PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Checkers, Game #72

Sunday, April 21, 3:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (31-31-9) vs. Charlotte (39-25-7)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-31-9) conclude the regular season on “Our Valley, Our Home” Day at PPL Center with Game #72 against the Charlotte Checkers, AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers.
Today is our Salute to the Fans as we put celebrate the culmination of our 10th Season of Phantoms in the Valley presented by Service Electric.
Next up, it’s the Phantoms in the Playoffs presented by Provident Bank.
Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will begin their Best of 3 series on Wednesday at Wilkes-Barre and then the Phantoms and Penguins will rematch at PPL Center on Friday in Game 2 of the first-round matchup.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were afforded the luxury of tinkering with a new lineup while giving several veterans and regulars and well-deserved breather. Alexei Kolosov was solid between the pipes surrendering just a pair of goals on 24 shots but Lehigh Valley was unable to break through on Penguins’ goaltender Ludovic Waeber in a 2-0 loss in the second-to-last game of the season. Newcomers Tyler Gratton and Jacques Bouquot made their AHL debuts while other newcomers received increased roles including Matt Miller playing on the top line and Hunter McDonald playing on a top defensive pair.
The captains group all had a breather as Garrett Wilson, Louie Belpedio, Tanner Laczynski, Cooper Marody and Victor Mete all watched from the press box along with Bobby Brink, Adam Brooks, Rhett Gardner, Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning among others.

It’s Playoff Time!! Well…almost.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are IN and well take on the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a Best of 3 series in the first round. If the Phantoms win then they advance to take on the first-place Hershey Bears in the second round in early May.

The Phantoms will host a playoff game at PPL Center for the first time in six years when the Penguins arrive on Friday, April 26 for Game 2 of the series.

The Phantoms are part of the AHL’s postseason dance for the second consecutive season and for the fourth time in the last six years in which the Playoffs have been held since 2017.In total, the Phantoms are making their 14th overall appearance in the postseason including a pair of Calder Cup Championships for the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998 and 2005 prior to the team’s arrival in the Lehigh Valley.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a beefed-up roster entering the final games of the season after the Philadelphia Flyers loaned forwards Bobby Brink and Olle Lycksell and defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, according to General Manager Daniel Briere.
Brink, 22, has played in 57 games with Philadelphia this season scoring 11-12-23 and also 12 games with Lehigh Valley scoring 7-5-12.
Lycksell, 24, is tops on the Phantoms in goals having scored 19-20-39 in 38 games with Lehigh Valley this season. He has also played 18 games with the Flyers scoring 1-4-5 including his first career NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.
Attard, 25, has scored 10-15-25 in 47 games with the Phantoms and also 0-2-2 in 12 games with Philadelphia.
Ginning, 24, has played in 57 games with the Phantoms this season scoring 2-11-13 and nine games with the Flyers in a stint that included his first NHL goal on April 6 at Columbus.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have received six players from the Reading Royals of the ECHL who concluded their season on Saturday. Returning to the Phantoms are defensemen Mason Millman and Will Zmolek, forwards Matt Brown, Jacques Bouquot and Tyler Gratton, and goaltender Parker Gahagen.

Veteran goaltender Cal Petersen has found his A-Game since he return to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers on February 28. The lefty netminder from Waterloo, Iowa has been particular solid in his 13 games back with the team posting a goals-against average going 5-7-1, 2.08, .917 with two shutouts including a playoff-berth clinching win on Friday at Bridgeport in his most recent start. Petersen has surrendered two goals or fewer in eight of his last 13 starts including three of his last four and also five of his most recent seven.

Goaltender Alexei Kolosov, 22, has joined the Phantoms from the Minsk Dinamo of the KHL where Philadelphia’s Round 3 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft was 22-21-3, 2.39, .907 with four shutouts for his hometown team in Minsk, Belarus. His resume also includes representing Belarus in international play, starting with his being named the top goaltender at the IIHF World Junior Championship Division I-A tournament in 2021.

Garrett Wilson has accumulated 210 penalty minutes this year and is in position to lead the AHL for a second consecutive season.
J-R Avon is tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland also has five. Avon has gone 5-for-7 in the shootout this season.
Emil Andrae has 15 power-play assists which is first among AHL rookie defensemen and is second among AHL rookies overall trailing only Brennan Othmann of Hartford who has 17.

