Friday, April 7, 2023 at 7:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (35-26-6) vs. Charlotte Checkers (36-23-8)
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
The Phantoms can potentially clinch a playoff berth THIS weekend as they open a big two-game homestand hosting the Charlotte Checkers tonight in a possible Calder Cup Playoff preview.
Lehigh Valley (35-26-6) has won four of its last five and also nine out of the last 13. The Phantoms Magic Number for a playoff clinch is at seven points.
The fifth-place Phantoms occupy a playoff spot that would have them taking on the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers in the first-round of the postseason. But the Phantoms have hopes of flipping the tables on Charlotte and surpassing the Checkers for home-ice advantage in the first round if Lehigh Valley can move up to fourth.
Charlotte (36-23-8) ended a five-game winless skid on Wednesday with a 5-0 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Checkers are attempting to punch their ticket to the postseason tonight as their Magic Number stands at just three points. The season series is even at 3-3. There are just five games remaining for the Phantoms in the regular season.
Saturday, April 2, 2023
Phantoms 3 – Islanders 2
Artem Anisimov (19th), Olle Lycksell (11th) and Garrett Wilson (17th) all scored for the Phantoms and Nolan Maier’s clutch 26-save performance preserved a 3-2 win at the Bridgeport Islanders on Sunday. Wilson’s goal in the second period was especially impressive with some razzle-dazzle passing on the rush with linemates Adam Brooks and Bobby Brink.
Tyson Foerster had a pair of strong primary assists on the team’s first two goals.
Bridgeport had a frenetic push in the third period and outshot the Phantoms 13-3 in the final frame but Lehigh Valley battled its way through to prevent the hosts from obtaining the equalizer.
The top six teams in the Atlantic Division qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Lehigh Valley occupies the fifth-place position with a one-point edge on sixth-place Hartford.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff Berth is now seven points.
The current standings would have the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers meeting in the first round in the 5 vs. 4 series as part of a Best of 3 matchup. Lehigh Valley trailed fourth-place Charlotte by four points in the fight for home-ice advantage in the first round.
FOERSTER STAYS HOT
Tyson Foerster has kept his scoring touch since his return to the Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers. He cranked up his 20th goal of the season with the Phantoms on Friday after he had recorded an assist on the tying goal in his first game back last Sunday at Hershey. Foerster finished his stretch with Philadelphia on a five-game point streak including his first-career NHL goal on March 18 vs. Carolina followed by his second NHL goal against Marc-Andre Fleury of Minnesota with a snipe on the rush on March 23. Foerster impressed with the big club scoring 3-4-7 in eight games with the Flyers and now has a nine-game point streak (4-8-12) between the Flyers and Phantoms combined and has scored 1-5-6 with Lehigh Valley in four games since his return to the Phantoms lineup on March 26.
The Philadelphia Flyers have returned goaltender Sam Ersson to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the late-aseason playoff push. Ersson, 23, is 22-14-1, 2.68, .904 with the Phantoms this season. With the Philadelphia Flyers this year, Ersson is 6-3-0, 3.07, .899. He became just the second goalie in Lehigh Valley history to win 22 games in a season when he picked up the W on Friday night during his one-day return to the Phantoms.
Ersson’s first recall to Philadelphia in December and January included his first NHL win on December 31, 2022 at the Los Angeles Kings and also his first NHL shutout on January 9, 2023 at Buffalo. Since his first NHL recall, Ersson has gone 13-6-0 with the Phantoms and also 6-3-0 with the Flyers for a combined 19-9-0 record. Ersson was outstanding last Sunday when he had a career-high 37 saves in a 4-3 shootout win at the Hershey Bears on Sunday.
Most wins in season by goalie – Lehigh Valley
1. Alex Lyon – 27 (2016-17)
2. Sam Ersson – 22 (2022-23)
3. Anthony Stolarz – 21 (2015-16)
3. Ron Zepp – 21 (2014-15)
TRANSACTIONS – ATTARD UP, FURRY SIGNS
– Defenseman Ronnie Attard has been recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers and made is season debut with the big club this week. The 24-year-old represented the Phantoms at the AHL All-Star Classic in February and has not played for the Flyers since last season when he scored 2-2-4 in 15 games as a rookie out of Western Michigan. Attard has scored 11-19-30 with the Phantoms in 64 games this season.
– Forward Brendan Furry, 24, has signed a two-year AHL contract with the Phantoms and has joined the team for the remainder of the 2022-23 season on a try-out basis. The Toledo, Ohio native played collegiately at Minnesota State (Mankato) where he served as the team’s captain this season while scoring 9-18-28 in 39 games for the Mavericks.
