PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Checkers, Game #24

Wednesday, December 13, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (10-9-4) vs. Charlotte (12-10-0)

The Phantoms and Checkers rematch at PPL Center on Military Appreciation Night presented by Netizen. Lehigh Valley defeated Charlotte in the first matchup of this series with a 4-1 decision on Saturday while Zayde Wisdom triggered an avalanche of 10,869 teddy bears when he scored the first goal of the game.
Tonight is the second of eight meetings between the Phantoms and Checkers who will also meet five times in December. The five-game homestand continues this Friday and Saturday against the Laval Rocket and Springfield Thunderbirds including Hockey Fiesta Night on Saturday when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will transform into “Los Fantasmas!”

It was Bear-a-Palooza at PPL Center when Zayde Wisdom scored 6:36 into the game to bring about an avalanche of teddy bears and stuffed animals on the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Night. In total, it was a Lehigh Valley record 10,869 teddy bears which were collected and donated to our friends at Valley Youth House. Wade Allison, Jordy Bellerive and Elliot Desnoyers also scored in the victory against Charlotte while Cal Petersen was tremendous with 36 saves.

Phantoms Phans donated 10,869 teddy bears at Saturday’s game breaking the team’s former record of 10,091 teddy bears in 2019. Zayde Wisdom’s goal was assisted by Mason Millman and Ethan Samson and all three players personally delivered the teddy bears to our friends at Valley Youth House on Monday. During the nine years that the Phantoms have held a Teddy bear Toss, over 56,000 teddy bears have been collected and donated for distribution throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Phantoms Teddy Bear Goal Scorer:
2014: Brett Hextall
2015: Andrew MacDonald
2016: Nic Aube-Kubel (:59 into the game)
2017: Matt Read
2018: Connor Bunnaman
2019: Chris Bigras
2021: Gerry Mayhew
2022: Cooper Marody
2023: Zayde Wisdom

Teddy Bear Count:
2023: 10,869
Total: 56,677

Lehigh Valley’s power play is third in the AHL at 23.6% and the team’s 10 total power-play markers is second-most in the league.  The Phantoms also had a nine-game streak with a power-play goal going 12-for-30 (40.0%) in that stretch and currently have a power-play goal in 10 of the last 11 games going 13-for-40 (32.5%) since November 12.
Olle Lycksell, currently up with Philadelphia, is tied for the league-lead in power-play points with 12 and had been leading the AHL in power-play goals with six but now is one off the league lead.
Tanner Laczynski (3-5-8), Cooper Marody (2-7-9), Samu Tuomaala (3-5-8), J.R. Avon (2-1-3) and Wade Allison (2-1-3) also have multiple power-play goals.

The Philadelphia Flyers have several young prospects making an impact in their debut professional season with the Phantoms.
Samu Tuomaala (5-14-19) continues to impress. The Round 2 pick in 2021 from Finland is third in AHL rookie assists and fourth in rookie points.
J-R Avon (5-3-8) had a terrific assist on Jordy Bellerive’s goal on Saturday. It appears the Flyers struck gold when they signed the Peterborough (Ontario) Petes product as an undrafted free agent.
Alexis Gendron (4-0-4) is the youngest player on the Phantoms at only 19 years old! The son of Flyers scout Martin Gendron was Philadelphia’s Round 7 selection in 2022.
Ethan Samson (0-3-3) is a 20-year-old defenseman who was Philly’s Round 6 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft from the Prince George Cougars (British Columbia, Canada) of the Western Hockey League.

The Phantoms are:
6-1-3 when scoring first
9-1-2 when scoring three or more goals
9-0-0 when leading after two periods
8-2-2 when allowing three goals or fewer

Lehigh Valley and Charlotte (12-10-0) rematch at PPL Center on Wednesday following a Phantoms 4-1 at PPL Center on Saturday in the first game of the season series. The Checkers are 2-1-0 on their current road trip with an impressive 6-1 win at Rochester on Friday and a 3-1 triumph at first-place Hershey on Sunday.
The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers is led by hard-shooting defenseman Lucas Carlsson (8-11-19) who scored the double-overtime goal in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Phantoms last year. Carlsson was also second-team All-AHL scoring 20-34-54 in 61 games finishing tied for first among blueliners in goals and second in points.
Rookie first-rounder Mackie Samoskevich (5-7-12) has already scored a gigantic goal at PPL Center with his overtime winner for the University of Michigan against Penn State in the NCAA Regional Final in Allentown last March. He sat out Saturday’s game at PPL Center but bounced back to score two goals on Sunday at Hershey.
Former Phantom Gerry Mayhew (4-9-13) is in his second season with the Checkers after splitting time between the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2021-22. He scored nine goals in 24 games in his time with Lehigh Valley.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
x – Olle Lycksell 12-7-19
Samu Tuomaala 5-14-19
Tanner Laczynski 6-12-18
Cooper Marody 5-12-17
Garrett Wilson 5-8-13

Checkers Scoring Leaders
Lucas Carlsson 8-11-19
Gerry Mayhew 4-9-13
Patrick Khodorenko 5-8-13
Mackie Samoskevich 5-7-12
Rasmus Asplund 3-9-12

Lehigh Valley PP, 23.6% (3rd)
Lehigh Valley PK 79.6% (20th)
Charlotte PP 13.8% (29th)
Charlotte PK 87.8% (2nd)

The homestand continues Friday and Saturday against the Laval Rocket and Springfield Thunderbirds. Those are the AFL affiliates of the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues respectively. Saturday is Hockey Fiesta Night including the return of “Los Fantasmas!”

Wednesday, December 13 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Military Appreciation Night presented by Netizen
Friday, December 15 (7:05) – Laval Rocket at Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, December 16 (7:05) – Springfield Thunderbirds at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Hockey Fiesta – Los Fantasmas!!

Thursday, December 21 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers
Friday, December 22 (6:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Charlotte Checkers