Monday's Catch Up & Links 3/14

Monday, March 14, 2016
Phantoms have 14 games left to string together wins to make a final push toward playoff contention. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms current four-game win-less streak (0-3-1-0) has all but ended their chances of sneaking into the postseason. After last week's two-game slate saw the Phantoms go ahead early by multiple goals and come up with just one point in the standings, the reality began to set into the locker room Saturday night in Hartford that it's the beginning of the end.

The Phantoms' only hope is that they turn things around immediately and that the Portland Pirates' tailspin continues. The Pirates are in the midst of a six-game win-less skid (0-4-1-1) that has pushed them back to the 5th and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Entering this week's games the Phantoms trail the Pirates by seven points and have two more games played than Portland.

The Phantoms face the Pirates Sunday at home after finishing their five-game road swing with games Wednesday night in Rochester and Friday night in Toronto against the AHL's best team, the Toronto Marlies.

After the jump, a look back at the Phantoms' frustrating week, a look ahead to this week's schedule in addition to news, notes and links to tons of exclusive content you might have missed.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-29-3-3)

Last Week

Wednesday 3/9, Lehigh Valley - 5 at W-B/Scranton - 6 (OT)

After scoring five combined goals in their last four games, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms ended their scoring drought Friday night in Wilkes-Barre against the rival Penguins to the tune of five goals. Unfortunately, they let a 5-2 third period lead slip away in a more than disappointing 6-5 overtime loss.

The Penguins rallied for three unanswered goals in the third period to force overtime, the last of which was scored with 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Carter Rowney, who just s
igned his first NHL contract earlier that day, tallied his second goal of the night with 1:32 left in the extra session to lift Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a big time come-from-behind win in a game that they looked dead in the water through 40 minutes.

The overtime loss doesn't do much for Lehigh Valley, who not only squanders an extra point but the all important win which is the difference in standings. Winning percentage decides which teams are in the postseason and which ones end their season in mid-April.
Saturday 3/12, Lehigh Valley - 2 at Hartford - 4

For the second straight game, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-29-3-3) got off to a good start and took an early lead. For the second straight game, the Phantoms squandered a multi-goal lead in more than frustrating fashion. Saturday night's 4-2 regulation loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center might just be the final blow to the Phantoms' playoff hopes.

The Phantoms took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on goals from Chris Conner and Colin McDonald, but two goals by Hartford in both the second and third periods turned the game around for the Wolf Pack on their way to a regulation win that improves their playoff hopes.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday 3/16, Lehigh Valley at Rochester - 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday 3/18, Lehigh Valley at Toronto - 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday 3/20, Portland at Lehigh Valley - 5:05 p.m. ET


  • Anthony Stolarz was called up just hours before the Phantoms' game Saturday in Hartford. Luckily for Lehigh Valley, their ECHL affiliate Reading Royals were in Manchester, NH just two hours away. 
  • Martin Ouellette was late to the Phantoms' game on Saturday, but arrived during the first period to back up Jason LaBarbera. He was then reassigned to Reading (ECHL) following the game and recorded a 38-save shutout Sunday against Adirondack.
  • Defenseman Max Lamarche took an illegal check to his head from Hartford's Brady Skjei Saturday night in the first period. He tried to play in the 2nd frame, but left early in the period and did not return. 
  • Forward Tim Brent returned to the Phantoms' lineup Saturday after missing the last 19 games following surgery on his wrist. Brent assisted on Chris Conner's goal in the 1st period that gave the Phantoms an early 1-0 lead.
  • Kevin Goumas was reassigned to Reading last week but was on fire this past weekend in the ECHL, tallying 10 points (5G-5A) in three games over the weekend to lead the Royals on their current four-game win streak. Saturday night in Manchester, Goumas tallied six points (3G-3A).
Weekly Links


Last week at The Home News, my weekly Phantoms feature focused on the team's playoff hopes slipping away. This week's story will feature Reading, Pa. native Steven Swavely, who made his pro debut with Lehigh Valley over the weekend in Hartford.

Petr Straka broke a prolonged goalless streak in Binghamton, so I caught up with him to talk about getting back on track after a one-month injury absence and hoping for a strong finish to the season before his entry level contract expires this summer.

Tim Brent returned to the Phantoms' lineup Saturday night after missing the last 19 games following surgery on his wrist - an injury he tried to play through before ultimately deciding to opt for surgery nearly two months ago.

My latest at Hockey's Future on Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz, who in his 2nd season of pro hockey is making significant strides in his development with the Phantoms this season.


Flyers beat writer Dave Isaac of the Courier Post had this story on Phantoms' forward Nick Cousins making the most of his opportunity with the Flyers and enjoying the ride while it lasts.

CSN Philly had this article by writer Jeff Neiburg on Jake Voracek's fashionably late entrance on the ice at practice today. Voracek is close, but not ready to return tomorrow night against Detroit.

Sam Carchidi, Flyers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, had this feature on how Willie O'Ree helped Wayne Simmonds believe playing pro hockey was an option.


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