PREVIEW: Teddy Bear Time!!

Saturday, December 9, 7:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (9-9-4) vs. Charlotte (11-9-0)

Get your throwing arms ready! It’s Teddy Bear Toss Night presented by Big Woody’s. Thousands of teddy bears will rain down from the seats upon the Phantoms’ first goal of tonight’s game against the Charlotte Checkers. The holiday tradition continues with one of the craziest and also most special promotions of the season. All of the teddy bears will be personally delivered by tonight’s goal scorer to our friends at Valley Youth House to benefit kids in need in our region.
Tonight is also the first of eight meetings this season in a rematch of last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs series. Lehigh Valley and Charlotte will also play each other five times in the month of December including the next home game for the Phantoms on Wednesday.
The Phantoms remember their last encounter with the Checkers very well. Charlotte rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the series to post a double-overtime win in Game 2 and then the series clincher in Game 3 to end Lehigh Valley’s season.

Felix Sandstrom was terrific in net, especially in the first period. But the Phantoms offensive surge in the third period couldn’t overcome Providence goaltender Michael DiPietro who posted a 19-save shutout in defeating the Phantoms 2-0 at PPL Center on Friday night. Two late power plays in the third period, the latter of which was 6-on-4 with a pulled goalie, produced some strong chances for Lehigh Valley. John Farinacci 5-on-3 and Reilly Walsh 5-on-4 scored power-play goals for the visiting Bruins.

Phantoms Phans have helped donate over 45,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to Valley Youth House and other organizations in the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss. It’s a crazy spectacle like none other! Fans get to bring their stuffed animal donations to the game, sometimes by the box or bag-full, and then get to throw the animals onto the ice after the Phantoms score their first goal of the game.
Be ready! The fastest Teddy Bear Toss goal came just 59 seconds into the game on a goal by Nic Aube-Kubel in 2019.
The Phantoms record is 10,091 stuffed animals and plushies in 2019. Last year, we had 8,480 flying bears and tigers and lions after Cooper Marody scored Lehigh Valley’s first goal of the game.
The player who scores the official Teddy Bear Toss goal will help with the Monday delivery of all the stuffed animals to our friends at Valley Youth House.

Phantoms Teddy Bear Goal Scorer:
2014: Brett Hextall
2015: Andrew MacDonald
2016: Nic Aube-Kubel (:59 into the game)
2017: Matt Read
2018: Connor Bunnaman
2019: Chris Bigras
2021: Gerry Mayhew
2022: Cooper Marody

Teddy Bear Count:
2014: 1,728
2015: 2,773
2016: 4,125
2017: 4,970
2018: 7,148
2019: 10,091
2021: 6,593
2022: 8,480
Total: 45,808

Defenseman Mason Millman joins the Phantoms from Reading of the ECHL on reassignment by the Philadelphia Flyers. Additionally, forward Matt Brown also joins the Phantoms on recall by Lehigh Valley from Reading.

Olle Lycksell has been recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers to join the team on its western road swing. Lycksell (12-7-19) is fourth in the AHL with 12 goals and is tied for first in power-play goals at 6. Lycksell is also second with 79 shots on goal. He had his seven-game point streak (4-6-10) snapped on Saturday at Hartford which is also the longest for the Phantoms this season. Lycksell scored 14 goals for the Phantoms last season as a rookie and also played in eight games with Philadelphia.

Lehigh Valley had its streak of nine consecutive games with a power-play goal ended on Friday with an 0-for-5 night against Providence. The Phantoms were first in the AHL on the man advantage but have slipped to a still-impressive third in the league at 24.1%. Lehigh Valley went 12-for-30 (40.0%) in its nine-game streak.
Olle Lycksell leads the league in power-play points with 12 and is tied for second with six power-play goals.
Tanner Laczynski (3-5-8), Cooper Marody (2-7-9), Samu Tuomaala (3-5-8) and J.R. Avon (2-1-3) also have multiple power-play goals.

It’s a rematch of last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs when the Phantoms and Checkers meet for the first time since their three-game showdown in Charlotte last year. Lehigh Valley is looking for revenge following a series in which the Phantoms took a 1-0 series lead before Charlotte won Game 2 in double-overtime and then the Game 3 clincher.
Charlotte (11-9-0) clobbered Rochester 6-1 on Friday following a rough homestand in which the Checkers went 1-5-0.
The AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers is led by hard-shooting defenseman Lucas Carlsson (8-10-18) who scored the double-overtime goal in Game 2 against the Phantoms last year. Carlsson was second-team All-AHL last year scoring 20-34-54 in 61 games finishing tied for first among blueliners in goals and second in points. Former Phantoms Gerry Mayhew (4-9-13) had a hat trick against Lehigh Valley last year in February. He scored the team’s Teddy Bear Toss goal in 2021.
Rookie first-rounder Mackie Samoskevich (3-7-10) has already scored a gigantic goal at PPL Center with his overtime winner for the University of Michigan against Penn State in last year’s NCAA Regional Final in Allentown.
Lehigh Valley and Charlotte will rematch at PPL Center next Wednesday, December 13 and then will square off back-to-back in North Carolina the following week on December 21 and 22. The Phantoms and Checkers will play against each other five times in the month of December as part of an eight-game divisional rivalry series this season.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
x Olle Lycksell 12-7-19
Tanner Laczynski 6-12-18
Samu Tuomaala 5-13-18
Cooper Marody 5-11-16
Garrett Wilson 5-8-13

Checkers Scoring Leaders
Lucas Carlsson 8-10-18
Gerry Mayhew 4-9-13
Patrick Khodorenko 5-7-12
Santtu Kinnunen 2-10-12
Rasmus Asplund 3-8-11

Lehigh Valley PP, 24.1% (3rd)
Lehigh Valley PK 78.8% (24th)
Charlotte PP 15.3% (25th)
Charlotte PK 88.0% (2nd)

The homestand continues on Wednesday with a rematch against the Charlotte Checkers on Military Appreciation Night presented by Netizen.

Saturday, December 9 (7:05 p.m.) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Teddy Bear Toss presented by Big Woody’s!

Wednesday, December 13 (7:05) – Charlotte Checkers at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Military Appreciation Night presented by Netizen
Friday, December 15 (7:05) – Laval Rocket at Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, December 16 (7:05) – Springfield Thunderbirds at Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Hockey Fiesta – Los Fantasmas!!