Monday's Catch Up & Links 12/14

Monday, December 14, 2015
Martin Ouellette has been re-assigned to Reading. Photo: Nina Weiss
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have three more games this week before a week off leading up to Christmas, with two of those three games at home against rivals Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey. They finish the weekend on the road in Binghamton on Saturday and won't be back in action until the following Saturday (12/26) when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

The Phantoms enter the week 9-5-1 in their last 15 games, which has seen them move up to 4th place in the Atlantic Division. With games against the Penguins and Bears this week, they can close the gap with two teams ahead of them with their first game back after a week long break against the third team that's ahead of them.

It's only December, but it's still important for the Phantoms to continue getting points in the standings - especially against divisional rivals they face 12 times a season.

After the jump, a recap of last week's action, a look ahead to this week, some news and notes and weekly links.

Would you like to see the coverage of the team while they're on the road continue? Please lend a helping hand to keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a secure donation to my GoFundMe page.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-12-1-0)

Last Week

Wednesday 12/9, Hershey - 2 at Lehigh Valley - 3 (OT)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-12-1-0) avenged Saturday's loss in Hershey with a come-from-behind win of their own Wednesday night to kick off a five-game home stand at the PPL Center.

It wasn't looking good for the Phantoms with under 10 minutes to play in the third period trailing 2-0, but sharp shooting from Petr Straka and Danick Martel in the final 8:38 of regulation evened the game and sent the Phantoms to overtime with momentum on their side.

In the extra session, Anthony Stolarz (19 saves - 21 shots) came up big with two nice saves in the 3-on-3 overtime while Sam Morin had broken his stick and Lehigh Valley cashed in on an odd-man rush of their own with Taylor Leier setting up Nick Cousins for the game-winning goal with 1:15 left in OT.

More times than not in a 4-0 game, the team with four goals played a much better overall game than the team who was shutout. You can argue that wasn't the case Friday night as the Phantoms drew seven power plays, hit five posts and missed a few empty net chances that could have changed the complexion of the game.

The Phantoms simply didn't finish their chances.

The Penguins, meanwhile, went two-for-five with the man advantage and their opening goal of the contest was scored two seconds after a Phantoms' penalty had expired. Dominik Simon and Scott Wilson tallied two goals each for the Pens in the win. Matt Murray stopped all 23 shots he faced to pick up his fourth shutout of the season and that was that.

In probably the most drawn out Phantoms game this season, Lehigh Valley closed things out in the shootout after letting a two-goal lead in the third period slip away to the Springfield Falcons.

Andrew MacDonald tallied two goals, including the game's opening goal on Teddy Bear Toss night, in his first game back in the AHL after a short stint with the Philadelphia Flyers. His second of the night early in the third period gave the Phantoms the 4-2 lead, but credit the Falcons for not giving up and rallying for two goals to force overtime.

Anthony Stolarz made his sixth straight start and needed to be sharp in overtime with his team shorthanded in the extra session and he was - stopping all four shots he faced to get the game to the shootout.

In the shootout, both Taylor Leier and Petr Straka scored while Stolarz stopped both Falcons' shooters to preserve the two points for the home team to end the weekend on a winning note.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday 12/16, W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday 12/18, Hershey at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday 12/19, Lehigh Valley at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m. ET


  • Goaltender Jason LaBarbera has returned to the Phantoms lineup, albeit in a backup role to Anthony Stolarz. LaBarbera served as backup for all three games this past week and when asked if he was ready to return to game action head coach Scott Gordon said he is getting close.
  • Defenseman Jesper Pettersson (lower body) was a full participant in the team's practice this afternoon. Christian Marti (upper body) skated in a yellow no-contact jersey today.
  • With the return of Andrew MacDonald from Philadelphia, the Phantoms' blue line is suddenly becoming crowded - Mark Alt, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Davis Drewiske, Maxim Lamarche, Matt Lashoff & MacDonald. When Pettersson and Marti return to game action, Lamarche will likely be re-assigned to Reading.
  • Chris Conner (upper body) was seen sporting a cast on his left arm/wrist on the concourse of the PPL Center over the weekend. The initial timetable for his return was six weeks back on November 28th, so judging by that it will be another month or so before he's ready to make a return to the lineup.
  • Forwards Colin McDonald and Nick Cousins are also back from Philadelphia and played in all three games this past week for Lehigh Valley.
  • Pavel Padakin was re-assigned to Reading (ECHL) after seeing limited ice time on the team's fourth line.
Weekly Links

Last week, I posted my second installment in the monthly prospect report. Take a look at the progress of Philadelphia Flyers' prospects competing in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in my November Grades Report.

My weekly Phantoms feature at The Home News last week was centered around the team's upward trend and the return of forwards Nick Cousins and Colin McDonald from Philadelphia.

Over the weekend, I posted my weekly look around the AHL's Eastern Conference in Saturday's Morning Skate (12/12).

Another catch up article if you missed it, but an AHL Eastern Conference Notebooktaking a look at the conference through the first six weeks of the season. I'll have another monthly overlook of the conference at Hockey's Future later this month.

Take a look at my feature on Providence Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban over at Hockey's Future. An injury slowed the start to Subban's season and both he and the Bruins as a collective team are looking to get back on track after a slow start to the 2015-16 season.

The Albany Devils have played strong defensively, but have several rookies making a name for themselves in the first two months of their pro careers. Roommates Joseph Blandisi and Blake Coleman play different styles and come from different backgrounds, but both are having success with the Devils' AHL affiliate so for in 2015-16.

Rochester Americans rookie forward Justin Bailey has big-time hype surrounding himself as a 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2013. The Sabres have their centers for the future in Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, but Bailey is hoping to compliment them on the wing and play for his hometown NHL team in the near future.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins rookie forwards Dominik Simon and Oskar Sundqvist play different styles on the ice and are of a different size and skill set, but both have had success in their own right in the first quarter of the AHL season.


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