Saturday's Morning Skate 4/18

Saturday, April 18, 2015
The Phantoms are in Hershey tonight in the midst of a three-game weekend.
It's the final weekend of the AHL's 2014-15 regular season and with a game or two left on everyone's schedule, three teams are all fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The W-B/Scranton Penguins saw their chances at an East Division title evaporate last night after a shutout loss combined with a win by Hershey clinched the Bears the East Division crown and a guaranteed top-three seed in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Norfolk Admirals played their final home game as an AHL franchise and ended things with a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley. The Admirals play their final regular season game tonight in Wilkes-Barre against the Penguins.

Eastern Conference Standings (through 4/17's games)

* = division leader
x = clinched playoff spot
y = clinched division title

y*-1. Manchester: 2 games remaining, 49-16-6-3 = 17 points
y*-2. Hershey: 1 game remaining, 45-22-5-3 = 99 points
x*-3. Hartford: 2 games remaining, 42-23-5-4 = 93 points
x-4. W-B/Scranton: 2 games remaining, 43-24-3-4 = 93 points
x-5. Syracuse: 1 game remaining, 41-24-10-0 = 92 points
x-6. Providence: 2 games remaining, 40-25-7-2 = 89 points
x-7. Worcester: 2 games remaining, 41-27-4-2 = 88 points
8. Springfield: 1 game remaining, 37-28-8-2 = 84 points
9. Portland: 2 games remaining, 37-28-7-2 = 83 points
10. Albany: 1 game remaining, 36-28-5-6 = 83 points

Phantoms Put Pressure On Hershey In Final Week of Season

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms rallied for four unanswered goals in a win over rival Hershey.
Despite being out of postseason contention and down to just four healthy defensemen early in the second period, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms battled their way to a 4-1 win over East Division-leading Hershey Tuesday night at the PPL Center.

The Bears took an early 1-0 lead 4:14 into the contest, but big stops from Rob Zepp (39 saves) throughout tonight's contest kept the Phantoms within a goal until Scott Laughton's goal in the opening minute of the middle period evened things up at 1-1.

The Phantoms continued to battle in the third period, getting a go-ahead goal from Petr Straka on a nice patient play from Kevin Goumas and an insurance marker from Jason Akeson before a Danick Martel hustle play resulted in an empty net tally to seal the deal - Martel's first pro goal in just his second AHL game.

The win puts pressure on Hershey, who now holds just a three point lead over W-B/Scranton in the East Division for a guaranteed top-three seed - now lending the Penguins a game in hand as well after picking up no points in a regulation loss tonight.

After the jump, thoughts from Danick Martel on his first pro goal, Oliver Lauridsen on playing literally half of the third period, Terry Murray on "showing a lot of character" and more post-game reactions from the Phantoms' win tonight.

Frantic Finish - Admirals Survive Scare From Phantoms

Saturday, April 11, 2015
Danick Martel (right) made his AHL debut tonight with the Phantoms after being added to an amateur tryout contract (ATO).
What was seemingly an uneventful 1-0 game through the first 57:02 of regulation turned into a frantic final 2:58 after the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Norfolk Admirals combined for three goals in a span of 2:13 to force overtime.

Unfortunately for the home team, the rally fell short as Admirals forward Max Friberg picked a corner on Anthony Stolarz 3:45 into OT to lift the Admirals to the 3-2 win.

Post-game reaction from Kevin Goumas, Anthony Stolarz and forward Danick Martel on his pro debut after the jump.

Saturday's Morning Skate 4/11

Jason Akeson was the mystery forward called up to the Flyers today. Mark Alt (left, #2) was also recalled on an emergency basis.
It's getting down to the wire in the American Hockey League regular season as most teams have five games left on their schedule. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had a rare Friday off - a travel day for their upcoming pair of games in Portland, Maine - but the rest of the East Division was in action last night.

Last night, I was in Allentown, Pa. at the PPL Center as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms prevailed in a shootout over division rival Norfolk. I'll be back in downtown Allentown tonight for the rematch between the Phantoms and Admirals.

ROSTER NOTE: The Flyers called up forward Jason Akeson as well as defenseman Mark Alt on an emergency basis. Also, the Phantoms have brought in Flyers prospect forward Danick Martel on an amateur tryout contract. Martel tallied 102 points (48G-54A) in 64 regular season games in the QMJHL this season.

You can follow all the latest in-game updates of tonight's AHL action on Twitter.
For updates of the Penguins/Pirates game up in Portland tonight at 7:00 ET, follow @H_P_Hockey.
For updates of the rematch between the Phantoms and Admirals in Allentown, follow @TonyAndrock_TCG.
Eastern Conference Standings (through 4/10's games)

* = division leader
x = clinched playoff spot
y = clinched division title

y*1. Manchester: 5 games remaining, 46-16-6-3 = 101 points
x*2. Hershey: 4 games remaining, 44-20-5-3 = 96 points
x*3. Syracuse: 5 games remaining, 41-21-9-0 = 91 points
4. W-B/Scranton: 5 games remaining, 41-23-3-4 = 89 points
5. Providence: 5 games remaining, 39-23-7-2 = 87 points
6. Hartford: 5 games remaining, 39-23-5-4 = 87 points
7. Worcester: 5 games remaining, 40-25-4-2 = 86 points
8. Portland: 5 games remaining, 37-25-7-2 = 83 points
9. Springfield: 3 games remaining, 36-28-8-1 = 81 points
10. Albany: 5 games remaining, 33-27-5-6 = 77 points

Phantoms Prevail In Shootout Over Norfolk

Friday, April 10, 2015
Phantoms and Admirals battle again tomorrow night at PPL Center.
The two points don't mean anything in the standings, but that doesn't mean the Lehigh Valley Phantoms locker room wasn't fired up after tonight's thrilling 2-1 shootout win over the Norfolk Admirals.

Matt Bailey put Norfolk ahead 1-0 just 2:00 into the game after a shaky start by goaltender Rob Zepp, but the Phantoms netminder went on to stop 33 of the 34 shots he faced in 67 minutes of play - including two of three shooters in the shootout to lift his team to the win. 

Scott Laughton evened things up on a power play goal in the middle frame and also scored the deciding goal in the shootout after teammate Petr Straka followed up Shea Theodore's shootout goal for Norfolk in the 2nd round.

These two teams rematch again tomorrow night at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown and head coach Terry Murray confirmed that Anthony Stolarz will be between the pipes for Lehigh Valley - his first action since finishing up March 25th's 6-1 loss to Syracuse and his first start since a 3/21 game in Worcester.