Full Breakdown of Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2016-17 Schedule

Monday, August 22, 2016
The countdown to AHL regular season hockey is heating up! Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
It's finally here. The American Hockey League released its regular season schedule for the 2016-17 season this afternoon.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms open the regular season at home against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday, October 15th at 7:05 p.m. ET in their third season in downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania.

To put it lightly, the Phantoms have a tough opening stretch to their schedule this fall. After opening the season with three straight games at home, 10 of their next 13 and 14 out of their next 20 games are on the road away from the friendly confines of the PPL Center.

The only silver lining to their schedule comes down the stretch. Seven of their final 11 games are at home and the four games away from PPL Center are all against their closest geographical rivals (W-B/Scranton twice, Hershey and Binghamton). If the Phantoms are within striking distance of a postseason berth in the final dozen games of the year, the light travel will certainly play to their advantage. But will it be another case of too little to late after a very challenging first third of the season?

This season, the roster looks as strong as it has since the team arrived to the Lehigh Valley. They'll be looking to end a seven year drought from the postseason when the season begins this fall, hoping to bring the first playoff hockey to the Lehigh Valley this spring.

A full breakdown of everything you could possibly want to know about the Phantoms' 2016-17 schedule after the jump.

Phantoms Bolster Goaltending Depth With Dekanich

Saturday, August 20, 2016
Veteran netminder Mark Dekanich joins Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Photo: Tori Hartman
In back-to-back days, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms made some depth moves to sure up the depth of their roster for the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, it was forward Kevin Sundher re-signing a one-year AHL contract. Wednesday, the Phantoms added another goaltender to the mix with the signing of veteran netminder Mark Dekanich to an AHL deal for the 2016-17 season.

Dekanich, 30, returned to North American pro hockey last season after a stint overseas in the KHL with Zagreb Medvescak. In 2015-16, he spent the majority of the season in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays while on an AHL deal with the Hershey Bears organization - going 20-9-4 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .925 save percentage to go along with two shutouts.

The North Vancouver, BC native was Nashville Predators' 5th round pick in 2006. Following a four-year collegiate career at Colgate University, Dekanich turned pro with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals in the 2008-09 season. Prior to heading overseas, Dekanich had back-to-back 20 plus win seasons in the AHL with Milwaukee before a year with the St. John's IceCaps and then the one and a half seasons in the KHL.

The veteran goaltender will be entering his ninth season at the pro level this fall and gives the Phantoms more depth and experience in net to go along with Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon and Martin Ouellette. He figures to pair with Ouellette in the ECHL with the Reading Royals, but has proven throughout his pro career he can handle an AHL-level workload and is a great insurance policy to have if and when mid-season injuries arise.

Sundher Returns to Phantoms for 2016-17 Season

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Kevin Sundher is back in the fold for 2016-17. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms announced today they've re-signed forward Kevin Sundher to a one-year AHL contract, further bolstering their depth up front for the upcoming season.

Sundher, 24, began last season with the Phantoms' ECHL affiliate in Reading before joining the AHL club in November. He appeared in 10 AHL games (3G-2A) that month before a severe leg injury in overtime of the Phantoms' 6-5 shootout win over Hershey on November 27th held him out of action for much of the remainder of the season.

The Surrey, BC native returned to action in the spring with the Reading Royals, registering a goal and two assists in 6 ECHL playoff games.

The move to bring Sundher back is another depth signing for the Phantoms, who look to field a competitive roster this fall as the organization prepares for its third season at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pa.

More on what today's signing means for the Phantoms, and a look at the projected AHL forward unit after the jump.

State of the Phantoms Address

Thursday, August 11, 2016
The future is bright for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Photo: Nina Weiss
It's approaching mid-August, otherwise known as is it October yet?

Hockey news is sparse, so it was the perfect time to hop on the Sons of Penn podcast (last night) to talk about the prospects in the Philadelphia Flyers system that everyone is itching to hear about.

The link below will take you to last night's podcast, where I talked with SOP Radio host Bill Matz, co-host Stephanie Driver, producer David Cattai and founder C.J. Burns about all of the Flyers' prospects.

Here's the roughly 50-minute podcast that you can listen via SoundCloud from a mobile device, tablet or web browser. I talked about all of the incoming prospects that will be in Lehigh Valley this fall and returning players as well including defensemen Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Mark Alt, T.J. Brennan Will O'Neill and Robert Hagg and forwards Oskar Lindblom, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Danick Martel, Cole Bardreau, Petr Straka, Taylor Leier, Radel Fazleev and more!

I'll be linking to this often, but for those interested in helping me continue to travel across the east coast covering the AHL in the upcoming 2016-17 can do so by sharing/donating to my GoFundMe page. Every little bit helps, and sharing the page to others who might be interested is just as important. Help spread the word!

Who Will the Phantoms Play This Preseason?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Phantoms hockey is right around the corner. Photo: Nina Weiss
As the dog days of summer continue, teams around the American Hockey League are announcing their guaranteed home dates for the 2016-17 season, including their home opener. Lately, teams have been announcing their preseason schedules for the first week of October.

While the Lehigh Valley Phantoms haven't announced theirs yet, a simple look around the Eastern Conference gives a pretty good idea of who the Philadelphia Flyers' affiliate will see in the preseason this fall.

Last year, the Phantoms' preseason schedule consisted of three games - a home and home series with rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a home contest against Hartford squeezed in between.

This year, it doesn't appear likely that the Phantoms will see the Penguins in preseason as their closest geographical rival has already announced a preseason schedule of three games earlier this summer. Not to worry though, because the Phantoms and Penguins will likely face off 12 times in the regular season like they did in 2015-16.

But who will the Phantoms see in the preseason?