Monday's Catch Up & Links 12/7

Monday, December 7, 2015
The Phantoms appear to be turning the corner behind strong goaltending and penalty killing. Photo: Nina Weiss
Editor's Note: I'm bringing back Monday's weekly feature with a new twist. Every Monday, in addition to a list of links in one place to help you get caught up, I'll also recap the week that was and the week ahead for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).

The plan moving forward is to bring even more AHL coverage here than ever before!

I'm hoping this weekly feature, and others here at Highland Park Hockey, will broaden the horizon and draw readers from across the AHL's fan bases. This week is a loaded post with articles linked on the Phantoms as well as the Albany Devils, Providence Bruins, Rochester Americans and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

After the jump, an update on the Phantoms and all the latest news and notes surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate. Then, links to several AHL stories I have written over the past week or two.

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 (11-12-1-0)

Last Week

The Phantoms started their three-game road trip last week in Utica where just one week prior they were blown out in a 7-1 defeat. It was a different story this time. 

Anthony Stolarz returned after leaving last Wednesday's game in Utica with an injury after the 1st period and didn't miss a beat - stopping 28 of 29 shots in the win.

Lehigh Valley saw their 1-0 lead disappear in the opening minute of the third period, but it didn't seem to phase them. They rallied for two goals 1:25 apart in the middle part of the final frame and leaned on another strong performance from Anthony Stolarz in net to leave Utica with a big 3-1 road win.

Evan Rankin picked up his first goal as a member of the Phantoms in the first period on a nice setup from Tyrell Goulbourne. After the Comets evened the score at 1-1, back-to-back goals by Jesper Pettersson and Danick Martel pushed the Phantoms ahead for good.

Friday 12/4, Lehigh Valley – 3 at W-B/Scranton – 1

The Phantoms did the unthinkable on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre, handing the then 16-2-0 Penguins their first home loss of the season.

They fell behind in the 1st period, but continued to play their game and were rewarded with back-to-back goals in the middle frame. Lehigh Valley held onto the one-goal lead behind a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and another strong performance in net by Anthony Stolarz, who made 35 saves on 36 shots and improved to 9-4-1 on the season.

Aaron Palushaj, Mark Alt and Taylor Leier tallied goals for the Phantoms in the win, which put Lehigh Valley back at the .500 mark (11-11-1-0) for the first time since they were 1-1-0 after two games into the season.

Saturday in Hershey, the Phantoms were badly out-shot and out-chanced in a game where the players themselves admitted they were flat and laid an egg.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms might have gotten out to a 1-0 lead in the first period, but it was a period largely controlled by the Hershey Bears who out shot the Phantoms 14-5 in the opening frame.

The Bears continued to pressure the Phantoms and sustain offensive zone time throughout the game, finally getting one past Anthony Stolarz with 9:37 left in the third period on their 39th shot of the game to even the score at 1-1. 

Unfortunately for the Phantoms, they couldn't respond and Chris Bourque finished off a 2-on-1 rush with 20.4 seconds left in regulation to give the Bears the 2-1 win and prevent the Phantoms from getting any points in the standings.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday 12/9, Hershey at Lehigh Valley – 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday 12/11, W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley – 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday 12/12, Springfield at Lehigh Valley – 7:05 p.m. ET

  • The Philadelphia Flyers recalled defenseman Andrew MacDonald Monday morning, which led to Lehigh Valley recalling defenseman Maxim Lamarche from Reading (ECHL).
  • Jesper Pettersson was injured in the opening shift of Sunday’s game after he took a big hit behind the Phantoms’ net. There was no update on his condition, but it’s a lower body ailment for the Swedish-born second year pro who did not practice with the team today.
  • Martin Ouellette remains with the Phantoms to start the week and until he is re-assigned to Reading it’s safe to say Jason LaBarbera is not ready to return to game action. Head coach Scott Gordon said after Friday’s game against W-B/Scranton that he was getting closer to returning.
  • Injured forwards Cole Bardreau and Michael Parks have been skating at practice, with Bardreau expected to return to the lineup as early as Wednesday’s game against Hershey. Gordon didn’t have a timetable for Parks’ return, but the fact that he’s skating is a good sign. Parks has been out of the lineup since an upper body injury suffered back on October 17th vs. W-B/Scranton. 
  • Forwards Nick Cousins and Colin McDonald were re-assigned to Lehigh Valley in time to play Sunday in Hershey. The two teamed up for the Phantoms’ lone goal, with McDonald getting a puck to Cousins who found Morin cutting to the net before finishing off Morin’s rebound for his 6th of the season. More on Cousins and McDonald on their time with the Flyers later this week in The Home News.
Weekly Links 12/5

My weekly feature at The Home News last week featured Taylor Leier on his first NHL call up and NHL debut earlier last month against the Carolina Hurricanes. This week, a look at Nick Cousins and Colin McDonald's experiences on their recent NHL stints in Philadelphia.

In case you missed it over the weekend, Saturday's Morning Skate (12/5) broke down my top three powerhouses in the AHL's Eastern Conference so far, and how they have each been successful with uniquely different approaches to the game.

Another catch up article if you missed it, but an AHL Eastern Conference Notebook taking 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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