PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Islanders, Game #60

Saturday, March 23, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (27-24-8) vs. Bridgeport Islanders (21-33-7)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-24-8) Push for the Playoffs continues as they host the Bridgeport Islanders, AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders.
Tonight is Margaritaville Night at PPL Center featuring live music from Jimmy and the Parrots.
The Phantoms have points in three straight (2-0-1) and five of their last six (4-1-1) to take a three-point lead on the Springfield Thunderbirds for the final spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs with just 13 games remaining in the regular season.
Bridgeport is in last place in the Atlantic and just ended a four-game losing slide with a 2-1 shootout win at Utica. The Phantoms are 2-1-0 against the Islanders.
Tonight is the 60th game of the season. There are just 13 games remaining.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 22 points.

The comeback Phantoms did it again with yet another third-period rally in disposing of the Springfield Thunderbirds 3-1 in a big head-to-head showdown of playoff-contending teams on Wednesday night at PPL Center. Red-hot Adam Brooks evened the score with his eighth point in just three games when he struck early in the third. Evan Polei’s second goal of the season put the Phantoms ahead with eight minutes to go off a pretty give-and-go with Elliot Desnoyers. Cal Petersen made 24 saves including a spectacular denial i the third period when the game was tied as he somehow got a piece of Drew Callin’s blast on an odd-man rush.

– Defenseman Hunter McDonald has joined the Phantoms on a PTO. The Northeastern University product was a Round 6 selection of the Flyers in 2022. The Fairport, NY native is now eligible to make his professional debut.
– Defensemen Darren Brady has been returned on loan to the Reading Royals of the ECHL

Trailing at the second intermission has proven to be no problem for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who lead the AHL with eight comeback wins this season. The third-period rallies have also included five wins on the road after facing a deficit at the second intermission and three of those rallies have been at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

AHL Scoring Leaders from March 15 through March 21
Adam Brooks, LV, 3-5-8
Tanner Laczynski, LV, 5-2-7
Olle Lycksell, LV, 1-5-6
Cole Guttman, Rockford, 3-3-6

Veteran goaltender Cal Petersen has been especially strong since his return to the Phantoms from Philadelphia on February 29. In his last seven starts in the month of March, the 29-year-old lefty netminder has a 1.97 GAA and .914 save percentage with a 3-3-1 record. The Waterloo, Iowa product showcased his abilities in the third period on Wednesday night with one of the top saves of the season when he lunged forward to incredibly get a piece of a shot by Springfield’s Drew Callin in the third period of Wednesday’s game to keep the game tied at 1-1.

Olle Lycksell became just the second Lehigh Valley player to record four assists in a game with his big performance last Saturday at Providence. Phil Varone also had a four-helper night on November 4, 2017 against the Binghamton Devils. He also tied a Phantoms franchise record on his big night. Lycksell has since been recalled back up to the Philadelphia Flyers
Adam Brooks wrapped up a seven-point weekend with a monster five-point game at Providence, just the second five-point performance in Lehigh Valley history and one off the franchise record set by Mike Maneluk in 2000 with the Philadelphia Phantoms. The only other five-point game with Lehigh Valley was Colin McDonald’s performance on January 27, 2016 for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms against the Binghamton Senators that included a hat trick with two assists.
Tanner Laczynski secured his second career hat trick in Saturday’s win at Providence, His first hattie was on March 24, 2021 at the Binghamton Devils (in Newark, NJ). Laczynski is the fourth player in Lehigh Valley history with a pair of hat tricks and the first to record two hat tricks on the road. Others with two career hat tricks for Lehigh Valley include Nick Cousins, Danick Martel (3) and Garrett Wilson.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have pushed ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with just 13 games remaining. Lehigh Valley has points in five of its last six games (4-1-1) and currently stands three points ahead of the Thunderbirds.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 22 points.
The top six teams in the Atlantic qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first round is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 6 vs. 3 matchup in late April.
Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 18-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 19-6-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 13-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 18-6-8
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-3

Bridgeport (21-33-7) tried to make a push back into postseason contention but recently dropped four straight including three games north of the border at Laval and Belleville before snapping out of it with a 2-1 shootout win at Utica last night.
The Phantoms are 2-1-0 against the B-Isles entering Game 4 out of 6 in the season series. The Phantoms squeaked out a 4-3 win in Connecticut on March 10 on a pair of goals by Rhett Gardner in the most recent meeting. The away team has won all three games in the series so far. Second-year pro Ruslan Ishakov (16-26-42) leads the offense and is tied for the AHL lead with four overtime goals. Former Phantom Cole Bardreau (10-11-21) is in his fifth season with the Islanders after playing five years for the Phantoms. Rookie Henrik Tikkanen (7-5-2, 2.17, .927) checks in at 6’8″ and has also been their best between the pipes since joining from ECHL Worcester in December. Bridgeport is last in the league at 2.23 goals per game and the B-Isles power play at just 13.1% is also at the bottom.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 15-32-47
Samu Tuomaala 14-27-41
x – Olle Lycksell 19-19-38
Tanner Laczynski 13-20-33
Emil Andrae 4-26-30
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Ruslan Ishakov 16-26-42
Otto Koivula 9-21-30
Brian Pinho 6-20-26
Dennis Cholowski 5-20-25
Robin Salo 5-18-23

Lehigh Valley PP, 20.4% (7th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 81.0% (19th) – Series PP vs. BRI 4/20 (20.0%)
Bridgeport PP 13.1% (32nd) – Bridgeport PK 83.2% (11th) – Series PP vs. LV 4/28 (14.3%)

Feb 10 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 2 at Bridgeport 1 (SO)
Mar 2 – LOSS – Bridgeport 2 at Lehigh Valley 1
Mar 10 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 – Bridgeport 3

Mar 23 – Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley
Apr 13 – Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley
Apr 19 – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport

Lehigh Valley
Rhett Gardner 2-2-4
Emil Andrae 0-2-2
Brendan Furry 0-2-2
Parker Gahagen 1-1-0, 1.41, .961

Tyce Thompson 1-1-2
Dennis Chowlowski 0-2-2
Jakub Skarek 1-0-0, 1.00, .966

The Phantoms conclude their three-game homestand on Sunday at 3:05 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Kids Takeover Day also featuring postgame autographs with the players presented by NJM Insurance.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE


Saturday, March 23 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Margaritaville Night

Sunday, March 24 (3:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Kids Takeover Day / Postgame Autographs Presented by NJM Insurance

Friday, March 29 (7:00) at Syracuse Crunch
Saturday, March 30 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Tuesday, April 2 (7:00) at Hershey Bears