Some players have comfortable leads to take top honors for the Phantoms this season while some races are still too close to call.
Olle Lycksell continues to lead the team with 19 goals but Cooper Marody is right on his tail with 18 goals and Tanner Laczynski is still within range at 16 goals.
Marody has locked up the title for most assists with his 36 helpers on the year giving him an eight-point cushion over Samu Tuomaala who has 28.
Marody also has a comfortable lead in overall scoring with 54 points putting him 11 ahead of Tuomaala who has 43.

Fourth-place Charlotte (39-25-7) is also readying for the Calder Cup Playoffs and will host the Hartford Wolf Pack in a Best-of-3 series in North Carolina this week.
The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers had been peaking down the stretch including a recent eight-game point streak (7-0-1) that was snapped last Sunday in a 5-2 loss at Hartford. More recently, Charlotte split a pair at the Hershey Bears and prevented Hershey from setting an all-time record for best full-season points percentage in AHL history.
The Phantoms are 4-1-2 vs. Charlotte. Four of the seven meetings have gone to overtime. Ronnie Attard, Tanner Lacznyski and Bobby Brink all have struck for overtime winners in the season series. The Checkers are 3-1-3 against Lehigh Valley.
Veteran goaltender Magnus Hellburg has arrived via trade from the Penguins to provide stability on the backend going 5-2-1, 2.45, .895 since joining Charlotte. First-rounder Spencer Knight (25-14-5, 2.41, .905) from Boston College has found his form including a stretch of three shutouts in four games that was very nearly four shutouts in five (and three in a row). Before allowing five goals at Hartford on April 14, Knight had a six-game stretch since March 13 going 5-0-1, 0.83, .965 with three shutouts. University of Michigan first-rounder Mackie Samoskevich (22-32-54) paces the offense. Former Phantom and Flyers Gerry Mayhew (19-18-37) had a slow start to the season but has been finding the back of the net more often.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 18-36-54
Samu Tuomaala 15-28-43
Tanner Laczynski 16-26-42
Olle Lycksell 19-20-39
Emil Andrae 5-27-32

Checkers Scoring Leaders
Mackie Samoskecvich 22-32-54
Rasmus Asplund 9-35-44
Lucas Carlsson 15-24-39
Gerry Mayhew 19-18-37
Justin Sourdif 19-18-37

Lehigh Valley PP, 17.9% (20th)
Lehigh Valley Valley PK 79.8% (24th)
LV PP vs. CLT 6/29, 2.07%

Charlotte PP 16.2% (30th)
Charlotte PK 83.5% (11th)
CLT vs. LV PP  5/32, 15.6%

Dec 9 – Win – Charlotte 1 at Lehigh Valley 4
Dec 13 – Win – Charlotte 2 at Lehigh Valley 3 (OT) (Ronnie Attard)
Dec 21 – Win – Lehigh Valley 3 at Charlotte 2 (OT) (Tanner Laczynski)
Dec 22 – SOL – Lehigh Valley 4 at Charlotte 5 (SO)
Dec 31 – Loss – Charlotte 5 at Lehigh Valley 2
Feb 24 – Win – Lehigh Valley 6 at Charlotte 5 (OT) (Bobby Brink)
Feb 25 – Loss – Lehigh Valley 3 at Charlotte 6
Apr 21 (3:05) – Charlotte at Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley
Cooper Marody 2-8-10
Emil Andrae 1-6-7
Tanner Lacsynski 2-3-5
Olle Lycksell 2-3-5
Ronnie Attard 2-2-4
Felix Sandstrom 3-1-0, 3.18, .886

Mackie Samoskevich 5-2-7
Patrick Khodorenko 1-5-6
Lucas Carlsson 2-3-5
Gerry Mayhew 2-3-5
Spencer Knight 2-0-2, 2.71, .896

The Phantoms in the Playoffs, presented by Provident Bank, commences on Wednesday night at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 1 of the opening round Best of 3 matchup.

Playoff Hockey returns to PPL Center on Friday for Game 2 between the Phantoms and the Penguins.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE


Wednesday, April 24 (7:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Game 1 – Calder Cup Playoffs

Friday, April 26 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Game 2 – Calder Cup Playoffs

Sunday, April 28 (5:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Game 3 – Calder Cup Playoffs