Phantoms Prepare For Three-Game Weekend

Thursday, January 7, 2016
How close is Chris Conner to returning to the Phantoms' lineup? Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (17-16-2-1) held one last practice Thursday morning at the PPL Center in preparation for a three-in-three weekend, which begins Friday night at home against rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Phantoms will then take an overnight bus ride to Albany, New York for a 5 p.m. ET face-off against the Devils on Saturday before returning home to host the Binghamton Senators Sunday evening in what will be Star Wars Night at the PPL Center.

Sam Gagner practiced with the Phantoms today and it appears that he will enter the weekend on the AHL roster. If you missed it yesterday before the news of the Lecavalier/Schenn dominated the newsfeed, I caught up with Gagner Sunday in Portland, Maine after his 3rd AHL game in four days.

Towards the end of practice, head coach Scott Gordon called the team to center ice for their normal team stretch around the center ice face-off circle and let the guys know that Nick Cousins and Anthony Stolarz will be representing the team in Syracuse at the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic on January 31st and February 1st. I spoke with both Cousins and Stolarz after practice today to talk about getting their first selection to the AHL's All-Star event.

After the jump, updates on Petr Straka, Chris Conner, Andrew MacDonald, Christian Marti, Michael Parks and Kevin Sundher.


Goaltenders Anthony Stolarz and Jason LaBarbera both skated at practice and with three games in three nights coming this weekend both will play this weekend. Expect Jason LaBarbera to get the start against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday night coming off a 35-save shutout of the Penguins the last time the two teams met.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald didn't practice again today and is nursing an undisclosed lower body injury, but it isn't out of the realm of possibilities that MacDonald suits up this weekend or even tomorrow night for Lehigh Valley.

Defenseman Christian Marti has been re-assigned to the Reading Royals (ECHL). I first reported on Monday that I was told Marti was returning to game action this weekend, and technically that is the case just that he will be playing in the ECHL. Marti has had two separate injuries limit him to just six games this year and has been out of the lineup since November 20th.

Forwards Petr Straka and Chris Conner both skated in regular practice jerseys today. Both wore orange jerseys along with Tim Brent and Kevin Goumas, though Conner skated with Brent and Goumas while Straka skated on what looked like a 5th line with Evan Rankin and Jay Rosehill.

Head coach Scott Gordon said Chris Conner is still on schedule from his original six-week timetable, but it is unknown as to whether Conner will return to action tomorrow night or at all this weekend. Petr Straka was skating gingerly in practice today - a sign he won't play tomorrow night.

Forwards Kevin Sundher and Michael Parks are both out long term for the Phantoms. Both were seen at practice today watching the session, but neither is close to being able to get out on the ice.


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