PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Wolf Pack, Game #34

Friday, January 12, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (14-13-6) vs. Hartford (18-8-5)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms play their first home game of 2024 as they host the Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals. Tonight is the final game of the season series between the division rivals.
The Phantoms had a thrilling 4-3 overtime win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the third to stun the fans in NEPA.
The Phantoms opened 2024 with back-to-back overtime thrillers on the road at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey collecting three out of four standings points.
Hartford is in second place in the division based on points percentage and is in third place in total points due to having played four fewer gams than Providence.
2-for-24 ticket specials are available for both home games this weekend to ring in 2024 at PPL Center.

Jordy Bellerive (3rd) and Adam Brooks (1st) scored in the second period to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead but the first-place Hershey Bears rallied back to take a 3-2 overtime win at GIANT Center on Sunday. Mike Sgarbossa tied the game with 5:20 left and Alex Limoges won it for Hershey in overtime shortly after Louie Belpedio for the Phantoms was denied on the doorstep. Cal Petersen had a strong performance in goal with several stellar saves.

Samu Tuomaala has been named to represent the Phantoms AHL All-Star Classic on February 4-5 in San Jose, Cal. Tuomaala just celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday and is having a tremendous rookie season with 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points which is second on the Phantoms. The Round 2 selection of the Flyers in 2021 is also fifth among AHL rookies and second among Eastern Conference first-year players in points and assists.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms Named to AHL All-Star Classic
2024 – Samu Tuomaala (San Jose, CA)
2023 – Ronnie Attard, Tyson Foerster, Cam York (Laval, PQ)
2020 – Morgan Frost  (Ontario, CA)
2019 – Greg Carey, Colin McDonald (Springfield, MA)
2018 – T.J. Brennan, Danick Martel, Oskar Lindblom (Utica, NY)
2017 – T.J. Brennan, Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal (Allentown, PA)
2016 – Nick Cousins, Anthony Stolarz (Syracuse, NY)
2015 – Brandon Manning (Utica, NY)

Samu Tuomaala made history with his overtime goal at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last Saturday becoming the first Lehigh Valley forward and also the first Lehigh Valley rookie to score two overtime goals in the same season. Four other Lehigh Valley Phantoms have notched two overtime goals in a season but all four were defensemen (Louie Belpedio, Andy Welinski, T.J. Brennan, Brandon Manning).
Only two other rookies in Phantoms franchise history have scored two overtime goals in a season:
Paul Healey (1996-97) and Kyle Greentree (2007-08) both with the Philadelphia Phantoms
The last forward in the Phantoms franchise to score two overtime goals in a season was Kyle Greentree.

The Phantoms are third in the AHL with 10 overtime games trailing only Rochester (13) and Springfield (12). Lehigh Valley is 4-5 in overtime decisions and 0-1 in shootouts. The Phantoms had won three consecutive overtime decisions from December 13 through January 6 before Hershey snapped the streak on Sunday.
Lehigh Valley has gone to overtime in four consecutive away games including December 21 and December 22 (shootout) at Charlotte followed by overtime thrillers on January 6 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and January 7 at Hershey. Lehigh Valley has played to overtime in four of the last seven games overall as well as five of the last ten.

Phantoms captain Garrett Wilson has played in 197 career games with the Phantoms. He is projected to play in his 200th career game with Lehigh Valley next Wednesday at Rochester and will become the 11th player to achieve the feat with Lehigh Valley as well as the 28th all-time in Phantoms franchise history.
Wilson has scored 42 goals with 59 assists for 101 points through four seasons with the Phantoms. He has played in 610 career games in the AHL via stays with San Antonio, Portland, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Toronto and Lehigh Valley scoring 136-170-306 with 1,016 penalty minutes. Wilson has also played in 84 NHL games with Pittsburgh and Florida scoring 2-4-6.

Hartford (18-8-5) is second in the division on points percentage after a split last weekend that included a 5-3 win at Hershey on Saturday followed by a 2-1 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday. The Phantoms have gone just 1-3-1 against the Pack this season. Veteran goaltender Louis Domingue (10-2-2, 2.48, .910) has done well against the Phantoms going 2-0-0, 2.01, .933. But the New York Rangers affiliate is now missing its captain, Jonny Brodzinski (11-14-25) who is up with New York. First-rounder Brennan Othmann (9-14-23) just returned to Hartford from the Rangers.
Alex Belzile (11-17-28) leads the team in scoring after coming over from Laval last year and has scored 1-6-7 against the Phantoms.
Former NHL’er Steve Smith (EDM, CHI, CGY) has taken over as interim head coach after former head coach Kris Knoblauch became head coach of the Edmonton Oilers on November 13.
Former Phantom Artem Anisimov signed a PTO with the Wolf Pack on January 2 and scored a game-winning goal in his first game against Bridgeport. Anisimov racked up 19 goals as a veteran leader with the Phantoms last season. The NHL veteran of 771 career games (NY Rangers, Columbus, Chicago, Ottawa) began his pro career with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2007-08 and at 35 years old is in his 16th year of pro hockey.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 9-20-29
Samu Tuomaala 10-17-27
Tanner Laczynski 8-15-23
Olle Lycksell 12-10-22
Ronnie Attard 6-11-17

Wolf Pack Scoring Leaders
Alex Belzile 11-17-28
Mac Hollowell 1-25-26
x Jonny Brodzinski 11-14-25
Brennan Othmann 9-14-23
Riley Nash 9-13-22

Lehigh Valley PP, 21.8% (5th)
Lehigh Valley PK 81.5% (16th)
Hartford PP 24.6% (3rd)
Hartford PK 84.5% (9th)

LV vs. HFD PP, 4/19, 21.1%
HFD vs. LV PP, 9/23, 39.1%

Series Leaders:
Lehigh Valley
Olle Lycksell 3-1-4
Samu Tuomaala 2-2-4
Garrett Wilson 1-3-4
Wade Allison 1-2-3

Brennan Othmann 3-5-8
Alex Belzile 1-6-7
Mac Hollowell 0-7-7
Riley Nash 4-2-6
Ryder Korczak 3-3-6
Louie Domingue 2-0-0, 2.01, .933

Dec 2 – at Hartford 5 – Lehigh Valley 4 (OT)
Dec 1 – at Hartford 7 – Lehigh Valley 3
Nov 3 – at Lehigh Valley 5 – Hartford 4 (OT)
Oct 29 – Hartford 4 – at Lehigh Valley 1
Oct 21 – at Hartford 5 – Lehigh Valley 1

The Phantoms conclude their 2024 opening homestand on Saturday night against the defending Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears.
Lehigh Valley heads out for a three-game road swing to Rochester and Cleveland beginning Wednesday night.
The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27 hosting the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Toronto Marlies. January 27 has an auto-racing theme on Racing Night and also includes a Youth Knit Hat Giveaway for the first 2,500 kids age 14 and younger.

Friday, January 12 (7:05) – Hartford Wolf Pack at Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, January 13 (7:05) – Hershey Bears at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Valley Youth House Night presented by Air Products

Wednesday, January 17 (7:05) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Rochester Americans
Friday, January 19 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Cleveland Monsters
Saturday, January 20 (7:00) – Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Cleveland Monsters

Friday, January 26 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley
Saturday, January 27 (7:05) – Toronto at Lehigh Valley – Racing Night and Youth Knit Hat Night