Sunday, November 20 at 3:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7-5-1) at Springfield Thunderbirds (6-6-3)
MassMutual Center, Springfield, MA
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms conclude a busy weekend on the road with a Sunday matinee at the Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. The Phantoms are coming off a weekend sweep of the first-place Providence Bruins and are riding a five-game win streak into today’s game. The Thunderbirds have just one win in their last six games.
Lehigh Valley defeated Springfield 2-1 at PPL Center on Friday, November 11
Tanner Laczynski was an integral part in all of the Phantoms’ scoring with a goal, assist and the shootout winner as the Phantoms prevailed at the Providence Bruins 3-2 on Saturday night. Lehigh Valley registered a season-high 46 shots on goal in the wildly exciting contest. It was just the second game back with the Phantoms for Laczynski who began the year with the Philadelphia Flyers. Jackson Cates scored his third of the season on an assist by Laczynski and Sam Ersson had 30 saves in the thriller including several point-blank and highlight-reel caliber denials.
It was the Phantoms’ first shootout contest of the season and Laczynski scored the lone goal for either side while Sam Ersson was a perfect 3-for-3 in thwarting the P-Bruins.
Lehigh Valley’s current five-game win streak is the team’s longest since January 11-18, 2020 when Lehigh Valley last won five in a row. The last time the Phantoms had a longer win streak was Oct 14-27, 2017 when Lehigh Valley won six straight.
Lehigh Valley’s record longest win streak (since becoming the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2014) was eight straight from November 2-18, 2016.
The Phantoms’ franchise record was a 17-game win streak for the Philadelphia Phantoms from October 22 – November 27, 2004. That was AHL record at the time but has since been broken by the Norfolk Admirals who had 28-game win in 2012
Sam Ersson has thrived as the team’s everyday goalie and now has a five-game win streak on the heels of picking up his first career pro win on November 5 at Laval. The Flyers’ fifth-round selection in 2018 has started the last seven consecutive games. During his win streak and in his last five games since November 5, Ersson has gone 5-0-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .940 save percentage allowing nine goals on 151 shots.
Ersson was limited to just five total games last season due to injury (and did not finish two of those due to injury) but has come into his second season in North America re-energized while benefitting from his regular schedule between the pipes. He excelled right from the start with 35 saves in the Flyers vs. Rangers Rookie Game at PPL Center on September 17 followed by an outstanding training camp with the Flyers in which he posted a .947 save percentage in the preseason.
TANN THE MAN –
Tanner Laczynski has received a ton of ice time in his return to the Phantoms after playing mostly in a fourth-line role in his 12 NHL games this season with Philadelphia. He is also a proud new Dad following the birth of his son, Leo Laczynski, in October. Tanner has centered a top line while also playing on the top power-play unit and as a top penalty kill pairing. In Saturday’s game, just his second back with the Phantoms, he scored a breakaway goal speeding away from the Providence defenders after a steal at the Phantoms line, recorded a nice assist on a goal for Jackson Cates, and also hit the post and had another shot that trickled behind the goalie but just missed going in. He led all players with eight shots on goal and easily could have had a hat trick in a dominating performance. Laczynski scored 7-10-17 in 28 games with the Phantoms last season after recovering from his second hip surgery. He didn’t join the Phantoms’ roster until February.
ABOUT THE T-BIRDS
The Springfield Thunderbirds (6-3-3) are the defending conference championships but have not been playing like champions of recent with only one win in their last six games. They dropped a 4-1 decision on home ice against the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday. Against Syracuse on Wednesday, the T-Birds racked up four power-play goals and had a late 4-1 lead before the Crunch rallied for three goals in the final nine minutes en route to a comeback 5-4 win in the shootout.
Martin Frk has only two goals this season after lighting it up for 40 tallies with the Ontario Reign last year. First-rounder Jake Neighbors has joined from St. Louis and has two assists. The Phantoms defeated the T-Birds on November 11 at PPL Center in a 2-1 decision with Cooper Marody scoring a goal and then assisting on Louie Belpedio’s game-winner in the third.
Springfield is allowing a league-worse 33.5 shots on goal per game.
– Isaac Ratcliffe scored two goals in a game on Friday accomplishing the feat for the second time in his career. He also had a pair of goals on April 3, 2022 at Bridgeport. It was the second two-goal performance of the season for the Phantoms along with Ronnie Attard’s double-lamplighter performance on October 23 vs. Cleveland.
– Elliot Desnoyers had a two-game goal streak. He began the season, and his career, by scoring ni the first three games of the season. Desnoyers leads the Phantoms with five goals.
– Nine out of 13 games this season have been decided by one goal including the last four games in a row.
– The Phantoms have outshot their opponents in six of the last eight games after beginning the season being outshot in the first five games.
– The Phantoms are 3-1 in decisions after regulation having gone 2-1 in overtime and 1-0 in shotoouts.
Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cam York 3-6-9
Tyson Foerster 3-6-9
Elliot Desnoyers 5-2-7
Ronnie Attard 3-4-7
Garrett Wilson 2-5-7
Cal O’Reilly 2-5-7
Springfield Thunderbirds Scoring Leaders
Matthew Highmore 4-11-15
Nathan Todd 8-6-14
Martin Frk 2-10-12
M1tthew Kessel 2-7-9
Will Bitten 6-2-8
Lehigh Valley Power Play – 20.0% (16th)
Lehigh Valley Penalty Kill – 70.0% (30th)
Springfield Power Play – 17.2% (24th)
Springfield Penalty Kil – 83.6% (10th)
Lehigh Valley next plays on Black Friday at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on November 25 to conclude a four-game stretch of away games.
Lehigh Valley’s next home game is Saturday, November 26 against the Rochester Americans featuring a Postgame Skate with the Phantoms players. Fans must bring their own skates to be allowed onto the ice to meet the players after the game.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE –
Sunday, November 20 (3:05) at Springfield Thunderbirds
Friday, November 25 (7:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Saturday, November 26 (7:05) vs. ROCHESTER AMERICANS
Wednesday, November 30 (7:05) vs. HERSHEY BEARS
UPCOMING PROMOTIONS –
Saturday, November 26 (7:05) vs. Rochester Americans – Postgame Skate with Phantoms Players
Wednesday, November 30 (7:05) vs. Hershey Bears – Military Appreciation Night Presented by Netizen
Friday, December 9 (7:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Berks $1 Hot Dogs!
Saturday, December 10 (7:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Phantoms Hat Giveaway Presented by Service Electric
Saturday, December 17 (7:05) vs. Providence Bruins – Teddy Bear Toss Presented by Big Woody’s
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 phantomshockey.com
Fans can also watch the games on AHLTV.com or can listen on their Smart Speakers at: “Play Phantoms Radio 24/7.”