PREVIEW: Phantoms at Thunderbirds, Game #27

Friday, December 23 at 7:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-11-3) at Springfield Thunderbirds (11-12-5)
MassMutual Center, Springfield, MA

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms play their last game before the Holiday Break with a road game in New England against the Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. After tonight’s game, the players get a few days away from the rink to spend with family.
Lehigh Valley (12-11-3) and Springfield (11-12-5) are even in the season series at 1-1. This is the Phantoms’ last visit to Western New England this season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Bears 4 – Phantoms 2
Artem Anisimov (9th) and Elliot Desnoyers (11th) had quick-strike goals just 24 seconds apart late in the first period but Hershey’s Hunter Shepard stuffed the Phantoms the rest of the way in Hershey’s 4-2 victory at PPL Center on Wednesday night. Ethen Frank led Hershey with a pair of goals while Washington first-rounder Connor McMichael scored for the third time in three appearances against Lehigh Valley.

Veteran defenseman Kevin Connauton has joined Team Canada for the upcoming Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland. The oldest hockey invitational in the world pits various European teams and Canada against each other from December 26-31. Connauton, 32, has never represented his country in an international tournament before. The Lehigh Valley alternate captain will rejoin the Phantoms in January.

Goaltender Sam Ersson was recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers for their current road-trip to Toronto and Carolina while Felix Sandstrom is under the weather. Ersson was recalled at the beginning of the season as well but has yet to appear in an NHL game. The team’s everyday goaltender has gone 9-8-1, 2.72, .910 with Lehigh Valley this year after an injury-hampered debut season in North America in 2021-22 in which he completed only three games.


– Anisimov and Desnoyers scored the fastest consecutive goals of the season on Wednesday. Their markers at just 24 seconds apart beat the first season standard of 1:11 by Anisimov and Bellows on December 10 vs. Charlotte. The all-time Phantoms record with goals just SIX seconds apart was achieved by Mark Zengerle and Danick Martel on February 8, 2017 against the Binghamton Senators.
– Bellerive’s two-goal game on Sunday at Hershey was his fourth as a pro and his first since his rookie season two years ago.
– The Phantoms’ power play is 13/36, 36.1% over the last 11 games and is 25.3% overall for 5th in the AHL.
– Artem Anisimov has 6 goals in 5 games since signing a standard player contract with the Phantoms for the remainder of the season. The 13-year NHL veteran already has 9 goals with the Phantoms in just 11 games.
– Elliot Desnoyers is third among AHL rookies with 11 goals and also leads the Phantoms in lamplighters
– The Phantoms are….
10-4-2 when scoring 3 or more goals
9-2-1 when allowing 2 goals or fewer
9-3-3 in one-goal games
8-0-3 when leading after two periods
3-2 in overtime and 1-1 in shootouts

Springfield (11-12-5) got back in the W column with a 4-2 win at Hartford last night. The AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues has points in five of its last seven going 4-2-1 in the stretch. First-rounder Jake Neighbors is heating up with goals in four of the last five games after 10 scoreless games upon his arrival to the AHL from St. Louis. Hard-shooting Martin Frk is up to six goals now after a 40-goal campaign with Ontario last year. The Phantoms beat Springfield 21 on November 11 on Louie Belpedio’s winning goal at PPL Center but the T-Birds went 4-for-6 on the power play in the rematch in Western Mass on November 20 as part of a 6-4 Springfield win that saw the Phantoms crank up 41 shots while surrendering a season-high 46 shots.
The Thunderbirds won the 2021-22 regular-season crown in the Atlantic Division and then advanced to the Calder Cup Finals in June before bowing to Alex Lyon and the Chicago Wolves.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Tyson Foerster 8-11-19
Olle Lycksell 5-12-17
Elliot Desnoyers 11-5-16
Garrett Wilson 5-8-13
x Cam York 3-10-13
Artem Anisimov 9-3-12

Springfield Scoring Leaders
Matthew Highmore 6-21-27
Martin Frk 6-15-21
Nikita Alexandrov 9-6-15
Nathan Todd 8-6-14
Will Bitten 8-5-13

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Lehigh Valley Power Play – 25.3% (5th) / Lehigh Valley PP vs. Springfield, 1/7
Lehigh Valley Penalty Kill – 70.9% (30th)
Springfield Power Play – 20.3% (16th) / Springfield PP vs. Lehigh Valley, 4/7
Hershey Penalty Kill – 85.1% (3rd in AHL, 1st in conference)

The Phantoms get a well-deserved breather to spend time with friends and family over the AHL Holiday Break. The Phantoms return to PPL Center for a Wednesday night matchup against the Bridgeport Islanders.

Friday, December 23 (7:05) at Springfield Thunderbirds
Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders
Friday, December 30 (7:05) at Utica Comets
Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS

Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Pregame Happy Hour, $2 Miller Lites and Yuenglings

Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – New Year’s Eve Celebration presented by Penn Community Bank. Including festivities and great fun on Hamilton Street right after the game right with the World’s Largest Puck-Drop to ring in 2023!




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.”