Monday's Catch Up & Links 3/28

Monday, March 28, 2016
Phantoms end win-less skid & prepare for trip to St. John's this weekend. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a pair of practices this week, Monday and Tuesday at the PPL Center, before heading to the airport on Wednesday to fly out to their weekend series in St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.

Newly added forward Oskar Lindblom participated in his first on-ice practice with the Phantoms today and was skating on the top line with Taylor Leier and Cole Bardreau, a sign that he'll make his AHL debut this weekend. While he was non-committal about next season, Lindblom sees these last eight games as an opportunity to prove himself on the smaller rink surfaces in North America after playing a prominent role on his Swedish pro league team in hometown of Gavle, Sweden this season.

After the jump, the regular weekly catch up and links format with a look back at last week's games as well as a look ahead to this week's schedule complete with news, notes and weekly reading links.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (29-32-4-3)

Last Week

Wednesday 3/23, Hershey - 8 at Lehigh Valley - 0

It all came apart for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a bitter loss to the Hershey Bears Wednesday night at the PPL Center. The Phantoms' Atlantic Division rival scored early and often in a 8-0 blowout that extended the Phantoms' win-less streak to eight games, leaving players in the locker room both frustrated and bewildered on how they can fix these kinds of results moving forward onto the final 10 games of the season.

Lehigh Valley's last win to that point had come back on March 2nd, and even that took a franchise-record 51 saves from Anthony Stolarz and a perfect three-for-three in the shootout to grab the two points in Syracuse at the beginning of the month.

"It started a couple weeks ago, I guess," Phantoms captain Colin McDonald said post game. "[We're] just not a confident team."

Friday 3/25. Providence - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 4

For the first time since March 2nd, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (28-32-4-3) came away from a game with two points. A fast start by the home team two nights after an 8-0 drubbing to the Hershey Bears propelled the Phantoms to a 4-3 win over the Providence Bruins Friday night at the PPL Center - snapping an eight-game win-less streak and perhaps instilling some confidence and morale in the locker room.

Chris Conner tallied three points (two goals, one assist) to lead the way for Lehigh Valley in a game where the veteran players really stepped up and stood out. Tim Brent and Davis Drewiske each tallied first period goals sandwiched in between Conner's tallies, and captain Colin McDonald set the tone early with his physical play while also drawing his team the early power play that netted them their 2-0 lead.

Saturday 3/26, Hartford - 1 at Lehigh Valley - 2

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period for the second time in as many nights, which was needed to conclude their four-game home stand with back-to-back wins. The Phantoms were out shot 30-10 over over the final 40 minutes of play, but Phantoms goaltender Martin Ouellette stopped 38 of the 39 shots he faced to preserve the win for Lehigh Valley.

Davis Drewiske scored just 33 seconds into play for goals in consecutive games, Pavel Padakin caught a piece of Tyrell Goulbourne's rebound put back with the inside of his skate to extend the lead to 2-0 midway through the opening frame and that was all the Phantoms needed to come away with two points.

More importantly, the 8-0 loss Wednesday and the eight-game losing skid can be left in the rear view mirror and the Phantoms can focus on finishing the final eight games of the regular season on a positive note.

The Week Ahead

Friday 4/1, Lehigh Valley at St. John's - 6:00 p.m. ET
Saturday 4/2, Lehigh Valley at St. John's - 6:00 p.m. ET

  • Jason LaBarbera did not participate in Monday's practice and is expected to be out for a bit. The two goaltenders at practice today were Martin Ouellette and Connor Knapp.
  • The Phantoms signed forward Oskar Lindblom to an amateur tryout contract (ATO) for the remainder of the season. Lindblom skated on a line with Taylor Leier and Cole Bardreau today, perhaps a sign he's readying himself for his AHL debut Friday in St. John's.
  • After practice, I talked to Lindblom and will have a feature online later tonight/early Tuesday.
  • Veteran forwards Colin McDonald and Tim Brent did not skate at Phantoms' practice today, but both absences are likely considered maintenance days.
Weekly Links


Last week at The Home News, my Phantoms' print story featured Tim Brent speaking out against mailing it in the final three weeks of the season. Stay tuned for this week's story.

I caught up with newly added ATO defenseman Reece Willcox on turning pro after he signed his entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers following his senior season at Cornell University. Willcox is now re-united with former Cornell product Cole Bardreau.

On Tuesday, I caught up with well-traveled goaltender Martin Ouellette, who with Anthony Stolarz called up and Jason LaBarbera injured, has an opportunity to get in some AHL games as the Phantoms' season winds down.

Speaking of LaBarbera, here's a good read on how having a special needs child combined with his nomadic hockey career has been tough on LaBarbera's family.

Hockey's Future

Here's a feature on Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz, who has made significant strides in his development in his second pro season in the AHL.

My monthly look at the AHL's Eastern Conference in March's notebook article.


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