner of tonight’s game would move ahead of third-place Charlotte who is idle tonight.

Wednesday, January 178, 2023
Phantoms 2 – Monsters 1 (OT)
Louie Belpedio did it again! And he began the second half of the season just like he did the first half of the year, by scoring an overtime winner. Belpedio knocked in his fourth goal of the season and second goal of the series at Cleveland on a centering pass from Artem Anisimov as the Phantoms won 2-1 over the Monsters. Olle Lyckell (7th) also struck for a goal on a power-play conversion in the second period that tied the game at 1-1. Felix Sandstrom recorded 20 saves for his third game allowing just one goal.

Goaltender Sam Ersson is back with the Phantoms after a successful and special stretch with the Philadelphia Flyers over the past month. Ersson made his NHL debut (December 23 at Carolina), posted his first NHL win (December 29 at San Jose) and his first career shutout (January 9 at Buffalo) while posting a perfect 5-0-0 record with a 2.37 GAA and .918 save percentage. Wth the Phantoms this season, Ersson has gone 9-8-1, 2.72, .910 in 18 games.

Felix Sandstrom concluded his two-week conditioning loan with the Phantoms with another success in the form of a 2-1 overtime win at the Cleveland Monsters on Wednesday. Sandstrom started all seven games for Lehigh Valley in his 14-day stretch down from Philadelphia and went 4-1-2, 2.39, .911 including three games allowing just a single goal. On Tuesday, January 17 at Cleveland, Sandstrom came just 19.8 seconds away from recording his third career shutout in the AHL. His best game was perhaps January 11 at Bridgeport with 35 saves in a 3-1 win that also saw him turn aside 18 consecutive denials in the third period in preserving the lead.

The Phantoms are 4-3 in overtimes this year with all three of their wins coming on the road and all three of the extra-period losses coming at home. Louie Belpedio, Cam York, Artem Anisimov and then Louie Belpedio again have scored OT winners for the Phantoms. The Phantoms have posted single overtime road wins in each month of the season so far: Belpedio at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on October 15, York at Laval on November 5, Anisimov at Providence on December 17, and Belpedio at Cleveland on January 18.

– Lehigh Valley has points in six of the last seven games (4-1-2) including a two-game series sweep at the Cleveland Monsters. Lehigh Valley is 4-0-1 on the road in January.
– The Phantoms’ penalty kill thrived at Cleveland this week and has killed off 13 straight opposing power play in the last three games.
– Lehigh Valley’s power play is seventh in the AHL at 22.8%.
– The Phantoms are….
13-4-4 when scoring 3 or more goals
15-1-1 when allowing 2 goals or fewer
13-3-5 in one-goal games
10-1-5 when scoring the first goal
11-0-4 when leading after two periods
4-3 in overtime and 2-2 in shootouts

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (18-12-5) is tied for fourth-place in the Atlantic Division with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms following a 3-2 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski was recalled to Pittsburgh and Taylor Gauthier left Saturday’s game at Charlotte with an injury allowing Filip Lindberg (6-5-1, 2.53, .912) to step into the #1 spot. The Phantoms are 1-2-1 against the Penguins entering Game 5 out of 12 in the season series. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won the last meeting 4-1 on New Year’s Eve at PPL Center. Valtteri Puustinen (14-16-30) has scored three of his 14 goals against Lehigh Valley. Former Buffalo first-rounder Alex Nylander (15-15-30) is tied for the team scoring lead. The Penguins have the second-best defense in the conference (behind Hershey) allowing just 2.6 goals per contest. All four meetings between the Phantoms and Penguins have been low-scoring affairs with five combined goals or fewer.
Lehigh Valley won at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the first game of the season on October 15 with Louie Belpedio striking for the winner with just 1.4 seconds left in overtime in a 3-2 decision.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Olle Lycksell 7-19-26
Tyson Foerster 11-13-24
Elliot Desnoyers 13-8-21
Artem Anisimov 12-8-20
Garrett Wilson 5-11-16
Jackson Cates 7-7-14
Ronnie Attard 5-9-14

Cleveland Scoring Leaders
Alex Nylanders 15-15-30
Valtteri Puustinen 14-16-30
Filip Hallander 8-17-25
Drake Caggiula 8-17-25
x Drew O’Connor 8-14-22

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Lehigh Valley Power Play – 22.8%, 7th
Lehigh Valley Penalty Kill – 73.8%, 31st
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Power Play – 17.1%, 26th
Cleveland Penalty Kill – 81.7%, 14th

The Phantoms return to PPL Center Wednesday, January 25 against the Hershey Bears in the opener of a season-long five-game homestand.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, January 20 (7:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Sunday, January 22 (11:00 a.m.) Outdoor Practice presented by Velaspan at Spring Mountain Adventures
Wednesday, January 25 (7:05) vs. HERSHEY BEARS
Friday, January 27 (7:05) vs. WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS
Saturday, January 28 (7:05) vs. HERSHEY BEARS

Sunday, January 22 (11:00 a.m.) – Phantoms Outdoor Practice presented by Velaspan at Spring Mountain in Schwenksville. Free to the public!

Wednesday, January 25 (7:05) vs. Hershey Bears – Pregame Happy Hour. $2 Miller Lites and Yuenglings available until Puck Drop.

Friday, January 27 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Flyers Night with Lou Nolan and GRITTY!!!

Saturday, January 28 (7:05) vs. Hershey Bears – meLVin Youth Winter Hats presented by Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital (first 2,000 kids age 12 and younger)






Broadcast coverage of all Phantoms games with Bob Rotruck is available on the Phantoms 365 app and on Real Oldies 1470-AM in Allentown. Also available on the Listen Live button at
Fans can also watch the games on or can listen on their Smart Speakers at: “Play Phantoms Radio 24/7.”