No Handshakes Tonight - Phantoms Force Game 4

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Phantoms celebrate their first playoff win since April 29th, 2008. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms extend series with thrilling OT win in Game 3

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

HERSHEY - After Saturday night's gut-wrenching 5-4 loss in Game 2, Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Greg Carey told media after the game "The pucks can't go their way this whole series, we need to believe that."

With the Phantoms trailing Hershey heading to the third period and facing elimination, they got their first lucky bounce of the series on the opening shift of the third period. It only took 167 minutes and 15 seconds into the series for Lehigh Valley to catch their first break, but at least for tonight it has saved the Phantoms' season for at least one more game.

Colin McDonald took a puck from T.J. Brennan and from the center ice red line, and sent a floating/bouncing puck on net that eluded Pheonix Copley and tied the game at 1-1.
The goal, despite being scored on the opening shift of the third period, was enough to force overtime. All Lehigh Valley needed was one.

Under two minutes into the extra session, a big blocked shot by Andy Miele sprung Chris Conner for a breakaway and with two defenders hacking and whacking at him from behind on his way to the net, Conner made up for a missed wrap around attempt earlier in the game. Conner converted the breakaway and has extended the Atlantic Division Semifinals series with the Bears to a fourth game Saturday night at Giant Center.

Phantoms Begin Attempt at the Unthinkable Wednesday

Without the help, it's hard to see the puck on this game-winning goal from Hershey in Game Two. Imagine what Martin Ouellette saw/didn't see in live game play. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey.
Any Phantoms' comeback will come with their backs against the wall

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have the odds stacked against them as they enter Wednesday night's Game Three of the Atlantic Division Semifinals against the Hershey Bears. Their next loss in the series will spell the end of their postseason run in the first round.

For the 99th time in the American Hockey League's (AHL) Calder Cup Playoffs history, an AHL team - in this latest case, the Phantoms - is trailing two games to none in a best-of-five series.

According to the AHL's communication department, of the previous 98 teams to be up 2-0 in a best-of-five series more than half (50) have gone on to complete the three-game sweep. Twenty-seven have gone on to win in four games, and only 10 have had to sweat it out with a winner-take-all Game Five to avoid an epic choke job.

Doing the math, that means only 11 times has a team come back the 0-2 deficit to win the series.

Further adding to the doubt that the Phantoms can pull off the almost unthinkable comeback, only three teams who lost their first two games at home came back to win three straight to advance to the next round in the league's 81-year history.

Oddly enough, the last time a team lost two at home to begin a best-of-five series and came back to win the series was in 2013 when the Providence Bruins accomplished the feat against, you guessed it, the Hershey Bears.

Say it Aint So - Bears Put Phantoms On The Brink

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Chris Bourque celebrates after scoring Hershey's game-winning goal with 33 seconds left in the third period. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms squander two-goal lead, Lyon injured in third period

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - Hockey is an interesting game. Sometimes, a team finds themselves doing all the right things and controlling their opponent, but just don't get the end result.

The first two games of the Atlantic Division Semifinals between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hershey Bears provides a perfect example.

After a 1-0 overtime loss in Game One, the Phantoms again came ready to play Saturday night for Game 2 - out shooting the Bears 16-4 in a dominating performance.

The middle frame? Just four more Bears shots, and a 4-2 lead for Lehigh Valley heading to the third.

The Bears stuck around despite being limited to just eight shots on net through the first 45 minutes of regulation. They made things interesting with 12:33 left when Chris Bourque beat Alex Lyon with a shot from the point, and then things began to unravel for Lehigh Valley.

Lyon was injured shortly after Bourque's goal made it a 4-3 game - receiving incidental contact from Travis Boyd and awkwardly falling into the back of his net. Lyon was helped off the ice with 11:22 left in regulation, putting no weight on his right leg.

Head coach Scott Gordon said after the game that Lyon will have an MRI tomorrow.

A really tough spot for Martin Ouellette to be thrown into was proven when the first shot he faced deflected past him - hitting the post on its way in. Tie game.

The heart breaker for Lehigh Valley came with 33 seconds left, as Bourque put the Phantoms on the brink of elimination with his second goal of the night.

"When it's all said and done, obviously, in this series, you have to win three games," Gordon said. "We just have to win three in a row."

Hershey Strikes In OT To Take 1-0 Series Lead

Friday, April 21, 2017
Alex Lyon reaches for loose puck with Sam Morin defending Zach Sill. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms dominant early, unable to solve Copley in Game One Loss

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' first ever playoff game as the Flyers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in downtown Allentown needed more than 60 minutes to find not only a winner, but a goal scorer.

Unfortunately for the Phantoms, that came by way of a Nathan Walker rebound goal 7:38 into the first overtime to give the Hershey Bears a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinals.
The Phantoms used an energetic crowd of 7,072 to their advantage early - flying in the opening period and tripling up the Bears in shots (15-5) - but were unable to get one past Pheonix Copley.

As the game wore on, the Bears started to establish themselves as a team that looked like they were in the Calder Cup Finals last spring.

Certainly no time to hit the panic button for Lehigh Valley. They found with speed and pressure in the opening period that they can put this Bears team on their heals. But a 1-0 deficit in a best-of-five series isn't something to not be dialed in for come Saturday evening for Game Two. Their next loss in the series will put the Phantoms on the brink of elimination.

Just a quick recap after the jump. The joys of 4 a.m. work days outside of the hockey world.

Phantoms/Bears - Game 1 News/Notes

Photo edited by Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms host franchise's first-ever playoff game in the Lehigh Valley

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

Editor's Note - Full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Hershey Bears, live from the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pa!
    The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but make sure you're following along on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock and Facebook (like the Facebook page!) for all the latest updates and information.
Stay tuned here online after the game for a recap of the action. Don't forget to subscribe to Highland Park Hockey's YouTube channel for post-game interviews with players.

ALLENTOWN - The wait is over.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms begin their quest for the 2017 Calder Cup tonight, hosting the Hershey Bears in Game One of the Atlantic Division Semifinals at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pa.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET and fans attending tonight's game are encouraged to wear orange to support the Phantoms' "Orange Out" for the postseason. All fans attending Friday night's Game One will receive an orange rally towel which should help add to the playoff atmosphere in the Lehigh Valley.

After all, it's the franchise's first postseason contest since 2009 and the first for the Lehigh Valley franchise since relocating to Allentown for the start of the 2014-15 season.

After the jump, expected lineups for each team as well as the latest injury news/notes, five keys to the best-of-five series and a prediction for how the series will go.