– Louie Belpedio is at 299 career AHL games
– Max Willman is at 98 career pro points in the NHL, AHL and ECHL combined
– Elliot Desnoyers has 21 goals as a rookie which is one away from the Lehigh Valley record of 22 goals by a rookie held by Danick Martel in 2015-16.
– Garrett Wilson is at 312 career penalty minutes with the Phantoms which is one away from the all-time Lehigh Valley record of 313 penalty minutes by Tyrell Goulbourne.
– The Phantoms have won four of their last five games and are also 9-4-0 in their last 13 games since March 4
– Garrett Wilson has scored 12 goals in the last 17 games.
– Wilson leads the Phantoms with 157 shots on goal. Ronnie Attard is next with 150.
– The Phantoms are….
25-9-2 when scoring a power-play goal
31-8-4 when scoring 3 or more goals
27-2-1 when allowing 2 goals or fewer
20-6-6 in one-goal games
17-3-6 when scoring the first goal
21-2-4 when leading after two periods
6-3 in overtime and 4-3 in shootouts
ABOUT THE CHECKERS
Charlotte (36-23-8) ended a five-game losing skid with a 5-0 shutout win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday to trim its Magic Number to just three points. Last week, the Checkers lost a three-game series at home to the soaring Springfield Thunderbirds. Former Phantom Alex Lyon (13-9-1, 2.43, .910) is thriving with the Florida Panthers having just recorded his first NHL shutout last week and another big win yesterday. Another former Phantom, Jean-Francios Berube (7-5-3, 3.11, .888) has received the bulk of the opportunities in net of late and recorded his 13th career AHL shutout on Wednesday. Gerry Mayhew (22-19-41, including four goals vs. Lehigh Valley) and Connor Bunnaman (14-7-21) round out the quarter of ex-Phantoms products now on the Charlotte Checkers. Veteran leaders Riley Nash (23-31-54) and Zac Dalpe (21-14-35) played for Charlotte over a decade ago and have returned to provide leadership and scoring punch.
Sam Ersson is 3-1-0, 2.27, .926 vs. Charlotte this season.
Top Performers in Season Series:
Lehigh Valley – Tyson Foerster (2-4-6), Artem Anisimov (3-2-5), Adam Brooks (3-1-4), Sam ERsson (3-1-0, 2.27, .928)
Charlotte – Logan Hutsko (2-5-7), Gerry Mayhew (4-1-5), Riley Nash (2-3-5), Mack Guzda (2-1-0, 2.36, .917)
Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Tyson Foerster 20-22-42
Elliot Desnoyers 21-19-40
Olle Lycksell 10-29-39
Garrett Wilson 16-21-37
Artem Anisimov 18-16-34
Checkers Scoring Leaders
Riley Nash 23-31-54
Lucas Carlsson 19-30-49
Aleksi Heponiemi 12-31-43
Gerry Mayhew 22-19-41
Zac Dalpe 21-14-35
Phantoms Tickets are available HERE
Lehigh Valley Power Play – 21.2%, 9th (vs. CLT, 8/25, 32.0%)
Lehigh Valley Penalty Kill – 73.8%, 32nd
Charlotte Power Play – 18.8%, 15th (vs. LV 4/25, 16.0%)
Charlotte Penalty Kill – 84.1%, 4th
The Phantoms are back for their penultimate home game of the regular season when they host the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday during Star Wars Night.
Phantoms Tickets are available HERE
Friday, April 7 (7:05) vs. CHARLOTTE CHECKERS
Saturday, April 8 (7:05) vs. SPRINGFIELD THUNDERBIRDS
Wednesday, April 12 (7:00) at Bridgeport Islanders
Friday, April 14 (7:05) vs. CHARLOTTE CHECKERS
Saturday, April 15 (7:00) at Hershey Bears
UPCOMING AT PPL CENTER
Friday, April 7 (7:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Berks $1 Hot Dogs
Saturday, April 8 (7:05) vs. Springfield Thunderbirds – Star Wars Night! SNHL with DJ Jamal “Jedi” Knight. Postgame Auction – Whiteout Jerseys
Friday, April 14 (7:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers – Regular Season Home Finale. Berks $1 Hot Dogs
CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS – TBD
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.”
Service Electric Network again provides exclusive television coverage of all Phantoms home games with veteran announcer Steve Degler and Phantoms’ alum Steven Swavely on the call from the booth. Kristi Fulkerson reports from ice level and also from the Chickie’s and Pete’s studio with Dan Fremuth for pregame, intermission and postgame show analysis.