Saturday, February 3, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (18-17-7) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (23-16-6)
The Phantoms continue their celebration of “10 Years in the Valley” as they host the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at PPL Center. Tonight is Game 3 out of 12 in the season series. The Phantoms are 1-0-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but the Penguins took the most recent encounter last Friday at PPL Center 4-3.
Tonight’s game features an alumni reunion including the return of Colin McDonald, Sam Morin and more! Phantoms greats of the past will be available for autographs on the concourse before the game.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms erupted in the third period for three goals in under three minutes to knock off the first-place Hershey Bears 4-1 on Friday night at PPL Center. Jacob Gaucher (5th), Brendan Furry (2nd) and Samu Tuomaala (13th) had the critical markers in breaking 1-1 tie as part of a sustained and determined effort against the best team in the league. Wade Allison (9th) struck in the opening period while Elliot Desnoyers had a pair of impressive primary assists. Felix Sandstrom was terrific in net with 29 saves.
The turning point in the game may have been late in the second period when the Phantoms killed a Hershey 5-on-3 power play for 1:34. Jacob Gaucher had a big block while Rhett Gardner and Ronnie Attard also made key plays and had important deflections to disrupt Hershey’s rhythm as the Phantoms gained momentum into the locker room at the second intermission by keeping the game tied.
Injuries to veteran captains like Garrett Wilson, Tanner Laczynski and Louie Belpedio has opened the door for some young talent to receive larger roles and greater opportunities in the lineup. Ian Laperriere moved rookie center Jaco Gaucher to the second line while Brendan Furry stepped in to play wing on the third line. The decision paid off. The two young talents upon receiving the nod of confidence blasted home a pair of goals in the third period just 31 seconds apart. Both Gaucher and Furry are on AHL deals.
Gaucher had 22 goals in the ECHL with Reading last season but is a rookie at the AHL level. The 22-year-old from Longueui, Quebec even spent time back in the ECHL with Reading when there wasn’t room for him in the Phantoms lineup. Gaucher didn’t score his first AHL goal until December 27 but has certainly found the scoring touch since then with five goals in barely over a month. He also had a key block during the team’s 5-on-3 penalty klll on Friday.
Furry scored his first-ever goal at PPL Center and just his third of his pro career showing some terrific hands in his strong move to the net. The 25-year-old from Toledo, Ohio had 27 goals in three seasons at Minnesota State-Mankato prior to signing an AHL contract with the Phantoms.
- Cooper Marody (10-27-37) became the third Phantom to reach double digits in goals with his marker on Wednesday. Lehigh Valley’s leading point producer is fourth in the conference in assists. On the power play, Marody has scored 3-16-19 and rates third in the AHL in PP assists.
- Samu Tuomaala (13-22-35) is second among AHL rookies in points and third in assists.
- The Phantoms are tied for second in the league with 12 overtime games trailing only Rochester who has played in 13 overtime contests. The Phantoms went to overtime on 4 occasions in January in 10 total games
- The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 13-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 13-3-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 11-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 11-3-7
– Overtime: 4-5 / Shootout: 1-2
PLAYING THE PENGUINS
The last game before the AHL All-Star Break includes the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (23-16-6) coming to town for Round 3 of the 12-game season series. The Penguins had gone 7-3-2 in their first 12 games of 2024 but have since dropped three straight (0-2-1) including a 5-4 overtime setback at Hartford last night. The Pens are technically in third place in the Atlantic Division in total points but they actually have five games-in-hand over Hartford who has a better points percentage.
2019 first-rounder Sam Poulin (11-6-17) is coming off a Gordie-Plus-One against the Phantoms last Friday that included two goals, an assist and a fight in the same game. Lehigh Valley roared back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game before the Penguins pulled off the stunning win. The previous encounter saw the Phantoms win at Wilkes-Barre on January 6 on Samu Tuomaala’s overtime-winning goal. Tuomaala and Ronnie Attard scored back-to-back in the third period to overcome a 3-1 deficit and force overtime.
Former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith (6-22-28) leads the Pens in scoring. Goaltender Joel Blomqvist (13-7-3, 2.13, .921) will join fellow Finland rookie talent Samu Tuomaala at the AHL All-Star Classic and is second in AHL GAA only to Hershey’s Clay Stevenson. The Phantoms are 1-0-1 against the Penguins this season. The two teams will meet again next week in our first game back from the AHL All-Star Break on February 9.
Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 10-27-37
Samu Tuomaala 13-22-35
x – Olle Lycksell 16-12-28
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
Emil Andrae 4-19-23
Ronnie Attard 9-13-22
Penguins Scoring Leaders
Ty Smith 6-22-28
Alex Nylander 13-13-26
Peter Abbandonato 6-13-19 (with WBS)
Sam Poulin 11-6-17
Corey Andonovski 2-13-15
Lehigh Valley PP, 21.2% (6th) / Lehigh Valley PK 80.0% (23rd)
WBS PP 16.5% (25th) / WBS PK 83.8% (8th)
The AHL All-Star Classic takes place in San Jose, California on Sunday and Monday with Samu Tuomaala representing the Phantoms on the Atlantic Division All-Stars. The Skills Competition kicks of the festivities on Sunday and then the round-robin series of 3-on-3 games between the divisions concludes the fun on Monday night. Broadcasts of both nights are available on NHL Network and also for free on AHLTV.com
The Phantoms return from the All-Star Break with a Friday night rematch at PPL Center against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Phantoms Tickets are available HERE
Saturday, February 3 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley – 10th Anniversary Celebration Weekend – Alumni Reunion with Colin McDonald, Sam Morin and More!
Sunday, February 4 and Monday, February 5 – AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose, Cal. Samu Tuomaala will represent the Phantoms on the Atlantic Division All-Stars.
Friday, February 9 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley
Saturday, February 10 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport