Game 51 Preview: Utica at Lehigh Valley

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Anthony Stolarz (pictured) expected to be back between the pipes for Lehigh Valley tonight against Utica. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
I'll be live from PPL Center tonight with full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Utica Comets. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but make sure you're following me on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock and now on Facebook (be sure to like the Facebook page!) for all the latest updates and information this evening.

You can also help keep me on the road covering the team by making a donation via my GoFundMe page. Stay tuned here online after the game for a recap of the action complete with player reaction.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (23-24-2-1) are beginning to run out of time to make a push toward playoff contention, and with 26 games left are in near must-win mode tonight against the Utica Comets (23-17-4-3) who have won seven of their last ten games.

Not for lack of effort, but last night at the PPL Center the Phantoms came up short to the Portland Pirates despite registering a season-high 46 shots on goal. They face no easy task tonight against a solid Utica team with a good mix of talent up front and on the back end.

Lehigh Valley enters tonight trailing 4th Providence (56 points) by seven points for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms (49 points) trail 5th place Bridgeport (55 points) by six points for a potential crossover playoff spot in the North Division if the 5th place team in the Atlantic finishes with more points than the 4th place team in the North (currently St. John's with 52 points).

Extra pregame reading:
Saturday's Morning Skate (2/13) - Weekly look around AHL's Eastern Conference
Hockey's Future - Utica Comets leading scorer Hunter Shinkaruk
Utica Observer-Dispatch: Jason LaBarbera
News, notes, stats, numbers and a whole bunch more after the jump.

By The Numbers

LV: 50 games played, 23-24-2-1 = 49 points
7th Place - Atlantic Division
Last 10 Games: 6-4-0-0
Streak: 0-1-0

UTI: 47 games played, 23-17-4-3 = 53 points
3rd Place - North Division
Last 10 Games: 7-2-1-0
Streak: 5-0-1

Special Teams

Power Play

LV: 17.2% - 15th in AHL
UTI: 14.7% - 26th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV: 82.8% - 16th in AHL
UTI: 84.5% - 12th in AHL

Leading Scorers (Active)

LV: Andrew MacDonald (43GP, 5G-31A), Taylor Leier (45GP, 15G-17A), Chris Conner (33GP, 12G-20A), Danick Martel (42GP, 17G-11A)

UTI: Hunter Shinkaruk (41GP, 19G-17A), Brendan Gaunce (36GP, 14G-14A), Jordan Subban (40GP, 8G-18A), Mike Zalewski (42GP, 12G-12A)

Starting Goaltenders

LV: Anthony Stolarz (15-10-3, 2.45 GAA, .915 SV%, 0 SO)
UTI: Richard Bachman (9-7-4, 2.61 GAA, .899 SV%, 1 SO)

Season Series

This is the 3rd of 4 scheduled meetings between Lehigh Valley and Utica this season. The Phantoms are 1-1 against the Comets this season, splitting a pair of games in Utica one week apart on Thanksgiving Eve and December 2nd.

Head to Head Scoring Leaders

LV: Danick Martel (2GP, 1G-1A), Andrew MacDonald (2GP, 0G-2A), Aaron Palushaj (2GP, 1G-0A)

UTI: Alex Friesen (2GP, 1G-2A), Taylor Fedun (2GP, 1G-2A), Blair Jones (2GP, 2G-0A)

Goalies Head to Head Stats

LV: Anthony Stolarz (2GP, 1-0-0, 1.67 GAA, .946 SV%, 0 SO)
       Jason LaBarbera - No Stats

UTI: Richard Bachman (1GP, 0-1-0, 3.15 GAA, .842 SV%, 0 SO)
         Joe Cannata (1GP, 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%, 0 SO)

Season Series Schedule

Wednesday 11/25, Lehigh Valley - 1 at Utica - 7
Wednesday 12/2, Lehigh Valley - 3 at Utica - 1
Saturday 2/13, Utica at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday 2/27, Utica at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Anthony Stolarz is back with the team after being reassigned following Thursday's practice. Subsequently, Martin Ouellette was returned to Reading. First reported here, we had that news Wednesday night.

Petr Straka returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing exactly one month due to injury. He admitted after Wednesday's win that his conditioning wasn't quite up to par, but the lead allowed Straka more ice time in the third to get in a good workout.

Christian Marti, Robert Hagg and Maxim Lamarche have been rotating as the 7th defenseman in Lehigh Valley's 11 forward/seven defensemen lineup. Wednesday night, Lamarche was the healthy scratch. On Friday, It was Hagg sitting as a healthy scratch.

It's possible that the Phantoms will dress their first normal (12 forwards, six defensemen) lineup since January 10th's game. It's been 11F/7D for Lehigh Valley the last 10 games.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Pavel Padakin (healthy), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery), Jay Rosehill (undisclosed) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)


Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier - Phil DeSimone - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - Aaron Palushaj
Tyrell Goulbourne - Joe Rehkamp - xxxxxxxxxxxx

Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske (A) - Christian Marti
Robert Hagg - Max Lamarche
Adam Comrie

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera

Recent Transactions

2/11: G Anthony Stolarz returned on loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
2/11: G Martin Ouellette loaned to Reading (ECHL)
2/5: C Nick Cousins recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
2/4: G Martin Ouellette recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/2: G Anthony Stolarz recalled on loan by Philadelphia (NHL)


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