PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Checkers, Game #31

Sunday, December 31, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (13-12-5) vs. Charlotte (15-11-3)

Happy New Year, Hockey Fans!
The Phantoms and Checkers close out 2023 with a New Year’s Eve clash at PPL Center. The game features glowsticks and party favors for the fans presented by Penn Community Bank. Fans then get to join the party outside the arena and at surrounding establishments for the World’s Largest Puck Drop at midnight to ring in 2024.
Lehigh Valley had its three-game point streak ended on Saturday against Hershey and enters this game trailing the Checkers by two points in the standings following Charlotte’s blowout 6-1 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yesterday.
This is the fifth meeting in December between the Phantoms and Checkers. Lehigh Valley is 3-0-1 against Charlotte this season. The last three matchups between these teams have gone to overtime including the last time Charlotte visited PPL Center on December 13 with Ronnie Attard’s overtime goal finishing the night.

37 shots wasn’t enough on Whiteout Night at PPL Center as Clay Stevenson stood on his head and the Bears took advantage of their limited opportunities in a 4-0 verdict on Saturday evening. Lehigh Valley outshot the Bears 37-17 but Clay Stevenson recorded his league-leading fifth shutout of the season to hold off the Lehigh Valley attack.
Former Phantom Matt Strome scored his first two goals of the season allowing the bears to pull away in the third period after holding a slim 1-0 lead at the second intermission.

The Phantoms are fourth in the AHL on the power play at 23.7% and Lehigh Valley’s 27.5% success rate on the road is second in the AHL.
The Phantoms had a streak of six straight games with a power-play goal ended on Wednesday when they went 0-for-2 while scoring five goals at 5-on-5 instead. The Phantoms are 18-for-61 (29.5%) since November 12 but have gone 0-for-5 in the most recent two games after a stretch of 15 out of 16 games scoring a power-play goal.
Cooper Marody (3-11-14) and Samu Tuomaala (5-8-13) lead the Phantoms power-play attack. Tuomaala’s five power-play goals is tied for the AHL rookie lead.
Olle Lycksell (6-6-12) and Tanner Laczynski (4-6-10) are both at double-digit power-play points as well.
Emil Andrae (2-7-9),  J.R. Avon (3-1-4) and Wade Allison (2-1-3) also have multiple power-play goals.


  • Emil Andrae had his six-game point streak snapped. He had scored 3-6-9 since Dec 13. The Flyers round 2 selection in 2020 from Sweden is in his first full season of pro hockey in North America.
  • Wade Allison had a two-game goal streak snapped on Saturday. The Flyers Round 2 selection in 2016 has five goals in the last 11 games. Allison has played in 75 NHL games with the Flyers scoring 13 goals and also 67 career games with the Phantoms scoring 21 goals.
  • Cooper Marody has points in five of the last seven games (3-8-11). The 28-year-old veteran of 259 career AHL games has vaulted ahead of Samu Tuomaala for the team lead in scoring. Marody has 242 points across six seasons with Bakersfield and Lehigh Valley
  • The Phantoms are:
    7-3-3 when scoring first
    11-2-3 when scoring three or more goals
    10-1-0 when leading after two periods
    9-2-2 when allowing three goals or fewer

The Phantoms and Checkers are meeting for a fifth time in the month of December with Lehigh Valley currently boasting a 3-0-1 record against their Tar Heel State foes. The last three games between these foes have gone to overtime. Ronnie Attard and Tanner Laczynski have scored overtime goals for the Phantosm against Charlotte on December 13 and December 21 but it was Brendan Perlini’s shootout winner that ended the night on December 22 in a 5-4 shootout decision for Charlotte’s first win against the Phantoms this season.
The Checkers just split a pair of games at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton including a 6-2 win last night with Patrick Giles scoring a pair of goals to lead the team’s win following a 4-1 loss at the Penguins on Friday.
The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers is led by hard-shooting defenseman Lucas Carlsson (9-13-22) 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 (8-12-20) had a two-goal game against the Phantoms last Friday in Charlotte. He 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.
Former Phantom Gerry Mayhew (4-10-14) 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.
The Checkers next visit to PPL Center will be in the final game of the regular season on Sunday, April 21.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 8-19-27
Samu Tuomaala 8-17-25
Tanner Laczynski 8-14-22
Olle Lycksell 12-9-21
Garrett Wilson 6-10-16

Checkers Scoring Leaders
Lucas Carlsson 9-13-22
Mackie Samoskevich 8-12-20
Patrick Khodorenko 6-10-16
Gerry Mayhew 4-10-14
Rasmus Asplund 3-11-14

Lehigh Valley PP, 23.7% (4th)
Lehigh Valley PK 80.6% (17th)
Charlotte PP 15.1% (28th)
Charlotte PK 86.2% (4th)

LV PP vs. CLT 4/14 (28.6%)
CLT PP vs. LV 1/15 (6.7%)

Series Results
Dec. 9  Charlotte 1 at Lehigh Valley 4 Final
Dec. 13 Charlotte 2 at Lehigh Valley 3 Final OT
Dec. 21 Lehigh Valley 3 at Charlotte 2 Final OT
Dec. 22 Lehigh Valley 4 at Charlotte 5 Final SOL OT
Dec. 31 Charlotte at Lehigh Valley
Feb. 24 Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Feb. 25 Lehigh Valley at Charlotte
Apr. 21 Charlotte at Lehigh Valley

Series Leaders:
Lehigh Valley
Cooper Marody 1-5-6
Emil Andrae 1-4-5
Tanner Laczynski 2-2-4
Samu Tuomaala 2-2-4
Felix Sandstrom 2-0-0, 1.95, .917

Mackie Samoskevich 3-0-3
Jake Wise 1-2-3
Casey Fitzgerald 0-3-3
Spencer Knight 0-2-2, 2.92, .903


The Phantoms open 2024 with a pair of rivalry away games next weekend at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, January 6 and then at the Hershey Bears on Sunday, January 7.

Sunday, December 31 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – World’s Largest Puck Drop! Glowsticks presented by Penn Community Bank

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